The Internet has ruined high-school writing. Write the line on the board five hundred times like Bart Simpson. Remember and internalize it. Intone it in an Andy Rooney-esque grumble.
I’ve heard the line repeated by dozens of educators and laypeople. I’ve even said it myself.
Thankfully it is untrue.
As a high-school English teacher, I read well over a thousand student essays a year. I can report that complete sentences are an increasingly endangered species. I wearily review the point of paragraphs every semester. This year I tried and failed to spark a senior class protest against “blobs”—my pejorative term for essays lacking paragraphs. When I see a winky face in the body of a personal essay—and believe me, it has happened enough to warrant a routine response—I use a red pen to draw next to it a larger face with narrow, angry eyes and gaping jaws poised to chomp the offending emoticon to pieces Pac-Man-style. My students analyze good writing and discuss the effect of word choice and elegant syntax on an audience’s reading experience. The uphill battle is worth fighting, but I’m always aware that something more foreboding than chronic senioritis lines up in opposition.
More Facebook Has Transformed My Students’ Writing—for the Better – Andrew Simmons – The Atlantic.
Students who use computers for their writing assignments fared far better on the NAEP writing test, the first to be administered on computer, than students who do not.
Those results may not come as a surprise, but with comprehensive digital testing on the horizon, the implications extend far beyond the realm of writing instruction.
Online testing gives a “distinct advantage” to students whose homes and schools are rich in technology, says AASA chief Daniel Domenech. Its nothing new, he says, just the latest example of “the gap between the haves and have-nots.”
Though the testing platform may reward digital literacy, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Computers are “the 21st-century pencil,” says Domenech. Tech skills are not for just the college bound any more. Fast-food and retail workers regularly use smart devices and computers at work, as do truck drivers and security guards. In fact, its hard to think of a job that doesn’t require digital literacy.
Read More: Digital Wake-Up Call | Scholastic.com.
It is commonplace to bemoan the poor writing skills of students today. Yes, there is no question that writing effectively is difficult. Yes, it is true that we don’t provide enough high quality writing instruction (writing is known as the “forgotten R”). And yes, the demands of a knowledge economy require excellent writing abilities. But the students we teach today write more than any generation in human history, and one reason for that is the pervasiveness of writing technologies in their lives.
My colleagues and I recently conducted a large survey study as part of our ongoing efforts to understand the writing lives of college students in order to better support student learning. We have identified writing practices (e.g., texting) and values associated with writing practices that have raised new questions about what students write, why they write, for whom, and using which technologies. The findings that have captured most people’s attention concern writing practices like texting and the importance of handheld devices like mobile phones as a writing platform.
Some Results from the Study
- The findings from the survey suggest that writing is an important part of U.S. college students’ lives and include the following:
- SMS texts (i.e., texts using short message services on mobile devices), emails, and lecture notes are three of the most frequently written genres (or types) of writing.
- SMS texts and academic writing are the most frequently valued genres.
- Some electronic genres written frequently by participants, such as writing in social networking environments, are not valued highly.
- Students write for personal fulfilment nearly as often as for school assignments.
- Digital writing platforms — cell phones, Facebook, email — are frequently associated with writing done most often.
Full Text: Is the Cell Phone the New Pencil? | Edutopia.
The interactive Printing Press is designed to assist students in creating newspapers, brochures, flyers, and booklets. Teachers and students can choose from several templates to publish class newspapers, informational brochures, and flyers announcing class events. The tool allows for multiple pages as appropriate. Text added to the templates can be modified using a simple toolbar, which allows students to choose text features, such as font size and color. Documentation for the Printing Press includes folding and printing instructions, as well as an extensive guide to using the tool. Customized versions of the tool, which include additional instructions and more focused choices, are included with some lessons. A basic planning sheet is available to help students gather ideas before working at the computer.
[Includes Lesson Plans and Professional Development Resources for Kindergarten through to Grade 12]
Full Text: ReadWriteThink Printing Press – ReadWriteThink.