Tag Archives: SEACCR

Annotating an Initial #SEACCR Bibliography

Photo: Bibliography

Bibliography – cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Alexandre Duret-Lutz

Running behind a bit, again. Still, once I got a chance to sit down and start compiling things, the process moved much faster. I also came to realize that the more precise term for what interests me is peer response groups, not reader response groups. Still, my inquiry is essentially the same: How does the use of use of Google Docs impact peer response groups and change or shape the writing process? Of course it still subject to revision, but that is where I am at present.

While I tried to examine a number of documents, so far I have found that there is not as much material specifically related to my line of inquiry. This potentially opens a small window for a substantive investigation that examines the impact of Google Docs on peer response groups. I may need to widen my reading to include more background on the theory that underlies peer response groups to both deepen my understanding and attenuate me to ways in which Google Docs as a tool might alter the experience. I definitely found some good articles to get started with a lot of leads to more potential readings.

Lastly, just for the sake of easier reading, I formatted the actual citations with a subtle background shading just to aid readability and keep the sections visually separated.

Kittle, P., & Hicks, T. (2009). Transforming the group paper with collaborative online writing. Pedagogy9(3), 525-538.

While only tangentially connected to my inquiry, this article behind framing out more theory and practice behind the related concept of collaborative writing. It is primarily focused on providing a number of practical activities for teaching and learning collaborative writing, using technology tools, as well as addressing how groups work together in multiple contexts. It is a great introduction to the concept of collaborative writing, which is related to my inquiry about peer response groups and highlights where a lot of the most current inquiries seem to headed.

Lacina, J., & Block, C. C. (2012). Progressive writing instruction: Empowering school leaders and teachers. Voices from the Middle, 19(3), 10-17.

This article investigated seventeen populous district’s views on middle school writing instruction for the 21st century. It itemizes a list of research-based writing instruction practices geared for improving adolescents and tried to identify their presence in classrooms across the observed districts. This article contains a rich array of references to other studies and articles, perhaps providing its greatest potential value. Considering that the sections I am observing are ninth graders, this middle school study seemed relevant.

One of the recommendations specifically discusses peer response groups, although they are more geared toward responding to literature and not peer generated writing specifically. However, it promotes the concept of real-time collaborative writing, using technology tools. While similar, it is not quite the same concept of my inquiry. There is definitely a tension point between collaborative writing and peer response groups.

Lin, W. C., & Yang, S. C. (2013). Exploring the roles of Google. doc and peer e-tutors in English writing. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 12(1).

Despite this study being in a English as a Foreign Language context with a tutoring component, this study has a quality review of literature regarding peer feedback. The findings are confirmed Google Docs as a success platform for social interaction between parties. They did however find challenges with the Google Docs service, which may potentially occur with any cloud solution. Also, considering continued upgrades and improvements to the service, it is unlikely that the problems experienced account for more than inconveniences.

Hedin, B. (2012). Peer Feedback in Academic Writing Using Google Docs.

Courtesy of Lee’s tutorial video, this might be the best pure article related to my inquiry. In it, a number of students in an undergraduate program participated as they developed degree project reports, using Google Docs for Peer Feedback Marking (PFM), which is essentially the kind of peer response method I am currently using with students.  In survey questions, respondents ranked written peer feedback and oral feedback similarly, although supervisor written feedback outranked both. Additionally, nearly 70% preferred the comment features in Google Docs over threaded discussion comments as available in an learning management system (LMS). The study also explores a high acceptance for reading electronic texts, which seemed surprised the investigator. This was something that I had not necessarily considered when conceiving my investigation. There are definitely some quality questions and methods to be gleaned from this study.

Pae, J. K. (2010). Collaborative Writing versus Individual Writing: Fluency, Accuracy, Complexity, and Essay Score. Officers & Executive Board, 1(2011), 121.

An interesting tangential article examining collaborative and individual writing. The main value of this piece is in the literature review and the references regarding collaborative and individually produced texts. It is not of primary concern but does provide some quality background on the theoretical opposition that I have kind of discovered is a bit more widespread than I understood prior to my inquiry.

Pargman, D., Hedin, B., & Hrastinski, S. (2013). Using group supervision and social annotation systems to support students’ academic writing. Högre utbildning, 3(2), 129-134.

In a subsequent study, Hedin and company were interested specifically in the social annotation system as a support, as well as how it fit into overall a supervision model. Again, using undergraduates this study required students to comment on each others writing, working in pairs only with the addition of supervisor input. There was very little advice about how or when to comment, something that they will choose to emphasize in future iterations. In fact, they will in future focus on what good performance is and facilitate the development of self-assessment, which is similar to the protocol that I use with students. A finding that is mentioned in both Hedin studies is an increase in student on-time completion rates, something that I had not thought to measure at all.

Taking Stock of Another Week with SEACCRs

Image: Wonder Lake - Mount McKinley National Park

Wonder Lake – Mount McKinley National Park – cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Gregory “Greg” Smith

In honor of my Alaskan SEACCR colleagues, the reflection in this photograph seemed fitting. Really quite a beautiful image and landscape. I hope to see some of the Alaskan landscape in person at some point. Until then, I will have settle for arresting secondhand glimpses.

Initial Engagement

Despite delays in Week 2, I have been trying to play a bit of catch-up. I felt like I had a pretty strong opening SEACCR week only to run into a few obstacles which I mentioned in a previous post. Plus, I felt like it was always going to take me a bit longer to fashion a research question. In may respects, I am still getting to know my students, which definitely impacted where I thought I might spend some time sharpening focus.

In terms of contributing to others learning, my contributions were split this week. I jumped into the Twitter chat on Tuesday, which was very warm and inviting with a group not so large as to completely become lost in the flow.

Tweets of a #SEACCR – Week 2

  1. I am with @kl_jones11 on this one. I always have to feel and think my way through everything. not sure anyone else interested #seaccr
  1. Responding the idea of collaborating with a research partner. I have always liked the idea but never been able to pull it off successfully.
  1. #seaccr @aqavzik The writers of “Talking in Class” are all George Hillocks acolytes & he rocks
  1. While I haven’t read this particular title, I have read others from the team of people that wrote Talking in Class. This book seemed on the mark with Amber’s interests. I definitely recommend the authors.
  1. @akh003 #seaccr Thank you, I will look at it right after our twitter session is over.
  1. @aqavzik You bet. You also might want to check out something like discssion protocols. Here’s one source nsrfharmony.org/protocols.html #seaccr
  1. My thinking here was that in possibly using discussion protocols, Amber might be able to elicit more conversation between her students, since protocols offer a bit more structure and expectation.
  1. Need to say, read #seaccr Gorman piece today on literacy All about reading. Where is the writing? How can one be taught w/out other?
  1. My #seaccr AC will definitely involve teaching writing in some fashion
  1. This was a preview of where I was angling for my action research question for the course.
  1. #seaccr Do I have to sacrifice what i feel my class needs just to collaborate?
  2. @BerrysBest That would seem rather silly wouldn’t it? #seaccr
  1. @BerrysBest #seaccr no way. If you don’t want to collaborate it could be that you don’t have someone with the same goals as you.
  1. @BerrysBest I didn’t think it was mandatory for #seaccr but I am not in AK
  1. One of the cool aspects of a Twitter chat is when actual conversation happens, which can be difficult when the stream is active and heavy. Still, this was another quick exchange in hopes of helping.
  1. @ak_leeg Struggling to put comments on blogs. I write them but they don’t save. Any tips? #seaccr
  1. @lgbanner @ak_leeg Pick one thing that you think is the best element and explain why out selected it. Then ask a question #seaccr
  1. @lgbanner @ak_leeg Some of that might be the blog set-up. Make sure you are logged into your blog platform. WIll auto authenticate #seaccr
  1. @BarbraDonachy @lgbanner @ak_leeg If you are logged into Google, should be less problems #seaccr
  1. @lgbanner @ak_leeg Blogspot always gives me trouble. Is it blogspot? #seaccr
  1. @lgbanner #seaccr if you download Chrome, and you log into it – with your google info – then you can comment more easily on blogs
  1. RT @lgbanner: @akh003 @BarbraDonachy @ak_leeg I’ll try google this week. My problem is trying to comment on other people’s blogs. #seaccr
  1. This is kind of a fascinating exchange that reveals how easily miscommunication can happen in 140 characters or less. I jumped in to try and assist. Then, I completely misunderstood the original question. Fortunately, things were clarified and the exchange helped more than one person.

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Other Interactions

From there, the week got a little pear-shaped and I was chasing until Sunday. As this third week started I have tried to go back and comment on some classmates’ blogs, which is proving a lot easier when people use WordPress, instead of Blogger. For some reason the Blogger sites are lot more fickle with the commenting. Still, I try to reach out to three or four people each week

Shaping a Research Question as a #SEACCR

Image: Literature Circle Meetings and Posting Notes of Meeting to the Group's Google Site!

Literature Circle Meetings… – cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by The Unquiet Library

I must admit that I have fallen a little off the pace in the SEACCR Community as this week progressed. There were a number of disruptions at the school where I work, including the tragic accidental death of a eighth grade student in the immediately adjacent middle school, as well as an unexpected leadership change in my building. Needless to say, all of that diverted a lot of energy away from a typical focus I might have had on this project. Add to that, I have come down with the annual welcome-back-to-school-cold, so I am currently playing a bit hurt.

But enough excuses.

Angling for a Question

When it comes to developing research questions, I always feel like a have a bit of a weakness. I am not sure that it is true, but I certainly feel like it is. I sometimes have a hard time problematizing certain ideas in a way that makes them more readily research oriented. Perhaps it is simply a matter of over-thinking. I am not sure. Then there is always the issue of scale, which is no simple challenge for me, always a bit more ambitious than a course of study and schedules sometimes accommodate. Refining and narrowing are also challenges always seem to come in a rush as the deadline looms and I need to figure out how to wrangle all the research I have compiled into a sensible whole.

With the SEACCR Community’s focus on English Language Arts Common Core Standards as an anchor for the journey, however, I am operating in a comfort zone. I also knew, based on previous action research from last year, I was going to focus on writing. Last year, I suffered a bit from grandiosity of goal but in so doing actually was employing a whole lot of different strategies and tools, each of which could very well have been turned into a project, if isolated. So, as I got my students started writing their first assignment this year, knowing that I was going to be using it to introduce them to the practice of reader response groups, it occurred to me that I might have found a focus that could be examined over eight weeks.

Surveying Current Practice

I have been employing reader response groups for a number of years, but was rarely all that systematic about it until last year. In my class context a reader response group involves each student meeting with a few peers, in a small group of three or four, reading their work aloud to the group, soliciting feedback and discussion, in preparation for revising their work. The process is cyclical and nearly always precedes my seeing student work.

It is not a peer editing session. It is more about engaging the students in thinking about real audiences – themselves. In fact, I tell all my students, The first audience for your writing is yourself, always and forever.” Yet, I want them to share their work with each other and recognize that I, as the teacher, am not the ultimate audience for everything.

Making it a practice continues to challenge me to find different reasons and tasks for writing. While I hate the overused term “authentic” in education, I keep trying to create opportunities for writing that embrace a wider audience than me or even the classroom, while trying to employ professional models of craft for inspiration. It also means that essays about stories and books that we read in class have become less the focus and more just part of the process and just another genre opportunity.

Plus, everything changed once I began working in a 1:1 laptop environment with ninth grade students. Suddenly the ease and convenience of employing the approach opened in a way that made earlier attempts seem medieval. Since we are a Google Apps school, we use Google Docs, but truth be told I had student start using Google Docs years before the school got around to providing every student with an account. With each student able to share the document and the rest of the group to follow along on screen as it is read, potentially embedding comments in the document, everything can take on more of a charge, It is now a regular routine in my courses and continues to evolve my classroom.

Crafting a Question

So as I introduced my students to their first reader response experience this week, it was clear this would be the crux of my action research question.

How does the use of use of Google Docs impact in reader response groups change or shape the writing process?

I know that may yet need some refinement and tuning, but it is good enough to start. This week I will need to consider how I am going to gather data and what angle or approach I want to take to seeking an answer.

Shifting Standards

I have been working with the Common Core for a few years now, beginning just as states started adopting them. As part of a team of Massachusetts teachers involved in the National Writing Project’s Efforts in the Literacy Design Collaborative in 2010, I had an opportunity to grow quite familiar with the new standards early.

Considering that the state of Massachusetts’ previous frameworks served as a model, at least in part, for the new Common Core, as well as the stake in getting an early adoption from a highly successful state, I have generally found there to be a lot of similarities between the two. In many ways, the previous commonwealth’s frameworks were better written, arguably offered greater flexibility, and friendlier to teachers. yet, the differences are far more overstated to me and marginal, at least on the surface.

On a broad level, I am not convinced that new standards will have a significant impact on the teaching and learning in my classroom. Part of this is due to the fact that I have been adapting for the last three years, and part is due to the broad similarities. Once routine practice I have been doing since is using the new standards to audit curriculum and make decisions about what might need adjusting. Any new curricular efforts simply based on  the new standards from the start.

Ultimately, no one will really know how much of an impact the new Common Core Standards will have on the teaching and learning on any individual classroom until the results of the first battery of new tests are gathered and analyzed. I suspect that will have far greater ramifications than anything.