Writer's Workshop

Kaizena + The Digital Writer's Notebook

The “digital writer’s notebook” is a simple, two-tool system developed by Kaizena teacher, Gerard:

  • Students write several drafts in the same genre of writing (expository, persuasive, descriptive, etc.) in a single Google Doc
  • The teacher uses Kaizena to give consistent but short feedback on these drafts until students eventually create a final draft

It’s important that all of the writing goes into one Google Doc because this makes seeing progress and improvement faster and easier for both the teacher and students. Plus, it allows students to use the feedback they’ve received on a previous draft to help them write an upcoming draft.

This technique has helped Gerard’s students develop stamina and confidence in their writing, plus he’s been able to provide them with feedback in a way that puts them in charge of improving their writing.

So here’s how he does it:

He starts the year with giving students a writing requirement of 250 words per week. This is much less than what most students can do comfortably, so meeting the goal is easy. This helps students develop momentum and confidence in their writing - once they realize they can write 250 words with ease, they’re more likely to rise to the challenge once the word count is increased.

Throughout this process, Gerard uses Kaizena to give short, focused and actionable feedback. He describes the resource feature as a “force multiplier of his time”, because it allows him to quickly share a website or video with  students. The students can then read the comments on their own time and apply it to their writing. Although Gerard admits that this doesn’t always happen, he knows that when it works out, it works out beautifully, as students are leading their learning far more than if they were simply retyping an essay by fixing the spelling errors he’s identified.

By using this method to have students practice writing and receive feedback through Kaizena, Gerard can:

  • Identify trends in student writing
  • Give students the responsibility to evaluate their own writing, based on comments he’s given them
  • Make revision manageable for students, and make providing feedback manageable for him

Basically, the digital writer’s notebook is a paperless way that Gerard has developed to have students practice writing, get feedback, and make consistent progress.

Click here for Gerard’s original blog post, titled “Scaffold the writing process with the digital writer’s notebook”, which goes into more detail about how he uses this process in his classroom. 

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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