Revision Assistant: Provide Better Feedback for Student Writing

When I was in high school, I was asked to write an essay regarding a satirical poem. I diverged from the expected product and wrote a satirical piece in response. Not familiar with this genre, I did not receive a high mark from my English teacher for my work.

What would have happened had I received feedback about my essay as I was writing it? I imagine my final draft would have been a much better product. However, my teacher probably had close to 125 students in all of her classes. A tall order for even the most dedicated educator…

That is why I am recommending Revision Assistant by Turnitin for secondary English teachers. I’ll briefly describe what it is, how it works, and why you should try it out.

What is Revision Assistant?

raRevision Assistant is a new product that was acquired by Turnitin, an experienced technology company that originally helped teachers catch plagiarism. This tool is a platform for teachers to provide and facilitate feedback for students’ writing. It is aligned with the Common Core State Standards and serves as a supplement to a teacher’s curriculum and instruction.

Students and teachers can access Revision Assistant from the web or through some learning management systems, such as Schoology and Canvas. Where as Turnitin gives the teacher the ability to leave feedback on a student’s final draft using voice or text, Revision Assistant offers praise and pointers for the student during the writing process.

How does Revision Assistant Work?

A student logs into the online software and locates the assigned prompt. He or she starts by prewriting in designated text boxes. When finished, the student submits it into the program. Revision Assistant compiles his or her writing into one piece.

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This application uses an algorithm based on 300-500 previously assessed papers at that grade level to provide specific feedback about a student’s writing. Revision Assistant notices what is working with the student’s writing and what needs more work to balance the type of feedback. The student is expected to make the suggested revisions.

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Criteria for assessing students’ work is always available for a student to review. A visible rubric describes high and low quality writing in four different areas based on the genre. In this case of informative writing, the criteria were: Clarity & Focus, Use of Evidence, Organization & Development, and Language & Style.

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When students receive feedback on their initial drafts, a level of proficiency for each area of writing is also displayed. Instead of using a “4-3-2-1” scale commonly found on rubrics, Revision Assistant offers wireless bars to visibly display how a student is doing. The more bars on the signal, the better the writing is according to the software.

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Once a student is satisfied with the revisions made, he or she submits their final draft to the teacher for more feedback. The teacher receives it, looks over the suggestions offered and how the student improved their writing, and then sits down with that student for a conference. This conversation would revolve around the process of writing and how the student could continue to improve their piece before it is ready to publish. With this tool, teacher and student can track progress over time within all genres of writing.

Why should I use Revision Assistant?

I think back to the English teachers I had in junior high and high school, having to grade ~125 papers on a regular basis. When I taught writing at the 5th and 6th grade level, students’ work tended to blend together by that 9th or 10th paper. There were consistencies regarding the areas they needed to improve. This reflected my instruction and (in)ability to offer feedback in a timely manner – during the writing process.

Revision Assistant can be that tool that transfers more of the ownership of learning onto the student. They are the ones who decide what to revise and how. This is where technology may have an advantage in education versus a person: Digital tools are objective. They have no feelings and therefore are not subject to bias or subjectivity. When I tried out Revision Assistant, I did not get defensive about the feedback offered to me.

The question that came up as I explored the tool is a common one: Does this technology replace the teacher? Unequivocally, no. In fact, it should make a teacher even better. With Revision Assistant, a teacher does not have to take the time to repeat the same feedback to each student like a broken record. This means more time is available to spend with students to talk about the art and style of writing, as well as to develop better relationships with them.

If you are finding yourself always on the front end of a continuous pile of papers, Revision Assistant has the potential to help any English teacher maximize their instructional time with students. I believe writing has been the discipline most impacted by the influx of technology. With this tool, the impact seems to be positive.

One Pager- Revision Assistant by Turnitin (2)

Note: This is a sponsored post. It did not influence the content of this review. The post is also located on my new site, where teachers can search for recommended technologies. If you are affiliated with a technology company focused on enhancing the educational experience for students and teachers, please contact me for more information about what I can offer.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is a 17-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th grade teacher. After seven years of teaching, he served as a dean of students, assistant principal and athletic director before becoming an elementary principal in Wisconsin Rapids. Matt is now an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

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