Posted by: crudbasher | November 11, 2013

Clever Use Of Google Docs In A Writing Class


During a visit to our 1:1 pilot team this week, I stopped into Ms. Strout’s English Language Arts classroom.


The room was largely silent, save for the sound tapping keyboards as each student in class worked on writing a narrative story. As I moved in more closely, I could see that the students were writing using Google Docs


As I looked more closely, I noticed on some students’ screens that comments were appearing in the right-hand column – comments from Ms. Strout offering feedback and suggestions. The feedback was live and came as the students wrote, embedded right into the writing process.

Very very cool and I give major kudos to Ms. Strout for doing this. So here are my thoughts…

1. Why do they have to be in class to do this? Seems like this would work the exact same way online.

2. This can scale but only if you have some automation to do the notes automatically.

However, in this case I might surprise you if I say completely automating this process would be a bad thing. I believe the students will do better work with a live person evaluating them than if it is automated. It has been my experience that students will do much better work if they know that work will be in front of an audience. Automated feedback in this case will turn the exercise into a game of “fool the machine”.

No, what has to happen is a mix of teacher and automation. The student should not know if the teacher or the machine is writing the comments (and it will be a combination of both). The automation can direct the teacher to students who need more guidance, thus maximizing their time.

Again though, bravo on a creative use of existing tools.




  1. I love doing this! After students get blown away at the immediacy, it’s such a valuable tool. I’ve even done this in small groups working with me. I have them share their document with the person to their right and me. Then we can do peer and teacher editing. The writing is immediately better!!! So great that you were able to walk in on this.

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