Revising: Formerly Evil, Now Fun
In my fourth grade classroom, all word processing is now completed on Google Docs. This has completely changed the process of writing for young students. In the past, with hand-written work, revising and editing were seen as evil because those two words meant finding mistakes and then rewriting the whole story. It was a painstaking process for both student and teacher which could take over a week and involve a lot of sighing.
Now, with Google Docs, revising is fun (or at least almost fun).
After my students finish a draft of a writing piece, we prepare for peer revisions. However, this is not last-decade’s peer revision, where only two kids sit and talk aimlessly about the pieces of paper in front of them, saying, “I like it, but you should make it longer.” Google Docs gives students the ability to focus their revisions and get many more opinions they can use to improve their writing.
First, I have students write Author’s Questions. To do this, the students highlight a section of their text they think needs help, and then they ask a specific question using Google Docs’ commenting feature. Usually these questions relate to the writing traits we have been studying. Students insert three of these comments and then share their document with their classmates. Then, other students can offer specific suggestions to help the writer.
In the following example, you see an excerpt from a recent piece by one of my students along with one of her questions:
You can see Kaidence’s question is focused on adding Voice to her writing; she is trying to collect ideas for showing emotion. She received ideas from her classmates and then added them to her story in the sentences that follow the yellow highlight. Those sentences weren’t there in her first draft, and only the collaboration available through Google Docs and the availability of devices in my classroom made this possible. Also notice that her responses were received over the course of two different days, meaning that she could come back to this question on multiple days for more ideas.
This type of teamwork is invaluable in a classroom. I look forward to exploring new ways for students to collaborate as the year moves on.