Cross-Age Writing Tutors


What is a Cross-Age Writing Tutor?

Well, it’s exactly what it implies. Students of different ages becoming writing tutors.

Where did this idea come from?

I’d love to take credit for this AMAZINGLY simple yet powerful idea, but NO … it wasn’t me. This is another of the awesome things I learned about at the #CUE14 conference I attended a couple of weeks ago.  I attended a session (Google Docs Speak! In Process Writing Feedback Across Grade Levels) with some really enthusiastic presenters.  All of which teach at different grade levels.  Scott Bedley, Sean Zeibarth, and Bill Selak. They offered their experience utilizing older students as editors for younger students.  Ex. 6th graders tutoring 4th graders.

My take away from this session was not so much having older kids mentor younger kids to improve their writing, but using Google Docs as a collaborative resource for real-time application.  The teacher then able to act as the facilitator.  Guiding, but not being critical. When the final draft is written and presented the teacher has a fresh view of the students piece of work.  Every piece has a purpose and an audience.  Students are motivated to write, because they know someone besides the teacher will be keeping them accountable.  They will up their game to impress their peer tutor.

Although I haven’t started the actual assignment yet, I’m excited about the potential of this new method of teaching kids to write. As a teacher, I need to find ways to get kids excited about writing and doing things the same way its always been done is not good enough.

How does it work exactly?

First, I decided to reach out to my Google+ community to share my idea and see who may be interested.  I had several offers from teachers at the middle school level that wanted to jump on board.  I chose to work with a teacher that I knew, because I’d taught her daughter a few years ago.  She teaches language arts with 6th graders.  Next, I created a Google spreadsheet with the list of my students and their gmail accounts for my partner teacher to pair up with her students.  I created and shared with her the documents for the writing assignment, rubric, and digital citizenship expectations.  My students will have a couple day jump start with planning and creating their first drafts.  They will then share their document with their partner.  The Cross-Age Tutor will be expecting to collaborate on the document in real-time using the comment feature in Google Docs.  They will eventually learn to annotate, but since this will be their first time we’re keeping it basic.  These comments should not be hypercritical, but positive and helpful to improve the students writing.

What will the younger student gain from this experience?

The student writer will benefit on several levels including having a purpose and and audience. They will step up their game and write to their potential, because they know a peer will be evaluating their work.  They will be held accountable with the live feedback, so they will also b kept engaged throughout the process.

What will the Cross-Age tutor gain from this experience?

Cross-Age Tutors will benefit by learning how to give constructive feedback, evaluate someone else’s work, and deepen their understanding of the writing process.

Where will I go from here?

This is our first attempt at this process and I expect that there may be some hiccups along the way.  However, I expect that we will gain valuable insight into what does or doesn’t work.  This will mold future assignments.  I’m really excited about this ‘Beta’ phase of teaching writing in this digital format and what impact it will have with my lessons for my future students.

YouTube Video:

Resources I’ve created to go with this lesson:

Cross-Age Tutor Spreadsheet

Digital Citizenship


Writing Prompt

Rubric – this is for both students and their tutors

Survey -under construction

Other resources about Cross-Age Writing Tutors/Collaboration:

Gr 4 Student Samples



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