Feature Spotlight: eSpark Writing

Screenshot of the eSpark Writing splash screen featuring the character Willow, the text "Let's Write Together!" and a yellow play button in the foreground.

Writing instruction has been a struggle for years. Whether due to a hyper-focus on math and reading, a lack of consistency across resources, or simply not enough instructional time to go around, teachers everywhere are desperate for more support on the subject. That’s why eSpark made the decision to make writing our next big priority this school year. We’re excited to unveil the all-new eSpark Writing, an AI-powered, personalized learning experience for elementary students.

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Built On a Foundation of Choice

eSpark Writing builds on the groundwork laid by Choice Texts and Choice Math to provide every student with a unique learning experience based on their levels, interests, and responses. Every writing activity starts with the student’s selection of an informational Choice Text from their personal library. If they don’t already have one they’re excited about, they can create a new one to add to their collection.

Screenshot of three informational Choice Texts from a student's personal library.
This is where students select the topic they want to write about.

The theme of choice runs deep in the new eSpark. Students are more apt to stay motivated and engaged when they’re writing about things they care about. All possible combinations of texts have been thoroughly vetted for content and age-appropriateness. Upon release, students can only select from their non-fiction texts.

Meet Willow: Your Friendly AI Writing Tutor

Animated GIF depicting Willow, the AI Writing Tutor in eSpark Writing.

Willow acts as a supportive source of explicit instruction and personalized, real-time feedback throughout every eSpark Writing activity. Willow’s role in eSpark Writing includes:

  • Generating a variety of prompts for students to choose from based on their selected text
  • Encouraging students to initiate the writing process with sentence starters and suggestions
  • Helping students transition from one sentence to the next with clear instructions and purpose
  • Moderating student responses and nudging them back on track as needed
  • Celebrating success and encouraging productive struggle with real-time feedback

Willow’s role is a vital one. We know how hard it is for teachers to walk every student through the writing process when most classrooms contain a broad range of abilities and needs. Willow alleviates some of that burden by adapting to every student, meeting them where they are, and helping them toward the finish line with as much (or as little) scaffolding and support as needed.

Screenshot of eSpark's AI Writing Tutor providing feedback and a transition to a new sentence.
An example of Willow’s approach to feedback, motivation, and transitions.

Read More: The Science Behind eSpark Writing

How to Assign and Review eSpark Writing Activities

At launch, eSpark Writing is available for assignment as a Small Group Skill. We expect to have activities available for at least grades 2-5 in the short term and will continue looking for opportunities to expand that scope. The initial focus for writing will be on “elaboration of evidence,” with more writing and language standards to come. To assign writing to your students, simply navigate to your Small Group Skills tab, search for Writing, and look for Willow.

Screenshot of the initial beta eSpark Writing SGS for 3rd grade.
The initial eSpark Writing SGS for 3rd grade. Click the image to preview it for yourself.

Once the activity has been assigned, students will see it in the “From My Teacher” section at the top of their screen when they log in. Every writing lesson is comprised of three parts right now: an introductory video showing students how the activity works, an informational Choice Texts activity where they can add to their topic library, and the writing activity itself. Once the student submits their completed paragraph, it becomes available for immediate review under the Student Work tab of your teacher dashboard.

Screenshot of a submitted writing excerpt in the Student Work tab of eSpark's teacher dashboard.
Look for the red tags to identify submitted writing work.

How you implement eSpark Writing is up to you. Many of the teachers we’ve spoken to have expressed excitement about adding a new center rotation. Others will be supplementing their test prep work with a balance of reading and writing activities. The end result is the same—students will have every opportunity to practice, learn, and grow without direct intervention from you!

Full-Spectrum Personalization Becomes Fully Realized

We’ve already seen the value of real-time content generation and checks for understanding with Choice Texts and Choice Math. eSpark Writing takes that concept to the next level by leveraging generative AI to center the entire student experience on conversational instruction, feedback, and motivation to keep students engaged and on the right track. Every student will have the opportunity to write about what they love. Every student will get the exact support they need in the moment to do it right. This is a whole new approach to a critical component of early literacy, and eSparkers everywhere have a chance to make a big impact through the end of this school year and beyond.

Until next time, have fun eSparking!

Additional Resources

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