Building writing skills by giving students more and better feedback

What’s the best way to improve student writing and literacy skills? Most educators would say practice. Encouraging students to write in a variety of styles while providing meaningful, timely feedback helps them become more competent writers, says New Visions for Public Schools in a piece by edSurge.

Adding assignments isn’t always possible in a regular classroom–teachers are often doing as much as they can in a full day. New Visions suggests that new computer-based apps like Google’s Doctopus and Goobric can help by digitally managing files and feedback. Ninth grade teacher Nina Clausen uses the new apps and says this:

The ability to monitor students’ documents in real time, and track how they respond to her comments, “really organizes things in a way that makes kids more accountable,” she says. “I know that when I write a comment on a kid’s document, and they read it and respond, we have a dialogue. It’s another way to getting into their heads and understanding their misconceptions.”

In a student-centered learning environment, personalized feedback becomes especially important–meeting students where they are in the learning process and accounting for their individual needs is central to the success of the approach. That’s why educators and administrators are always looking for ways to help teachers in the classroom. The U.S. Department of Education has funded a three-year pilot program through the New York-based nonprofit New Visions for Public Schools that will help train teachers on workflow-enhancing technology as well as managing day-to-day processes. They hope to find out whether improving teacher workflow by way of web-based tools like Doctopus really do help students with improving their writing skills.

Read the full article here.