Friday, August 1, 2014
Don't Be a Patty
When I watch plays and musicals, I tend to look at the perimeter of the stage and watch the "extras" carefully. This comes from my 4N6 and One-Act play adjudicating, I'm sure. :)
Similarly, while watching a webinar about writing to meet Common Core Standards, I paid attention to the conversation happening in the chat box and was amazed. One woman stated that she does not let her students Google. I about fell over. Googling is reality. While I'm reading my books (on eReaders, course) I am always selecting the word to look it up if I'm not familiar with it. Many times, it will say "no definition available" but give me Google as an option. I'd be missing out on so much vocabulary building if it were not for Google. By the way, I am happy to say that a couple of people called her out on her statement.
I also was floored that on woman ("Patty" featured in the screenshot, above) thought that since she has students who currently work on the family farm and have that as their "after graduation choice" that these standards are too high for them. Wow. I want ALL of my students to be able to write well and think well and be competitive. The whole point of CCSS is for students to be ready for the work force, whatever that may entail. Also, just because a student choose one career in middle or high school does not mean that he or she will be in that same career for the next 40 years. If someone had told me five years ago that I'd be quitting my current job and teaching middle schoolers online, I would have thought they were crazy.
I liked how the presenter emphasized having an authentic audience for students' writing. Students do want to write something just for their teacher's desk. Grades do not motivate all students. Students will self-edit and care about their writing if they have an actual audience that cares. In a brick and mortar setting, I had my students participate in a Digital Citizenship project with +Jon Orech. They learned all aspects of this topic in various activities and discussions, but then were also mentored by high school students from the Chicago area. Jon oversaw those students, along with their classroom teacher. As soon as they knew that actual middle school students were going to be reading their blog posts, they asked for more time so they could go back and revise/edit their writing. It's all about the intrinsic motivation that gets students excited about their work and care to have it polished. During this webinar, only one teacher brought up the idea of blogging with students and not many, if any, responded to it. Hmmm.
So, yes we need to raise the bar on our kids' writing. Yes we need to still let them "Google" and most definitely, we need to have them write for a larger audience than their teacher.