5 Ways To Use WriteLab In Your Class

5 Ways To Use WriteLab In Your Class

Instructors often ask us "How can I integrate WriteLab into my class?" There's no one way to use WriteLab: we want you to use our tool in whatever way best suits your teaching style and needs.

But if you're not sure how to get started, or would like some ideas, here are five ways instructors and students have used WriteLab over the past year. I hope you find them helpful.


1  Teacher introduces students to WriteLab

Some instructors introduce WriteLab by uploading their own writing and thinking aloud as they respond to WriteLab’s Comments. Using your own text demystifies the writing process and shows that anyone can benefit from WriteLab, including instructors. It also gives you an opportunity to show that only the writer has the authority to decide what action to take in response to WriteLab’s comments. There are a number of things you can do to help your students understand the range of options available to them in WriteLab:

  • Refer to the Guide for an explanation of a Comment and to see examples.
  • Review a Comment and make a change to your own writing, taking WriteLab’s Comment into consideration.
  • Mark one comment “not helpful” and explain why you chose to do so.
  • Respond to a positive Comment.
  • Leave a Note to yourself using the Notes feature.
  • Choose a specific Draft to share with another WriteLab user.


2  Students use WriteLab throughout the writing process

WriteLab supports students through the entire writing process, which means you can integrate it with your course at any time without changing your syllabus. At the prewriting stage, students can use the Essay Builder (coming November 2015) to organize ideas and articulate claims, then move seamlessly into writing a first draft based on those ideas. They can submit multiple Drafts of their Assignments through WriteLab, receiving new Comments every time, and they can share these Drafts with you or a peer for review, before continuing to revise.

Writelab's Comments help students write effectively at the level of the line, allowing instructors to shift their energy towards helping students in higher level areas of writing that WriteLab does not support (argumentation and structure, for instance).


3  Teacher and students work through WriteLab's Comments using the Guide

The Guide is a writing handbook that students may reference at any stage of the writing process. Each section corresponds to one of WriteLab’s Modules and provides explanations and examples of the Module’s Features. When a student reviews WriteLab’s Comments, she can click on a link to open a Guide entry related to the Comment. Instructors may use the Guide to support instruction during class, in office hours, or through email by sending a link to a specific part of the Guide.


4  Teachers use WriteLab to make office hours more effective and efficient

You can use WriteLab to leave Notes within student Drafts, much like the way you might write in the margins of a paper. The difference is that students can indicate whether they have addressed the issue you’ve raised, or if they did not find it helpful. Students can also leave their own Notes, so you can see what concerns they have and help resolve them. All of this information is at your fingertips in office hours. Students can prepare for appointments by reviewing the Notes you have both written and quickly see what was or was not helpful. You can also view student analytics to gauge progress. Instead of spending time in office hours re-reading an assignment, you can quickly identify the student’s needs and decide how to best support his or her development.


5  Students work through multiple Drafts to become more confident writers

Students can write as many Drafts as they want and instantly receive constructive feedback on each one. WriteLab encourages students to think of themselves as writers developing a skill that increases with frequency of practice. WriteLab also praises effective writing so that students know what they are doing well and can consciously continue to use strategies that work for them. WriteLab helps cultivate a sense of ownership over one’s writing – only students have the authority to decide how to respond to WriteLab’s Comments, and the program refines its feedback based on what they find helpful. Each student decides when her or his writing is ready-to-be-read by instructors or peers. Students may revisit a piece of writing even after an assignment has been submitted or the course is over, and WriteLab will continue to support their revisions.

There a many more ways instructors can integrate WriteLab into their courses, and we look forward to hearing how you set about it – so please, tell us how you use WriteLab!

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