VISIBLE THINKING: Comments in Google Docs

Last year, right around the time my students began working in Google Docs, I was learning about the value of making thinking "visible". 

"We do not generally hear other people's thinking, just the results of their thinking - an idea, an opinion, a plan."
- Ritchhart, Ron, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.

It's not just about the product they hand in at the end but also valuing the thought process that gets them there.  

I had been using the "Comments" feature in Google Docs for months to give my students descriptive feedback.  It occurred to me that if they comment on their own work, their thinking would be not only visible but also act as on-going self-assessment.  

I spent one period modelling how to highlight their own work and then add a comment.  I used a "think-aloud" strategy so they knew exactly what was going on in my mind.  

This is what I said to my students in my modelled "think-aloud":

"Okay, so I've written about 4 sentences describing why Katniss, from The Hunger Games, is a true leader.  It looks like I've written the word "leader" a bunch of times. I should probably fix that later."  [I click on the word, highlight it and create a comment that simply says "repetitive"]

Just a few days later, the results were remarkable.  For the student, it is a reminder of what to specifically review later in the revising and editing stages.  For me, it is visible evidence of their thought process in their learning journey. 

Below is a sample of a student who is commenting on her own assignment.  By reading this student's comments, I gain an understanding of what she believes she needs to improve upon. I can clearly see her thinking while she is writing and revising.

One consideration: If you would rather not receive an email each time your students comment on their own work, you'll need to adjust your notification settings. 

self-assessment 2061366660475327954

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