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.
Just about every day I have a grammar question, despite that in junior high school I was an ace at diagramming sentences. Most commonly I need to figure out how to punctuate something I have written. I search for an answer, and I want to remember the information — if possible — so that I can use it the next time the same question arises. Yes, I could consult The Elements of Style, On Writing Well, The Chicago Manual of Style, or countless other good grammar books.
These days, however, when I am puzzling over a comma or a particular word, I almost always go online to find a podcast at Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips. I listen to the explanation, usually accompanied by music and amusing examples, and even days later I still remember the rule or the spelling or usage — even if the topic has not reappeared in my writing.
If you have not checked out the Grammar Girl podcasts, take some time to do so. They are great fun — two words that I never associated with sentence diagrams.
The process of spell checking is a two-part endeavor, and it’s an important digital world lesson for everyone — kids and adults — to master.
Part one features the work of the computer or website, as the spell check program goes to work. But after the digital spell check process a bigger responsibility lies ahead.
Each time a person writes and rewrites, he or she must spell check the spell checker — an important 21st Century skill. And while a commitment to differentiated instruction requires teachers and parents to recognize that some writers will be better at this second step than others, all students need to understand that the digital editing process cannot identify every mistake.
This poem always makes the point effectively with my students. Use it as a great conversation piece (and also to review homonyms) — over 2012 Easter and Passover dinner tables or any other time.
And if you put the words of this poem into Google search, you’ll discover that there are many other versions.
How would digital literacy and behavior improve if more families saw blogging as a way to communicate, connect with extended family members, and teach their children the basics about global communication? Would they be thrilled that their children had a big head start developing digital citizenship skills? Would they be delighted at all of the writing taking place and take pride as they watched children develop stronger writing skills?
Blogging is safe and easily managed. While we’ve all heard the scary stories, such as people going online and writing mean comments or nasty rumors that go public or even viral — in truth just about all blogging is safe and fun. Blogging teaches people to write, revise, write more, and publish for a community of readers.
Imagine, for a moment, if a family with two children, age five and seven, along with a bunch of relatives, starts a blog.
Family members, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins write, post, and comment. Parents are editors and managers, at least at the beginning, modeling and demonstrating how to use technology (social media) appropriately. Gradually family members share responsibilities. Continue reading “If Every Family Had a Blog…”→