Tag Archives: digital natives

#3TT Workshop — Digital Writing in the Writer’s Workshop

Three educators. Three states. Three demographics. All practicing Readers and Writers Workshop in our Secondary Classrooms. Read more about us here.

We are the Modern PLC, and every Wednesday, we share our behind-the-scenes collaboration as we talk about the most urgent moving parts of our classroom pedagogy.

Despite the proliferation of e-readers, tablets, and digital reading and writing technology, recent research is making digital texts look a little less appealing.  This article discusses the slow reading, complex-text, and comprehension literacy skills we just can’t get from reading electronically.  This one has lots of great links to the reasons digital reading “fail[s] to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way.”

As Shana’s school in West Virginia is increasingly making the move to one-to-one technology, digital learning, and an increased emphasis on electronic reading and writing, she wondered how this shift would impact writers’ literacies.  Her discussion with Amy follows.  Please join the conversation in the comments!

writing rhet and digital media_1Why is one-to-one technology such a big deal? Does every child really need a laptop or a tablet?  Isn’t their generation suffused with enough technology as it is?

Shana: I surveyed my students this year, and 98% of them have a smartphone with data access that they’re accustomed to using all day.  This troubled me–there was no space in their routine for slowing down their thinking.  I don’t think the reader’s-writer’s workshop works without deliberate attention to reading, writing, talking, revising, thinking, and pondering.  So, I invited my students to simplify their lives this year by putting away all smartphones, but wondered if I was being a hypocrite when we wrote frequently on the laptops I keep in my classroom.

Now that it’s November, I’ve decided I’m not actually a hypocrite–the experience of writing drafts in print, revising and workshopping them, and then transferring them to a published form digitally is far different than the instant-gratification experience of using a smartphone.  Still, though, I watched a student just yesterday play a game on his smartphone while he waited for his computer to boot up.  My students don’t seem to know how to handle free moments to just think, or wonder, or daydream–at stoplights, in hallways, or just waiting for a computer to load.  I worry that this reliance on technology to fill their time will prevent this generation from thinking slowly enough to learn, grow, solve problems, and just think.

Amy:  Just like the literacy gap that happens between children who grow up in print-rich home and those who do not, I’ve started to see a digital literacy gap. Haven’t you? The idea that students are digital natives does not mean they are digitally savvy. Most of my students do not have internet access at home, but they do have cell phones. They can text like thumb-numbing tornadoes, but they cannot format a Word document to save their lives. And since their thumbs do not work so well on iPad keyboards, most tap at the keys like chickens pecking at the dirt. They are slow typists. Now, having said that — that does not mean that I do not think they should learn how to write digitally, format correctly, and type efficiently. All students in this age need to become digitally savvy, and I haven’t found that one mandatory technology class in high school is enough to help them get there. No even close. As English teachers, our role shifts as the literacy shifts. If we are not including some element of digital literacy, I think we do many students a huge disservice.

Shana: “Thumb-numbing tornadoes.” Amy, you are a wordsmith.  I agree that our role shifts as literacy shifts–it’s scary to have to learn new skills fast enough to teach them to our readers, but it’s our reality.  I know writing at Three Teachers Talk has helped me immensely to learn how to write and publish digitally–and it’s a skill that has benefited my readers and writers in the classroom.

What are some authentic best practices related to digital writing?

Amy:  The cool thing about writing is that the skills we need to write on paper are not so far from the skills we need to write digitally. Typing excepted. We still need to think on the page, study models, learn from experts, practice drafting, review and revise… And publishing can be so much more fun — at least I think so. We have the opportunity to share our writing much more through digital means than we had via paper. I like that. I like that my students can share writing with yours. Yours can share writing with mine. I know, we could stuff a big fat envelope with student essays, but I am not so likely to do that. I will however send you my students’ blog links.

Shana:  In a perfect world, my school would mandate a typing class for all ninth-graders that includes not just keyboarding skills (which they are TERRIBLE at), but also digital publication skills.  There are vast opportunities for meaningful discourse that can take place between readers, writers, and thinkers when we get students writing and publishing digitally.  I still very much believe in the power of print writing–but, I know, thanks particularly to Amy, how valuable digital writing is, too.  As Whitman says– “Do I contradict myself?  Very well, then I contradict myself.  I am large, I contain multitudes.”  I can’t wait to have our students writing digitally with one another!

What are your thoughts on digital vs. print writing?  Join the conversation in the comments, and check out yesterday’s discussion of digital vs. print reading.

 

#3TT Workshop — Digital Reading in the Reader’s Workshop

Three educators. Three states. Three demographics. All practicing Readers and Writers Workshop in our Secondary Classrooms. Read more about us here.

We are the Modern PLC, and every Wednesday, we share our behind-the-scenes collaboration as we talk about the most urgent moving parts of our classroom pedagogy.

Despite the proliferation of e-readers, tablets, and digital reading and writing technology, recent research is making digital texts look a little less appealing.  This article discusses the slow reading, complex-text, and comprehension literacy skills we just can’t get from reading electronically.  This one has lots of great links to the reasons digital reading “fail[s] to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way.”

As Shana’s school in West Virginia is increasingly making the move to one-to-one technology, digital learning, and an increased emphasis on electronic reading and writing, she wondered how this shift would impact readers’ literacies.  Her discussion with Amy follows.  Please join the conversation in the comments!

digireadWhen much of the research points to poorer reading comprehension and lower rates of retention in electronic reading, why are some schools moving toward digital reading?

Shana:  My school recently adopted a new textbook series across multiple content areas that contains a small print book and a massive digital one.  This online textbook features texts, activities, tests, and quizzes that can only be accessed digitally.  By and large, my students have reported immense dissatisfaction with their reading experiences in this digital format–in history class, English, and math.  I wondered if that was because they just weren’t used to reading digitally, but during our reading conferences, they disagreed.  They use e-readers, they read articles on their phones constantly, and they have become accustomed to taking their state tests on computers.  Most students reported that they were more tired after reading digitally, that they didn’t retain the information well in that format, and that they were frustrated by their inability to interact with a physical text by annotating, highlighting, etc.  

After talking with students and experimenting with digital vs. print reading myself, plus reading the articles linked above (and many more), I felt really frustrated about the de-emphasis of print reading in schools.

Amy:  Interesting question. I haven’t seen this move toward digital reading myself. My district does have 1:1 iPads, and I know there was a big technology push just prior to me moving to my school, but I’ve never heard that students should be reading digitally instead of reading in print. I’d probably throw a bit of a fit if I did. Personally, I love paper. I love everything about print on the paper page. I’ve moved to digital in a lot of ways — my students create and write on their own blogs, and they turn most of their drafts in using Google docs, but when I sit down to confer with them, I’d much rather have a look at the printed page. It seems easier to zero in on skills that shine brightly or those that need some work — but that is probably just preference.

It’s an interesting argument though, and really, if I believe so much in the importance of digital writing — and I most definitely do — shouldn’t I also believe in the importance of digital reading? Hmm. Now, you’ve got me thinking.

Shana:  I love paper reading and writing, too, Amy.  This is probably why my desk is currently cluttered with books, notebooks, and stacks of paper.  Certainly electronic reading would be cleaner…but it lacks the tangible presence of print that shows me my progress through a book, a student’s writing process, and physical thinking on a page.

Why are physical textbooks, literary anthologies, and notebooks being phased out of our students’ educational routines?

Amy:  I don’t know much about how this might look in other teachers’ classrooms, districts, or states, but I have not used a literature textbook or anything like an anthology in several years. I find them cumbersome. When my students and I read short passages for analysis, I make copies. I need readers writing on the page. If a text is too long, I give them QR codes, and they all know how to annotate digitally with an app on their iPads (I didn’t teach this. They learned it last year or the year before.) I use a lot of texts that can easily be found online, e.g., columns by Leonard Pitts, Jr., and articles from The New Yorker. For full-length texts, we read in book clubs where my students all purchase their own books, or borrow one of mine. Annotating is a valuable skills, and using a textbook makes doing that quite difficult.

Shana: I love the QR code idea for a longer text!  I’ve always felt that it sucks a bit of the joy of learning reading skills out of students when receive a thick, copied packet that I ask them to read and annotate.  I’m with you on providing print copies of columns, articles, or books to students for teaching specific reading skills.  I love when students check out a book from the classroom library that was previously annotated during a book club reading.  They always ask who read the book previously, and their notes become part of that new reader’s experience with the book.  That experience of seeing a prior reader’s interaction with text on a page is just not possible with textbooks or digital reading.

What are your thoughts on digital vs. print reading?  Join the conversation in the comments, and check back tomorrow as we discuss digital vs. print writing.

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