Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened my 12-1 class this week. We are working on Glogs, they are really enjoying it. Previously they had created some awesome animations using Animation-Ish and I wanted the students to have a place they could share their work online. They worked on creating their Glogs for 2 classes, and getting a feel for what Glogster was all about. We have extremely slow internet connection at school, painfully slow, dial-up modem-like slow. It is difficult and frustrating enough for these students to write and express themselves, without being challenged by slow loading graphics and delayed responses to clicks. It was hard for them to include the introductory text I wanted them to write.
Next class I told them that we were going to use Text-Edit to write the couple of sentences that described their animations, and explain to the viewer what they were most proud of in the work. I said it would be easier to type it here first them copy and paste to the slower Glogster page.
Then I watched them sit there, frozen, in front of the computers, there was so little work going on, no excitement, no motivation, for the rest of the class. After that class, where maybe a few complete sentences in all were written, I thought about what happened.
I thought about how discouraging it must be to not feel comfortable with the written word, to feel at war with writing, at expressing oneself in this way. Such a fundamental way of communicating with others. So I decided to ask them about it.
Next class (I see them twice a week), I asked them about how they felt about writing (they had negative feelings...) and what about communication (of course, everyone wants to communicate...). I asked them if they text their friends, (yes) and if that was the same as typing something for school, (no).
So I told them that the reason I wanted them to add some written work to their Glog was so they could share with others their excitement about what they had produced and explain it to their audience. I told them to pretend they were just "texting" their friends, to not care about spelling and grammar and mistakes, that was the easy stuff to fix later and the important stuff was the ideas and what they wanted to tell their audience about their fantastic work.
By the end of the class they had all written something, and funny thing was they didn't have horrible grammar or mis-spelled words at all, and they added that to their Glogs and we are almost ready to publish them to the world!!!

So what is my point here? This is a groups of students who have been at odds with school since they started attending. I have been watching them begin to light up when learning and producing includes more creative forms and less traditional forms of literacy (the pen and paper and worksheet). Each week I see them they arrive to my class more engaged and excited to be there. The power of many of these so called Web 2.0 tools is in getting students excited about learning, something many of them have equated with "schooling" for far too long.

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