How to support young writers while they draft outside of class? A collaborative googledoc and chat stream can offer reassurance, immediate feedback, and collective empowerment.
So what does it look like? The first night students are assigned to draft, advertise evening on-line hours and identify the Googledoc students should access. Across the top of the page will be an icon for each student as they access the page. Once there, they can ask questions in the sidebar chat or post samples of their work on the page to workshop together.
The "editing suggestion" button marks the teacher's suggestions in green while retaining the students' original phrasing. For others, you may choose to highlight a phrase and use the "comment" button which places the suggestions to the side of the document.
Anyone can quickly post links to specific resources or screencastify videos. You can even invite different students to share their thoughts on one student's question allowing you to not be the sage on the stage but just one of several "writers" in the group.
The first night tutoring session I was pleased to find 15-20 students checking in during the time period. What I hadn't anticipated was that multiple Google chats would spring up. Having the resources accessible online allowed for the students from different classes to bump into each other and strike up authentic talk about the directions, their topics, and craft.
I'm sure there may be other conferencing software out there to discover, but for now, Googledocs is where I'll be meeting to support my students when and where they need it.
For the full blog, visit
Michelle McLemore is a 1997 EMWP TC. She currently teaches English and Social Studies at Onsted High School and recently taught online for Michigan Virtual University this fall.