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