Our final learning session of Writers Workshop using Google Docs turned out better than I could have ever imagined. We have such a wonderful group of imaginative and fearless educators! Here’s how the session unfolded. We started with a video from Tedtalks that I discovered on spoken word poetry by Sarah Kay.
This spoke to me about how important it is to offer places for our students to share their voice and to know their story is a story that only they can tell. I believe that writers workshop especially in a digital forum provides such a space for our community of learners.
Students voiced their views on using Google Docs for writing:
- I write more when using google docs – easier to organize my ideas – I don’t have to have it all perfect to start – I can fill in the blanks with bigger ideas
- I love how my writing is shared with people more than just teachers. It makes me want to do better and work harder.
- its easier to change and edit my words; i can use tools like Lexipedia to expand my vocabulary and use words i don’t usually use
- I write better – comments help in places where I really need help. The little chunks make me think I can get better. Its not such a mystery.
- Lots of my friends and parents can help me with my writing
- its in real time – i get help when i need it! And i like how my writing changes from beginning to end. Sometimes I just click the beginning and the end a million times just to see how ive improved.
- if I’m away, I don’t worry I just go onto googledocs and my whole class is there.
- cuts down the time it takes to comment on student work (portability in commenting via phones or anywhere, anytime) – huge difference instead of collecting so many papers and not getting to in timely manner
- increased ability to be specific in the writing (being more purposeful in examining our ideas). Using Comments is like a conversation.
- continuous learning (ease of the interface produces faster results) – students write often so they get more practice without knowing it
- “collapse time and space” (seeing students use Inspiration, Lexipedia, sharing comments at the same time) – student ease at simultaneously working with multiple software programs (they don’t get mixed up). Ability to choose on their own the type of tool they need to help them for a specific purpose.
- immediacy of comments to lift writing (in comparison to paper response journals – difficult to get back to in written conferences so conversations are disjointed)
- “We can’t go back to pen/paper now though there is a place for it”
- powerful connection with reluctant writers (saw it unfold and it resonated) – they wrote more, they felt more successful and proud of what they could accomplish. Added benefit of other tools like spell-checker were used in real time and helped them to stick with increased risk-taking in writing.
- consider for next year – incorporate Webspiration Classroom in writing process so there is a seamless transition
- we can extend this at our schools by getting together with buddy classes to show them – its easy
Some Lesson ideas:
- Generating ideas to making comments more specific – through visuals like building a fire (little sticks first, bigger branches to build a big roaring fire), asking good questions – what does that look like; 5Ws as a frame of reference.
- Using picture books to “Explode the Moment” – extend the writing by using book images as ideas generator for using similes.
- Do lots of talk, individual thinking talk, partner talk before writing to generate ideas and practice their writing. “Writing is like silent talking with a pencil.”
- Incorporate activities like detailed describing of images for partners to sketch and discuss what questions would have helped with accuracy of drawing