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Connecting with Students Online: Strategies for Remote Teaching & Learning


The world, as we know it right now, is unpredictable. Struggles seem to stretch further than we thought they could. As we all encounter new challenges in education, there is little we can seem to count on when seeking consistency.

Recently, Jennifer Serravallo published a new book titled, Connecting with Students Online: Strategies for Remote Teaching & Learning, and for once–in a really long time–something familiar was in my hands. One thing I can always count on with a book by Serravallo is consistency and structure. She delivered on it in this one too. Let me take you on a tour of your “soon to be” favorite professional book. 

Goals and Strategies

Jen lays out six chapters that each consist of a myriad of strategies to accomplish a central goal. As teachers of writers, each of the goals she chose ring true to workshop teaching. Within these chapters, she asks a series of repetitive questions to develop the structure of the text. In a time when we are all full of questions, it is refreshing to hear and see what I wonder on the pages, followed by practical advice. For instance, in chapter two, strategy five, she begins to lay out how important it is to map our daily lessons with goals and strategies in mind. She asks what you might ask, “What does it mean? What are the challenges? How do I do it?” Again, Serravallo comforts teachers with this predictable and approachable structure that allows for quick digestion of material and fast turn-around in our practices. She discusses streamlining content and connecting goals to slim our instruction to a focal point.

Page 49 of Connecting with Students, by Serravallo

As someone who has been working and teaching children for over twenty years, I still find myself losing sight of my focus. In a time when so much is swirling in our minds taking our attention from the most important work, I found Jen’s words felt like a lift back to reality.

Supporting Independence

Jen dedicates an entire chapter to this goal. I think for anyone who is teaching fully remote, like me, finding ways to build independence is more key than ever. She encourages us to ask students to write every day and share ways we can support families in this effort. I especially appreciated this graphic that explains composing on paper vs. composing on a screen. 

She also reminds us, just as we need help and resources, students do too! Jen shares a variety of paper choices we can offer to writers and makes a case for blank paper, important for our youngest writers. She also encourages teachers to “hold on tightly to writer’s notebooks.” I poured over this section. Although this year, I am teaching kindergarten students, I share in this sentiment. When I think about my former third-grade students from last year, I hope they are holding tightly to their notebooks, whether they are in face-to-face classrooms or learning remotely. 


Although the book crosses content areas, there are lovely video examples of Jen sharing lessons as well as seasoned teachers in the field of remote education on writing instruction. You’ll find a video of Jen sharing a lesson with students on mentor texts as well as nonfiction writing and summer writing projects.

I always love watching videos of teachers working with kids in real-life ways within real-life territories. The territories we find ourselves in now are challenging, but they contribute to innovative teaching models and the expansion of technology in education. I hope to continue to learn to find the best balance in my remote classroom, and Jen is certainly helping me with this guide on my side.

Are you interested in reading Jen’s newest book? Leave a comment below to be entered in a giveaway thanks to Heinemann Publishing! See the information below.


  • This giveaway is for a copy of Connecting with Students Online: Strategies for Remote Teaching & Learning. Many thanks to Heinemann Publishing for donating a copy for one lucky reader.
  • For a chance to win, please leave a comment about this post by Wednesday, October 21st, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner and announce it at the bottom of this post by Friday, October 23rd.
    • NOTE: You must have a U.S. mailing address to enter this giveaway.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contacts at Heinemann will ship your books out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – Connecting with Students. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

*Note: A digital review copy was donated for the purpose of this review and giveaway.

Betsy Hubbard View All

Daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, and writer.

66 thoughts on “Connecting with Students Online: Strategies for Remote Teaching & Learning Leave a comment

  1. It’s such a fine line to balance right now to give just the right amount of emotional and academic support to our students, while still fostering independence from a distance. Would love to read what Jen has written about supporting independence! =)


  2. Any and all virtual teaching inspiration welcome! I’m still trying to shift my mindset and approach to develop a joyful virtual K classroom, but struggling to let go of what teaching was like in the classroom.


  3. Thank you for sharing your insights on this amazing resource. There is so much we can learn from each other. I would love to be able to share tips and strategies with all the teachers I work with.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t wait to get my hands on this — others have created resources aimed at supporting the current reality, but I feel many miss the mark. Given the perfection that is Jennifer’s Reading and Writing Strategies, I have high hopes for this! I love some of the related videos and tidbits that I’ve previewed so far. 🙂


  5. Serravallo’s Writing Strategies is one of my go-to resources and I’m always eager to share it with others. So thankful that she is now sharing her expertise and wisdom for remote teaching & learning in a new book!


  6. I’ve really enjoyed and appreciated the Facebook group and all that I have taken from that. I think this book will be another great addition! Any guidance on this subject is much appreciated 🙂


  7. Jen’s books are always so accessible…both in formatting and in transference of ideas. Based on your book talk of the book, I know this will be another great book to add to my “mentor texts.” Thank you for posting about it.


  8. Thank you so much for sharing and reviewing this book. I have always appreciated Jennifer’s direct and clear tips for helping teachers work with intention in the classroom.


  9. Jen, thank you for writing such a teacher friendly resource. I have been looking for something to assist with PD for my staff and this book has so much helpful advice. This is another great addition to your already great collection.


  10. Jen is a reliable master of all reading and writing instruction! The combination of tried-an- true methods with research-based expertise ensures her newest book is a treasure. I am a literacy coach for grades 3-5 and a Reading Recovery teacher for first-graders; all can benefit from Jen’s tips for engaging writers in remote teaching and learning.


  11. This sounds like a great resource to have and makes the connection between teaching in person vs remote without relying on just more tech tools, which I feel like so many other things are doing right now.


  12. This! This is so vital and relatable. I would hope to gain insight on merging what we know about in person teaching and building on it as we continue to learn, teach, inspire virtually.


  13. This books sounds so resourceful; especially with the challenge and struggle of teaching online students. The strategies would be a tremendous benefit for teachers. Supporting independence and autonomy for online learners is a great idea; I would love to learn more about her suggestions and strategies. In addition, Jennifer Serravallo book includes videos and lesson plans which is a beneficial supplement and resource that teachers would gladly and gratefully appreciate!


  14. Would love the opportunity to win Jen’s new book! I have all of her books and am looking forward to reading this one. Her tips and tricks for teaching remotely seem awesome. 🙂


  15. This is so valuable! Our district has been really focused on connecting with our kids in all our teaching forms! We’ve been hybrid, full in person, and are expecting to go remote…Connections are harder but more important than ever!


  16. This book sounds like a great resource. It is a struggle to work with kids in writing when they are not physically with me. I am working in a hybrid situation and have 6 fully remote students. It seems that the concept of revision is a difficult one and they just keep starting new pieces even after we have met to discuss revisions on a completed piece.


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