Fluco Toolbox: Kaizena

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based around your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever wanted a beefed up version of Google’s comment feature for Docs? Wished you could stop repeatedly typing the same comments over and over, or wanted to add voice comments? Wished that you didn’t need a program that required yet more student accounts and was instant?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Kaizena

First, the basics:

Name: Kaizena
URL: Link Here (Or find with the Add-Ons menu in Google Docs)
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Kaizena’s recent switch to focusing on Google Docs makes it easy to add text comments, voice comments, track skills, and reuse common comments over and over again. No need for a special account for students, and everything syncs with Google.

If you looked at Kaizena before and cast it aside because you had to be using the website, you might want to give it another shot. I remember looking at this particular tool before and putting it aside because it just seemed like one more thing. However, Kaizena has changed their focus as of the end of January 2018. While their website still exists, and can be used, G Suite schools will find that Kaizena is focusing mainly on their new Google Docs add-on. This add-on is easy to use, and only teachers need accounts to provide feedback. Students do not need any special accounts, just the add-on. Based on that premise alone, I was intrigued, and I think you will be, too.

First, load Google Docs and go to the Add-Ons menu. Search for Kaizena, and add it to your account. Docs will install it in the background. Once installed, open it like any other add-on. A new window will slide into view.

When you first open Kaizena, you will be asked if you are a Teacher or Student. Teachers need to have an account to give others feedback, and clicking the Teacher button will walk you through this process. If you are just a student, chose that route, and give Kaizena any permissions that it asks for to access your Drive and Docs.

Every other time Kaizena loads, you’ll see a screen with a few different options- Voice Message, Track a Skill, Attach a Lesson, and Text Message. Let’s break each of these down:

  • Voice Message: Record your voice and leave a comment for students to listen to later. Students can also download the comment.
  • Track a Skill: This lets you give students feedback in the moment on how they are doing with a particular skill or standard, much like a rubric. Customize and reuse as necessary.
  • Attach a Lesson: When giving feedback, you can attach a lesson that has links to guides or videos about a certain skill, such as capitalizing beginnings of sentences. Reuse your custom lessons again and again!
  • Text Message: Similar to the regular commenting feature, this does just as you think. Write a text comment to be viewed later.

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Since lessons and skills can be used again and again, they are stored and created on Kaizena’s website instead of in the add-on. More on how to create these later in this post.

Let’s look at using Kaizena. First, have a student share a document with you. This can be done in many ways, but chances are that Google Classroom is the most common method. Open the student’s document, and then start Kaizena from the Add-Ons menu.

Read through the student document. When you are ready to make a comment, highlight the text to be commented on. Choose to either make a text comment or a voice comment. Do note that you can change the color of the text that has been highlighted. This can be handy if you and a collaborative teacher will both be giving feedback on the document.

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If choosing to make a text comment, simply type the text and post. If choosing to make a voice comment, first agree to allow Kaizena to access your microphone. Then record your comment. Notice that highlighted text stays highlighted as long as the Kaizena add-on is active. It will be hidden from the screen if turned off, but not deleted.

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Example of a text comment with highlighted text.

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Example of a voice comment with highlight

All comments are immediately available to the student. All the student must do is open the same document and load Kaizena from the Add-On menu. They will be able to review any comments left by the teacher, and leave replies, just as with the regular Google commenting feature.

Commenting, whether text or voice, is a great tool, but Kaizena lets you do more than just that. By utilizing their website, you can create reusable lessons or track skills. Let’s take a closer look at each of those.

Any time you make a comment on a student’s work, you can attach a lesson. Lessons can be customized and reused. They must be made on the website side of Kaizena. For example, if students are always forgetting to capitalize letters at the beginning of sentences, you can create a lesson on capitalizing that includes what students should do, and provides links to other websites or resources.

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Click + New Lesson to create a new lesson for your Kaizena account.

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Add comments that include links to videos or websites. You can even add voice comments as well!

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Go back to the document and Add a Lesson. Start typing the name of the lesson, and click to add it.

Track a Skill is like a mini rubric. If you are focusing the assignment around certain skills, such as organization, this tool will let you track student progress toward mastery. Create a skill on the website and then edit to provide further details. You can describe what it means to receive each level, or modify the number of levels for a skill.

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On the website, click the + New Skill button to begin.

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Name the skill, and edit the different levels, as well as provide descriptions for each.

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Go back to the document and Add a Skill. Start typing the name of the skill, and click to add it.

With all of these extra features, Kaizena takes adding comments and feedback to student work to the next level. Step up your feedback game and give this add-on a try!

Resources

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