Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
December 7, 2010

Using Microsoft Word Digital Comments During the Writing Process

By Mary Blow
Grades 6–8, 9–12

    Microsoft Word offers many valuable tools to assist students and teachers in the classroom. One of these is the comments tool. When I conference with students, I type or record comments into students' documents so that they'll have them when they revise or edit on their own. If students are confused, they can respond to my comment with another comment. Students also use comments as a form of communication during peer review. Ultimately, digital comments enhance communication in any classroom. Videos illustrating how to insert comments are included in this post.

    Student_essay_with_commentsTeacher Conferencing

    Inserting comments, typed or recorded, into a Microsoft Word document provides many benefits. Many times, I have conferenced with a student and seconds later the bell rings. When the student returns the next day, he or she has sometimes forgotten our conversation. Digital comments preserve the conversation.

    Other times, after conferencing with a student, he or she will return moments later, asking, "What did you say?" If a student struggles with processing or following a conversation in a busy classroom, the comments provide a reference, allowing them to review the conversation and process it at their own pace. It also helps the support teachers who will work with students later in a smaller environment. When they help a student, they have my comments as a record of the conference and a guide. The comments stay embedded in the document until the students are ready to delete them.

    The comments can also be recorded, which helps students who struggle with understanding directions. Recorded comments are quick and easy to insert. When students open the document, they simply click on the megaphone icon and listen to a recording of the comments.

    Independent students appreciate the inserted comments as they expedite response time. Students can leave digital comments for the teacher, indicating where they want help. The teacher replies to their comments and includes additional comments if necessary. Often, I review their work, insert comments, and save it for them to review when they return to class or work on it from home. Students use that time to write instead of waiting for a conference.

    Model essay

    Peer Review

    During peer review, students sometimes complain that they can't read each others' penmanship, or they are confused by misspelled words. Digital comments allow a peer reviewer to type or record comments into their classmate's document, thereby eliminating these problems. Each reviewer, when signed in correctly, will have a signature color balloon attached to all his or her comments, so the writer knows who made which suggestions. When the writer reopens the document, he or she reviews the typed or recorded comments as opposed to struggling to decipher handwriting or decode misspelled words.

    For more on peer review, see Colorado State University's guide to teaching peer review.

    Inserting Comments Guide

    Microsoft provides step-by-step directions for inserting a comment in a Microsoft Word 2007 document. (They also offer instructions for Microsoft Word 2010, 2013, and 2016.) I simplified these steps for middle school students and created a student guide to inserting or deleting comments for their notebooks. The video below illustrates how to insert typed comments into a Microsoft Word 2007 document.

    The video below models how to insert an audio comment, and then, if you are a student, listen to the comment.

    Sharing Files With Students

    Teachers often ask me how I manage file sharing with over 100 students. The technology coordinator for our school created a common folder for my class, a folder that teachers and students can share on our server. Within that folder, I create subfolders, one for each section of English that I teach. Students save their work to the folder for their English class. I require that they save their files in the following format: lastname firstname. This alphabetizes the homework and simplifies it for grading. After making comments, I resave to the folder. The students access the file and make revisions and edits. However, I can back them up to my computer and resave them to the common folder when I get back to school. I save cautiously, ensuring that I am not saving over a more recent revision.

    The only disadvantage is that neither the students nor I can access the files from home. I have considered moving our shared files to the cloud; however, my students are in 6th grade, and most file sharing services require email, which we do not have at the 6th grade level. Google Docs is great; however, students must be 13 years old to utilize the applications. Right now, I am looking at EDU 2.0, which is a learning management system. If anyone has a solution for collaborating on and sharing Microsoft Word documents, I'd be thrilled to know about it.

    Closing

    Ultimately, the inserted comments, typed or recorded, improve communication in the classroom. They provide a record of conversations, evidence that a student has engaged in the revision and editing processes.

    Microsoft Word offers many valuable tools to assist students and teachers in the classroom. One of these is the comments tool. When I conference with students, I type or record comments into students' documents so that they'll have them when they revise or edit on their own. If students are confused, they can respond to my comment with another comment. Students also use comments as a form of communication during peer review. Ultimately, digital comments enhance communication in any classroom. Videos illustrating how to insert comments are included in this post.

    Student_essay_with_commentsTeacher Conferencing

    Inserting comments, typed or recorded, into a Microsoft Word document provides many benefits. Many times, I have conferenced with a student and seconds later the bell rings. When the student returns the next day, he or she has sometimes forgotten our conversation. Digital comments preserve the conversation.

    Other times, after conferencing with a student, he or she will return moments later, asking, "What did you say?" If a student struggles with processing or following a conversation in a busy classroom, the comments provide a reference, allowing them to review the conversation and process it at their own pace. It also helps the support teachers who will work with students later in a smaller environment. When they help a student, they have my comments as a record of the conference and a guide. The comments stay embedded in the document until the students are ready to delete them.

    The comments can also be recorded, which helps students who struggle with understanding directions. Recorded comments are quick and easy to insert. When students open the document, they simply click on the megaphone icon and listen to a recording of the comments.

    Independent students appreciate the inserted comments as they expedite response time. Students can leave digital comments for the teacher, indicating where they want help. The teacher replies to their comments and includes additional comments if necessary. Often, I review their work, insert comments, and save it for them to review when they return to class or work on it from home. Students use that time to write instead of waiting for a conference.

    Model essay

    Peer Review

    During peer review, students sometimes complain that they can't read each others' penmanship, or they are confused by misspelled words. Digital comments allow a peer reviewer to type or record comments into their classmate's document, thereby eliminating these problems. Each reviewer, when signed in correctly, will have a signature color balloon attached to all his or her comments, so the writer knows who made which suggestions. When the writer reopens the document, he or she reviews the typed or recorded comments as opposed to struggling to decipher handwriting or decode misspelled words.

    For more on peer review, see Colorado State University's guide to teaching peer review.

    Inserting Comments Guide

    Microsoft provides step-by-step directions for inserting a comment in a Microsoft Word 2007 document. (They also offer instructions for Microsoft Word 2010, 2013, and 2016.) I simplified these steps for middle school students and created a student guide to inserting or deleting comments for their notebooks. The video below illustrates how to insert typed comments into a Microsoft Word 2007 document.

    The video below models how to insert an audio comment, and then, if you are a student, listen to the comment.

    Sharing Files With Students

    Teachers often ask me how I manage file sharing with over 100 students. The technology coordinator for our school created a common folder for my class, a folder that teachers and students can share on our server. Within that folder, I create subfolders, one for each section of English that I teach. Students save their work to the folder for their English class. I require that they save their files in the following format: lastname firstname. This alphabetizes the homework and simplifies it for grading. After making comments, I resave to the folder. The students access the file and make revisions and edits. However, I can back them up to my computer and resave them to the common folder when I get back to school. I save cautiously, ensuring that I am not saving over a more recent revision.

    The only disadvantage is that neither the students nor I can access the files from home. I have considered moving our shared files to the cloud; however, my students are in 6th grade, and most file sharing services require email, which we do not have at the 6th grade level. Google Docs is great; however, students must be 13 years old to utilize the applications. Right now, I am looking at EDU 2.0, which is a learning management system. If anyone has a solution for collaborating on and sharing Microsoft Word documents, I'd be thrilled to know about it.

    Closing

    Ultimately, the inserted comments, typed or recorded, improve communication in the classroom. They provide a record of conversations, evidence that a student has engaged in the revision and editing processes.

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

Mary's Most Recent Posts
Blog Post
Writing Journals: Exploring Mood

In this journaling activity we explore how the setting contributes to the development of mood. Additional journaling activities are shared as well.

By Mary Blow
January 10, 2017
Blog Post
Plotting With the Grinch

'Tis the season to be Grinchy! Dust off your classroom copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss and join us with this “wonderful, awful idea,” of reviewing the elements of plot with your students.

By Mary Blow
December 13, 2016
Blog Post
8 Library Makeover Ideas

Read on for eight ideas to update and modernize your classroom library with the goal of motivating your middle schoolers to read, while creating a personal space where they feel at home.

By Mary Blow
November 16, 2016
Blog Post
Veterans Day: Exploring Symbolism in a Military Ceremony

This Veterans Day, I wanted to create a missing in action/prisoners of war table that is included in many military commemorations. After we explore the symbolism of the ceremonial table we jump into analyzing symbolism in literature.

By Mary Blow
October 19, 2016
Blog Post
Engage Readers and Increase Comprehension: Annotate Text

Teaching my students to become engaged readers was not easy. I am excited to share the annotation lesson that helped my sixth graders comprehend informational texts. Included is a FREE Science World article to use in your classroom.

By Mary Blow
September 20, 2016
Blog Post
Aspiration Balloons Icebreaker With a Sprinkle of Character Traits

Forming trusting relationships goes a long way in middle school classroom management and motivation. The aspiration balloons icebreaker helps me get to know my students while encouraging them to reflect on the type of person they want to become.

By Mary Blow
August 23, 2016

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us