Using Technology to Improve Adolescent Writing

What do I want to remember about this book?

1. The authors, Liz Campbell Stephens and Kerry H. Ballast, “glam up” traditional lessons by incorporating technology (e.g., the group mapping lesson moves from paper to moodle or some other online classroom assistant and programs like Inspiration.

2. They use the story of a student to illustrate the student’s learning and engagement with the make-over lesson.

3. The chapters focus on KWL charts, the Vocabulary Self-collection Strategy, and literature circles.

4. Each chapter focuses on different content areas.

5. Stephens and Ballast remind readers that the writing process is recursive, not a step-by-step procedure, and they suggest terms like inside writing, which sounds like James Britton’s expressive writing to me; responsive writing, which includes sharing writing with others for feedback (e.g., peer response); and purposeful writing, audience ready writing that is meant to go public, especially on the web.

6. My favorite section is “Ten of Tens”. I like the ten ways to change a lesson so it includes technology even though the things on the list are well known (e.g., YouTube, Teacher Tube, Photo Story, Son of Citation, and so on), though I didn’t know any of the people the authors recommend that I Google: Wesley Fryer, Cynthia Selfe, Margaret Roblyer, to name a few.

All in all, I learned something about revamping lessons, but I still wonder if we’re adding technology because we can or if it really enhances student learning.