Writing in digital spaces will provide learning opportunities you won't get from traditional writing assignments.
Guest post by Neven Jurkovic.
No matter what grade you teach, 1:1 technology has the power to transform your writing classroom. Here are four key ways in which your students can learn to write more effectively only with the help of technology.
Writing in digital spaces: Digital writing is fundamentally different than the paper/pencil writing that has traditionally been done in the classroom. The differing use of space, the inclusion of hyperlinks, and the possibility of merging text with multimedia make digital writing a truly separate skill from writing a traditional essay on paper for a teacher to read. The ability to write successfully and powerfully in an online format must be taught and practiced like any other skill. 1:1 access to technology provides students with the ability to do just that.
Writing for real audiences: 1:1 technology also allows students to write for an audience that extends beyond the walls of the classroom. As a result, it forces students to think critically about reeling in a potential reader. Catchy titles, accurate post tags/categories, and well-crafted introductory hooks are essential in gaining a larger audience for one’s digital writing. There’s simply no way to fully replicate this when writing on paper for a captive, limited audience of just your teacher or even your classmates.
Collaborative writing and peer editing: The ability for students to collaborate together as they write (or to peer-edit their writing once a draft is complete) is enhanced greatly through the use of 1:1 technology. In a Google Document, for example, students can view each other's writing and editing in real time. An entire group of students can get together to discuss how to best write a tricky sentence or paragraph, and Google’s revision history tool allows both students and teachers to look back at the entire editing process after the fact. Whereas in the past a teacher often only saw a student’s final, edited project, now that same teacher can see the thinking and revision work behind that finished piece as well.
Becoming a digital citizen: In contrast to traditional school writing, digital writing is often not just a one-way form of communication. Students must learn how to be an effective digital citizen; they must be able to engage enthusiastically with people who comment on their work and also comment thoughtfully on the works of others. They need to understand that their work is a digital footprint that has the potential to remain visible forever and that they can begin shaping a positive digital identity through their work right now. Again, no similar offline substitute for this exists.
Digital writing involves much more than simply having students type what they would have written on paper into Microsoft Word. As outlined above, it is a separate skill that must be taught, and providing students with ubiquitous access to 1:1 technology is an ideal way to help make that happen.
About the Author: Neven Jurkovic’s interest in teaching mathematics with technology developed while pursuing a Master of Science degree at Southwest Texas State University. Apart from publishing a number of papers on the application of artificial intelligence in elementary mathematics problem solving, Neven is the creator of Algebrator, a widely used math tutoring software. Currently, he lives in San Antonio, TX and is the CEO of Softmath: http://softmath.com/.
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