English Teachers: The Skills Students Need for the Future

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English teachers suggest skills for the future.

A new report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing is Taught in Schools, shares the results of a survey of 2,462 Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers. Data were collected in online and in-person focus groups.

Pew researchers asked educators about the effect of digital tools on their students’ writing skills. They also wanted to gather more information about the digital tools that teachers use in their classrooms and find out whether these tools help students become better writers. Survey participants were also asked share their views about the skills their 21st Century students’ will need to be successful in their future lives.

A Few of the Pew Findings

  • Many teachers believe that the increasing digital world audience for writers  encourages students of all ages to taking writing more seriously.
  • Seventy-nine percent of the educators surveyed agree or strongly agree that digital tools encourage students to collaborate with one another.
  • Fifty percent of the teachers report that digital tools make it easier for them to help students improve their writing. Interestingly, thirty-one percent say that these tools make little or no difference. Continue reading

Common Sense Questions to Ask Before Posting Photos

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Twenty-first Century learners are great when it comes to intrinsically understanding how to easily use resources and share information in the digital world, but they often need assistance making careful judgements about what is appropriate to share (and what is not). When a problem occurs, it’s often because a child makes an instantaneous decision to send off an image — and it turns out to be the wrong decision. It’s just so easy to share!

Check out this terrific poster, with questions to ask before sharing a photo, easily used when you discuss social media and digital common sense issues at home or in a classroom. We all make digital errors from time to time, but this graphic can help us develop a visual memory that assists with decision-making.

The image is available at Common Sense Media, and I discovered it on the Edudemic blog. It will serve as a great jumping off point anytime image-sharing issues arise.

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Privacy Matters So Talk With Kids About It

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After recent news reports about the National Security Agency (NSA) and its data collecting, we adults are thinking much more about the lack of privacy in our lives. We need to remember, however, that including children and adolescents in the conversation is important if they are to become competent and confident digital citizens.

With our online profiles, social media accounts, mobile devices, and files saved to the cloud, almost no one doubts that we have less privacy; however, what is an ideological or big discussion issue for adults is far more complicated and abstract for children. For most adults the sentinel issue — how much data collection intrudes on a family’s or individual’s personal life — is a primary focus. The issue for children, on the other hand, is that without basic understanding of privacy concepts they lack the information and the skills that they need to recognize and avoid potential problems.

Many years ago my parents designated important topics for dinner table conversations — broad subjects that we recycled again and again as the four of us shared family meals. When one or the other parent said, “We should talk about that at dinner,” my brother and I knew it was something that Mom and Dad wanted us to take seriously.

Today children and adolescents need to experience this same type of dinner table conversation to help them learn about privacy and develop strategies for maintaining as much of it as possible.   Continue reading