Saturday, January 25, 2014

The digital and non-digital: how can we move to a purposeful hybird?

I've been thinking about the "binary" between non-digital and digital learning. Instead of asking "which is better for learning," I think a more generative question might be "how do we use both to mutually inform each other - and challenge each other - to create meaningful learning experiences?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Revising with 'Draft': Collaboration Writing & Classroom Implications

Draft is a writing platform that strips away excess functionality to focus on the act of writing. For minimalists, this platform is designed for you: simple typeface, no visual clutter, clear and concise options. Draft also recently incorporated a 'Hemingway Mode' which turns off the functionality of the 'delete' key (I was quickly faced with how terrible a typist I am, but it did force me to keep writing, which was the point).

Draft just released an update that allows easy visual comparison of edits that someone has made on your writing. I had to edit my biography for an upcoming brunch (so this post uses an awkwardly self-serving text), and decided to test out the new features.

I wrote my bio and imported it (Draft will sync with Drive, Dropbox, upload from your computer, and most other options you will need). 

Then I  made some edits, which I could compare side-by-side. 

You can see the Current Version is editable, so I can still tweak while I look what I've deleted, what I've added, and how I've changed wording.  

If, however, I want to have someone else revise it for me, it's easy to export the document via a link. 

In this situation, I sent myself a link to edit, I edited it, and then I 'shared my edits of the original.' 

While this might be confusing because I'm one lady trying to do two roles, the point is that it's easy to send a document for feedback and for the reviewer to send back edits. 

Back in the role of Original Author, I'm able to see what Editor Katrina wrote. As you can see by the tri-split screen here, I'm able to accept or reject changes based on the changes themselves, but can also refer to the text to see them in context. 

This way, I can judge the sentence on its own merit, or see how well it flows from and into the rest of the text. 

Classroom Applications & Implications 
Using Draft effectively depends on the relationship between the writer and the revisor. Often in classrooms, re-wording someone else's sentence for them could be a sign of 'doing their work for them.' With that said, what does productive collaborative writing look like in the classroom? Where are the spaces for it to happen, and when are teachers talking about how to best integrate it? The topic rarely, if ever, came up in my department meetings. 

Most of my writing instruction was about productive individual writing, and I avoided assignments where students wrote together. I figured that the partnership would result in 'one student doing all of the work.' And I needed to grade them individually anyway. But how could I have used a tool like Draft, as opposed to say Google Docs, to have students give each other feedback? 

Actually, I can't come up with any meaningful classroom-applicable examples. So instead, here are a few musings about why: 
  • School's reliance on an individual grading paradigm: Because activities must be assessed, collaborative writing activities force teachers to individually divide shared intellectual work. Using Draft as part of the writing process would prevent neat division of who wrote what for the final product.
  • The real reasons authors ask for edits: Within the constraints of time, curriculum, and technology access (to list only a few), teachers can't always ask for authentic writing tasks, which in turn doesn't provide space for authentic revision processes. However, when I ask someone to look over my work, I ask because it's in progress and will be published and eventually represent me. Where is that ownership/investment in a traditional essay on Hamlet? Can we design classroom writing processes and publication spaces where students want to ask their peers and others for edits? 
  • Technical barriers in the time we have with students: Draft is an account-based platform, and students probably already have Google Drive set up (and, as many of us know, creating accounts can eat up half of a class period). This is not a critique for Draft - but it is of so many schools with limited technology access, compounded by what number of students don't have Internet at home. In practical terms, it's a simple tool that would not be simple for students to take advantage of. 

In an ideal world (and wouldn't we all love one of those), students would add Draft to their 'technology toolbox' and be able to draw upon it as writers and editors. High school teachers could support this individual use with CCSS Writing Standard 5 & Standard 6. However, collaboration in the CCSS is only mentioned in reference to discussion, not in writing/production. 

I look forward to using it in my own writing process, am delighted with every update I get from Nathan Kontny, and will continue pondering about how schools can design their space, roles, and technology to promote authentic student learning. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Universal Human Experience

Welcome to the end of the year! You've completed an intellectually powerful year, reading seven or more books, exploring fiction, non-fiction, poetry and a range of other texts through conversations, writing, and presenting. I can't believe it's almost June!

We have used the provocation of 'the Universal Human Experience' to frame our approach to 10th grade English. I said the frame was like an umbrella, and we touched base with it - like the prongs coming down the sides of an umbrella - each time we finished a unit.

To culminate your exploration of your selected Universal Human Experience, you will explain what it means to be human, how you came to that understanding, and why it's important to consider as we step off into the world (or at least into the summer). Explaining your argument in an EdCafe presentation, you will explain your thinking and lead a discussion on your claim. Through the process and product of this unit, you will prove that you are ready to embark on Junior Year.

For your convenience:
     Link to Project Overview
     Link to Plot Chart
     Link to Focused Revision Sheet
     Link to Overall Metacognitive Letter (due June 20 in signed hard copy)

Project Overview: 

What does it mean to be human?: The Final EdCafe 

A Period

C Period

F Period

Framing the Year: The Final Metacognitive Letter 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Senior Final Exams : Spring 2013

Congratulations! You're almost done! 
The last thing you'll do for High School English is read a variety of short stories and make connections to them. Not a bad way to end 13 years of English class :)

Final Exam Preparation: 
Click on the appropriate site below to read your classmates' stories. 

Recommendation: Read at least four or five stories to prepare yourself for the final. You will write about three that are not your own.

Dystopian Literature 

Final Exam:
The format of this exam gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding with no surprises. It's up to you to bring your best to this exam - you have choices, time, and energy enough to succeed - I look forward to your final submission.

Using your classmate's stories as your text, answer three of the five questions in short-essay form. Your mini-essay should have an introduction, at least one body paragraph, and a conclusion. You should incorporate quotations from the stories and your intellectual work (your notes, papers, books you've read, etc.) 

The three mini-essays are due at the end of the your period's final (B Period on Friday, May 25, G Period on Thursday, May 30th). 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Senior Stories: Checklist for Success

Dystopian Lit
Sci Fi

Print this checklist out and check off each step as you do it to ensure your success! 

Pick two buddies to check with when you have questions.  

____ turned in my sticker sheets (either checked on Friday or stapled together now and handed to Ms. Kennett)

Format Your Story:
____ Title of story in center of page
____ by _____ centered below title
____ should be 1.5 spaced
____ Paragraphs are indented
____ New lines of dialogue are new paragraphs (look at a book for guidance)
____ Read out loud to find minor errors in punctuation, capitalization, etc.

Example of formatted story here

Create a 'Book Cover' for your story:
____ "I declare I cannot find my image on Google, Bing, or any other internet search engine"
____ draw a picture or take one with a camera. Add effects as you'd like.
____ email it to or with your name in the subject of the email. Or, hand Ms. Kennett a hard copy of your drawing

Publish Your Story to the Web:
____ Logged into professional Google Account (NOT
____ Click 'File'
____ 'Publish to Web...'
____ If it asks you 'are you sure?' click 'yes'
____ COPY the link it provides

Submit Your Story and your Picture: