Tool #2: MS Word: Track Changes

MS Word is kind of the standard for word processing (although I prefer a different one).

Teachers correct a lot of papers. They are worried about errors. Even though the research shows that correcting errors does little to improve student writing, teachers still do it. It makes them feel good, like they are doing something.

Instead of only giving feedback to one student, I collect all the written assignments in a Word Processor (students have to send their final version by email or similar). I erase all the names. I correct all the work, and hand it back to all the students. This works better if they have online access to the document, but usually, a first-year writing assignment you can fit about 5 or 6 onto one page.

Select Track Changes in tool menu
Select Track Changes in tool menu

By all means, though, leave the correction marks on their mistakes. To do this in MS Word, go to TOOLS menu, and choose Track Changes. (You should be sure the toolbar shows for this.) There are different options to show the corrections. I prefer to show them right in the document (not in balloons off the the right, or in a window at the bottom).

The best advantage of this method is that students can learn from each others mistakes. I often BOLD the common mistakes and teach a mini-lesson on that point. Timing is everything (do get the feedback in the next class, research shows it is most effective that way).

Review menu in Word 2003. The new version looks different.
Review menu in Word 2003. The new version looks different.

Tokyo: smelliest place on earth

nioibu.com lets people warn others of smelly places
nioibu.com lets people warn others of smelly places

According to the new Social Networking  website that relies on Google Maps to point out smelly places in the world, Tokyo must be the smelliest place on earth.

That is, until you realize that the site is in Japanese, and that it is almost brand new. Of course, those of us that live in Tokyo, and have good noses, would be the first to post sites. Each flag is color coded, depending on the type of smell.

Google Maps is being used for numerous applications. For example, in San Francisco, they link together the location of searches on mobile phones for key words like flu or disease to try to map out a progression of a breakout and where it might be headed.

Only would the Japanese think of applying it to avoid smells.