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Teaching Writing on a Computer



  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
  • Educational Technology


  • K-2

Brief Description

Are you focused on writing, particularly descriptive writing, in your first grade classroom? Students love seeing their work printed from the computer and, so why not have them write some of their work on a computer? In this lesson plan, you’ll walk students through the basics of typing and saving on a computer.


Students will:
  • Learn to create a simple Word document.
  • Learn to save a file on a computer.
  • Practice typing one space between words, and not hitting Enter/Return at the end of each line.


word processing, writing, descriptive writing

Materials Needed

  • Student access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or AppleWorks.
  • Ability to display to the class using a projector or TV monitor.
  • Our First Word Project Handout (provided)

Lesson Plan

Are you focused on writing -- particularly descriptive writing -- in your first grade classroom? Students love seeing their work in print, so why not have them write some of their work on the computer? In this lesson, you'll walk students through the basics of typing and saving on a computer.

Prior to the lesson:
Create a folder on each student's computer desktop. Name the folder "Student Work."

Make sure your word processing program is easy to find:
On Macs, make sure the Word (or AppleWorks) icon is located in the dock (OS X) or launcher (OS 9 and earlier). To do that,

  • double-click the hard drive icon on your desktop;
  • open the Applications window;
  • while holding down the Control (CTRL) key, click the Word or AppleWorks icon, and then click Make Alias;
  • drag the Alias (a copy of the original icon) to your dock (OS X). If in OS 9 or earlier, move the icon to the Desktop, then open your Hard Drive folder and drag the Alias into the Launcher folder.

On PCs, open the Applications Folder, locate and right-click the Word icon. Select Send to: (Shortcut to Desktop) or simply Shortcut and drag the new icon to the Desktop.

Make sure students are comfortable with basic mouse skills (double-clicking, clicking, drag and hold) and navigation skills (opening and closing programs). No experience with word processing is required.

The lesson
Display your computer screen on a projector or TV monitor so all students can see it. Explain to students that they are going to write their work on the computer. Read aloud each of the steps below, demonstrating each step as you go along:

  • Double-click the big, blue W at the bottom of your screen.
  • Type your first and last name.
  • Hit the RETURN key on your keyboard.
  • Type the words "Summer was fun because I " and add your own ending.
  • Click FILE at the top of the screen.
  • Click SAVE.
  • Click the word DESKTOP on the left.
  • Type your first name, and then type the words "FirstWord" where it says "Save As:".
  • Click SAVE.
  • Click WORD, and then click QUIT.
(If you are using a different word processing program or want to use a different writing prompt, simply make the appropriate replacements in the directions above.)

Repeat the steps above, but this time, ask one student at a time to tell you what step comes next. You might say, for example, "Alex, I double-clicked the big blue W and now I have a new document. What do I do next?"

After completing the activity the second time, students should be ready to work on their own. It's best to have a handout with screenshots available for students to refer to as they work. Click here for a sample handout from St. George's Independent Schools in Memphis, Tennessee.

Students can complete this activity as a whole group in a lab or on laptops. The activity also works very well at a classroom computer center of 1-5 computers. Encourage pairs of students go to the computer(s) during independent seatwork time. Have one student read the instructions aloud while the other types. Explain to students that the reader is not allowed to touch the computer, but he or she can answer questions if the typist needs help. When the typist is finished, students switch roles. By pairing students, you reduce the number of questions you'll need to answer during computer time, giving you a chance to monitor and assist the rest of the class. In addition, students enjoy helping one another, and they can learn from what they see others do.


Students are assessed based upon their:
  • ability to type the writing prompt and respond appropriately.
  • ability to save their work in the appropriate place and with the appropriate title.
  • ability to work in pairs and to manage their time wisely.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lorrie Jackson

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills