As my seniors were finishing up the first draft of their UC personal insight responses, I was trying to figure out the next steps. Did they need more time to write? Should we really spend more time in class working on the drafts? Writing assignments always include the obligatory "revise and edit" directions, but I wondered if students really knew what goes into the processes. I struggle to teach writing almost every day. In my discussions with fellow colleagues and with pre-service teachers, the resounding opinion is that writing instruction is severely lacking. My instructional coach and I constantly refer to Kelly Gallagher's work, but I still struggle to find quality resources for writing in the Social Science. Another topic for another time.
As my students were finishing up the first draft of their personal statements, I planned a lesson focusing on the skill of revision. I know that most students submit their first draft and now thanks to the information available in Google, that is obvious. Revision history doesn't always show the effort we'd like. In order to help students see the practice of revision, I chose three specific areas:
The Power of Google Docs
After I reviewed each skill with some examples and a video, students opened their response in Google Drive and highlighted parts of their text that needed to be revised. At the end of the lesson students had read their response three times. Each revision skill was highlighted in a different color to make the process more visual. This was also how I could assess whether or not they addressed the three skills. I use Doctopus to share Google Docs with students, which gives me easy access to view and comment on student work.
In order to revise their essays, students used "Suggesting" mode on Google Docs. I often use this mode when I am helping a student with a writing task, but it ended up being a great learning tool to show students what revision looks like. I asked students to have their revisions done by a certain date so that I could go and check their progress. After getting some feedback from me, students were able to accept all of their suggestions and see a revised response.
Another important skill that students need when revising is to verbalize their response. I often tell students to read their writing aloud because they will hear some of the simple mistakes that can be heard. Nor surprisingly, this recommendation is often ignored. With the power of Flipgrid, I can now encourage students to record their responses to practice oral literacy and to hear their revisions. Students started recording and stumbled because of sentence construction. Now, students had interacted with their text for a fourth time. Watching the videos also allowed me to see the emotions connected to the personal insight question. For their own privacy, student videos were not shared with the class. We have used group feedback tools in Flipgrid for other assignments, but in this case they desired a "for the teachers eyes only" agreement.