Common Core Standards: ELA
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
While this standard might give us digital immigrants the willies, it’s every student’s dream. Here students are asked to create, collaborate, and communicate in ways they’re most comfortable with—using technology. And we don’t just mean basic word processing technology here. Students should be fully engaged in the most current writing technologies, including blogs, wikis, and creating basic websites. As students move into the working world, they will definitely be expected to write and collaborate in digital environments.
Though many students might be comfortable with the basic functionality of such technology, our job now is to get them thinking critically about the use of these technologies for academic and professional purposes. Talk with your students about their digital ethos and how to best use document design and Web tools to enhance their writing. As always, keep the task, purpose, and audience central to your discussions. Feeling daunted? Check out the assignment below for an example of how students might use technology in your class.
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Woah! Finally you won’t have to detach from your cell phones and iPads for class! In fact, you can’t believe your ear buds; you can actually use all those things that run your world for this assignment. Your teacher has asked you to create a product, working with other students if you wish, and share your work with all of your classmates. You are the new journalist of today. You’re not just reading the news; you’re making it. You, my friend, are going to be published!
You’re going to study a poem called “The Ballad of Birmingham,” but before you do, your teacher has asked you to do research on the Internet for the story behind the poem. You’ll bring into play the following discussion points: What inspired Dudley Randall to write it? What was going on around the country when the poet was alive? What is racial segregation? What is a freedom march? You type in a number of topics: “Dudley Randall,” “freedom march,” and “Ballad of Burmingham.”
You find several useful sources and take notes that will be helpful in creating your product. You decide to make a PowerPoint. Your excitement builds as you cruise the Internet to find useful graphics: pictures of Randall, photographs of Birmingham, Alabama, and paintings or sketches illustrating the poem. You hit on short YouTube videos that show exactly what a freedom march is, and you even come across a documentary by Spike Lee about the four little girls mentioned in the poem. Score! You decide to add these links to your presentation. While you’re at it, why not attach one of your favorite songs about people who just can’t get along? Your presentation is going to rock!
Your teacher has made a class website at www.edmodo.com. You’re already spending way too much time on Facebook, but that’s the point; Edmodo looks JUST like Facebook without all the distracting temptations. You join the class and upload your project under your name. You see that several students have already shared their work. Pumped, you start reading their projects. Someone’s made a PowerPoint; someone else, a Prezi; another, an essay with links in the text. You post comments on their projects, noting strengths and asking questions. A few days later, you see that your classmates have commented on your project. To update your post, you answer their questions and add information that helps clarify the points you were trying to make. Yes, you’re a published author now! No autographs, please.
Respond to the following short-answer questions.
1. What are some examples of current technologies that you might use for writing?
2. Why is it important to learn about writing within these technologies in school?
3. What are some things that Web technologies allow that are not possible in other contexts?
4. What does it mean to be aware of your digital ethos?
1. Create a multi-media project, such as a video, PowerPoint, Prezi, or Glogster interactive poster, or develop a blog, wiki, or website.
2. There are different genre conventions and tools available for writing within digital formats, and digitally-based writing and collaboration will most likely be expected of me in college and the workplace, so it’s important that I am comfortable with these methods.
3. On the Web, you can communicate with team members instantly via e-mail, instant messaging, and video conferences. You can also communicate with your audience, receiving and responding to feedback on your work. You can make real-time updates to your “finished” writing in response to this feedback. You can also combine text, images, videos, audio, interactive tools, and links for immediate access to source material into one document.
4. Most people use the Web for non-academic and non-professional purposes, and in these contexts, people are often lax about the kind of language they use and the way that language might reflect on who they are. However, since the Web is also used for many professional reasons, and in some cases, the Web may be the only means by which others know you, it’s important to consider how your choices as a Web-based writer will reflect on you.
To have a good digital ethos, you should follow the genre conventions and rules of etiquette for Web-based writing and interactions. Use proper English and professional language. Be aware of any content (photos, videos, comments you’ve posted, etc.) that can be linked to you and consider how that content might reflect on you in a professional setting. In the digital environment, it’s important to make choices that will establish that you are professional, courteous, and knowledgeable.
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