Revision Assistant in the Classroom: A Q & A with SpringBoard Teacher Tom Wilkins
Revision Assistant in the Classroom: A Q & A with SpringBoard Teacher Tom WilkinsMichael Preston, Associate Director, College Board
All Access spoke with Tom Wilkins, a tenth-grade English teacher at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, KY, about his experience using SpringBoard's English Language Arts curriculm with Revision Assistant. The interview below has been lightly edited and condensed.
All Access: How did you first learn about Turnitin/Revision Assistant?
Tom: In January of 2015, I was invited attend a scoring session for SpringBoard’s Embedded Assessments in Texas. At the time, I didn’t know much about Revision Assistant, what it was or how it was intended to function; I simply knew a group of ELA teacher and ELA content specialists were gathering to calibrate and score Embedded Assessment essays. I knew that I could benefit as a teacher from such an experience, and, of course, my students could benefit from the training and experience I gained. Over the course of that weekend at Texas, I learned how Revision Assistant would eventually function and our role in helping that happen.
All Access: After learning about Revision Assistant, what appealed to you about using the tool in your classroom?
Tom: I thought having ELA teachers and content specialists score the essays and help generate the comments students would receive was an excellent decision. Although I conference with them individually as much as time allows, class sizes of 25-35 make it difficult to do so on each draft of a piece. My students mostly generate content through a writing workshop-style environment in which most of the feedback during the process is from their peers, so I loved the idea that my students could receive instant and constant feedback during their writing processes with Revision Assistant. Revision Assistant doesn’t replace the kind of individualized feedback that teachers give students, but it does provide direct, constant, and genre-specific feedback to every student which is hard to do for one teacher in a class of 35 students.
All Access: How long have you been using Revision Assistant in SpringBoard?
Tom: I officially used Revision Assistant with my students this past fall for our third Embedded Assessment, a narrative. I plan to use it again this spring for our very first Embedded Assessment from Unit 1. For 10th grade SpringBoard, Revision Assistant is currently available for the first three Embedded Assessments. We had already completed the first Embedded Assessment by the time Revision Assistant was officially launched. But, I love the idea of emphasizing with my students that the writing process is never truly finished; therefore, I will have them return to that first essay and use Revision Assistant to further and revise that piece for their writing portfolios.
All Access: How many students typically use the program?
Tom: I didn’t make the use of Revision Assistant mandatory for my students’ writing assignments, but two-thirds of them opted to use it to support their drafting process.
All Access: How have students responded to the signal checks and comments that Revision Assistant provides on their work?
Tom: Since we’ve started using the tool, I’ve had multiple students ask if they can use it on their essays in other classes or disciplines. I think that using Revision Assistant has helped students really focus on what they need to do to improve their writing and the real-time feedback has been practical and rewarding as the signal checks help them understand how they’re scoring in a particular category. I think the tool has given them a sense of ownership over the quality of their work, whereas, sometimes, I think the students turn in their final drafts still wondering or lacking confidence where they will fall on the scoring guide. Students who would typically generate the required number of drafts for a grade, produced several drafts over the requirement because they could see the signal checks and know how and where to focus their efforts. Revising was no longer jumping through a hoop but practical and rewarding application.
All Access: What kind of benefits have you noticed for your students? For yourself?
Tom: For myself, I feel like all of my students have the access to the kinds of feedback they need to receive during their process from someone other than their peers. I still give feedback during their writing process and on their final pieces, so the feedback has only grown exponentially.
All Access: What challenges have you/your students faced in using Revision Assistant?
Tom: Sometimes students would make revisions but receive the same comments or signal check but couldn’t figure out why. Generally, I would guide them back to the verbiage in the original scoring rubric, and we could look closely as what distinguished one column from the next. In conjunction with the commentary and signal checks, we could discover what the student needed to improve. While this seems like a challenge, I actually like that Revision Assistant doesn’t completely replace the instructor or the importance of working closely with a prompt and rubric; if anything, it enhances those interactions.
All Access: Do you feel like Revision Assistant replaces the work you do?
Tom: No, the teacher is the final judge of the quality of a student’s work, but Revision Assistant is very helpful in helping students improve their writing abilities through a practice process that provides them with meaningful feedback on their essays.
Thanks Tom! To find out more about SpringBoard and Revision Assistant, we encourage you to visit the following links: