Writing and Technology

Technology enhances so many different aspects of teaching, like math and ipod touches or reading and e-readers.  But one part about technology that is really picking up speed is writing using technology.  State standardized tests are very quickly becoming computer based and with that includes writing.  Students will need to know how to successfully type up a quick essay or paragraph on the computer or other electronic device for an assessment.  But what can teachers do to prepare for this?  And how can teachers use this as a way to enhance their students' writing?

I feel that the process of writing truly enhances the writing process by bringing together so many of the steps or writing into one format.  Traditionally, teachers would pass out a worksheet or a scrap piece of paper for the brainstorm, then another piece of paper for the rough draft.  Then it would take a lot of time to self, peer, and teacher edit the papers for both content and mechanics.  Then finally the final copy is written.  By using technology - these steps can come to life for the writer.  Programs such as Kidspiration can make brainstorming come to life.  Then as the students are typing up their essays or reports, the editing feature is automatically taking place (for mechanics).  Using technology for writing truly brings out each individual step of the writing process and allows the students to connect to them in a way that provides for their 21st century learning styles.  Also, using technology allows the students to publish their writing, which in turn, brings out an entirely new component of writing - critiquing. 

There are many setbacks and advantages of having students publish their writing on the web.  One advantage is easy access.  Students, with one click, can access another students writing.  This saves time and even paper for the classroom.  Another advantage to students publishing and critiquing each others' writing on the web is the exposure.  I find it very hard to find time to allow all students to read everyone's writing in the entire classroom.  That takes a lot of time and a lot of paper.  With having student's publish their writing online, it saves paper and even better, exposes the students to even more writing.  Writing progress comes a lot from modeling and exposure to others' writing.  The more exposure to the different writings and styles out there, the more ideas, knowledge, and know-how the students will have to put into their own writing.  I think the exposure to the different types of writing is one of the best advantages.  Another quick advantage would be the capability of doing some collaborative writing in class.  This is a great strengthening exercise for young writers that really gets the creative juices flowing. 

The only true disadvantage that I can think of is simply the loss of manuscript.  Becoming a loss art already, students who use technology for writing are exposed even less to using manuscript writing than those who do use it.  Is this really a disadvantage with the fact that today we e-mail, text, and blog all of our thoughts?  Not really sure..

I think blogging can become a true gem in the classroom.  Blogs open up a completely different atmosphere of communication that a lot of students feel more comfortable with as opposed to face to face communication.  The discussions that can take place on blogs can be in depth, meaningful, and engaging all at the same time.  Take for example this teacher who uses classroom blogs for her TalkBack Project in her classroom. (Click picture to read article)

Witte, S. (2007). "That's online writing, not boring school writing": Writing with blogs and the Talkback Project. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 51(2), 92-96. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. )

Teachers can use blogs for classroom management.  They can post notices, fliers, and reminders about their classroom.  Even a student's personality can come to life using a blog.  Allowing them to design and create their own blog as a portfolio of work can really enhance a students performance.  Using blogs, students are also exposed to a certain type of writing style.  Blogs do not typically use a 'formal' writing style.  Instead they are more of a laid back, expressive, type of writing, which I feel that students would latch onto more.  Here's another great example of a teacher using blogs in her classroom.  This teacher even has a classroom mascot to help engage her writers into writing! (Click picture to read article)

Boling, E., Castek, J., Zawilinski, L., Barton, K., & Nierlich, T. (2008). Collaborative Literacy: Blogs and Internet Projects. Reading Teacher, 61(6), 504-506. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.)

There are many benefits to having students use technology and writing together.  This is just another way to enhance our Web 2.0 classrooms.  Before you begin to start your classroom blogs - here's a great website resource to read over first! 

Great Technology Tool!

So if you've stalked me at all, you'll know that I'm in love with using technology in my classroom.  My district is great about providing wonderful and engaging technology tools to our teachers as well.  Frogs, Bees, and Under the Seas posted today about a great online website called EducationCity.com.  I will completely support her by saying this is such a FANTASTIC tool!  I made a screen-cast about this amazing website to give you all some more information about just how great this website is.  If you're interested, check it out!


(Blogger isn't allowing me up upload ANY videos or pictures... so you'll have to click on the link to see the screen-cast)

Last Day of School!

So my last day of school was last week.  Where have I been since then?  Completely enjoying all of my free time and constantly thinking about next year...  It never ends does it??  Oh well!  I love it and wouldn't change a thing!  I just wanted to share a cute idea that we did on our last day.  I know memory books are all the rage and I do them, but I take out the 'autographs' page.  Instead I give each student a beach ball!  The ball becomes their autograph page.  When I sign the ball I write "We had a 'BALL' in 2nd grade!"  The kids LOVE it!  Check it out!

I'm hoping to get a lot done this summer - so I'll keep you updated on ideas and work that I'm doing :)  Happy Summer!!
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