Monday, July 2, 2012

Success with Non-Traditional Texts

Response to:

I feel like I am complaining a lot about technology in the classroom, and I haven't committed to a side in the debate. Maybe it is bad. Maybe it isn't.

I decided to research a little to see what I could find in support of non-traditional applications of technology in the classroom. First of all I thought about non-traditional texts (like cereal boxes, movies, still photographs), but then I thought about popular technology. This response is a little bit of both. I started with the thought, "There's an App for that!"
I came across this pretty cool blog that breaks down apps by subject. A fairly practical list, it includes a variety of categories and price points. If we all know that kids are using their phones, can't we use it for their benefit (and ours)? If Reading Rainbow has an app, shouldn't we just accept technology as part of the curriculum? I think successful educators embrace the tools available. And apps are available. This blog, Apps in Education (linked above), offers twenty applicable apps for the English classroom. These twenty have been reviewed for usefulness and list the cost associated with each. Half of the apps reviewed are free, and the remaining ones range from $0.99 to $3.99. Additionally, nearly 80 unreviewed apps are listed. WOW! And that is just for English!

While trying to find classroom applications for new technology, I ran across this article which offers a variety of alternatives, ten to be exact, for the traditional book report. There are some limitations to integrating technology as a requirement (I would guess), but as long as the appropriate resources are available during class time successful implementation is possible. I do wonder how long it will be before all students are expected to have access to the Internet and a computer at home. These technologies seem prevalent; but when I observed in a local high school in the spring, a number of students required access to the classroom computers before or after class to complete/correct/print required assignments. Students completed potions of the assignments on their phones, but they lacked the other components necessary to turn in an assignment. The article I talked in a previous post, talked about blogs as a location for "publishing" homework. That seems like a practical solution in this case.

Here is another article which encourages the use of technology in the ELA classroom. Written by two assistant professors, this article is short, sweet, and to the point. Their ideas are in line with the content of ENGL 7741 here at KSU 
Students writing with multimodal tools, such as digital video editors, should use them selectively, intentionally, and it ways that leverage the unique capacities of the tools and media to accomplish a specific goal. As in print-centric writing tasks, the principles of choice and form matter, as does the larger context in which the writing is situated. To be fully literate, students must know how to use tools, but more important, they must also know which forms of literact will best support their purpose for a given audience and a specific context.  ~From "Telling Stories With Video" by Carl Young and Sara Kajder
There really isn't much to say about it because Young and Kajder sum things up nicely. I like how easy this article was to read and how straightforward they were with content. It is work the two-minute read.

One of the projects I was part of during this semester analyzed product packaging and its intended message. I ran across "Empowering Children as Critics and Composers of Multimodal Texts" after we completed the project bookmarked it as a site for reference. It is a study of cereal in the classroom. Basically, fifth grade students analyzed packaging and advertising of a product and created skits, ads, and PowerPoints to market the product themselves. I mention this article because the study was with FIFTH GRADERS. If they can critically engage with cereal, high schoolers should be able to do even more. I think that introducing students to multimodal texts earlier in the academic lives could encourage them to engage more critically in the future. The take away for me is that students need to be consumer AND producers of their language: multimodal texts.

The main point that I am trying to make with this seemingly unrelated group of articles is that technology isn't going away. The Internet is a great resource for teachers AND students if we teach everyone to use it responsibly. Nearly every educational article I could need to support methods in my future classroom is a few keystrokes away. If I am going to teach the digital natives, I need to be fluent in their language. Maybe we can all just learn from each other. Or maybe not.

At this point, I think it is about advocating responsible use. As Young and Kajder imply, you have to know the system before you can work the system. And it works both ways.

No comments:

Post a Comment