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Author Biography: Jen Deyenberg is a global educator having taught in Canada, the Caribbean and in Scotland.

Her focus has been elementary education and working with teachers using technology. She enjoys enhancing her teacher and her own learning through the use of technology. Jen just completed her Masters of Education in Instructional Technology Leadership. She is currently working for the government in Alberta, Canada in a technology support role, to gain insight on the bigger picture of technology in education. Jen loves to run, bike, travel, geocache, and of course play on the computer! Jen blogs at: and can be found on Twitter: @jdeyenberg Activity Summary
Students had to plan, compose, analyze, edit, revise, and publish a piece of writing, entirely using digital tools. Reflections on how this process reflects a larger change in the way we write and teach writing in the age of technology are included. This process was then replicated by another teacher with excellent results. Class or subject area: Language Arts - Writing Grade level(s): Upper Elementary High School Grades 3-12 Specific learning objectives: Plan and compose a persuasive writing paragraph Edit and revise writing based on analysis using digital means

Anniversary Book Project


The Changing Writing Process

By: Jen Deyenberg Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-SA Author contact:

In a K-12 classroom creating text can take on many forms. Designing activities which not only enhance writing by using technology, but allow students to do things that couldnt be done before is not only possible, but easy. With the implementation of technology, a new stage of the writing process is made easier--analysis. Tools such as word processors and word cloud generators allow us to have technological tools to graphically represent, map, and analyse our word choices, as has never been possible before. Whether as mundane as a simple word count and spell check to edit and revise with, or as complex as a word cloud to see patterns and trends emerge in our writing, technology is allowing us too easily and quickly get analytical feedback about our writing. The following is an example of the writing process in a digital format, and the benefits of this approach to writing. The Task The students were to write a persuasive paragraph. The topic was to persuade readers if the legal driving age should be lowered, raised, or remain the same. The topic can be varied, what is important here is the process, and that all of it is on the computer, not just pieces. The students used all sorts of tools, all of them web based, but all of them to complete different parts of the writing process. Planning An interactive planning map from Read Write Think ( resources/interactives/persuasion_map/) was used to help build their arguments. It allowed the students to think through their arguments, build a bank of thoughts and examples, and they could save it as a portable document file (pdf) to easily refer to, or add as part of the wiki to show the entire process of their writing. The benefit to this tool was that it broke the planning into small chunks or writing, and it didnt overwhelm the students. They could easily see the connections between the thesis, the reasons, and the supporting examples as the tool shifted between them. It also had a great overview map in the corner to be able to see the entire outline and where you were in the process. A draw back to the tool is that it cant be saved part way through if there is an interruption, only a completed piece can be saved. Other online planning tools could be mindmaps, such as mindmeister of or spicy nodes. These tools allow for easy editing, instant sharing, saving and viewing from multiple locations, ability to embed into a website, wiki, or blog. One of the best things about these tools, is the ability for multiple people to contribute. Mindmeister is especially powerful as multiple people can edit, real time. This allows for collaborative planning that can be saved and added to by multiple people, at any

time. Online planning has the advantage of being collaborative, real time, accessible in a variety of times and locations. It is flexible, responsive, and adaptable to the needs of the students, the content, and the lesson. Writing The students constructed their writing online. When they write directly on the computer they can easily flip back to the planning, or many pulled it up side by side with their wiki. Writing online gives direct access to spell check functions, instant publication, access to instant feedback, and easy revision. Technology offers tools both online and offline which can enhance writing. Writers can edit and change as they do without constant crossing out or erasing. This is especially important with young writers as trying to be perfect, or being caught up in letter formation can stifle creative thought and flow. Adaptive technologies such as speech to text, trainable predictive programs, or digital ink technologies such as the Livescribe pen bridge the gap for those who might struggle with typing or writing disabilities. Technology affords the flexibility to focus on the writing and the message, not the mechanics. Crook and Bennett (2007) found that, Although Year 4 and Year 6 children make similar levels of visual reference to the draft, these glances are more prevalent when typing than when pen-writing, at all ages (p. 318). This study was drafting with pen and paper, not drafting on the computer. When switching between modes of planning and creation tools, there could be a risk of the thinking and use of the planning not crossing over. Purdy, 2010 found, In Web 2.0, writing and researching activities are increasingly integrated both spatially and conceptually. I argue that, with this integration, Web 2.0 technologies showcase how research and writing together participate in knowledge production (p. 48). When writers to pull different modes of writing and text creation together, an awareness of making sure that there are connections between modes and methods of production is necessary. When the students planned with the online tools they could pull up their planning, have it side, by side on the screen, and even copy and paste over key pieces. This allowed them to make better use and reference to their planning, because it was in the same place as their writing. Another tool used for planning and composing engaging digital text is the online presentation tool, Prezi. The tool allowed students to create a plan which moved and flowed, then were allowed to create the story in the same place, with the same tool. This meant the format and style for both the thinking and the actual writing could flow and match in style and thought. The writing wasnt linear, as in on a page, in order, it was linear in thought, but the flexible medium allowed for creative composition.

Analyze Wordle was used as an analysis tool. The idea was for them to paste their paragraph into wordle to see what words where coming across as important or repeated. This student was really noticed the word might as being prevalent in wordle form. Might is not a very strong word for a persuasive piece of writing. It gave her some guidance of where to start the revision process. This step in the writing process is one I havent put into writing before using technology to facilitate writing. Writing on the web is different than writing with pen and paper. You have more tools and options at your disposal, teach your students to use them to be better writers, not just better publishers. Revise On their wiki pages the students were asked to leave their original paragraph, but copy it and make changes in a version below it. This inspired them to make actual changes. If it looked exactly the same it was very clear that they werent actually revising. Giving specific editing criteria, specific to the needs to the learner, allows the student to have specific guidance and feedback on what they need focus on. The criteria can be looking at changing the beginnings of sentences, adding figurative language, adverbs, or adjectives as appropriate to the topic. Smith (2008) found, As an online arena where error, language play, and invention are not only accommodated but actively incorporated, blogs are a surprisingly straightforward way to negotiate the tensions of error (p. 37). Productivity tools can streamline the writing process. Spelling and grammar check are key tools to use technology to help to writers correct mistakes. The predictive tools and instant recognition of potential problems or errors assists writers to revise and edit as they compose and create, but also go back and review afterwards to look at the piece as a whole. When using technology the level of productivity and accuracy can be increased with the use of editing and revision features built into sites and word processors. Technology allows for a safe space to change and make revisions. You can make a change and easily change it back, or save the original work before the changes. The drafting process becomes less final and more flexible. Link/Remix/Media Writing online has many more affordances than previous available, and part of the process of writing online is to link to other works, adding pictures media, which are not just additions to the writing, but often vital parts of the story, the organization, and the piece. In the creation of a persuasive piece of writing the students were, without any prompting searching for pictures to use as support for their arguments and asking if they could include them as part of their writing. They wanted to use quotations and statistics they researched, without being asked to go that far, just the call for examples to support for opinions led them to search for support. When they are writing on the web they have instant access to these resources and links. They can instantly embed them and add them to their writing. Adding media, linking to other authorities, and remixing the ideas of others to support their own work is an essential part of writing. Writing is not a solitary action; it links to other people,

other ideas, and other work. Writing in a networked space allows for ideas to grow, expand, and be supported. Share/Feedback The students wrote directly on a wiki. This means they are instantly publishing and sharing. Built in discussion features of a wiki allow places to leave feedback and comments. Writing online gives that extra added incentive to polish and give more effort anyone can read it! Sharing is no longer handing in a story for only the teachers eyes or posting a piece of work on the bulletin board. Writing as part of a community is key to the process. (Liang, 2007) Building and maintaining relationships through commenting and feedback allow for interaction with an audience. This audience and feedback is motivating to increasing the quality and quantity of writing. Hart-Davidson, et al state, Computer technologies allow writers with access to a computer network to become publishers and distributors of their writing. And chances are they will get feedback, sometimes immediately. Therefore, audiences and writers are related to each other more interactively in time and space (2005, p. 3). Mass audiences and feedback change writing by giving it instant meaning. Writing with web tools allow for interaction with text, with technology, and with people. Writing is no longer a solitary process, it is a social process. The public feedback and remix which writing in a Web 2.0 world can spawn was exemplified when a secondary class teacher from England, Laura Sutherland read the blog post The Changing Writing Process on Writing and the Web. Laura took up the mantle and tried out the idea of writing online with her own students. The results were fabulous! First and foremost, EVERY student improved their writing having identified weaknesses with the Wordle starter. Seeing the words in pictorial form helped them identify what they needed to change about their language choices in order to better meet the brief (Sutherland, 2011). The use of wordle as a writing analysis tool provided Sutherlands students with the opportunity to examine their word choice by looking at the frequency and selection of their words. Wordle strips out the common words to really get at the words of significance and prominence. This setting can be modified under the Languages to show what the word frequency would look like without the common words removed. The removal of the common words allows the main message and thesis of a students work to be revealed. Sutherlands students used this to see what was missing from their work to meet the criteria of the assignment. The Wiki encouraged them to think much more precisely about editing their work because they knew their friends (and me) were logged in and watching what they were doing. There was a real buzz about the place. Every time a new post came in there was a little yelp of excitement. Best of all, the class barely needed me there to achieve. This was true independent learning. I was definitely facilitating rather than teaching! (Sutherland, 2011). An online publishing format, such as a Wiki, allows for instant sharing of writing. The read/write nature of web 2.0 gives students an opportunity to not only produce and publish writing, but a chance to consume and give feedback on their classmates writing. As Sutherland pointed out it gave learners a chance to write and comment independently. They were excited about the opportunity of

an authentic audience, and this was just within the confines of their own classroom, imagine if the audience was their parents, other family, another class, or an infinite number of global readers. The web enables this writing, reading, sharing, feedback opportunity to tap into new levels of motivation to improve their writing and cater to the newfound audience. One pupil (usually quite unmotivated) even found some internet links about writing to persuade and started an additional discussion topic where he pasted them for his friends to use. Awesome! Even more awesome, when I started a discussion forum entitled what have you learned from your friends today many of them excitedly posted specific skills they had improved, which demonstrated that they had really engaged with the assessment process and thoroughly understood how to improve (Sutherland, 2011) An online environment allowed this pupil to extend their learning and make connections to outside sources in an easy, accessible manner. The student took ownership over their own learning to extend and show proficiency in understanding not only the material but the online tool, in this case a wiki, as a medium to demonstrate understanding and sharing knowledge with others. The phrase assessment process is a key piece to understanding writing online. The use of the word cloud tool wordle and a wiki, a web 2.0 tool, allowed students to self-assess their writing. Wordle allowed them to assess their word choice and reflect on the text they had written. The wiki allowed an audience to assess their work by giving feedback and sharing their thoughts. The students could then change and modify their writing based on the comments and feedback they received. This assessment led to a moment of revelation that every teacher dreams of: At the end of the lesson, one pupil went to give me their original piece of writing to mark and then took it back and said: actually Miss, you dont need to mark this now do you? I already know how to make it better. I reckon I can get an A next time! (Sutherland, 2011)
References Crook, C., & Bennett, L. (2007). Does using a computer disturb the organization of childrens writing? British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 25 (2), 313-321. Hart-Davidson, B., Cushman, E., Grabill, J.T., DeVoss, D.N., & Porter, J. (2005). Why teach digital writing? Kairos, 10(1). Retrieved from Liang, M.Y. (2007). Rethinking blog-integrated EFL curricula: A reflection on participation and learning. In T. Bastiaens & S. Carliner (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2007 (pp. 1686-1691). Chesapeake, VA: AACE . Purdy, J. P. (2010). The changing space of research: Web 2.0 and the integration of research and writing Smith, C. (2008). Technologies for transcending a focus on error: Blogs and democratic aspirations in first-year composition. Journal of Basic Writing (CUNY), 27(1), 35-60 Sutherland, L. (2011, November 5). Wikis and wordle. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://300000questions.wordpress. com/2011/11/05/wikis-and-wordle/