One of the things that I’m always looking for are ways to engage in the writing process that provide lots of authentic practice and yet make it easy for me or peers to give feedback. I’ve been using GOOGLE DOCS for some years now with strong results.
Google Docs (suite of online applications by Google) gives writing a whole new perspective. Students write directly in a ‘doc’, while allowing the teacher (or a peer) access to the ‘doc’ as an editor (or a viewer). Conferring becomes extremely easy as you can tailor your remarks specifically to an area by using the Highlighter and Comment feature. Every change is held in a revision history so you always have a way to compare your versions or return to an earlier version. This is looking better and better. You’ve done away with all those sheets of paper in trying to keep on top of all those edits! And this is only just a step away from those group projects, where one person is the holder of the ‘folder of information’. Now all group members have access.
We have a group of teachers in our Writers Workshop Learning Series using Google Docs. While there are a few little bumps to conquer, like increased access to computers and identifying some students without email addresses, they’ve seen a glimpse of the power of what this tool can offer.
We’re using the book, Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks as a resource. Our professional commenting has been on our District Learning Technologies blog under Writers Workshop. We’re very excited to see what comes out of this journey and more importantly, what the students’ thoughts will be regarding this way of writing. Will they think that this is an opportunity for personal creativity and innovation? Will they grasp the freedom and power it will allow as they import images and even hyperlinks to strengthen their words? So many questions. I’m on the edge of my chair anticipating great things!