What strikes me most about what I have read about digital environments is how interactive it is. Generally, when we write we go through a process. Today, March 10th, Jim modeled one way to stop and organize your thoughts before beginning a writing process. This was great for on the spot writing, or even as a starting place for a longer paper, but digital environments do not seem to work this way. By this I mean that digital environments can provide immediate feedback for students.
In Jeffrey Wilhelm’s article he talks about instant messaging and blogging in the classroom. He writes, “schools are going to have to become wireless” and he worries that teachers will not know how to teach students through “electronic technologies” (13-14). Technology by itself is not enough. Teachers need to use the media available to enhance the writing ability of students. He suggests that teachers use “electronic discussion groups” where teachers pose a question that students have to respond to (14). There are rules that go along with this that ensures that students are all participating with each other and thinking critically about the posed question. That is something that can be challenging to students so this might be a good way to involve shy students. Wilhelm also points out that through this method teachers will know what areas students are not understanding and address it before moving on. Plus, this kind of discussion not only develops students’ thinking abilities, but it also reinforces their ability to communicate those ideas through writing.
The NCTE position statement supports this kind of electronic classroom because it will help students become comfortable with the newest technology, build relationships with other students and teachers, and critically analyze various different texts. This covers three of the mission statements listed on their website. The CCCC Position Statement also agrees with this kind of classroom because it will enable students to “apply digital technologies to solve substantial problems common to the academic, professional, civic, and/or personal realm of their lives.” As long as the teacher is actively involved in these discussions the students will benefit.
I had never thought about using digital media in a classroom before. I know that when I was in school Powerpoint was as technical as it ever got. I like the idea of having virtual discussion with students because it develops some really important skills. Plus, technology is not going away. It is becoming a larger part of our lives everyday. I think it would be cool to incorporate that into my teaching. I noticed that the process of writing and thinking was different when I was putting together my Photostory. I wrote my “I believe” statement, but I did not stop there. The digital media made it necessary to visualize my message, which is not something I ordinarily do. When I was planning out the visual aspect of that project I had to go beyond the paper and think of a creative idea. I think it is important for students to experience that. So many professions want creative people so a project like this develops writing skills along with the visually creative part.
To go even broader than that, I have also been thinking about how writing different genres can help students. Many of the articles on writing that we have read, and are currently doing, are new to me. I had never heard of a multigenre project before, and although it has been difficult, I think it would be beneficial to students. I also had not thought much about free-writing, and more importantly free-writing with my students. The only class that I had to free-write in was creative writing that I took for one semester. I am finding that I really like it. I also like the revision strategies Kittle mentioned. I know from my own recent experience that it does more harm than good to rip apart a first draft and focus only on word choice and sentence structure. I like the idea of peer review with a structured sheet students have to fill out. I also like what I have learned about teaching and reading poetry. I feel like I have so many ideas that I want to keep filed away for when I do start teaching, and I am excited to try them. I am paying attention to my own experiences because that is one way to decide what does and does not work. My vision of what is possible to do in a Language Arts classroom has definitely been expanded.