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The Paperless Writing Class: Take 3

posted: 11.16.12 by archived

As I think back on my first three blog entries and think about this, my fourth, I see that my writing reflects the reality of my thinking about The Paperless Writing Class—scattered. What IS the paperless classroom? What does it look like? What happens there? These are some of the questions I’m dealing with. Here are three quick scenarios that work towards some answers and that briefly illustrate how my students and I spend time together in The Paperless Writing Class.

Scenario 1: Covering Course Content We begin the day by reviewing the “Daily Plans” and course schedule (both Google docs), posted in the learning management system (LMS). We then move on to a brief online quiz, which I review with the students, hitting on key points from the homework. Next, students break into small groups and use a Google doc to summarize sections of an article they read for class, identify passages of significance, and generate discussion questions. As they work, I add comments to the doc in real-time–asking for clarification, posing questions, and making sure that each group is on task. Once the groups have finished, we come back together to review the doc and discuss the article in detail. I post a link to the doc to the LMS so we can refer to it later in the learning unit, when we’re writing the first paper and it will come in handy for the students. We close by returning to the LMS to review the course schedule and the homework for the next class.

Scenario 2: Writing, Conferencing, & Revising We begin the day by reviewing the “Daily Plans” and course schedule (both Google docs), posted in the learning management system (LMS).   Prior to today’s class, the students received, via email, my feedback on the first draft of a paper they are writing. I ask them to open their email, download their paper, read my comments, and post a short letter to their blog in Bb outlining plans for revision and questions about my feedback. I then create a Google spreadsheet with conference times for today’s class and the next class and ask students to sign up for a conference to discuss their drafts. Next, students work on revising their drafts. During the first half of class, I circulate, sitting with individual students to consult and confer (i.e. “Show me what you’re working on…”). During the second half of class, I conference with individual students, reading through their blogs and discussing revision plans. We close by returning to the LMS to review the course schedule and the homework for the next class.

Scenario 3: Workshopping Student Writing We begin the day by reviewing the “Daily Plans” and course schedule (both Google docs), posted in the learning management system (LMS).  Students have uploaded a draft of a paper they are writing to the LMS and brought in three copies for the workshop. I ask for a volunteer to allow the class to read and discuss his/her draft. Once I have a one, I make his/her work available via the LMS and we read and discuss the draft. I give feedback on elements that are working and those that need work, trying to highlight aspects of the draft that I know other students will likely need to address as well. In talking about the model paper, I do my best to make my expectations for the assignment more clear and to model how to give effective feedback on a draft of writing. Next, we break into small groups and students share their drafts with one another. Since this is a short paper, I insist that they read their work aloud, in order to see and hear what they have produced. When they are finished, I explain the second phase of the process, which is to take their groupmates’ papers home, reread them, and post a short letter with feedback to the Discussion Board in the LMS. We close by returning to the LMS to review the course schedule and the homework for the next class.

As you can see, The Paperless Writing Class is about much more than just creating a way of teaching where no one prints out anything (although I do love this nod towards sustainability). The real focus of The Paperless Writing class is on student activity. At its root, it’s a different way of spending time together in the classroom.In the Paperless Writing Class, writing is both a means and an ends. Writing—and not just the write-a-paper-on-X-variety—is woven into the very fabric of the course. This frequent, informal, multi-directional (audience), often-collaborative writing is, I think, one of the best things about The Paperless Writing Class.


Categories: Michael Michaud
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