Student Writing, Teacher Feedback, and Working Online
Launching the Drive to Write Program
The Drive to Write program was organized by New Visions for Public Schools (a New York City school support network that helps schools with professional development, data infrastructure, leadership training, certification, and more), and New Visions hopes it will lead to a new standard in writing instruction and student learning. New Visions is developing coaching and professional development methods meant to help teachers integrate writing into other subjects, and to encourage students to organize and revise their writing based on regular comments from teachers. Writing happens both in class and as part of homework. The program follows the adage that “writing is rewriting.”
Drive to Write uses Google Classroom, part of a free suite of online tools called G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Education) that allow teachers to distribute assignments and to comment on and grade student writing electronically. New Visions has deployed these tools extensively in Drive to Write, with the idea that they will help teachers and students interact more often about writing, help students revise their work more regularly, help teachers tailor assignments to students’ learning needs, and ultimately help students improve their writing.
This brief describes what it takes to launch a program that integrates writing, teaching, and technology. It offers lessons from the 2016-2017 school year, which was spent developing and pilot testing the elements of the program. The program will be implemented and evaluated in full in 2017-2018, and the brief concludes with plans for the full evaluation, in which MDRC will evaluate how the program affects ninth-grade students’ performance at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. This brief is not an assessment of fidelity to a finished model, but rather a chronicle of multiple teachers’ experiences as the program was forming and an account of how coaches worked with teachers to develop the program.