As a middle school writing teacher, I always try to capture the authenticity of writing – and, a digital writer’s workshop model enables me to support the creative choice and individual craft of budding authors.
Technology as a Tool:
In my classroom, I have:
- a SMART Board
- 4 iPads – yes, the new edition (coming this Fall)
- 6 iPods (new edition)
- flip cameras
- wireless mice
- an available lab across the hall with 32 fully functioning computers and a laser printer
My point is not list technology resources… for I’m sure there are many districts far more equipped than ours; however, I’d like to bring up a few points.
1. My district has a strong commitment for technology integration.
2. Teachers use technology not as a teaching supplement but rather a tool to enhance their instruction.
3. Students utilize the technology as much as the teachers (even during lessons!).
4. A sufficient amount of our technology was purchased through grant funding.
5. Our middle school had the number one MEAP writing score in the district.
6. 3 years ago, the primary ‘technology tool’ in our district was: the overhead projector/transparencies
7. Teachers are having fun ‘learning through trial and error’ when using foreign devices in their rooms.
Along with digital writing, our students usually have a ‘purpose’ that is meaningful and personal to guide their writing processes. One of my favorite platforms for digital writing is via blogging. Jon Schwartz does an AMAZING job of this with his forth and fifth grade students. I encourage you to click here and check out his site.
He lists nine fantastic reasons why blogging works for his classroom:
1. Kids want to share their work with a real, authentic audience.
They end up with lots of writing and artwork that gets stuffed into folders in their desk. There needs to be a better way of quickly and efficiently sharing their work with their parents, relatives, peers, present and former teachers, and principals. Kids will be motivated to write when they know their work is being valued and appreciated, and blogs enable this to happen.
2. Kids need to learn how to write and present their work in an organized fashion.
3. Kids need to learn how to use the internet and become digital citizens. They need to know how to submit work online, do internet research and create word documents and multi-media presentations. Online coursework is part of the college experience and the quicker they learn these skills, the more prepared they’ll be.
5. Kids benefit from creating organized work portfolios that they can easily access from a variety of locations.
6. Writing is a higher order thinking skill, as it requires the author to synthesize information and thoughts and present it in a coherent fashion.
7. Teachers need to give students timely and meaningful input on their work, but that’s hard to do when the work is all handed in at the same time. Blogs enable the teacher to access the student’s writings and art work at any time on their mobile devices, laptops, or desktops. The teacher can then add praise and constructive comments on the student’s blog, and the student can read the input on a mobile device, laptop, or desktop at home. It’s real-time work submission, review, and teacher input.
8. Busy parents can read their children’s work at their convenience, offer praise, and share it with relatives and friends.
9. Kids can share their work with their peers and comment on their peer’s work. They can read their peer’s work as soon as it’s created, when school is not in session, such as on the weekends, after school, and during vacations. They can also submit comments to the blog moderator (the teacher and/or parent), and these comments will be visible to the author if and when they are approved by the moderator.