Review by Andrea Meyers, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2018

Kaizena

Nifty add-on enables audio and text feedback in Google Docs

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • English Language Arts

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Private or group-level feedback via text or audio. Good Google Classroom integration.

Cons: The initial sync with Google Classroom is slow. There's no way for teachers to share skills for rubrics, which means duplication of effort among a team.

Bottom Line: If your classroom relies a lot on Google Docs, this might just be the feedback tool you're looking for.

Teachers can use Kaizena to manage the entire writing feedback process, from prewriting to publishing. Give students individual multi-modal feedback in Google Docs, hold group or individual conversations about writing projects in the Kaizena web app, track student skills progress, and link students to online lessons that scaffold their learning. Save hours of grading time with Google Classroom integration, which syncs student submissions for seamless assessment.

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Kaizena is a Google Docs add-on for feedback on student writing. Teachers who have gone paperless with Google Classroom and Docs will want to jump on this tool that supports quick and easy feedback right in Google Docs. Teachers can provide four types of feedback: audio messages, text messages, skills ratings, and lesson links. The audio tool enables teachers to record their feedback, which speeds up the feedback process and is a beneficial support for students with special needs. When integrated with Google Classroom, student documents show up in the Kaizena web app as soon as the students submit them. Students can also collaborate on documents and use Kaizena to give peer feedback. 

Teachers can rate student writing on individual skills or through a rubric created by linking skills together. Some skills with customizable descriptors are included, and teachers can add more skills in the web app. In addition, Kaizena offers several curated lessons on topics such as passive voice, incomplete sentences, capitalization, and punctuation, which can be linked to feedback, directing students to other learning resources. Teachers can also create their own focused lessons that support the writing projects and share them directly with other teachers or make them public for all Kaizena users.

Plenty of research exists on the importance of timely, relevant, and specific feedback for learning. Kaizena helps teachers focus intently on feedback and provide it in a variety of meaningful forms. Guided by teacher and peer feedback as well as skills ratings, students will take a deeper look at their writing. By linking to lessons in feedback, teachers can also encourage students to explore more learning opportunities. 

Kaizena can, however, be challenging to use with grade-level teams or across departments. Each teacher account is separate, and although teachers can share lessons, there's currently no feature for sharing skills for use by other teachers. This is a fairly big limitation due to the duplication of effort required if multiple teachers in a school or district need to use the same skills and descriptors for their rubrics. 

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students will like how easy it is to give and receive audio and text feedback from teachers and peer collaborators, and how they can instantly edit their writing within Google Docs.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

It facilitates constructive feedback and communication between students, peers, and teachers. Students engage with the feedback and use it to enhance and develop their writing.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Help documentation is available for both the add-on and the web app, including a chat feature for teachers only. Kaizena also offers useful videos on its YouTube channel.


Common Sense Reviewer
Andrea Meyers Technology Assistant and graduate student in instructional technology

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Stella Maris B. , Afterschool program educator
Afterschool program educator
Kaizena has a great potential not only for oral feedback.
This is an excellent tool with many more uses than it is reviewed and sold for. It can be used for feedback, tutorials, oral productions, listening comprehension and podcasts and much more.
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