Revision Assistant, part of the Turnitin family, is a comprehensive virtual writing assistant for students that allows them to digitally edit and rewrite documents for any class. Last year, Sammy Spencer, a High School English teacher in Southern California, ran a pilot program using Revision Assistant in her school. Here’s her story:
Last Fall, my El Camino Real High School colleagues and I set out to change the way we teach writing. We wanted to redefine effective standards-based instruction and assessment. By the time we were finished with a pilot test, we discovered that a technology tool helped us and our students in some unexpected ways. It changed our day-to-day writing instruction practices, gave students more power over their own learning, and happily, made writing exercises more real and applicable for other departments like social studies.
In 2016-17, I was the new English department chair at ECRCHS, which is a large public charter school in Los Angeles. We are fortunate in that we have a lot of academic freedom, but since this is an accreditation year, we have to be sure we have data to prove we are meeting our learning objectives.
This year, I needed to help our English department implement shifts in writing methods directed by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). We also needed new pedagogical approaches that would yield data to measure progress. Our literacy coach and English teacher, Heidi Crocker, found a product from Turnitin – Revision Assistant – that used a powerful technology to assess writing and would turn the data it uncovered into feedback that students could apply to their essays immediately. We decided to give it a try.
We took a measured approach and piloted Revision Assistant in August 2016 with a small group of English and History teachers. At around the same time, our administration department asked us to align department objectives so that writing instruction reflected CCSS and the Smarter Balanced-style prompts. We needed benchmark assessments that would not only measure student achievement, but also able to drive instruction.
This summer, Ask a Tech Teacher is holding five Summer Learning classes:
- Tech-infused Teacher (Certificate edition for CEUs or grad class for college credit)
- Tech-infused Class
- Teach Writing with Tech
- 20 Webtools in 20 Days (and the Structured Learning curriculum edition)
- the Differentiated Teacher
Most award Certificates at completion, for CEUs. The Differentiated Teacher and Tech-infused Teacher can be taken for college credit. The following three tools are part of what you learn in Teach Writing with Tech:
- Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
- Introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry
- Bring poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways
- Make poetry a more important part of the school curriculum
- Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
- Encourage increased publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books
- Increase public and private philanthropic support for poets and poetry
All across the nation, school, teachers, students, libraries, and families celebrate by reading, writing, and sharing poetry. Here are fifteen websites that do all that and more. Share them with students on a class link page like the class internet start page, Symbaloo, or another method you’ve chosen to share groups of websites with students:
From ReadWriteThink–students learn about acrostic poetry and how to write it
Blogging is a popular tool used in education to not only practice writing, but reinforce collaboration, perspective taking, speaking/listening skills, and a lot more. It’s grown up from its pedestrian start as a journaling platform, where writers share daily activities and don’t stress over spelling and grammar. Look at these reasons why teachers incorporate blogging across all academic topics and lesson plans:
Students collaborate by commenting on the posts of others and/or co-writing a blog themed to a particular topic, taking turns posting articles.
Developing a profile
Blog profiles–often found at the top of the sidebar–summarize what the blog will address in just a few sentences. They must be pithy, concise, and clear. This is a great way for students to think through the purpose of their blog and share it in a way suited to the task, audience, and purpose. I am constantly reworking my own as I figure out a better way to communicate the gist of what I am doing.
Google Docs is a free word processing program that does 99% of everything a student will ever need to do when writing. What isn’t included as part of the Google Docs program tool can be augmented with mostly free third-party add-ons, extensions, and apps. It operates in the cloud so there’re no download foibles, pesky maintenance, or expensive yearly upgrades. The end result is a learning tool that is powerful, robust, scalable, and because it’s free, is the equitable solution to so many concerns over education’s digital divide.
It’s no surprise that Google Docs and its sister programs — Google Spreadsheets, Google Slideshows, Google Draw, and Google Forms — have taken education by storm, usually in a package like Google Apps for Education (GAFE) or Google Classroom. While it does have a moderate learning curve (no worse than MS Word), once traveled, teachers quickly adopt it as their own and find many reasons why this has become their favorite tool. Here are the top eleven reasons from the educators I talk to:
I’ve never had the experience of logging into Google Drive (where Google Docs live) and having it not open. On the other hand, I have often experienced that heart-stopping occurrence with MS Word when it suddenly won’t work or a Word file has become corrupted for no reason I can tell. Using Google Docs has probably added years to my life just in the lowered stress levels.
Not only does image annotation combine the best of text and pictures, but kids love it. Adding their own thoughts to a picture or even better, having the picture talk, inspires them to a creative level that’s difficult to achieve with most other communication tools. With the breadth of tech tools available, this is not only easy to accomplish but fits most school budgets.
Here are eleven of my favorite image annotation tools. I think you’ll find many that suit your purposes.
Created by Duck Duck Moose, in this popular free app, students take a photo, draw a line on it to make a mouth, and record their voice. Then, the photo ‘talks’ the recording through the mouth. Add a border, decorations, and text, then share with friends as an MP4 video via email or YouTube.
This is a great tool for quick digital stories, academic feedback, or a get-to-know-you activity for the start of school.[video width="299" height="299" mp4="http://askatechteacher.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/ChatterPix-Video.mp4"][/video]
In these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.
Today’s tip: #146–18 Ideas for Warm-ups, Exit Tickets
Sub-category: Classroom Management, Writing, Differentiation
Here are eighteen ideas for class warm-up and exit tickets:
One of my new favorite online writing tools is BoomWriter. It is a free group writing website for teachers where their students can develop and enhance their writing, reading, vocabulary, and peer assessment skills through three collaborative tools. I won’t go into detail today–that’ll come later–but I did want to share this humorous video I got from them about the Pre-Conference–that meeting teachers have with the principal before he comes in to observe your class. Who hasn’t been in this situation?
Now watch this one on laptop carts. I nodded my head through the entire thing (especially with the ending):
- 9 Best-in-Class Digital Storytelling Tools
- Storyboard That–Digital Storyteller, Graphic Organizer, and more
- Digital Storytelling Apps
- Digital Storytelling Websites
- Common Core Writing–Digital Quick Writes
- 42 Great Story Websites You’ll Love
- Monday Freebies #28: My Storybook
- Weekend Website #29: Storybook Maker
The act or process of producing and recording words in a form that can be read and understood
This focuses on recording words that are then communicated to others. In fact, if you ask students (and too often, teachers), to define ‘writing’, they probably agree with the Free Dictionary, adding that writing uses a pencil and paper (maybe a word processing program), requires language skills such as grammar, spelling, sentence fluency, and paragraph construction, and revolves around activities such as taking notes, conducting research, writing an essay, or composing a story.
Today in the 21st Century schools, they’d be wrong. What they have defined as ‘writing’ is actually writing conventions, tools, and activities rather than its purpose, goals, and definition. Let’s look at a different definition, this one from Merriam-Webster:
…the way you use written words to express ideas or opinions
This one is well-aligned with the goals of most popular writing curricula and the Common Core Standards:
To build a foundation for college and career readiness, students need to learn to use writing as a way of offering and supporting opinions, demonstrating understanding of the subjects they are studying, and conveying real and imagined experiences and events. They learn to appreciate that a key purpose of writing is to communicate clearly to an external, sometimes unfamiliar audience, and they begin to adapt the form and content of their writing to accomplish a particular task and purpose. They develop the capacity to build knowledge on a subject through research projects and to respond analytically to literary and informational sources.