Saturday, 15 June 2013

Peer Editing Using Google Drive

I have written a lot about using Wikis to teach writing, however, I
think that they serve a purpose just like Google Drive ( serves a purpose. Anyway, yesterday I did an interesting activity where 20 students used a single Google document to peer edit their classmates' essays.

Here's how to do it. 

Step 1 - Plan
I pair the students up and give each pair one worksheet (click herewhich helps them to plan ideas, as well as giving them some language to use in the essay. 

Step 2 - Write 
In pairs the students then write their essay directly on the Google Doc. Alternatively, they can write it on a Word Document, then copy and paste it to the Google Doc. While they are writing, the teacher is free to go around and offer support and advice. 

Step 3 - Peer Edit
Now all the essays are on the Google Doc (click here), the peer editing can start. I ask each pair to look at the essay below theirs and edit it. To help the students check the document, I give them a check sheet (click here) for things to look for and tick off. The students mainly check that there is a topic sentence, thesis statement, complete sentences, spelling etc. 

My students wanted to help with grammar as well so they suggested two systems. Highlight the sentence in blue if it is difficult to understand. Then, if they see a grammar mistake which they know they can fix, they highlight it in yellow

The students also wrote notes at the bottom of the essay to offer advice. This was a good opportunity to teach my students about direct language (This is wrong!) vs. indirect language (Why don't you change this part? How about...?) 

Step 4 - Edit
Once the essay has been edited, the students go back to their original essay to make the corrections. 

I was unsure as to how this activity would work. However, I was impressed to see all 20 students engaged in the process. It was relatively easy to see up and the students were eager to peer edit. Now I am confident that I can use this process with the students to edit their essays. I have 20 students in the class and using a process writing approach is very labour intensive. Although, if the students are given experience in editing essays for common issues, such as structure, cohesion and comprehension, then a lot of the editing can be completed before the teacher makes the final edits. This allows the students to learn from other student's written work, as well as help them to become better editors themselves. That's my hypothesis anyway haha. 

I hope this is useful to anyone out there who has a lot of students in the classroom and wants to use peer editing. I use it for essays and academic writing, though there is no reason why it couldn't be adapted for any writing activity. 

Monday, 3 June 2013

WikiZine Updated

WikiZine updated

This is an updated project from the one I did a few months ago and can be accessed below
Class magazine part 1:  Click here
Class magazine part 2:  Click here

In WikiZine updated I wanted to push the use of the Wiki even further. The previous project asked students from one class to write an article. This time, I wanted the students from two separate classes to write two articles each, as well as provide accompanying media.

The learning objectives of the project were:
- Create two written articles on a topic of your choosing;
- Provide accompanying videos or audio for the article;
- Research to provide your story with more information;
- Interview your classmates and friends for the audio and video content;
- Peer-review classmates articles;
- Become competent at using the Wiki, uploaded videos to Youtube and sound cloud.

Step 1: I got all the students into one classroom and told they that they would create an online magazine. I then asked them to give me themes for the magazine; they came up with:

- Fashion
- Culture
- News
- Human interest
- Sport
- Entertainment 

Step 2: The students will create two articles for the magazine. 

Article 1 - This article will be around 300-400 words in total and will contain a video interview to accompany the article.

Article 2 - This will also be around 300-400 words and will contain video/audio with only the writer of the article speaking. 

The aim of article 1 was to get the students to explore interviews and talk to their fellow classmates or friends in English. I encourage the students to try and speak to 3-4 students in the interview. In article 2, I wanted the students to focus on their own speaking, so all the attention would be on them. 

Step 3: For my particular course the students had 2 weeks to complete the whole project. I offered advice in the way of ideas to help make their stories interesting. However, if they wanted someone to check their writing, they had to ask a classmate or friend. I really wanted the students to take responsibility for their one writing and become more familiar with proof reading and editing. 

Step 4: At the end of the project, the students were asked to write a reflective essay about the whole experience. They were encouraged to write about:
- what they learned;
- what went well;
- what went badly;
- what they would differently if they did the project again.

Step 5: For this project the students were assessed for their writing and speaking. To view the writing rubrics, please click here.

Summing up
The project was really easy to set up and administer as I could just click on the Wiki to monitor progress. Whereas many of the students worked hard to create their own content, as expected, there were a few who did plagiarize their work. This disappointed me as I thought the WikiZine project would be fun and motivating for them. However, I also realise that writing something that will go publicly online can cause some anxiety and confidence issues with the student. This was fortunately an isolated incident and for the most part I felt the students got a lot out of the whole process. I especially liked how the students were using English in a natural setting. Also, I was impressed to see how well they all worked together by helping one another to make the videos, upload them and even edit them.

I purposely took a back seat to the whole process and watched from the comfort of my Wiki screen. I really believe that setting up projects are a really powerful way to get our students engaged in meaningful language learning, as well as skills learning. They not only learned language, but they learned interpersonal skills, collaborative skills and technology skills which they can take with them to their degree course. 

To check out the WikiZine. click here.