This is a guest post by Susan Van Doren.
For 18 years as an English teacher, I have struggled with trying to get students to revise effectively. By the time they receive my feedback, the teachable moment has passed, and they’ve moved on. The most success I’ve had in improving student writing is when I sit side-by-side with a student and offer immediate and specific feedback. Unfortunately, I can’t clone myself 30 times to work with all of my students simultaneously.
I’ve been experimenting recently with how instructional technology can help improve student writing. Google Docs can enable collaboration among peers, and some programs can help students proofread, but true revision demands much more than just fixing errors. So when I heard about a pilot test of Turnitin’s new writing technology, I jumped at the chance to try it.
Turnitin’s Revision Assistant gives immediate feedback on student essays at the exact moment they are writing. It provides the same kind of comments that I might make, such as “This is a great example of descriptive language. Where else could you add more?” The game-changer is that Revision Assistant can provide feedback to all my students simultaneously as they draft a paper.
With the click of a button, students get feedback about what they are doing well and how they can improve. Once we started using Revision Assistant, the number of revisions skyrocketed. My students submit their papers an average of five to seven times, and I often see more than 10 revisions per child. Meanwhile, I can circulate and support students in understanding the feedback.
Technology can’t replace good teaching, but it can facilitate teacher-to-student conversations about what makes good writing. Revision Assistant helps me reach more students than I could have dreamed of previously, and it has helped me meet my goal of guiding my students to take ownership of their learning.
Revision Assistant is a new tool from Turnitin and purchasing options vary.