Wednesday, 7 September 2016

If ya can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Based on the following article: Bitstrips and Storybird: Writing Development in a Blended Literacy Camp

Wertz (2014) describes how a Digital Literacy Camp combined the use of new technologies with traditional literacies and writing techniques. The goal of the camp was to utilize digital literacy tools in order to encourage students to better their literacy skills. When students are using technologies that they are comfortable with, their learning will not seem to be so tedious. If we can find tools in which students are already engaged with outside of the classroom, it only makes sense to utilize these tools within the classroom as well. One of the very first sentences of the article stood out to me a great deal:

I have always agreed with statements such as this. I truly believe that as a new teacher, I can approach the idea of using tools that my students are most comfortable with, without feeling nervous about not being the expert myself. As someone who grew up using cell phones and the Internet, for example, I have grown to appreciate the use of these technologies as tools, as opposed to just entertainment.

Readings such as this one (Wertz, 2014) will be the basis of how I approach any of my classes, not just when teaching Language Arts. I have read countless articles on how students today are having trouble focusing in class due to the large amount of “multi-tasking” they partake in outside of the classroom. Well to me, it seems like a no-brainer to bring their “multi-tasking” lives into the classroom. The level of engagement that was discussed by Wertz (2014) is in no way surprising to me. Students are interested in learning if they are presented with something they can relate to. Despite the topic of the lesson on any given day, there is no reason as to why an educator cannot incorporate some kind of aspect which relates to their students. In today’s classrooms, technology is a perfect way to engage students. A topic that may otherwise appear as boring to students, will be brought to life with the simple incorporation of a device such as an iPad. However, the issue of funding always comes to mind. I may have a wonderful idea for a lesson using a new app that all of the students are raving about, but if I do not have access to proper technology for my lesson, it will not work out. Although bringing the ideas from the Digital Literacy Camp to life in the classroom is an excellent idea, it is something that definitely has a long way to go.

I believe that all teachers should be encouraged to step out of their comfort zone. When it comes to using new technologies in the classroom, I feel as though many teachers feel very nervous because they will not be the expert in the room. Students today have grown up with using new technologies, to the point where I feel like it is nature for children to know that “swiping left” on an iPhone will allow you to scroll through photos. It is clear that using new devices and programs are what students today seem to be very comfortable with. I believe that it is important to identify students’ strengths, and build on them. If students enjoy and are motivated by using technologies, why is this not something we would want to incorporate into the classroom? Based on many articles such as this one, I believe that many educators are beginning to realize the true potential students have when using new technologies, and so I believe we will see a difference in how teachers will instruct their classes. When it comes to cell phones in the classroom or using the Internet, I am a true believer of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”. In the future I definitely see PD days based on how to properly incorporate these devices and technologies into the classroom. 

~ Miss Jaskula

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