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Monday, September 17, 2012

Entry #2

Thinking back to Hicks (2009) and the three elements of framework for a digital writing workshop, I notice that a digital writing workshop could easily be implemented in the classroom I student taught in.  All the necessary components were there, they were just not being used for a digital writing workshop.  As Hicks says "Just because we have access to the tools does not mean that students are engaged in digital writing" (p. 127).
The school I was in was a rural district with about eighty students per grade level.  Many of the students had not been outside of their local area before, therefore they had minimal exposure to other ways of living.  Technology was present in almost every room, as there were at least 4 laptops per room and a couple classroom sets of ipods for teachers to share.  Many, if not all of the rooms also had Smartboards that the students were familiar with.  Although the technology was present in the classrooms, the students did not have much time to interact with the technology.  In my experience the students had "computer time" for a half hour twice a week.  This was not time to write or create using the technology, it was simply a time for the students to practice their typing skills.  To me, this seemed almost pointless, because they were only retyping the sentences that appeared on the screen to complete the next level of the game.  There was never a time that the students were able to type what they wanted, or something that pertained to them.  This "computer time" was generally a negative in many students eyes.  The "game" meant nothing to them, and was only a time waster as many of the students expressed to me.  They wanted to be able to put the skills they had learned to use and type something with meaning to them.  In my experience, the students were never given a time to be digital authors, which is disappointing that the computer time was not a productive time.  From my readings over the years, I have learned that students learn best through realistic exposure and don't need explicit teaching for everything.  I believe that students should be taught the basics of typing and technology explicitly and explore the rest through general use in context.
As far as writing topics for a digital writing workshop, as mentioned above, this was not present in my student teaching placement.  This is something that should be implemented.  Students should be exposed to various types of digital writing, such as Microsoft word, wikis, blogs and possibly even social media.  Students should be taught the differences between each of the types of digital writing.  One does not write a Word document the same as on a social media site,  or even a blog.  Students should also become readers of digital texts says Hicks (2009).  When teaching students to read and write using digital technology they also need to be aware of copyright.  This is a topic that should be explicitly taught and periodically reviewed.  In my opinion it is much easier for students to "copy and paste" when using digital writing.  Students should be informed of the reasons behind copyright (the author wants to claim what they have written as their own ideas) and the consequences for not respecting the copyright.
The space in which the students could have written for a digital workshop was laid out nicely.  The computers were in groups on round tables with about five students to a table.  This would have worked very nicely, as students could collaborate with each other.  There was also enough space in the room that the students could move around and actually go sit with another classmate by their computer if need be.  The only thing I would have added to the classroom was a board for the teacher to show students examples, or how to navigate around a new website.  I feel it is much easier to show students as you are verbally explaining directions when it comes to technology, rather than to simply explain out loud. 
Overall there is a lot I would change in the classroom that I student taught in to create a digital writing workshop.  I think the students would have enjoyed the time in the computer lab much more than they were.  I also feel the time would have been more productive, as the students would be producing work rather than copying what showed up on the screen, a mindless task for many of the students. 

1 comment:

  1. You clearly have an understanding of the limited ways technology was used as a tool for learning. I wonder, if you find yourself teaching in a district that also has limited access to a computer lab/digital composing software, what will you do to help your students be prepared for a variety of composing mode/media?