Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Reflection on: Read, Write, Doc!

I went to the Read, Write, Doc! Enhancing the Reader's and Writer's Workshop with Google Docs, Presentations, Forms, and Spreadsheets session by Wendy Gorton who demonstrated a few tips and tricks for re-thinking writer's and readers' workshop, or as the title of the session indicated, to enhance it. As a grade two teacher, there were some activities that I have simply filed away for "if I teach older students".  However there were a couple ideas that I could see modifying for division one use. In this post, I will reflect on the writing component only.

Writing Practice - The New Writer's Notebook?

Wendy demonstrated how she created a template for her students in Google Document where they would do their writing. She used Doctopus to create this as a Document in each of her students' drives (good-bye Make A Copy and Share back with me steps). Throughout the document were dates for their writers workshop activities.

Currently I have a paper notebook aka writing journal for students to do their practice writing or first drafts. Often the task is a prompt/activity that is glued in to the journal. I also have organizers in addition to the paper notebook. For those activities we take to a final draft, sometimes students use technology, sometimes they do not, depending on the purpose of the activity. 

Why Go Digital?

One of the key themes of the Alberta Summit is think about why you are adding technology to an activity. If you cannot answer why, then reconsider what you are doing. 

Reason One: UDL

Students who require support for writing due to spelling or handwriting are more successful with composing text using a keyboard and spell check. As well, students can use Read and Write For Google to read their writing back to them. This is great for many students, especially English Language Learners. 

Reason Two: Paper, Paper Everywhere

I have tried writing journals and writing folders. Regardless of the organization, keeping track of the various paper copies involved in writing can be a challenge. If composing was all digital, it is less to lose and keep track of. 

Reason Three: Collaboration and Commenting

Once students have developed digital and composition skills, Google Docs provides a simple platform for students to create together. Plus it provides the teacher a record (revision history) of which students were doing the bulk of the work.

Reason Four: "Good Copies"

Each year I have students take some activities to a good copy so students go through the entire writing process. However, the act of recopying by hand a draft with edits and revisions is time consuming and not relevant in our current society. Learning how to edit and revise a digital document and publishing is much more relevant for our students. Plus, it is easy to cut and paste text in Google Docs to things such as Blogger for publishing purposes.

Reason Five: Teacher Neck

Taking 25 journals to and from school to read, comment and/or assess is heavy! Or even more frustrating, when you forget them at home after an evening of assessing! Having access to read student work anytime, anywhere allows teachers to manage time and resources more effectively.

Reason Six: Creativity

Students can be creative with their text (font style, colour, etc) much easier in Google Document than on paper and can do it at any stage of composition. Plus being able to add images (self created or from research) is easier as well. 

Reason Seven: ePortfolios

As more and more schools move to ePortfolios, having digital work to select from is important. 

Routines and Organization

So now that I have established it is worth doing, now to think about how to implement it. One of the things I appreciated Wendy saying was that creating routines is important so the focus can be on writing. That is something I believe and try to practice when using technology in any subject, especially with younger students.  The issue with division one students is keeping those routines simple and time effective - so thankful I learned about Doctopus

Writing Folder

I like the idea of creating a writing folder for each student in their drive that is shared with me. I do not think having simply one Google Document for students to do their writers' workshop in throughout the year in grade two would work for me. So here is what I think the routine in my class will look like:
1. Go into Drive
2. Go into Writing Folder
3. Create a new document
4. Name your document
5. Compose!

If the folder is shared with me, it eliminates the need for students to share individual documents with me. 

If there is an activity that has a specific prompt I want them to use, then the routine will likely be:
1. Teacher uses Doctopus to add Document to each student's writing folder
2. Go into Drive
3. Go into Writing Folder
4. Find new Document
5. Compose!

Wish Me Luck!

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