Students in Julie Wilson’s fifth grade class at Crestwood Elementary partnered with Luther College education students in a semester-long online writing project.

Crestwood fifth grade students collaborate with Luther students


CRESCO - Crestwood fifth grade students recently partnered with Luther College education students on a collaborative online writing project.
Crestwood fifth grade teacher Julie Wilson talked about the origins of the project:
“Kelly Sorenson, who is one of our instructional coaches, had done this project in the past with some of her classes, and I know she also had Mrs. Midthus do it last year, and then she asked me if I was interested, and I said, ‘Sure’. We partnered with 10 Luther College students that are in the education field learning to be elementary education teachers. We collaborated online with our writing.
Wilson said that, following online introductions, which included sharing pictures, the fifth graders partnered in groups of two or three with a college student. Each student did their own writing, but they would listen and help each other.
“The fifth graders would hear a story or read a story at the beginning of the week, and they would practice writing a summary following teacher guidelines. Tuesdays, the Luther College students could see their work on Google Docs.”
“We had a format they had to follow each week. They were writing a summary from a picture book, and it had a lengthy text to go with it. They always had to tell the moral or lesson, and they to tell, ‘somebody’, ‘wanted’ ‘but’ ‘so’ ‘then’ ‘finally’.”
Wilson said the college students typed their responses to the students’ writing using different-colored text in order to distinguish their feedback from Wilson, who used pink text.
“The Luther students would give feedback and write, ‘I noticed this,’ or ‘You did a great job doing this’ and ‘Could you correct this? This is the reason why.’ My students would go back to their work on a Wednesday and a Thursday and try to spiff it up, and Thursdays we would have a certain time each day where the Luther students would send us a live link in an e-mail and the students would click on it. Half of the screen would show the fifth grade students, and the other half would show the Luther students in their classroom, and they would have a face-to-face conversation in a live writing conference,” Wilson said.
Wilson said her students would work on the final copy of their writing each Friday and make sure it represented their best work.
“We did this weekly, and I could also jump in on the Google Doc and give them specific feedback on what they had done well and what they needed to improve,” Wilson said.
She said knowing they had an audience was a motivator for her fifth grade class.
“They had a real audience to write for, and they knew the accountability would be there. Not only could I see their work, but their Luther partner could see their work as well as the Luther professor and Mrs. Sorenson, so I think it was the accountability, and they knew someone was looking at their work to make sure it was professional,” Wilson said. “I saw some marked improvement from many students.”
At the end of the project, Wilson said the Luther College students and their professor came to Crestwood to meet the fifth-grade in person.
“They met face-to-face and did some activities for a part of the afternoon,” Wilson said.
Wilson said her fifth grade class took part in an evaluation of their experience, describing how they felt about writing before the project, and how they felt at the project’s end.
“There were quite a few students who felt ‘so-so’ about writing before the project, and afterwards, they said, ‘I can’t wait to work on my writing.’ I thought that was very exciting.”
Wilson said she is eager to repeat the project if given the opportunity.
“If I’m given the opportunity to do it again, I would go for it right away,” she said. “It was a lot of work, because I had up to 30 students this year, and it took a lot of time for me to go back and read what each student wrote each week, and what the Luther students wrote in response. I would comment on every student’s writing every week, but it was time very well spent.”
Wilson said the relationship is also beneficial to Luther College education students.
“Their professor has done a lot of things in our school and had a lot of student teachers here, and she said it’s been great for them to have an opportunity to put what they are learning from their books and their studies into action with the students,” Wilson said.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

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214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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