Thursday, July 06, 2006

NECC06 The Tech Savvy English Classroom Revisited (Or, Where are We Going?) - Sara Kajder

Bringing the Outside In -

How is technology transforming the English classroom?

Ms. Kajder wrote the Tech Savvy Classroom four years ago (good book by the way) but she feels that it is now outdated, as the conversations are now past using PowerPoint. So where are we going now? There need to be a re-calibration on how we think about using technology use in the English classroom.

She states that she is not a techie by nature, and has made many mistakes, but has also been able to work in tablet classrooms and handheld programs, so there is a broad range of experience. She quoted Todd Oppenheimer who said that good teachers know when to ignore the new technologies to use the “old fashioned” tools like pens, paper, instruments etc. The technology divide is not just the have and have nots – but rather HOW the technology is being used with students. Quantity does not make for a good program. Students should be doing more then drill and skill programs.

English teacher used to be pretty static – students read books and wrote stories. Over time the definition of literacy and text has changed, and our teaching need to reflect this. Literacy is not just reading – there are so many others – information, visual, numerical etc. Text is no longer just word – a book or anthology. It is the sounds, images, gestures, movements etc situated in contexts, surround by language.

So if a technology is going to be used in the classroom, we need to consider the unique capabilities of the tool and if the tool allows us to do something better than what we are already doing.

Will Richardson – the guru for Web 2.0 – book Blog, Wikis and Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom

Big Ideas of the Session
1)Allows for real writing for authentic audiences and real reasons
2)Mulimodal composition
3)Pushing the definition of literacy
4)Building purposeful and global interpretive communities.

Example – podcasting book talks to record and then edit a book talk for the best 5 minutes of a 45 minute conversation.

Digital Storytelling
Ms. Kajder showed an example of an older woman who created a wonderful memoir of about 3 minutes in about 4 hours that included video, still photos and text. To create a digital story, Ms. Kajder recommends iMovie, as it is the easiest to use, but there are other resources.

A memoir like this is a “Slice of Life” Story that is a retrospective and reflective story. Student writers mirror themselves and reflect what they are and project what they can be. A personal narrative is a school genre that is chronologically structured in a formal 5-paragraph outline that usually doesn't include a reflective component.

Another example of Connor's story about “Practice Makes Perfect” that was a 9 year old's view of his piano recital and the practice that went into it.

Creating a Digital Story with Students (a bit of a retelling of her NECC 2005 presentation Digital Images in the English Classroom - see Archive June 2005

1.Immerse students in the genre reading and writing
2.Pre-write and collect ideas
3.Select, collect and choose a lens/frame – includes artifact search
4.Draft and revise (must have a storyboard before going to the lab)
5.Construct in the lab (have a time limit to encourage students to work quickly)
6.Edit, publish, screen and publish

Fan Fiction –
A site devoted to stories written by the average person, celebrating their favorite authors or styles. People can submit their stories and are peer reviewed. A good site to point kids to for them to share their writing and get feedback. There are stories in response to several canonical texts like 1984, Scarlet Letter etc.

Blogs – most teachers tend to use
What types of activities could be done with blogs?
1)Assign a student a day to summarize the content of the class
2)Discuss the reading assigned
3)Post notes from the class

Cool tip! There is Audioblogger where the person calls an 800 number to record and post their comments. Blogger will also give the option to be private or public with a membership list that only allows the members to post. – chat about websites. Very cool tool, I'll need to ponder how to use it with kids. You type in the website and a chat box pops up so the people viewing the site can talk about it.

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