On Crafting Digital Writing

Tomorrow will be three weeks exactly since the DLC’s last hangout discussion, which focused on Troy Hicks’s book, Crafting Digital Writing.  (While this written reflection comes far too long after the Google Hangout, the discussion has been very much in my teacher brain.) Hicks writes extensively about the importance of teaching author’s craft and using digital mentor texts. Some of us agreed that teaching author’s craft in digital texts is new, and assessing it will be difficult. (For me, this idea is not only new, but it’s also a bit scary.)  The book also challenged us to be more deliberate about choosing technology and to teach kids how to be more deliberate in their choices.

Some very important questions and concerns emerged during our discussion. Among them were: Why is there less experimentation with technology and student choice in middle school than in high school? How can we teach digital literacy AND help our kids pass state exams? How can we teach our students to best use the technology to which they have access (i.e., their cellphones)? How do we get around restrictions and access deficits (e.g., the DOE’s cellphone policy, lack of equipment, inability to access certain websites, insufficient bandwidth, etc.)?   What if I don’t have the support of my school’s administration? We all want to teach our students to use technology deliberately and purposefully in multiple genres, but we feel encumbered by all of these roadblocks, the dreaded “Yes, Buts.”

All of the concerns raised during this discussion inspired our next project as a group. Hopefully, we can learn (and teach each other) how to overcome some of the encumbrances we face as we teach students to be learners and creators in the 21st Century. Thanks to Emilie for the great idea of tackling the “Yes, buts” (and turning them into “Yes, Ands”) while getting our feet wet with technology.

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