In the last post I mention there has been a lot of talk about teaching writing in 1:1 classrooms. Here’s the problem: What if your school is not yet 1:1? What if your students still don’t all have access to the internet at home? And most shockingly, what if you students don’t all have smart phones?
Do you give up and go back to paper and pencil alone?
No, of course not. The trick is finding a middle way. This is trickier than it sounds because the availability of technology at school varies so much. It is hard to get a regular schedule going. Every year my students’ access to technology improves, but this means I have to make a new plan every year.
So, here’s my NEW plan for this year:
- Beginning of the Year Tech Survey: Each year I survey my English students about their past reading and writing experiences. This year I will add questions about their personal access to digital devices and the internet.
- If most students have smartphones on a daily basis, I can quickly set up an expectation for how the phone can be used for academic purposes. I’ve noticed junior high students sometimes hesitate to use their precious phones for school business, so I want to start this right away.
- Make sure students without smart phones know how to use (and share the use of) the three classroom laptops.
- Reading-Writing Notebook: Students create old-fashioned, paper reading-writing notebooks. Click here for student directions. As of this writing, I’ve settled on composition-style notebooks, but I reserve the right to change my mind before school starts. Note: I’ve tried composition and spiral over the years. There are pros and cons to each. Don’t get me started on that path.
- Writing Process: The writing process flow from paper to digital. I plan on making sure the iPads or Chromebooks are available at least two days every other week. I envision the writing process to look something like this:
- Prewrite and/or “write off the page.” (“Writing off the page” is what Nancy Atwell calls the notes a writer makes to himself or herself without a particular form or structure. This happens very early in the writing process.)
- Draft in the writer’s notebook.
- Recommended: Complete an initial conference or check in with teacher or peer. Get some feedback on your idea and where you plan to take it.
- Type in Google Docs (or whatever digital platform is best).
- Revise and Edit: Let the writing sit. Walk away for an hour or a day. After some time has passed, reread, revise and edit to the best of your ability.
- Submit the Doc for feedback by sharing it with the teacher or peer responder. Include specific questions or specific requests for feedback.
- Revise work based on feedback.
- Edit with the personal editing checklist in your writer’s notebook.
- Submit the final draft for publication and evaluation.
- Multiple Opportunities for Digital Publication: I will make sure there are a variety of platforms for digital publication. So far the list includes NEO, our learning management system; Ms. McMillan English, my classroom blog, our class Twitter feed (@mcmillanenglish), and Kidblog. I will also publish an anthology of short writing using Google Slides. See last year’s anthology here.