English

Using Kaizena for Big Writing Projects

Today we are sharing with you how Haley Lancaster, a language arts teacher, uses voice comments to give detailed, in depth feedback to her students when they tackle big writing projects like term papers.

Haley first started using Kaizena in 2015 when she was struggling with a wrist injury and had difficulty writing and typing out feedback. Voice comments made it easy for Haley to give feedback, and she discovered that in addition to accommodating her injury, Kaizena was helping her give more meaningful feedback, quicker.

One of the ways that Haley has been using Kaizena in her classroom is with her sophomore English students. These students are required to complete a large writing project, and at each drafting stage, Haley uses Kaizena to check on the students, guide their writing, and offer feedback.

Here’s how she does it:

Establish a process

“I tell my students that I don’t want the first time I look at their term paper to be when they turn it in. I would like to see that process along the way.”

Haley creates four formal “check-in” points which means the opportunity to have four cycles of feedback. These check-ins happen at the different stages of the writing process: Creating an outline, first draft, second draft, final draft.

Have students initiate the feedback dialogue

“It’s more efficient and more interesting to have students ask questions about their own writing, it lets you know where their thinking is.They’re also acknowledging their own weaknesses and making effort to improve upon that. I think it helps them to take more ownership.”

At each check-in point, Haley asks her students to share their work with her on the Kaizena Add-on in Google Docs. Since both teachers and students are able to make comments and highlights on Kaizena, Haley puts the onus on her students to highlight specific areas of their work they are seeking feedback on.

For example, instead of just sending Haley the document and asking “Is this okay?, the student needs to highlight sentences and ask “Is this transition okay?” or “Did I integrate this quote correctly?”

Build a positive teacher-student relationship

“Using voice comments has really made me aware of who’s very sensitive to feedback”


Because tone is much more easily conveyed through voice, Haley made it a point to frame her feedback positively, while still making it meaningful.

“As a teacher, I have to work at relationship building with the students that are sensitive to receiving constructive criticism. I have to break through to them that my feedback isn’t a personal attack, and that it doesn’t mean they are a bad writer. They need to know that I am here to help them grow and help them get better.”

By breaking down large writing projects with check in points, and creating a mutual dialogue around feedback, Haley is able to support her students in a specific and timely way.

Shirley Luu
With a background in marketing and communications, Shirley is Kaizena's Community Manager. When she's not lurking #EdChats or expanding Kaizena's PLN, you can find her sweating it out at a barre class 👯‍♀️
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