Mid-Day Reflection: Refined Thinking on Conference Questions

As we move into the afternoon’s work, we have been asked to refine our thinking about the conference questions. So, here are some brainstormed ideas…

What stood out for me most in Joe and Ailish’s case study this morning was the fact that Joe, having a firm understanding of writing pedagogy, took a tool that he learned at Tech Matters last summer (Google Docs), figured out how to best use it in his classroom, invited another teacher to collaborate with him, and was up and running with a new practice in only a few weeks. Sure, there were bumps along the way and, yes, both of the teachers have a disposition towards using technology in their practice.

That said, I think that the mantra “simple is true” rings through loud and clear here. What is the distinctive power that this technology brought? Joe and Ailish were able to adapt their current thinking about a common technology — the word processor — and map it on to a new version of the tool, all the while inserting what they knew about good writing pedagogy into their practice. They overcame the challenges because, in the grand scheme of things, the tool was simple and easy to use, plus the benefits of adoption outweighed the cost. Finally, in terms of how literacy is changing, they recognized the power of collaboration as a way to engage their students in what had been a useful, although somewhat perfunctory practice (peer response).

In this case, the whole became more than the sum of its parts. The slight change in teaching practice (writing, responding, and revising through Google Docs) allowed for them to, as Pat said earlier, “lift the veil” on the writing process and make the moves of revision more transparent for all the students. Given that the technology worked more often than it didn’t, and that they were able to rely on it from any computer, at school or away, it allowed students to work 24/7 on tasks that normally had to be confined to being turned in at the end of the hour and forgotten.

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