Last year, after a lesson comparing formal and informal online writing, I asked GDS fifth graders to reflect on what they had learned. We also discussed the effect writing can have on a reading audience and the conclusions a reader just might form about a writer. To learn a bit about what we did, you can read my lesson overview, Writing Online — What to Think About.
Below are some student contributions to the conversation, written in response to my post on their fifth grade blog. These 21st Century learners understand the differences between various types of writing – but they need adult help when it comes to applying what they know as much as possible and adult commendation when they get it right. Parents of digital kids — take note.
Spring vacations are just about finished for 2014, so now it’s time to think about staying challenged and strong for the last few months of school.
One aspect of completing a school year is to pay special attention to writing and editing while completing assignments and projects. And an important part of editing is searching for misspelled words using two steps.
In spell-check, step one, a computer program or website, runs through a person’s prose, identifies the misspelled words, and offers the writer options for correcting, changing or leaving a word alone. These days many programs and sites spell check as a person writes, but that is no excuse for not going through the editing process.
The second, more challenging step — and perhaps the bigger responsibility — requires a writer to follow-up the spell checker, searching for errors that the automated process may have missed. Many of the remaining errors are not technically mistakes. Instead they are correctly spelled words that the writer typed by accident (or with the help of auto-word completion) or misused homonyms — accurately spelled but used incorrectly. So the spell checker missed these words. Continue reading “Spell Check Your Spell Checker!”→
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 to 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.
Recently I led a workshop at my school about blogging. One question I am always asked when I talk about the wonders of blogging, my blogs, and the huge body of writing I am creating is, “What got me started?”
In October 2009I began work on AsOurParentsAge.net, with lots of encouragement from my husband. His mother, Betty, was near the end of her life. Essentially, helping to care for her filled up our non-work times and had for over two years. When we were not at our jobs, we were assisting Mother in some way. I started writing, initially, about topics that we wished we, as adult children, had known more about before we became caregivers to an elderly parent.
About a year later I began writing for MediaTechParenting.net, a blog that reflects my professional interests and work.
One blog relates to my vocation, the other to an avocation. Bottom line? Nearly 1000 posts later — a few of them posted on more obscure blogs — I still seem to have lots to say as I use this 21st Century learning and communication tool.
I have the honor of working with a small group of amazing third-grade teachers — my colleagues — and last summer they decided to begin blogging with their students. This past fall each of the teachers set up a classroom blog at KidBlog. This student-oriented blogging site is designed to offer maximum privacy to young writers, but it also offers the opportunity for more access — and more readers — if desired. Interestingly, while the three classroom blogs are all similar, each has slight variations that reflect the personalities of the kids and the ideas of the teacher.
After orienting their students to the idea of blogging — discussing appropriate tone, privacy, and respect — the teachers let the children write. Third graders have learned to read one another’s work and make comments and suggestions. Sometimes they share complete stories, and at other times they write more spontaneously.