Teacher Kate Friedwald and one of her students share how using writing tools and other collaborative facilities in Google docs has improved student writing.
Google Docs has been a great motivation for student writing. The barrier of the physical pen and paper has been eliminated. Students are excited, enthusiastic about writing now and often I have the scenario of them not wanting to stop writing when it’s time to go to lunch. They use the tools that Google Docs has in it, such as they use the spell checker, they use the share function, so they might be sharing a document with just one buddy to work on it together, or it might be their own document that they just want a little bit of help and "feedforward" on.
They may write on a document that I share with an entire group, and that helps them work out “Hey this person wrote that, that’s great, I can get some good ideas from that,” or “I can help them out”. They use the comments feature to leave comments for each other on their writing.
Well if I was doing a poem about – like an onomatopoeia poem – they may give me feedback about the words I’m using and the information in the poem.
So we have a quality feedback and quality comments guidelines which states what things need to be done, and it’s to get past the “oh yeah that’s great” to the “I really like how you’ve done this, maybe next time you could do this” or “look how I’ve done this, you could include that”, and the kids are finding they are getting a lot more feedback from each other, it’s removing me a lot so I can concentrate on needs, and they are moving themselves along with the help of their peers. They also use Text to Speak so they are listening to their writing.
I use the Text to Speak function quite a lot. When I’m recrafting and GPSing my work because it helps me understand the writing. If I’m not sure about my writing, or if I have questions, I can comment on the piece I’m not sure of, and Miss Olive, since she can see all our writing, she can answer my questions or help me figure it out.