Writing and Grammar Platform to Create Next Generation of Competent Communicators

App of the Week
Format: Website-based learning platform
Learning Counsel Staff

Website: Writesteps

Teaching writing and grammar while meeting the needs of individual students is an ongoing challenge. CaptivationStation helps educators harness the power of blended learning with a student instruction and practice platform. Third-to-fifth grade students acquire their standards-based writing and grammar instruction via videos (Captivators). They complete their independent practice assignments, revise, edit, and receive peer and teacher feedback on the student digital platform. CaptivationStation allows teachers to use instructional time to differentiate instruction to individual or small groups of students rather than teaching the same lesson to the entire class.

The platform also provides teachers with access to student work for tailored and individual feedback.

What grade and age range?  3-5

Is this core/supplemental/special needs/extracurricular/professional development or what?   Core curriculum

What subject, topic, what standards is it mapped to? Writing and Conventions Standards; mapped to Common Core and State Standards

What lesson time does it use? 25-50 minutes a day

What is the pricing model?  $209/year per classroom plus a one time set  up fee of $410 per classroom

Are there services around it? There are free videos that help teachers get started. And, there are guides that provide screenshots and step-by-step directions for teachers and students about how to implement and use CaptivationStation. There is also the option of PD for an additional cost.

What makes WriteStepsWriting unique is that while there are many types of learning software that provide supplemental activities, and game based activities which provide additional practice for a particular skill, CaptivationStation, from WriteStepsWriting, provides the entire lesson every day through student videos and instructions.

Students can:

  • log in to their personal homepage for more engagement and ownership in the writing process (single sign-on for Google users).
  • watch daily, standards-based, instructional videos called Captivators.
  • control their own pace with the Captivator videos and writing practice; students work harder and are more motivated when they realize the impact they have on their own progress.
  • complete the lessons anytime, anywhere, on any device, making it easy for an absent student to catch up on missed learning.
  • access the visual aids for each lesson in separate tabs, allowing students to cross-reference material when needed.
  • read and listen to daily audio instructions, which helps all kinds of learners, including ELL and Special Education students.
  • write digitally with easy-to-use tools, which prepares them for online writing assessments.
  • choose from thousands of visual writing prompts across all genres, providing opportunities for choice, which motivates writers.
  • read and listen to teacher feedback and apply it to develop their writing skills.
  • read and comment on writing from their peers locally or around the globe, practicing positive digital citizenship in a safe environment with privacy setting options.
  • join writing groups based on individual interest, which encourages students to practice authentic writing.

A description of the characteristics: How is it designed for user interface, user experience? What instructional design principles are at work here?

User interface: Students are always 1 click away from starting a writing piece, learning writing skills from instructional videos, editing and revising their writing, publishing their writing, finding inspiration for their writing, and reading/commenting on classmates' writing.

Instructional design: Student choice and a safe, authentic audience are easily scaffolded by the teacher. The writing interface is intentionally minimal to avoid distractions, while still providing multimodal publishing opportunities with audio recording and image embedding. Personalized instruction is provided to students by their teacher using annotations, text or voice feedback. 


Teacher reviews:

CaptivationStation has been a game changer for me. The Captivator videos instantly engage every one of my students and also keep the lesson short! While my students are actively following along with the videos, I can conference with students to improve their writing. It is like having an extra teacher in the room. It doesn’t get any better than that!! We know we are all strapped for time these days. This is just another MUST HAVE feature WriteSteps has added to create successful writers.

Kristen Mullen
3rd Grade Teacher
Kiski Area School District
Export, PA


I believe the CaptivationStation videos are an excellent way to differentiate instruction in my writing classroom. They allow me to introduce new skills to students while I am conferencing with a student or teaching a small-group mini-lesson. They are a huge time saver because they allow more time for actual writing from my students!"

Robert Odri, Special Education Teacher
Ewing Public Schools
Ewing, NJ


My fifth graders love CaptivationStation! The videos are engaging, colorful, and well paced. The students are appreciative of the way in which Ms. V “talks to them” and gives them time to talk about their thinking. As the teacher, I have more time to conference with students and coach them as writers. Captivators make my lesson planning more efficient...I can work smarter not harder.

Cindy Swift Howard
5th  Grade Teacher
Clinton Community Schools
Clinton, MI


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