826 Digital for High-Quality, Engaging Writing Activities

826 Valencia with pencil and paper

The team at 826 has done it again. I know this has been out for awhile but I finally had a chance to peruse the lessons and writing activities available at 826 Digital. This FREE platform has a ton of exciting writing lessons, projects, and “spark” for students in grade 1 to grade 12. Actually, maybe these writing prompts are for adults too because I want to do a few of them myself. That’s one of the great things about teaching writing. We get to write with the students.

As I mentioned, 826 Digital is free but you do have to sign up for an account to access the materials. Once you are in, you will see four resource types:

  • Sparks = minilessons to spark ideas or practice skills
  • Lessons = topic or genre-specific writing lessons
  • Projects = units based on various themes
  • Writing = examples of real-life student writing

You can filter all of the resources by grade or writing type. I spent most of my time looking at what’s available for grades 7 and 8 because that is what I teach. Some writing activities build on trusted standbys that writing project teachers have been using for years. For example, the Write with Pride spark includes a self-portrait or “I am” poem but with a twist. Before writing, students watch a YouTube video that asks them to consider the effects of labels in order to incorporate the concept into their own poems. There are also amazing new ideas, such as the Be A Maker lesson, where students create Instagram essays in support of causes they believe in. The Signed, Sealed, and Delivered: Motown Music and History involves researching the history of Motown music in order to write song liner notes. How fun is that? Plus, the teacher directions suggest you can adapt the project for any music and time period. There are endless things teachers can do with that idea. Bonus: It involves research of primary and secondary sources.

Librarians, how can we co-teach or collaborate with English teachers on these lessons? Teachers, how can we help you teach some of these? If any educator out there feels like your writing program is getting a bit stale, or if you find yourself immersed in an endless round of writing as test prep, these lessons could be your antidote!

P.S. If your school is closed indefinitely due to COVID-19 (like mine is), you can definitely get some ideas for online writing from this platform. The 826 team suggests the super-easy and fun One-Pager Recipe Zine or the stellar Write Here Write Now writing prompts. What could be better for a student stuck at home than to adopt a regular writing practice?

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