Sunday, April 19, 2015

Google Docs - An Invitation to Revision

Digilit Sunday

Today is the first time I have participated in Digital Learning Sunday with Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche.  I use technology in my classroom, but I would not call myself "technologically literate."  And I am certainly not comfortable sharing and writing about it.

We are coming to the end of our perseverance unit.  I love this unit for many reasons.  One, the students are reading biographies of their choice.  Two, they are learning about ways people have not given up and persevered through difficult situations. Three, they are writing their essays using Google Docs.

Google Docs naturally encourages and invites revision.  For some reason, student writers dread the revision process.  Their interpretation of revision is "writing it over."  I work hard to explain this misconception - that revision is making changes to improve their writing, and all writers revise.  Google Docs makes convincing them much easier.

As I sit beside my writers, I am amazed at how differently they view revision while keyboarding instead of writing by hand.  Revision doesn't seem to be a chore.  They examine their essays with a more critical eye, looking for ways to make their writing better because they know they do not have to laboriously rewrite it.  Revision is as simple as a few keystrokes.

I see them thinking about how they can change a verb to make their sentences stronger. Crafting well-constructed sentences is now a thoughtful process.  They are cutting and pasting sentences and even entire paragraphs to better organize their essays.  After I taught a mini lesson on complex sentences, they went back to see how they could change their sentence patterns.  They are not afraid to make changes because they now know how easy it is to make them.  They have become better writers through the use of Google Docs.

As a teacher, I like Google Docs because it automatically saves revisions, and I can view them in the revision history.  I am able go back in and look to see what changes they made throughout the writing process. Revision history lets me take a peek into their thinking, and I can see how they specifically and conscientiously made these decisions.

I am sure many teachers have been using Google Docs in their classrooms for quite some time.  For me, this was my first attempt.   As a reflective teacher,  I am always looking for ways to improve my instruction and student learning in my classroom.  I can envision how writing will be completely different next year through the use of Google Docs.  I cannot wait.

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