Notes from RCWP Google Day

Notes from Andrea Zellner‘s RCWP Google Day Presentation

  • Reflecting on Google Teacher Academy
    • Thinking about the tools almost exclusively, and we want to focus on literacy practices
  • Writing prompt:
    • What is Literacy? What is Technological Literacy? How are they different? How do they support one another?
      • Literacy — the ability read, write, listen, speak, view, and visually represent texts in print and non-print media. Technology literacy — the ability to understand and employ different tools (pencils and paper, computers, cameras, recorders, etc.) to effectively convey a message to an audience.
      • The ways in which these two concepts, literacy and technology literacy support one another — we have come to understand that being “literate” changes across contexts, thus it is a complicated set of practices that people use to communicate for a variety of purposes and audiences. Adding technology into the mix opens up new opportunities for communication and collaboration that makes us rethink the ways in which we consider what it means to be literate. In other words, technology has the potential to affect our worldview because it changes the way that literacy is enacted. in these contexts. And, in an increasingly digital world, we have to make the connections between literacies and technologies more and more explicit so readers and writers understand how, why, and when to use particular technologies to communicate.
    • We can sometimes forget the fact that literacy is what we are most interested in and can get caught up in the technology itself
  • Framing our thinking about the teaching of writing with the strategies from the Writing Next Report
  • Writing prompt: Portfolios
    • Yes, I use portfolios in my English Education methods class, ENG 315. I think that the immediate benefit of using a digital portfolio, as it has always been with portfolios, is that students see the value in collecting and reflecting on their work over time. The digital portfolio offers them even more flexible ways of presenting their work, as they can create straight-up web pages and they can embed images, video, or audio. This allows for multimedia compositions that wouldn’t necessarily be possible with print-based portfolios.
    • Drawbacks. Well, let’s face it… assessing any writing is tough work, especially when you are trying to assess a collection of writing that has been developed over time. Thus, I have my students engage in self-assessment for their portfolios. This is the only way that I have found really gets them engaged in the process as writers, forcing them to be thoughtful in the selection process and be honest about the amount of work that has gone into the writing and revising process.
  • Playing with the tools — check out Andrea’s site for links
  • Ideas for Inspiration
    • Students with autism using SketchUp
  • Writing Prompt: Think of a student who was challenged to write in your classroom.
    • My most difficult student that I ever had to deal with was one of my seventh graders. Along with all the special education diagnoses that he had been given, he was also just not a friendly kid. Not outright defiant, nor anti-social, but just difficult to connect with. At the time, I tried to offer him some options for writing with technology such as creating a PPT, but I wasn’t really equipped to differentiate instruction or help him grow as a writer. I do wonder how a student like him would react to some of the newer tools that we have been discussing today, as well as to the chance to easily get feedback from other writers and not just me. Taking his writing public might have made a difference (and, simply typing it would have helped, too). All in all, I think that the challenges he faced were partly motivational and partly learning disabilities, and I wonder how these tools might have been helpful for him.
  • How might these Google Tools impact literacy?
  • Our collaborative Google Presentation
  • Final reflection — what was your biggest “aha” and what will you take back to your classroom?
    • The major tech tip that I will take back with me is the Google Scholar setting that allows you to export directly to EndNote/Zotero. That is going to be just so incredibly useful for me. Once Zotero gets set up to share your libraries easily, it will be great. I can create online reading lists of open source readings or readings that can be accessed on campus, and skip the whole process of having to create course reserves!
    • In terms of professional development structures, I really like how Andrea framed the day with the early discussion of literacy and technology. She made it clear that this was a discussion about how to use the Google Applications in the service of literacy instruction and not just about “this tool, that tool, and the next tool.” That was good to make her ideas about that explicit early in the presentation, even though the rest of the day did kind of suffer from the “mile wide, inch deep” problem.
    • Finally, I enjoyed having to articulate my thoughts about a particular tool during the last activity. By comparing Knol with Wikipedia, it forced me to come back to the ideas about literacy practices. That might have been helpful to include as a framework for the final activity — a reminder that we should look at the tool as a way to support literacy practices.

All in all, a great day with lots to think about. Thanks, Andrea!