Reflecting Digitally

Thank you to Margaret Simon for hosting DigiLit Sunday.  You can stop by her site, Reflections on the Teche and read how other educators are using technology in their classrooms.

As I prepared for my NCTE presentation on raising the quality of student digital compositions by using mentor texts, I wanted to share some of my students' reflections.  Last year, I began to use screencasting as a way to let students share their process with me and others.

We spend a lot of time in class looking at author's craft in both traditional and digital texts.  Students are anxious to try these moves in their own compositions.  While conferring with students, I often will ask them to explain why they chose a certain image or graphic or text feature.  I want to know if they are making cognizant decisions that reflect their purpose.  We have all had the experience of students clicking away changing fonts, adding animated graphics, or whatever else they think "looks cool" but add nothing to the intended message.

When we get to the point of publication, I ask students to reflect on the decisions they made.  I think this is important because it gives them the message that their decisions matter.  These reflections give me a glimpse into the process that I might not have otherwise known.  In addition, the students learn from each other as they listen to students' choices.  I will soon see others try some of the same things in their writing.  Likewise, the more reflecting students do, the quality of their writing improves.

I've used both Educreations and Explain Everything for these reflections.  The apps are on our iPads at school, so it's easy to access either.  For the NCTE presentation, I used Explain Everything because I wanted to learn more about it.  I was able to import the students' work (website, Animoto slideshow, blog) into the app.  The students could then scroll through their work as they talked about the decisions they made.  They can use the tools to draw on the screen, make arrows and add text.  Below you will find an excerpt from Alex as she shared the decisions she made about her Norway website.  I uploaded the file from Explain Everything into iMovie and edited it.  The original is 8 minutes long (too long for an NCTE presentation).

I learned a lot from Alex as I listened to her explain her decisions.  She got the idea for the organization of her site from a book she read.  She thought about the text as a whole when she decided to add an image of a train station at the end, which signified the end of the journey through Norway and her web page.  She made conscious decisions about images, layout design, color, topics, and the inclusion of video.  It was evident that she had put a lot of thought into her work.

For more ideas on using technology to reflect on the writing process, read Katharine's Hale blog post.

How do you ask students to reflect on their writing?  Please leave a comment.  I'd love to continue the conversation.  


  1. Thanks for linking up and giving me such great advice about having students reflect on their decisions. We will be doing book talk presentations, and I plan to add the reflection component on the rubric. I think it will help them be more intentional about design decisions.

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