Teachers Talk Writing: Instructional and Developmental Tools

Understanding students’ writing strengths and weaknesses are important for teachers in targeting instruction. All students improve their skills and grow throughout the span of their education, so it’s important to keep tabs on where each student stands and, also tools that are out there to help.

In a recent webcast, former teachers Jill Crivelli and Kristin Van Gompel discussed the challenge of getting students to revise their writing and take ownership of their work.


As a middle school teacher, Jill taught six classes and held the role of curriculum leader for her district at Chartiers Valley School District in Pittsburgh, PA. Constantly in and out of the classroom, she was challenged with being aware of where her students were and tracking their growth along the way. Kristin taught K-8 students, and also trained in the areas of teacher professional development and adult learning. Both Jill and Kristin now work with Turnitin to support educators in using digital tools that support learning outcomes.

During the live webcast, the teachers shared their experiences with helping educators meet their specific educational and instructional goals. They asked hundreds of live attendees the following three questions on writing challenges that they face in the classroom:

  • What are some challenges you face during instruction and/or assessment of writing?
  • What do you feel is important for students in their improvement?
  • What do you need to inform instruction of students as developing writers?

Many of the responses mentioned concerns around the importance of providing actionable feedback in a timely manner and getting students to practice and actually revise their writing. Coincidentally, feedback and motivating students to revise their work were the same concerns that Jill experienced in her classrooms, which led her to pilot Turnitin’s Revision Assistant tool.

As one of the first teachers to ever pilot Revision Assistant, Jill was able to help direct the program to focus on the needs of teachers and students. Like many other teachers, her goal was to have her students write more and be able to track their progress over time from draft to draft. As the program developed, she began using it to provide her students with instant, actionable feedback to support revision and guidance throughout the entire writing process. 

One of the benefits of Revision Assistant that Jill immediately realized was the ability for students to relate to the program. The interface of Revision Assistant places students in an environment with visuals they are familiar with to encourage writing. Instead of having numbers tied to a rubric with a numeric score, students are shown the strength of their writing in the form of a Wi-Fi signal.

Students are also given the opportunity to receive actionable feedback whenever they are ready by requesting a Signal Check. Students normally need to wait for independent guidance on their work, but Revision Assistant provides instant, formative feedback to encourage revision. Feedback appears as comments in the margin and revolve around strengths and weaknesses found in the students writing.


Watch the full webcast with a Q&A session here: Teachers Talk Writing


Related Sources

Revision Assistant Prompt Library

Feedback that Extends Teachers’ Reach

Motivating Students to Revise More Leads to More Practice, Greater Success