Now it’s time to say goodbye…

April 17, 2007 at 4:53 am (English 310)

Who would have thought that I would make it out of this class and be able to say that I can now successfully create and maintain a blog, find useful articles, use Google Reader and know what an RSS feed is.  I know I did not think I would.

 I was seriously intimidated for the first few weeks of class.  I thought that everyone knew what was going on and how to do all of the things we were going to have to do…and that I was the only one technologically deficient enough to not get it.  Professor Rozema sounded like the teacher from Charlie Brown for quite a while to me: “Wah, wah, wah….”

 Somehow, however, I learned.  Inexplicably.  And not just how to use wordpress and Google Reader and all of that, but also how to really bring technology into my classroom effectively.  I’m not going to account my sudden knowledge and lack of fear all to my blog (because those were the things I was trying to discover); that would simply be a lie.  While I did learn so much about useful integration from finding, reading, and commenting on articles, I took just as much, if not more, from class discussions, readings, and ideas presented by Prof. Rozema.

What so many schools and classrooms in America are lacking is being open to having technology in the classroom.  So many teachers are stuck in their ways, believing that the way they have taught in the past is just fine, or being too scared to learn these technologies themselves.  What so many people do not realize, or choose to overlook, is that technology is everywhere…except in our schools.  The students that are being taught use technology everyday; it is not something we, as teachers, have to teach them, it is something that we have to integrate – there is an enormous difference between the two.  If we were teaching them how to use technology, we would show them how to find resources online or how to set up an email account.  These sort of things are engrained into our students.  What we have to do instead is integrate technology so that it is a member of everyday curriculum.

Is it really so hard to see why kids these days are bored with school and the things they are being taught?  They do not want to sit and here a lecture all hour about Romeo and Juliet.  They want to make videos and podcasts and websites (or uber-controversial MySpace accounts) about Romeo and Juliet; how much more interesting is that than taking a written exam?  Exactly; it’s a whole new ballgame…can you even accurately and fairly call it a comparison?

 I will miss this class, but hopefully I will see some of you in 311 next semester (Sorry Tami that I won’t be joining the summer session…here’s to hoping it doesn’t close!!)…where we will learn countless more about bringing the technology to our students so they can interdependently learn and have fun.  Whoo-hoo (the only way to end a semester)!

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Those lucky enough to receive my opinions: ;)

April 17, 2007 at 2:27 am (English 310)

Comment on Candace’s post “The Challenge”

Comment on Kristie’s post “Creative Language?”

Comment to Mandy’s post “SLAM”

Comment to Marie’s post “Pop Stars Suffer? No Way!”

Comment to David’s post “Death by PowerPoint”

Comment on Nicole’s post “Do some authors go too far?”

Comment on Candace’s post “The Root of the Problem”

Comment on Wade’s blog “Technology – You Better Find Room for It”

Comment on Bethany A’s blog “‘Bong Hits 4 Jesus’??”

Comment on Stephanie J’s blog “Racism in ‘Beloved’ Traded for Adultry in ‘The Scarlet Letter'”

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Technology and our future classroom

April 16, 2007 at 11:20 pm (English 310)

At the beginning of the Bright Ideas Conference, we listened to keynote speaker Jacqueline Woodson speak of writing as a process much as Peter Elbow does.  Woodson writes because she loves writing; she does not outline; she just writes and writes and sees where it takes her.  She believes that you cannot know where your writing is going until it has begun, and that is an important element to note of her style.  To make a good story, the writer not only has to figure out what the story has to say, but more importantly, the writer has to let go of his/her fears.  That writer’s block that we feel is not what we think it is; it is really our body’s way of telling us to write something real, something true; something we know and should not be afraid of.

Woodson also believes that we all have a story to tell, and we all have a right to tell our story.  The problem is, many people (especially younger people) are not taught the value of their individual voices and so they learn to be afraid to say or write what it is they really want to say.  What she believes, and I agree with, is that students need to be taught that what they have to say is important and they should feel free, or obligated even, to let their ideas out into the world.

 Personally, I thought that Woodson’s speech had many key elements that people who came to the conference should listen to and take to heart.  Young learners are not taught the joys that can come with writing, and so it becomes something they both loathe and fear.  If we could only bring the power of personal writing and narrative back into the classroom, then perhaps students would learn more about themselves and about the writing process (which would carry over into more academic pieces that the students must write).

The three conferences that I chose to go to had a lot to do with what I have been trying to discover in this blog space over the last few months.  The first conference I chose was entitled “Introducing a Twenty-First Century Curriculum: Incorporating Mass Communication into the English Classroom.”  This was an interesting start because it brought up how rapidly technology is changing and growing, and how education is struggling to find ways to keep up.  The presenters (Andrew Reimann, Kate Salvadore, and Sara-Beth O’Connor) discussed how wiki’s (such as wikipedia) are not considered by almost any teacher or administrator as legitimate sources for students to use.  However, as technology grows, many of these sites are becoming more and more dependable.  At some point, they cannot be ignored…so why not start now?  The group talked about how wiki’s could be set up in the classroom.  For example, the class could create their own wiki together; they would read a book, then find research and together create an online collaborative essay.  Through making it a wiki, anyone who views it could update it, changed it, and even delete students’ findings, which could help students to see how reliable such sources are.

In the second conference I went to, called “macBeth: Using Technology to Enhance the Teaching of Shakespeare,” Jeff Patterson and Lindsay Steenbergen touched on a related subject of bringing technology into the classroom.  What the presenters showed us was how to integrate tools such as PowerPoint, iMovie, Garageband (a program that creates music tracks), Google, and a video camera to bring Shakespeare’s MacBeth into the modern day.  What Steenbergen and Patterson have been doing in their English classrooms is taking today’s “Digital Natives” (as they call students) and allowing them to create modern-day creations using MacBeth as a starting point or as inspiration.  In Steenbergen’s class, one group set MacBeth up as a Jerry Springer show, keeping some key elements and emotions, but changing events and time periods so that students can more easily connect to Shakespeare.  Another group created a version of the Real World, set in Scotland.  One other group created a Dr. Phil episode.  Then they uploaded their videos onto a computer, added graphics and music and had a drastically different and powerful array of outcomes.  In Patterson’s class, the students created a mock-version of a MySpace website using PowerPoint.  Each student was given a character from the play and had to create a MySpace webpage, complete with pictures, likes/dislikes, friends, favorite books/movies, a quote, comments, and so on.  These cross-cultural adapations and textual interventions by the students allows them to engross themselves in a play they might normally hate, be bored with, or not understand.  They think critically about the characters and what motivates them and then translate it into something they are familiar with, making the play worthwhile.

 The final conference I went to was presented to us (fabulously, I might add) by our very own English 310ers Bethany Erickson and David Knapp.  Their presentation, entitled “‘Whose Space is It?’ Integrating Social Networking Sites into English Language Arts instruction,” was very much like the macBeth one I had gone to before it, only they argued in strong favor of allowing the actual MySpace website to by used in the classroom by the students.  So many schools are banning, or have banned, social-networking sites like this one because administration does not see the educational value of such media.  For the two macBeth presenters/teachers, social-networking is not allowed, and so they must improvise by making a mock-up of MySpace on PowerPoint.  Bethany and David, however, argue that the amount of negative attention given to social-networking sites is blown far out of proportion.  Teachers who want to use MySpace in their classroom can set up the account for the students in their class so that it is very private; only students who have the password would be allowed to write on the walls, and it would be closely monitored by the teacher so that inappropriate things do not appear on their site.

Before I had gone to the Bright Idea conference, I have to admit I was not what one might call “enthused.”  The idea of heading to East Lansing at seven in the morning to listen to a bunch of presentations did not get me excited.  However, once I was there and listening to the ideas the people were presenting to me, a whole new array of things I could actually implement into my classroom were given to me.  Things like Shakespeare that even I hated in high school can now have some kind of connection to students and their daily lives; it no longer has to be yet another five-paragraph essay.  All in all, getting up at 5:45 am was well worth it.  😉

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And the grades are in:

April 16, 2007 at 11:19 pm (English 310)

Who knew that states were given report cards just like any student?  For the last decade, actually, research has been being conducted by Education Week to see how each state’s technology usage, access, and capacity add up.  This “state-focused supplement,” as they refer to it, is called “Technology Counts” and is released once a year.  How many state’s got a straight A?  Only one.  One out of fifty, and you can bet that it wasn’t Michigan.  Actually, the state average this year overall was a C+, and Michigan did not even hit that.  We came in with a C…well, at least it is a passing grade (although barely).

I went to Education Week’s archive to compare Michigan’s 2007 scores with its 2006 scores, and was shocked to see that the grades didn’t change at all.  The 2006 document is titled “The Information Edge: Using Data to Accelerate Achievement” and the 2007 document is titled “A Digital Decade” (presumably because they have been conducting this research for 10 years now).  Each state is graded on three separate categories: Access to technology, Use of technology, and Capacity to use technology.  In 2006, Michigan’s scores were as follows: Access=D+, Use=A-, and Capacity=D; giving us an overall grade of a C.  For 2007, our grades in each category were exactly the same.  Now let’s compare our scores to the average state: Access=C, Use=C+, and Capacity=C; giving them an overall grade of C+.

 So while we are way ahead of the average as far as Use of technology goes, we are seriously lacking in Access and Capacity.  Other interesting point to make is that the report shows that only 41.5% of students in Michigan have access to computers in the classroom — that is sadly 8% below the national average.

Why is Michigan behind, and why is it that we had no improvement from last year to this year?  I guess I really cannot say.  This report does not go into detail about why states received the grade they did, and so far, no articles have been published (that I can find) by a Michigan newspaper commenting on the grades.  Some states, such as Utah and South Carolina, have had articles written regarding the grades they received and why they have received them.  Who will be the first willing to pick up the issue in Michigan?  I suppose we will have to wait and see.  If and when someone does, I will make sure to inform you of it.

 As for now, all I can say for us is tsk-tsk.  Perhaps all of those plans that Granholm has to “amaze” us should start rolling in…and they should begin with our education system so that our students can keep up with the ever-increasing technology-driven future.

Education Week’s Archive

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Let’s follow their lead!

April 16, 2007 at 11:19 pm (English 310)

“‘[Technology improving education] wasn’t even on the school district’s radar,’ Taggart says.  ‘The schools are all thinking about No Child Left Behind.’ “But Taggart saw a direct correlation between lackluster school perfromance and old-fashioned classrooms and teaching methods she encountered.”

This quote is from Linda Taggart, a principal at Correia Middle School in San Diego, CA, and it comes at the beginning of an article entitled “Trashing the Chalkboards” from the voiceofsandiego.org.  Taggart, together with a local entrepreneur named Matt Spathas, created a program a few years ago called Project Light Speed that is meant to

“Teach the kids using the tools they know.  Embrace technology.”

It is not the students that have to be taught technology; that is not what this program is about.  What it is really about it using

“technology to foster valuable lifelong skills, such as critical thinking and creativity.”

There are, the article mentions, alarming rates of students dropping out of school and getting poor test scores, as well as how far the United States is falling behind other countries like China and India in this technological age.  What Taggart and her cohort Spathas believe the best way to get students from

having to learn to wanting to learn” is to “engage them with relevant tools and subject matter.”

Students can easily adapt to the constantly updated and changing technologies and that the curriculum of schools should be able to keep up as well.  Otherwise, old methods are being applied to modern ideas and societies, and students quickly lose interest.

Taggart’s middle school students are creating, with ease, e-portfolios (which are records of their school work that will follow them to high school) and multimedia projects; they are taking quizzes/tests online and using “Ibraries” (modern information libraries with sources beyond books) instead of old-fashioned libraries.

Since the project was started four years ago, half of the schools in the Point Loma district have joined in, at least to some extent.

“‘There’s an art to teaching, [Principal Bobbie Samilson of Point Loma High] points out.  “You have to figure out how to engage the kids and do everything we can do to make them more excited about learning.  Light Speed has been very important in changing education, not limiting it.  When a kid says they’re bored, we now have more options than ever before.”

Now if only more administrators and officials shared the same point of view as Taggart and Spathas.  Instead of focusing on the set standards of education alone, we should be focusing more on how best to make our education standards competitive to those countries we are quickly falling behind.  The best way to go about that is to constantly evaluate and update the technology of schools not only to keep up with the rest of the world, but also to keep our students interested and engaged on the subjects they must learn.

Trashing the Chalkboards” Full Article

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“Classrooms of the Future”…hope instilled!

March 1, 2007 at 2:55 am (English 310)

“As in past ages distinguished by a major economic shift, today’s educational system bears the responsibility of preparing a new generation for a changing workforce. Where the move was once from agricultural to industrial, and then from industrial to technological, the great transition now is from local technology to global information.”

We all know that technology was created to better our society.  It is supposed to enhance our learning, our skills…make life easier somehow.  It has entered our school systems with the intent to make us all that much brighter, and to connect us with the world around us.  What I have discovered from reading different articles and blogs, however, is that technology does not always do that.

I read classmate David’s post about “Death by Powerpoint” and realized how true he was…in a lot of classrooms, the technology isn’t enhancing anything — Powerpoint has just become another version of taking notes off of a chalkboard in many classrooms.  I have sat through many a lecture where me and my fellow classmates laid our heads down and took a nap because all that happened for an hour and a half was the droning of a teacher in front of yet another boring Powerpoint.  I began, then, to scour my Google Reader in an attempt to find some kind of hope for technology…an example of where it is going (or is trying to go) the way it was intended.  What I kept coming across were articles that were referring to a program called Classrooms of the Future.

What I discovered was that a program called Classrooms of the Future has been created by the Governor of Pennsylvania, a man named Edward G. Rendell, that is bringing $200 million to Pennsylvania high schools in order to get technology and proper education to the students.  High schools across the state will now have:

“…a laptop on every high school core-subject classroom desk, as well as create hightech teacher stations in all public high schools and career and technical centers in Pennsylvania. In addition to the 1-to-1 rollout, each high school will receive a teacher laptop; a printer; a scanner; imaging software; a webcam; an electronic whiteboard; a projector; digital, still, and video cameras; productivity software; infrastructure; and tech support.”

So for every English, math, science, history, and social studies student their will be a laptop computer as well as accompanying classroom technology such as webcams and video cameras — plus, the teacher gets one too.  Not a bad deal.  I thought that all of this sounded pretty good and that Michigan (and every other state, btw) should jump on board as well.  But, to great wonder, Gov. Rendell was not yet finished.  Classrooms of the Future also provides all teachers with “guidance instructors” to teach them the best way to incorporate this technology into their classroom…so they don’t just have it, but they know how to use it too!

“What’s key is establishing an environment in schools that supports student-centered, inquiry-based, data-informed, personalized teaching and learning. To accelerate that transformation, we are providing stipends to Keystone teachers to mentor their peers and act as Classrooms for the Future coaches. They will guide teachers and administrators in technical needs assessments and strategic recommendations, identifying appropriate instructional and administrative technologies and delivering hands-on professional development. A robust program of online and on-site professional development will prepare high school teachers and administrators to integrate these and other technologies into their instructional practices. By building partnerships with higher education institutions and local community and business groups, collaborating with regional education service agencies, and using students as mentors and assistants, the whole enterprise will benefit.

So after my bout of fear that technology is going to lose the battle in creating smarter and more savvy students, this initiative boosted my spirits and hopes once more.  I wonder if this program and all its goals can and will be met.  I realize that this awe-inspiring article about creating new hope for our future students was in fact written by Michael Golden, who is Gov. Rendell’s deputy secretary of the Office of Information and Educational Technology for the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  In other words, it’s meant to have an ultra-positive sound and spin, but my hopes are instilled nonetheless.  As the program progresses, I would like to see what comes of Pennsylvania classrooms and whether or not this initiative was as effective as Gov. Rendell intended it to be.  If it is, then my next hope would be that the rest of our nation follows suit so that all students will have this opportunity to move away from endlessly long and boring Powerpoints…and that teachers (myself included) will not stray towards them because we do not know what else to do or do not care to try.

“Pennsylvania: Creating Classrooms of the Future” by Michael Golden Full Article

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To Let the Kids Decide…

February 21, 2007 at 6:24 pm (English 310)

Although the movie “Supersize Me” does show Morgan Spurlock’s own opinion on the subject and so it is swayed in his direction, what opinion piece doesn’t?  Many people might not agree with the ideas presented by Spurlock, and then there are others who might take what Spurlock says as the be-all-end-all because their opinions on the fast-food industry are similar.  One article I found on Tech Central Station called “Dishing It Out, But Not Taking It” by James K. Glassman says “Supersize Me” is

 “a repulsive and dishonest piece of puerile entertainment — vomit and rectal exams tarted up with sociology and politics.”

Another comment was posted about the movie on the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) by a man who’s screen name is “bob the moo” that took the movie more as I believe it was intended.  He said,

“True, very few people eat McDonalds every day but many, many people do eat foods high in saturated fats everyday even if they are not all happy meals and, in this way, maybe Spurlock’s experiment wasn’t so far-fetched and, lets be honest, like their own lobbyist said – McDonalds are part of the problem.”

The point is, we all know that there is some truth connecting what we eat, how often we eat it, the amount of exercize we get, and how much weight we gain.  Because it is a topic that is debated and argued over a million different ways, why wouldn’t it be a perfect topic to bring into a classroom?

 The movie spurs opinions and makes you think.  How much of it is purposely portrayed the way it is because that is what Spurlock wants us to see, and how much of it can be taken as factual?  Why not let the kids decide?  Education plays an enormous role in having kids decide what is right for them.  And, they are bombarded everyday by countless advertisements for things that aren’t healthy for them, so a movie like “Supersize Me” might do some good in reinforcing the idea of advertising and the power it holds in helping children and teens make decisions about what they eat, drink, wear, drive, and so on.

The point of critical pedagogy is to challenge and question things the students see and experience everyday.  A movie like “Supersize Me” may in fact only show one side of an argument, it may be swayed a certain direction, but if something is presented by a teacher in the right way, then it gets the students to think about all sides of the issue.  What a teacher says to her class, what she feels about a subject becomes a part of the students’  that she teaches.  So, what we have to remember in critical pedagogy is not to get students to believe what we believe, but to get students to think critically about the world around them and their place in it.  Question authority and all of that.  A movie like “Supersize Me” or “Bowling for Columbine” or “An Inconvenient Truth” show students ways they can question what they have always been told by the media, government, parents, etc.  They are useful tools in a critical pedagogy as long as the teacher helps the students to begin questionin in the right ways.

“Dishing It Out, But Not Taking It” Full Article

Comment by “bob the moo” Full Comment

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RSS=Real Stress for Students? Shouldn’t be…

February 15, 2007 at 1:01 am (English 310)

We have already gone over this idea a lot in class, but it’s of such relevance in today’s classrooms that I can’t help but bring it up in my blog as well.  It has to do with students writing for the internet and how it is different from writing on paper just for the classroom and teacher.

 I found a blog on Blogs for Learning called “The Technology of Reading and Writing in the Digital Space: Why RSS is crucial for a Blogging Classroom.”  This is a blog headed by Dr. Nicole Ellison and Dr. Ethan Watrall from Michigan State University and it was created for “students and instructors who are interested in the theory and practice of blogging within an educational setting.”  Well, I guess it is right on track for my interests, then.  What I found in the article mentioned above by David Parry are his views and ideas on the importance of blogging and of student knowledge of RSS.  He is disappointed to know that only one in ten of students (who are supposed to be the most “tech-savvy” generation) have heard of RSS feeds and would know what to do with them.  I am afraid that until I took this class, I was one of those disappointing students…but I am well on my way to becoming much more literate when it comes to reading and writing for the internet.

 When I first started to make my RSS notebook, I have to say that I was not sure what I was doing.  I still have trouble going through all of the articles that come up in my notebook because it seems that some of my feeds get so many at once that I cannot keep track.  But luckily, with practice, finding the articles that are relevant to my blog is slowly becoming less and less of a burden and waste of time.  Parry makes this point in his article when he says,

 “RSS helps to give students control over content on the web, reducing time spent navigating from site to site to see what has changed, and instead allowing them to receive updates about the content they are interested in tracking or material that is relevant to class.”

“The speed of reading in the age of the digital has changed, and we need to help students navigate this. Being able to “surf” around countless webpages, scanning information, might be a good practice for cursory knowledge acquisition, but it does not lend itself to in-depth reading. In fact, I would argue that these are almost two separate mental practices. And it is important to teach students to distinguish between these two. Reading on the internet requires two separate skills: one, the quick analysis to find what is worth reading, and the second, a switch to slow analysis to carefully consider what has been found.”

This is something that may take a bit of practice, but with RSS, the job is more than half done for you.  A student has already chosen what areas of a newspaper or blog they want as part of their RSS, and so all they have to do is skim the headlines, mark the ones that seem relevant, and discard the rest.  Then, when they have time, they can come back to those articles that hopefully had some relevance and read them in-depth.  I know for me, this all seemed overwhelming, and I am sure that a lot of students (even those who have a bit more internet experience than me) feel the same way.  It seems like a lot, but once it is started, it can change the way you use the internet.

 The importance of this to me as a future teacher is what it can mean for my students.  They will no longer be writing all of their papers to me and handing them in for a grade, but instead they will be posting up blogs with their own ideas that are relevant to society today.  When teachers asked me to collect newspapers and cut out articles and then write a short paper about the article and how it is important to me and society I thought, “Eugh…what a bunch of hassle.”  But for students now, even just a few years later, this idea is not the hassle it once was.  Everything they need is right in one place, on the internet, so they can sit down and collect articles from all over the world that interest them and then comment on their blogs–all without ever leaving their seat.

The blogs, of course, should not be understood and written in the same way that the students would write a paper to be handed in.  What blogging brings to the table is an entirely different audience for the students to write to…and so their writing gains new scope, meaning, and most importantly to me, ownership.  The idea of authorship and everything that comes along with it is one of the biggest importances to Parry.  He gives a list of different aspects to authorship and what they can mean to students:

First: “Teaching students to write blogs without at least providing the idea behind RSS is like teaching them to write papers on word processors, but never showing them how to use spell check, find and replace, italics or any of the formatting tools; it just repeats the prior technical moment of writing. In order to be successful authors in this space, students need to construct content that takes advantage of the iterability and citationality that the web offers.”

Second: “By using RSS, you can syndicate all of the students blogs…Furthermore, RSS can facilitate commenting, as most blogs will allow you to syndicate the comments to a specific post…this will help students to realize how writing for the web is a matter of continuos conversation rather than static paper design.”

Third: “…digital content is increasingly syndicated. Thus, writing without an awareness of how your writing may be syndicated can lead to addressing your audience in an ineffective way…Writing with the possibility that content will be read in syndication requires that writers recognize the different ways in which their writing is likely to become re-contextualized.”

So, what these points about authorship show is that digital writing is a different game than the traditional mode of classroom writing.  As teachers, we have to be aware of both types of writing and it is also our job to inform our students about the different avenues available to them and when they are most relevant.  It is impossible to say that one type of writing is more important than another in a classroom, and I am not trying to push in favor of one over another.  I know that both will be utilized in my classroom one day, and it is important for me (and all other teachers/future teachers) to know how to approach the subject of writing in all of its forms.

Full article

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No ifs, ands, or buts…

February 1, 2007 at 10:09 pm (English 310)

It seems to me after reading through some articles that there are still people out in the world that do not see the advantages brought about by digital writing and technology in the classroom.  It was pretty cool today when Troy Hicks came in to lecture our class because I had just been surfing around his blog the night before.  I went back to it today, and I found an article he mentioned in one of his blogs about places to start when evaluating digital technology.  The article comes from the Why Teach Digital Writing page, and it is called “How Technology Changes Writing Practices.”

As future English teachers, we all know that we will have to incorporate technology and multimedia practices into our classrooms.  And we should (not just because the content standards mandate it, either).  Digital writing plays a huge role in our world today, and we do not want our own students fall behind others because we were not sure what or how to teach them about digital writing.

“Many writing technologies have streamlined the writing process (the typewriter is one example), but only a few writing technologies have had truly dramatic social impact. The printing press is one; the networked computer is another. It is the networked computer, the spaces to which networked computers provide access, and the public ways in which individuals are writing that are together changing the cultural landscape. These elements, taken together, are truly revolutionary.”

I guess before reading this, I hadn’t really thought of the internet and the possibilities it brings to the writing table in this light.  I of course know that technology and the internet have changed our world, but I hadn’t really imagined how it has changed our writing as well.  The printing press brought literacy to the masses; it was no longer something that the privileged enjoyed alone.  It cemented word spelling, made books cheap and available to everyone.  The amazing part is that right now, the internet is re-revolutionizing writing in the same way that the printing press once did!  Who would have thought we would live to see such times!

“The way that people are using the Internet and the sheer numbers of people writing on and with the web is having significant social and cultural impact. A February 2004 Pew Internet & American Life study reported that ‘44% of U.S. Internet users have contributed their thoughts and their files to the online world’ through posting written and visual material on web sites, contributing to newsgroups, writing in blogs, conversing in chat spaces (such as instant messaging), and via other digital means.”

44%.  In 2004!  With each passing year, the number of people joining the writing revolution brought to us via the internet grows.  How can it not be seen that the children in our school systems have a right and need to be a part of this?  Somehow, there are still arguments against it.  Continuing in the article “How Technology Changes Writing Practices,” the authors state all of the arguments brought to them as professors at Michigan State University against digital writing and then they supply their arguments against the resistance.  One example,

“‘We shouldn’t be teaching technology in a writing class. That’s not part of the art of writing. Back in the old days we didn’t teach TYPING in writing classes. Why should we teach computing now?'”

Their response:

“We are not ‘teaching computing.’ We are teaching writing-with-the-technology, because the technology fundamentally changes how writing is produced, delivered, and received. Some of us do remember the old days, thank you very much. We didn’t teach typing back in the old days because typing was a supplement to print culture: we were typing ON PAPER. However, we did teach students how to write for print distribution — that is, all our pedagogies for arrangement, our focus on modes, unity, and coherence, all of those principles presuppose print delivery. Now, in the digital era, we have vastly different technologies for production and distribution — and we have to teach our students the rhetoric for a new form of delivery. We didn’t ban paper and pens from our writing classrooms in the old days, why should we ban computers now?”

What I saw as one of the most frequent and important of the nine resistive arguments presented was, “Computer classrooms are too costly.  We can’t afford it.”  True, a computer classroom complete with all the essentials (software, hardware, furniture, etc.) can get very expensive…how can poverty-stricken schools, especially with the cuts-backs education has faced, afford these labs?  Well, with a little creativity and the fact that computer costs are continually going down, anything is possible.

The viewpoint held by many educators and others about the lack of need there is for digital writing in classrooms is simply misguided and false.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it, we have to find a way to bring digital writing and other uses of technology to all students in order to give them equal opportunities in the future.

“How Technology Changes Writing Practices” Full article

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Writing all over the world

February 1, 2007 at 12:40 am (English 310)

There has been a rising problem in schools across the United States and the world on ways to get technology integrated effectively into the curriculum.  How can technology be brought into a class and enhance the learning that would otherwise be taking place?  What new ideas and projects can be introduced that will not only engage students but also introduce new concepts and viewpoints?  What technology should be doing is creating a stronger more effective education, and some new, creative ideas have been introduced into classrooms across t he globe that do just that.

An article entitled Go National from the education blog edutopia.org talks about different capabilities that a tech circle brings to students.  Tech circles have

“students from far-flung locations collaborate using the Internet, video, and other distance-learning technologies.”

In this article, three different classrooms from schools in Oregon, Michigan, and New Jersey connect to one another in order to write, produce and share plays with each other through a program called TheatreLink.  The article goes on to say that there are only a few things that tech circles need to be effective: computers with internet capabilities and word processing, a digital camera and/or scanner, and a video camera.  Almost any school will now have those basic elements, so joining a tech circle would be easily doable and an amazing experience.

“Technology routinely opens doors for students. The tech circle leaps all remaining barriers and generates interaction among groups in various environments. Geographic, ethnic, and socioeconomic differences turn out to matter less than individual creativity and collaborative work.”

Tech circles can take place in any type of classroom, whether it be a history class, a biology class, a government class, or an English class.  What I thought was most interesting was how tech circles make it possible to connect with classrooms from around the world and bring them directly into your own classroom.  So let’s say my class were doing a project where they had to interpret Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar play (which is known to be hated amongst high school students) and they had to make a modernized version of it.  They could connect with students from other parts of the country, or even in Britain or India, and collectively analyze the text and write a version of the play together.  Or each class could write their own version and then share them with the other classes; it would bring in varying viewpoints from around the globe.  Different cultures and beliefs and ideas about the text would be shared and through this, the students are not just learning the standard version they would have learned in a traditional class.  Instead they are learning globally — which would be a completely different take on the same old thing.  The Go National article comments on this same idea as it was used in the TheatreLink collaboration:

“The outcomes of the playwriting project may not rival the work of Tennessee Williams or Arthur Miller, but they are powerful nevertheless. Students from various cultures collaborate with others who have different viewpoints on common projects. Not bad for a day at school.”

Not bad indeed.  Writing and sharing information with students, teachers, and anyone else you can think of can happen at any moment.  It’s really boggling to know that these ideas are no longer for classrooms of the future, but for classrooms today.  My own classroom will have these capabilities and it will be up to me to utilize them…to get as creative as I possibly can; we really can have fun, sit in a class, and learn, all at the same time.  Who knew?

“Go National” Full article

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