Three: 6 Actions to iPadify the Writer’s Process #iPad #edtech #edtechchat #writing

Note: Welcome to this new series on the iPad to transform how we approach writing in the classroom (or anywhere)! In this new series, the focus is on 6 actions you can take to iPadify the Writer’s Process. Yes, that’s right. TheWriter’s process. Maybe we’ve gone a bit astray with our focus on the writing process. As a writer, what do you do? That’s what this series focuses on. 

By the way, if you haven’t read the previous series, iPadifying the Writing Workshop, you’ll definitely want to in this convenient post that combines all the sections into one. 


Action #3 – iPadifying Revision
“Revision is the heart of writing,” said Patricia Reilly Giff, “Every page I do is done over seven or eight times.” It’s quotes like that which scare young writers off. I know it did me. My goal for book report writing when I was in middle school and high school getting it done in one draft. It took me hours of revision to achieve my ideal of one draft book report writing, but when I did, oh it was so amazing. That is to say, when writing book reports, your first draft is good enough when it will earn an “A.” Much of my writing focuses on finding the right formula for a piece. 

Ugh…is this one way to teach organization of one’s writing?
Formulaic writing, like “Writing the List Article,” is one of the easiest to do. Our students, though, can’t just write according to formula. Designing “new formulas” for our efforts defines creative writing. Formulas, though, make it easy to organize writing. Deviate from the formula, and you either have ideas that need to be put into a different piece or you have the wrong formula.


Imagine revision, then, as a way to shape the potter’s clay, to arrange in appropriate sequence that which must be shared. For a memoir or an essay, that may involve main ideas, supporting details, opposing viewpoints with savvy rebuttals. For a poem, it may be 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the next, and 5 in the third and final line of a haiku.


In the classroom, revision can also be about obtaining feedback from other students, such as through ratiocination, a process made easier with collaborative word processors. For example, teachers in this Pew Research findings shared that 29% of their students use GoogleDocs to collaboratively edit other students’ work. Fifty-six percent of teachers say that students are MORE likely to write well because they can revise easily.

When pondering what aspects of iPad best lend themselves to ratiocination, why not take a “back to the deep structure” of a concept? The deep structure concept flows my days studying Noam Chomsky; forgive my poor diagram:


We may be able to summarize the Deep and Surface Structure concepts as follows. Sentences may be present in the brain at two levels. Simple, basic or Kernel Sentences consisting of ideas or rough meanings, must be present at a deep level. The way these sentences are formed at that level is known as deep structure. One cannot see or hear the Deep Structure (DS) because it is an abstract or theoretical concept. The deep level is assumed, since the brain or mind first assembles certain concepts, that is, a basic sentence. In contrast, one can hear or see only the surface structure. The assumed concept will be operated by rules and changed into more complex sentences.


The beauty of using an iPad (or Chromebook) lies in the ability to quickly involve others in obtaining feedback on your writing. Revision is a conversation, whether with the imaginary reader or actual readers, that enables changing the ideas in a written piece, the flow (or organization) of that piece in ways that enhance readability. That’s why collaborative word processing tools like GoogleDocs, PiratePad are powerful because they empower young writers to connect and converse about their writing. In top-down classrooms where the teacher is the validator of all writing, empowerment is an unwelcome visitor.

Seventy-nine percent of AP and NWP teachers (Source: Pew Research) strongly agree that digital writing tools encourage greater collaboration among students. There’s no reason why collaboration shouldn’t happen during revision.

When revising on a digital device, I see two main benefits: 1) Making the process of drafting and subsequent revision and editing a little less difficult; and 2) Facilitates collaboration opportunities with other writers.

Note: This piece wasn’t revised much. Can you tell?


Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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