“Nudging” Writers in Google Docs

There are times when I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s really happening. Two instances brought the power of writing using Google Docs “front and center”.  Watching it unfold was thrilling to say the least.

One instance was with a teacher in our workshop series – we’ve been working on using commenting as a way to lift writing to a new level (powerful, insightful nudging). The teacher had modeled this multiple times in her class noticing it was a great way to get at the specifics of the writing. When we looked at one of her student’s work, what popped out was truly a
revelation.  Students were commenting on their own,  highlighting specific text
and using language like “this doesn’t make sense…can you be more specific..”.   This generated a right-away response of “what do you mean? Help-clarify ideas”. While this went back and forth, eventually a refinement of the writing appeared. What was interesting about this was that it all happened at 7:30am before school started. Engagement? It was one of those “shiny eyes” moments.

The second instance was in class near the end of the writing session.  Again we were working on commenting. The teacher invited students to scribble their thoughts about using Google Docs as a writing environment on their way out the door.  A lineup of students quickly jumped out of their seats to the rolling whiteboard. Animated conversation ensued as they waited their turn.  What leaped out at me were comments of “this isn’t real work when writing is with this…I don’t have to remember where my paper is – always online so writing is better and super fast…I write more…I’m more creative…saves paper…many people can help me…my writing is better…I am so using this in secondary next year.”  Have these students recognized empowerment? You bet.

A complex series of things are happening that is making this process unfold with such power and clarity.  First the writer is acknowledged in the process – they are  at the heart of the writing process through their writing territories.  They have stories that are important to tell.  Second, the online environment is inviting and flexible allowing for multiple entry points for EVERY member.  Success is not an accident in this collaborative environment – it is nurtured and focused.  For more information on our Writers Workshop Series,  click here. For our Google Docs, click here.

There are many stories of teachers using Google Docs to support writing/communication and collaboration. If you have one, please consider sharing it here so we can all learn and grow.


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