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Pair Writing Hangout

One of my favorite practices with students who want to improve their writing is pair writing. This is a practice I've adapted from pair programming which Wikipedia describes as:

an agile software development technique in which two programmers work together at one workstation. One, the driver, writes code while the other, the observer, pointer or navigator, reviews each line of code as it is typed in. The two programmers switch roles frequently.

While reviewing, the observer also considers the "strategic" direction of the work, coming up with ideas for improvements and likely future problems to address. This frees the driver to focus all of his or her attention on the "tactical" aspects of completing the current task, using the observer as a safety net and guide.

I typically act as the observer, identifying weaknesses and suggesting improvements which the student then resolves; sometimes we switch roles. In particular, it is helpful if the student already has specific questions or things they've identified and want help addressing. Pair writing works well in person and on Google Hangouts which permits real-time collaboration and video chat.

Steps for pair writing


  1. Identify the issues and questions you would like to resolve (see the writing tips handout) and share this with me when (or before) we start.
  2. Bring your laptop and be prepared to edit while I ask questions and make high-level suggestions.
(if video chatting)
  1. Put your document up on Google Docs/Drive and share it with me (joseph.reagle), or just make it public, for collaborative editing.
  2. Make sure you can Hangout. I recommend you install the Google Chrome browser, if you use a different browser you'll need this plugin.
  3. Once we've settled on a time, I will invite/schedule you for a Hangout.

You can view a short video tutorial of this by Daniel Hartzheim.







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