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Turn the Assignment In and THEN Do the Assignment

An educator I greatly respect and learn from on a regular basis is Catlin Tucker. She is the author of the book Blended Learning in Grades 4-12 and has an awesome blog: http://catlintucker.com 

One of her blog posts was about an epiphany she had about working with students on the writing process. Students need support in the middle of the writing process, not just at the end.

Do and then Turn In

Traditionally students are assigned work and then asked to turn it in. The teacher then grades it and hands it back. Teachers are then frustrated by seeing students cram the papers in their bag with little regard for the feedback the teacher gave them.

I Am Done

Mentally feeling like you are done with something changes your attitude toward being willing to redo or revise. When we assess student work after they have done it the value of the feedback is diminished by the students attitude that they are “done.” The exact same comment to a student in the middle of the process is welcome feedback by the student since they are still struggling through the assignment. The feedback helps them when they need it and are focusing on the information. The feedback allows them to feel more confident about the assignment when they turn it in.

Turn In and Then Do

Flip the process around, give the students the feedback BEFORE they are done. If you are a user of Google Apps with your student you are able to switch around the workflow. After starting a Google Doc the students turn in the document. The students turn in a BLANK document. This gives the teacher access to the work while the student is working on it. The teacher is then able to go into the documents and insert comments and feedback while the student is working on it. The bonus is that once the student is done they can be done. They do not have to remember to turn the assignment in.
Turn it in and then do it

6 thoughts on “Turn the Assignment In and THEN Do the Assignment”

  1. ghewgley (+ghewgley)

    Great points. I know how we all feel if you’ve gone/going through a masters/doctoral program. I wish more teachers would remember that when grading and giving feedback in school. Feedback at the end doesn’t really help very much and can be very frustrating.

    Maybe we should not grade the papers until the students have acted on our feedback…? And maybe that feedback should be ongoing and doesn’t have to be just from a teacher. What about peer feedback?

    Love the post!

  2. It sounds like you’re promoting formative feedback on writing assignments, something with which I fully agree. In fact, I’d have students share papers with me, two students and their parents at the very beginning of the process and include class time for writing comments and editing in response to them. The highly beneficial truth of this should be put out there in conjunction with class-size research in that so many of the teachers with whom I’ve worked shy away from reading/commenting on drafts because of the workload. With 125+ students, this can become daunting at times. I fully agree, though, that Google Docs makes this much easier than ever. I especially love the new comment features.

  3. Pingback: Turn the Assignment In and THEN Do the Assignment | Teachers Blog

  4. Alice, great idea. I have been doing this with doctopus. In doctopus you can create the doc for the students. I often leave rubrics, guiding questions, graphic organizers and sometime exemplars right in the doc. Doctopus also creates the link so it’s always there and keeps track of your marking too. Thanks for sharing all that you do, love reading your posts.

  5. I ran into an issue trying this today. Once they turn it in, they are unable to edit it. So having them turn it in stopped the writing process until I gave feedback. I need them to keep working too. Did I do anything wrong or is there a way to avoid this?

    Thanks I really like the idea!

    1. With Google Classroom that is an issue. I do not want them to turn it in until they have feedback. I have access to it the whole time in my Google Drive. Indicate to students that they should not turn in until you give them the all clear.

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