Editing essays using my iPhone

One of the things they don’t warn you about when you decide to teach Language Arts is the overwhelming pile of papers that overflow your desk all year.  I’m always looking for ways to provide relevant feedback efficiently, creatively, and in a way that students will actually appreciate.
I think I found a new method of providing feedback for essays.  I can’t take credit for this idea.  I actually got it from Jim Burke.  He posted a few weeks ago a video on Twitter illustrating how he critiques student essays verbally by recording his observations with his iPhone.  I loved the idea and decided to try it out.
This is what I did…

  1. The students were working on essays describing the road the have travelled this year (in response to the Robert Frost poem).  One of the requirements of the essay is to have it edited by 3 different people.  Most of them chose their parents or other teachers, but I gave them the option to have me edit their essays using a new strategy.
  2. Any student interested in having me do what I called an “audio edit” of their story had to turn in a copy of their story with their e-mail address written at the top of the page.  This made it easier for me to send their responses.
  3. The next step was a lot easier than I thought it would be.  I read their essays and used the voice memo tool to record my thoughts about their essays.  I was able to share a lot more in the audio edit than I normally would have in a traditional edit.
  4. After that all I had to do was e-mail it to the students, which I could do directly from the voice memo app.  It was that simple.  Each edit was around 3 minutes long and took about 1 minute to send.

I’m not sure I will do this for every essay, because it could be very time consuming.  However, the kids loved the responses and actually took the time to listen to my suggestions.  I think the iPhone made it tremendously easy, but I’m sure there are ways to do it with any other mobile device.
Coming up in my next blog posts I want to share some strategies I have used to model writing for students, and I want to write about QR codes and some interesting ways of incorporating those into the classroom.