As an educator, it is such a challenge to prepare our students for a technological world that is evolving in a way that we cannot predict. However, we absolutely must prepare them to the very best of our ability. This means staying on top of advances in educational technology and incorporating them in a way that addresses learning goals. This means that ensuring our students can communicate in a written form using different modes of technology.
The writing process can be either enhanced or hindered by the use of technology, depending upon the instructor. A recent study, found in this scholarly article, showed that the role of the teacher is the most critical factor in determining how effective technology can be in moving through the writing process. Students with poor keyboarding and word processing skills had a harder time focusing on writing tasks and struggled through work when using technology. However, as the teacher in the study worked in flexible mini-lessons on the use of technology during her writing lessons, students had large amounts of success in using technology during the writing process. Also, in this article from Education Week, the author states that, “Tech-savvy teachers tend to agree that digital writing differs from conventional composition in ways that can spur student engagement and creativity.” If we can “up” the level of engagement in our students when it comes to writing, we’ve already won an enormous battle!
Allowing students to publish their writing online is a very unique opportunity when used effectively. This allows students to share work that they are proud of as well as read their peers’ writing selection. However, I think it is essential that teachers take this step with care. Be sure that each student feels confident about the work being published and do not allow others to criticize the writing. Publishing is the final step of the writing process and should be treated as a celebration of work, not a time to revise and edit. This is why it is essential that each student feels proud of the finished product that is being published. A great site for publishing student writing is Cyberkids.
The use of blogs, both by teachers and by students is another excellent way to open the lines of communication. I use my teaching blog to connect to other teachers and share ideas. However, I could also use this blog to keep parents informed on up-to-date information about our classroom. I think that students can use blogs to communicate ideas about literature in a very meaningful way. The “relaxed” atmosphere of a blog really allows students to let their thoughts “flow” without so much formality found in traditional writing. I think that this article really hit the “nail on the head” when it discussed the importance of teaching our students HOW to read and interpret blogs so that maximum learning is achieved. I can’t help but quote the following paragraph, as it really outlines the importance of reading when it comes to blogging:
“Blogging is about writing, but it begins with reading. Teachers recognize that in order to teach about blogs, they have to read good blogs. Most want to jump immediately in and have their students start blogging, sit back and expect students to write quality blogs. It won’t happen. Teachers need to take time in reading other blogs, before they expect to be able to lead their students in quality blogging.”