Submitting Essays Digitally and All That It Entails, Day 2 of 2

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SWBAT make significant improvements to their written papers by revisiting a model of good analytical writing to guide revisions as they finish producing a digital draft.

Big Idea

Students need access to a variety of technological avenues. They have the skills to select the one that works for them.


Instructions For Submitting A Digital Copy of An Essay

5 minutes

I tell students that they have two ways of submitting their essay: sharing their essay on Google Docs or emailing a Word document version as an attachment. I begin a quick tutorial of the first option using the LCD projector and my laptop. I ask a student who has already started typing their essay on Google Docs to allow us to see her paper on screen and I go over the following steps with my class:

  • I Google "Google Docs". I do this because if I give them the specific website address,, they may or may not remember it. I am more sure they will remember to search for the simple phrase, "Google Docs".
  • The website will appear on the first page and I click on it. I ask the student volunteer to log in as I remind the rest of the class that they must use their Gmail login information on this page.
  • Once the student is logged in, I search for the document she has been working on and open it.
  • I show students where the "Share" button is and how it takes us to the window where they will be asked to title their document and where they can add my email address. I ask them to title it with their last and first name followed by the words "Identity Essay." I ask them to imagine the challenge of getting 50 emails with the title "Identity Essay." It is much easier if the title is something like "Doe, Jane's Identity Essay." I then bring their attention back to the Google Docs page and add my email address where it says, "Invite people." I let them know I will be writing my email address somewhere where they can all see it as they type. I click on "Share and Save."
  • I then go to my email and log in to show them that I have just received an email, "Doe, Jane's Identity Essay."

Once in my email account, I go over the second option for submitting their essay.

  • I tell them that the set up of their email account will look different than mine depending on the site. However, they will all have access to the functions I am about to show them. They just have to search for them. 
  • I click on "New" to compose an email message and let them know that other sites will say "Compose" or something similar. A window to write my message will pop up.
  • I tell students that, again, their window will not look exactly like this, but they will be able to look for a space titled "To," which is where they will type my email address. I go ahead and type in my own address.
  • I tell them to look for the space titled "Subject" and write in their equivalent of "Doe, Jane's Identity Essay."
  • I tell them to then look for a button that will allow them to attach a document, which is often an image of a paper clip. I click on this. I tell them that this will prompt them to search for the document they want to attach and that it will be indicated with the words "Find File" or "Browse." I click on this and look for a document in my computer to attach. I then send the message.
  • I go back to my inbox and show them how I just received the email I just sent with the attachment and I open the attachment.

If these directions sound like I am hand-holding students through a process that is considered basic by many who produce and deliver digital files regularly, it is because I am hand-holding them. Typically, I have one or two students on my roster on any given year who have actually emailed a paper or used an online program like Google Docs. The rest are more or less in the dark about such process and need me to walk them through it. After I walk them through this process, I ask students if they have any questions. None of my students had questions. This usually makes me worry, but a quick scan of their expressions revealed that they feel up to the task. We will see.


Emphasizing the Importance of Analysis, Again

4 minutes

I distribute copies of this Sample Thesis And Analysis chart. We produced this chart together in a previous lesson and it was made available on the wall for reference. I think it is a good idea for each student to have a copy of their own to refer to as students continue drafting their essay. Today, students have introductory paragraphs that have been revised. However, I am concerned about their body paragraphs. Specifically, as they develop their argument in their body paragraphs, students tend to default to summary of the texts and shy away from analysis. This is because developing an argument is a Common Core skill my students still struggle with. I am also concerned about students getting off topic or making inaccurate statements about the texts they are analyzing. I am hoping that giving them their own copy of the "Sample Thesis and Analysis" document will help with this. After distributing the document, I quickly remind them that this is an example of what I will be looking for in their body paragraphs, because that is where they will do most of their analysis of the texts we have studied. I then focus their attention on the three bullet points at the bottom and emphasize that I will be specifically looking for these. I share that I have already read a few drafts that have some or all three of these missing and that it is important that they keep referring to this list as they edit their essays because they are responsible for making sure they address what is listed. 

We are now ready to head to the library and hope that the technology gods are on our side today.

Students Type, Edit, and Receive Support and Some Feedback

35 minutes

The librarian was not able to resolve whatever issue is preventing students from accessing Google Docs. The good thing is that I already explained alternative ways of typing and submitting their paper. Today, I have a combination of students sitting at a computer typing on Microsoft word and saving on their flash drive, students sitting at tables using Google Docs on their phone, and students hand writing parts that are going to be typed tonight at home to be submitted through email. The focus of my work during this time is to continue having as many one-on-one discussions with students as possible. The Sample Thesis and Analysis chart is very helpful during this time because it offers concrete guidelines that students can follow and that I can refer to as I speed read their body paragraphs. This chart also helps me achieve one of my goals for today, which is to increase student awareness of their own writing. My students generally come to me with little experience with the most basic editing techniques, such as rereading their written work before turning it in. I addition to focusing their attention on the evaluation of their own writing, I am also hoping for visible improvements in their analysis.