Comparing Digital vs. Print Writing for Upper Elementary

Comparing Digital and Print Writing Units

I’ve always been into tech while teaching. Usually I’m part of the tech committee or volunteering to learn new tech to share with faculty. I used Google Classroom and apps before the pandemic, pretty regularly. 

Switching to ALL digital everything was still a challenge. We were virtual for almost a year, starting from the shutdown. Heading back at the beginning of this year, fully in person, my grade level team and I had to weigh the options of returning to writing on paper or digital writing. Here’s the breakdown from our MANY conversations.

Print ProsPrint Cons
Physical writing helps students remember

Easy to lay out organizers and practice physically moving around paragraphs

Easy to see editing changes using different colors, comments, and marks
Students can lose their work and need to make it up

Can feel like double the work with rewrites and final drafts

Lots of paper copies and loose papers
Digital ProsDigital Cons
Organizers, pre-writing, and drafts all in one location

Students can’t lose their work!

Digital tools can help with writing & editing (talk to type, highlighters, added text boxes)

Use version history to see edits/changes
Technology dependent: students and teachers need access

Students can copy and paste from sources, accidentally or intentionally plagiarizing

Overwhelm of the whole notebook at once (chunking can be more difficult)


My team ultimately decided to start with print because we think our students need to practice writing by hand again. We did write our final drafts in Google Docs for this narrative writing unit. During 2nd and 3rd quarter, we transitioned to modified digital notebooks for our informative and opinion writing unit.

In the end, I was glad that I created units with both digital & print versions, which especially has been helpful with the huge differences in our classes’ learning levels.

To see what I mean, check out these three digital & print writing units:

  1. Narrative Writing Unit
  2. Informative Writing Unit
  3. Opinion Writing Unit

Want to sample a free digital & print writing unit? Check out this one, based on Memoirs of a Goldfish (free on Epic!).

Memoirs of a Goldfish Reading & Writing

Try this free writing activity (comes in print and digital) to see just how easy it is to switch back and forth.

Need more help with writing? Try these blog posts.

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