The Common Core Writing Standards lean heavily on digital tools from 6th – 12th grade for the production and distribution of writing. They emphasize producing, publishing, interacting with others and collaborating – all using technology. In 6th grade, students should be able to type a minimum of 3 pages in a single sitting! In 7th grade, they should also be able to link to and cite sources. In 8th grade, they should be presenting the relationship between information and ideas. By the time they reach high school, their writing should be linked to related information and displayed dynamically and flexibly. Before you send them off to college, they should be updating their writing to include arguments and information in response to ongoing feedback.
Are your students ready? Is your network ready? Are the tools they need to use for collaboration blocked or unblocked?
True collaboration can be challenging. What does collaboration mean? The LEAP21 rubric (see page 3), designed by SRI International, defines collaboration as students working together with shared responsibility to make substantive decision about the content, process, or product of their work.
Office 365 and Google Docs provide your students with collaborative writing venues. Some of the differences are highlighted here:
Since Office 365 is new, here is some more info about it:
The days of a once-a-year Young Authors Night, once-a-month student newspapers, and annual literary magazines are gone. Students can publish their work regularly. If you look at the five types of writing in the Collins Writing Program, only Type 5 is considered ready for publication. However, the CCSS expect our students to be collaborating and publishing using the tools now available to them digitally. This may mean re-thinking what it means to publish.
Today, student writing can be published:
In online books
How can technology assist teachers and fellow students give regular and meaningful feedback to student writers? How can that cycle benefit from the use of digital tools, so that it becomes effective and not cumbersome? Tools such as OneNote, shared in the cloud, provide opportunities for written, audio, and video feedback. There’s nothing like playing back your teacher or partner’s recorded comments, while you watch what the reviewer was highlighting, typing, or circling while speaking. The tools mentioned above for collaborative writing can also be used to improve the feedback loop.
What does a district’s acceptable use policy (AUP) have to include regarding publishing student work online and online collaboration? Here is a sample of one district’s blogging guidelines and some AUPs:
Some other resources I’ve collected about collaboration, collaborative writing, and writing online can be found here. Enjoy! Experiment! Have fun!