Writing and Sharing with Digital Tools @dphillips51 #saacte13

Last night, my high schooler and I went to visit my 85-year old mother. As my son, shared his grades with my mother, much to her excitement that the babe she had played a significant part in raising was doing so well, we shared that he would be reading a poem at a school event (e.g. a "black box"). 

“Did you bring me a copy?” my Mom asked him. The boy looked at his ‘ita (Abuelita/Grandmother) with a look of consternation playing across his face. A moment later, he looked down at his iPhone and accessed GoogleDrive on his mobile device. In black-n-white, a multitude of pages slid into view. His entire library of writing was there, among them, the desired piece.


“Yes, iTa, I have it right here.” Of course, since the words on the handheld screen were too small for her old eyes to read, the poem had to be read aloud to her. As he scrolled through his pieces of writing in Google Drive, I realized that he had access to everything he’d ever written for class, right there in his mobile device. I doubt that I could pull up a single piece of writing from my high school days. Of course, he ended up sharing more than just one piece of writing. Access to writing in digital repository made choices possible that deepened the bond between a boy and his Grandmother, sitting in a chair in a small apartment in an Assisted Living Center.

This experience came to mind as I read David Phillips' piece in TCEA's TechNotes, entitled One Teacher's Digital Learning Environment

Here's an excerpt from the piece:
In my senior dual-credit English class, we have abandoned Microsoft Word and use only the Google tools to write essays, collaborative projects, research papers, and presentations. Let me be clear: Word will do some things Docs will not, but I have found that Docs will do everything we need. Students have hundreds of fonts from which to choose; they can set custom margins, alignments and indents; they can format text, including sub and super-scripts; and they can insert images, tables and equations.

Docs will do some very important things, especially in the Drive environment, that Word won't do. Students can share a document with others. They can work together on a document with all participants typing at the same time. They can peer edit online. They can share a document with the teacher for comments or for final grading. The teacher can then add comments and give a grade or ask for improvements.

We collaborate on a group document for our section on figurative language. Each student, or each group in a larger class, is assigned a type of figure--irony, metaphor, personification, apostrophe, etc. They have to find a good, working definition of the figure they are assigned, at least three examples of its use in literature, and then an image, video, or presentation that exemplifies the way it is used. Students work in the same shared document at the same time. They usually finish in one class period. Because this doc is already shared with the whole class and the teacher, everyone can access it and they have created a resource for every student to use. They refer to it on a literary analysis essay in which they have to write about how figurative language is used in a story.
As I look forward to SAACTE13 on November 9th at Lee High School, I'm struck by how easily we, as educators, can empower students to create digital portfolios of their work. This isn't limited to writing, but certainly, the typed word is one of the easiest innovations. I'm convinced that we have access to the digital tools we need, but many continue to lack the will to embrace the changes.



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