Friday, January 13, 2012

Digital Writing: How can it help my student?

Writing can be daunting task for many students at any ability level. As educators, we can guide students through steps that can assist in organizing their writing, but the true content of writing has to come from the thoughts or reflections of the writer. Students need to understand they can be a writer just like they can be a strong reader, mathematician, or even scientist. Helping students find the connections between their thoughts and paper is where some anxiety can occur for our students. Writing is a process that needs to be learned over the course of a student's educational journey. Each year students take steps to understanding connections between the content of study and their knowledge within that content. Being able to build that bridge to improve gaps could be using motivational tools to achieve understanding. This is where digital writing comes into play! Any educator will tell you the best way to engage students would be to find their interests, learn how they are motivated, and letting students be responsible in their learning. Once you have covered all of these areas we can engage our writers by looking for tools that invites them to new avenues of expression. You may have heard of wikis or blogs but how do they really engage students? Well first knowing that these are two types of collaborative tools opens up conversations online with other writers. A student could keep a writing journal online in a blog for family members and friends to see. Once a student knows that other could read their essays then they see the connection between learning the steps of writing and sharing thoughts in a safe environment. Over the summer, my son read a book and wrote a summary of each chapter in a blog we created for him. I was the only one that read it and would comment on his reflections. Each day he would check to see if I commented and what I had to say. He started to comment back which opened us up for more dialog for the book he read. We still talk about the book as his comprehension was strong in this area which also has helped with his motivation to read. Baby steps all around:) I believe there needs to be small steps when creating a digital imprint so making a safe environment for sharing and collaborating will allow for a student to express their thoughts through digital writing but also develop skills as a global communicator which is a skill needed for the 21st century learner!