Thursday, June 19, 2014

Writing 2.0: Technology-Rich Approach to Common Core Writing

What skills are most desired by employers? On most lists, communicate effectively is the number one desired skill.

How do we communicate? We communicate face-to-face, in writing, through various technologies, and multimedia.

What is does it mean to be literate? Being literate is being able to effectively communicate.

Therefore, every classroom must teach digital literacy as part of literacy, and not something separate.
Original image by Andrea Hernandez

Why have technology-rich writing?

Writing is a huge piece of literacy. Writing should occur across content and grade levels.

Common Core writing requires students to create and publish writing online, and to interact and collaborate with others.
Writing Anchor Standard #6: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
We must design lessons that incorporates digital mediums for students to communicate and collaborate with others.

"(Students) are no longer passive recipients of information but active creators and distributors of knowledge. Active participants, perhaps motivated by the opportunity to engage in meaningful reading and writing, approach an event as if their presence matters," (Johnson, 2014, p. 12).

Leading Change and examples of technology-rich writing

Recently, I had the pleasure of presenting with Shauna Hamman at the Arizona Department of Education's Leading Change conference about a technology-rich approach to AZCCRS (Common Core) writing.

We shared a plethora of ideas and examples of technology-rich writing in the presentation below.


Some of those ideas include:
  • Instead of a traditional research paper given to the teacher, have students add their research to Wikipedia.
  • Instead of a traditional persuasive essay about saving the planet, Mrs. Hamman's class wrote this: It's Earth Week!
  • Instead of a traditional book report, have them write a book review for Amazon.
  • Instead of a how-to essay, write an online tutorial: Solving the Rubik's Cube. The three students in the pictures wrote the post collaboratively and chose what pictures to use. 
Click here for the resources from our presentation.

What about Internet safety?

Sharing online for the first time can be scary.

It's important we are aware of how to be safe online, model digital citizenship, and provide our students with authentic opportunities to communicate and collaborate online.
Image: SpinCircle, Patrik Jones, CC: BY
This fabulous article by Ronnie Burt called We should talk -- what are you doing to ensure student safety online?, really helped clarify some of the concerns I had, and what I could do about it.

It's also important to be aware of your district's policies about what can be published online regarding photos, videos, names, and student work. Furthermore, know if there are any non-disclosures in your classroom.
 
Final thoughts

Communicating and collaborating online is part of literacy, and teaching our students about digital citizenship and safety in the safe environments of our classrooms prepares them for the world today and the world tomorrow.

Digital literacy is built into the Common Core Standards (Arizona College and Career Ready Standards for those of us in Arizona), and being able to effectively communicate and collaborate online and face-to-face is a skills-set we should cultivate in our classrooms.
  • What examples or ideas of technology-rich writing would you add to our list?
  • How does communicating and collaborating online impact the students?
  • What would you share with those who are concerned about Internet safety and online communication and collaboration?
  • Do you have any other ideas or questions about a technology-rich approach to writing?