My district is gearing up for 5th graders to do an online writing field test in February, followed by 4th graders who will practice this same thing in March.
Teachers have been given access to HP mini netbooks which makes it much easier for teachers to have their students practice writing. As an ITRT, I have been helping students review basic keyboarding skills, and have noticed a big difference in the way they type. We have also been doing basic lessons involving students typing in Microsoft Word. We have had students utilizing many tools that will be appearing on the testing site.
In addition, we have gone over basic writing skills that 4th and 5th grade students are supposed to know such as indent, capitalization, punctuation, grammar, etc. In the beginning, teachers were somewhat apprehensive about getting their students ready for this online writing test. Over the past few weeks, I have seen many teachers more comfortable about this upcoming test. They aren't as surprised at the student's ability to use the technology tools as they thought. However, they are more concerned with student writing. They feel like they really need to focus on the writing process more than they are doing, but find it a challenge with all of the other things that must be taught in their curriculum.
I would love to know how digital writing is being incorporated into your curriculum, and what resources/tools you are using to accomplish this. Thanks!
One tool we have been using is wikis. Students are able to post and edit each others work from home and school and love the ability to post comments just like "real" blogs. They are encouraged to add pictures, links and resources that support thier writing topic and this helps with the boredom of just content text papers.