Michael Schanhals (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) is a busy man. He’s a National Writing Project fellow, a freelance writer, a collegiate lacrosse coach, and a high school teacher. He has seen a lot of technologies come and go in his twenty plus years as a teacher. But Michael is impressed with the data available from Eli Review and his subsequent ability to respond to student-needs.
Schanhals was one of Eli’s earliest adopters and has been using it in his classroom, particularly AP English, at North Muskegon High School for several years. Reflecting on his pedagogy before Eli, he observes:
Before using Eli Review, my students and I wrote and conferenced with each other, revised, edited, and completed writing assignments. I would adjust instruction during conferences with individual students (which is tough with roughly 150 total students), and adjust instruction toward our standards and benchmarks at the conclusion of an assignment. The feedback that students received from me was mostly generalized instruction and if there was specific help it was sporadic. I was also ‘blind’ to the progress they were making during the writing process as reading and requiring drafts is tough in a workshop format under our time constraints.
But Eli Review’s automation of much of the mundane work of coordinating writing tasks and its features that make rapid review and revision cycles possible dramatically changed his teaching:
Eli Review allowed me to teach in real time as students submitted their drafts. I could see what they were doing right and what needed to be addressed minute-by-minute as we worked through the process. My responsiveness led to much more accurate and timely feedback and the students gained a sense of confidence in their skills much more quickly. I am still amazed by this tight feedback loop that Eli Review makes possible.
I feel so much more attuned to what is happening during the workshop and can reach out to small groups and individuals for mini-lessons on the spot. The data that Eli Review provides is not available in the traditional workshop or in shared document type technology.
The “tight feedback loops” that Schanhals uses Eli to implement with his students have led to dramatic changes in the way he designs his courses:
There has been a tremendous amount of growth on the part of all my students while using Eli Review as a part of our writing work. The first year we were able to use the program, I noticed that we were markedly ahead of schedule with our development. During the second year I planned for this and we were able to spend the first third of the year on what used to take the entire year. We were able to extend and develop our learning during the second trimester, and add high-level standards and increased rigor by the end of the year. It has been remarkable.
And, perhaps most importantly, Eli has helped him grow as an instructor in ways that he can document as contributing to school improvement:
Eli Review is a repository of all of the work that is done. Every move that every writer has made is tracked and available for me to project (anonymously or not) and we have a wealth of material that we have generated in the past two years. This has allowed me to grow as an instructor and to feel much more confident and effective responding to each individual student.
As a professional with responsibilities to the district school-improvement initiatives Eli Review has been invaluable. I am more in-touch with each individual student over time and can document and demonstrate growth. Eli Review allows me to directly address complicated district-wide initiatives such as formative assessment, response-to-intervention (RTI), and differentiated instruction- and it tracks data for each individual student and our courses over time. It is a very valuable tool in search of genuine school improvement through data-driven results.”