Thursday, April 13, 2017

Technology will make ALL parts of life better!

A colleague, who chidingly tries to convince me that technology tools make most teaching and learning better, sent me an article, All Writing Can Be Better Through Technology.

I couldn't even finish the article.  Couldn't get past this: can provide feedback throughout the learning process. In both Google Docs and Office 365, teachers can leave real-time comments on students’ work while they’re writing.

I'll state the obvious first.  The feedback doesn't make all writing better.  It might (MIGHT) make the feedback process easier for the teacher, but by sleight of hand, the author has played upon the unspoken assumption of technophiles that when something is done through technological means it gets done more smoothly, more efficiently (in the procedure) and therefore more effectively (in the outcome).

That, of course, is a debatable assumption, but please recognize it as the assumption it is.

Second, just how is leaving comments something done in real time?  What does real time mean here?   That the student and teacher are on the technology at the same time, so the student can get instant feedback at the very time that they're working?    If it's something less than that, what the teacher has done is a leave a comment at one point in time, that the student will see at another point in time, and then you don't have anything that could seriously be called real time.  And if real time does mean simultaneous, then the teacher can really only serve each student one at a time, sequentially.  Just like a teacher would do in live (real time!) interactions. 

And, of course, a teacher can give real time feedback throughout the learning process without any technology--well, two chairs and a desk, perhaps.

So in the end, it might be logistically easier (a bit) to give feedback by way of a computer, but writing gets better through technology?  Shouldn't the title be Teacher Feedback Can Be Slightly Easier Through Technology?   But that's just not as stylish an idea, is it?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Writing Camp, 2018

Writing Camp
Early August 2018
I'll do it, if there's enough interest.  Let me know.

At Writing Camp, young writers will
  • practice a variety of writing skills
  • build self-confidence as writers
  • sharpen analytical skills
  • develop writing skills for self-expression
  • create essays, stories, poems and plays

At camp, we will work on a variety of writing forms and structures, among several purposes for different audiences.

My goal is to work some each day on non-fiction essays (expository and persuasive), narrative stories, and a little bit of poetry and drama.  We'll read (and work on summarizing, conclusion-drawing, inference-making, etc.) some, too, since reading is an essential input into writing.  In the process of our writing, we'll work on the component pieces of a written work (thesis statements, key ideas, evidence for non-fiction work; narrative arc for stories, poetic elements for poetry), and exercise our skills at developing and following structures for organizing.

Most of all, I want each camper to get both a little better and a little more comfortable with writing, so that s/he will want to do more of it, and thereby continue to get better and more comfortable through the on-going practice of the craft.

Probably the second week of August, 2018
9 AM-1 PM
Faith Presbyterian Church, Tacoma

The camp is intended for students entering 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th grades, but I can discuss the possibilities of slightly younger and older students participating.

My background--I've taught middle school
English for 11 years and college political
science for 19 years.  I've authored
numerous books and essays (links for some of which you can find to the right).