Online Peer Conferencing in Four Different Educational Settings: Practices and Insights

Online Peer Conferencing in Four Different Educational Settings: Practices and Insights

Lori Czop Assaf (Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA), Andrew Eickstead (Lutheran High School, San Antonio, Texas, USA), Stephanie Kaynes (Forest Creek Elementary, Round Rock, Texas, USA) and Jennifer Woollven (Region 13 ESC, Austin, Texas, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5982-7.ch023
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As the world becomes more digital and more connected, teachers must keep pace with the changing spaces of the workplace and processes of community and civic engagement. These changes are not going away. It is the responsibility of educators to help students navigate, create and problem-solve within these spaces. This chapter investigates one of the processes undertaken by four teachers, elementary through university, as they worked towards creating a vibrant digital classroom. Specifically, it addresses the challenges, systems and successes of facilitating meaningful online peer response within the context of writer's workshop. Ultimately, these educators found that authentic audience and thoughtful peer response improved student writing.
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Literature Review

Writing Workshop Approach

The writing workshop model is based on the belief that writing is a process and that writers need the time and space to engage in writing (Calkins, 1986). Teachers who engage their students in the writing workshop approach not only focus on each step of the writing process –prewriting, drafting, revision, editing, and publication, but they also focus on the writer. Hence the mantra of many writing workshop advocates is “teach the writer, not the writing.” Because many students already use savvy Web 2.0 tools to communicate socially at home (Lenhart, Arafeh, Smith, & Macgill, 2008), teachers must modify traditional writing workshop methods in order to best meet the interests, abilities, and experiences of their students. Principles of the writing workshop: student choice, revision, publication and a focus on process, can be enhanced by a variety of digital tools and online writing opportunities (Hicks, 2009). For example, digital tools such as blogs, wikis, and VoiceThread can provide students a platform in which to collaborate, conference, and publish their writing.

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