Tech Focus: Using Technology in Writing Process

¡Hola todos!  Ciao tutti!

Nipmuc’s 1:1 iPad initiative has given students and teachers alike some fantastic opportunities to innovate how we learn and teach.  This year in Room 238, we’ve been using many varied technology tools to help us in our language-learning journey!  Today’s post covers several technology tools that we’ve used to help with the writing process this year.  Learning to write and create a “voice” in another language is a complex endeavor, and we are lucky to have a wide range of resources to help students in the planning, writing and editing phases.

Google Apps for Education: using familiar resources in new ways!
One way we integrated technology into the writing process was by utilizing previously used apps and programs in new ways to accomplish specific writing goals.  For example, students have been using Google Classroom, Google Documents and Google Forms over the past two years to distribute/hand in homework, create/edit documents and demonstrate understanding of concepts.  This year, we continued to use Google Apps for Education in the “usual” ways, but also re-purposed these tools for the writing process.  For example:

  • Students used the “Comments” feature in Google Documents to peer-edit each others’ work, providing specific feedback regarding grammar/spelling, clarity of meaning and organization.  In other cases, I would review students’ rough drafts to leave comments myself, guiding students to review their work for certain types of errors without correcting each mistake.  I also used Comments within Google Docs when correcting students’ final drafts, to clarify overall comments and provide final feedback.
  • In addition to Google Documents, I also found that Google Forms were particularly useful in the writing process.  I used them to assist with peer/self assessment: I created two surveys via Google Forms and shared the links to our Google Classroom page.  The questions on the surveys directly corresponded to the writing rubric used for final grading, so students were evaluating their work (and their peers’ work) for the same qualities that I would later use to assign final grades.  Here is a link to the peer-editing assessment.

Quizlet: sharing/providing targeted vocabulary for writing
Each of our quarterly writing assessments focused on a particular topic that highlighted the grammatical concept we were covering.  Each assessment aimed to provide students with an “authentic” writing experience: an email to family/friends highlighting their experiences studying abroad in Italy (using the regular, irregular and reflexive present tense); a personal narrative detailing their childhood habits and experiences (using the imperfect tense).  In order for students to fully express their thoughts on each topic, they needed more than an understanding of the particular verb tense at hand: they also needed specific, targeted vocabulary to incorporate into their writing.  Quizlet turned out to be a perfectly suited tool for this purpose.  For example, the writing prompt for term 1 (email to friends/family from Italy) required students to detail their experience studying abroad in Italy.  As such, students needed some specific vocabulary to complete the task: terms like host mother or host father, as well as email greetings (Dear ____ or Warm regards).  In addition to sharing terms I thought would be helpful, I also  opened the sets on Quizlet for students to add their own terms.  The set became a dynamic and collaborative collection of useful vocabulary that was both teacher and student created.

Prism: “crowd-sourced” peer editing
In addition to the Google Apps and Quizlet uses noted above, Italian 3 students also used Prism to practice the “art” of providing specific, focused feedback via peer editing.  Here is a previously published post on the use of Prism in this way.

As we continue to find new technology tools and find ways to re-invent previously used resources, students are making great strides in language learning!

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