In March I wrote about the possibility that shared Google folders may have for public schools, and this month I had the opportunity to share Dr. Warnick’s organizational system that he used in our Digital Self class. I put the folder system in place while leading 10 teachers enrolled in SVWA@bridgewater, a writing academy for teachers that is directed by Dr. Mark Hogan, co-directed by yours truly and Dr. Alice Trupe, and brought to life by Dee Grimm, a National Board Certified high school English Language Arts teacher. Using one shared folder, that could be accessed by everyone in the academy, we disseminated information that we wanted to share. Then, each teacher-participant had a folder that was shared only between that teacher and the academy instructors. Participants uploaded writing to their personal folder and we commented on their writing for the first time through the Google document. I want to talk a bit about how this changed participant submission and feedback.
What I liked:
- It was nice NOT to have to pass the papers around from instructor to instructor. In years past we each took several papers and then passed them amongst us until we had read and responded to all of the papers, which required a checklist to ensure that each instructor read each submission.
- Participants received feedback as soon as instructors gave the feedback. This immediate feedback meant that they received comments at three different times, and in some cases they revised in between instructors comments, making for a piece that was attended to closely.
- Comments were more specific and authentic than attached comments. I looked back at my responses in years past that were typed and attached to the participant’s paper (we did not want to write directly on the students’ paper), and while they were constructive and supportive, the comments on the Google document proved more direct and meaningful. I was able to highlight the exact location and select “comment.” This created a different response than reading a paper and then going back to think about what to say in response on a separate piece of paper.
- Participants could respond back to comments and select “resolve” to remove the comment from their paper. No need to feel the need not to write on someone’s paper with this option.
- Participants could turn in their writing at any time. Some people prefer to work ahead and get things turned in early because their schedule demands it. The shared folder allowed for participants to turn something in early, and we, in turn, could read it earlier.
- We practiced the remediation of print. Enough said. Remediation of print is a pervasive need.
Dr. Warnick’s work flow system was effective in the Digital Self course he taught last semester, and I liked submitting work and receiving feedback through our shared folder. I’m passing it on to teachers who have not used the shared folder option and Drive, because Google documents are already in use in many schools, they work to remediate print, and teachers who use Drive model organizational skills that adolescents need to practice.