Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Draftback Extension for Modeling and Reflecting on the Writing Process

I am a confessed chrome extension addict. I use so many that I use the extension Extensity to manage them all; I can turn them on and off as needed with no more than a click, despite the long list I keep. A good extension can add functionality and save much time through my browsing experience, so I’m always looking for a new one to add to my collection.

A new extension introduced  to me at the Indiana GAFE Summit was Draftback, a tool that will play back the revision history of any Doc where you have editing rights. The product overview explains “It's like going back in time to look over your own shoulder as you write.” Another teacher explained that her district first started using Draftback as a tool to “catch” students plagiarizing papers. Draftback will easily illustrate big blocks of text pasted into a student’s writing, either from the web or from another student’s writing, so it made sense to use it with this intent. I could immediately see this application in my building; as much as I hate it, some students are plagiarizing papers. It is usually obvious to me when a student plagiarizes, and a quick Google search often reveals the truth. However, with the collaboration aspects of Google Drive, young plagiarists are turning less often to the internet and more often to their peers. Several teachers in my building have found students turning in writing assignments that have been shared between students, often for two different teachers of the same class. Other industrious young students find an upperclassman to share a Google Drive assignment from the previous year with them. If only these same students would spend half as much time completing the assignment as they do trying to get around the assignment!

After using it for some time and seeing the student writing played back, the teacher who introduced me to  Draftback started to see its potential as a tool for modeling the writing process. If students could see the process of revision as it truly is, messy and non-linear, perhaps they would be less afraid to go back and revise their work in the future. Maybe they would understand no right or wrong way exists to go about revision, so long as it gets accomplished. Perhaps evidence that even an English teacher doesn’t magically write the final draft on the first attempt would give them hope and confidence in their own abilities!

My students are going to begin drafting research papers next week, and I am excited to introduce them to Draftback.  I want them to see my editing process, and to be aware of their own. So here’s their first example: the Draftback of this blog post!

How do you model the revision process for your students? I’d love to hear your ideas and your experiences if you experiment with Draftback too!