Friday, 5 January 2007

Writing with a magic pen

I am wondering if having computers in the hands of every single student could be one step toward building a nation of proficient writers. I do think that instant messaging has its own language. Some people argue that young people are losing the ability to write well when instant messaging involves so many language shortcuts. But, if we can convince our youth that it is just one of many types of writing, I think we could produce the most prolific writers in the world in a shorter amount of time. Our students are being asked to write for a variety of purposes, across content areas, for many different audiences. If their thoughts can be composed so readily with the technology literally at their fingertips, they will be able to develop as writers similar to the way we develop as speakers. If given a good caregiver and rich language interaction, children's speech and language understanding will flourish. If students are given excellent teachers and authentic, meaningful activities in writing with technology they will become talented and competent writers.

Today I was reading an advertisement from a local school about their laptop initiative. I have to say, I was very impressed that they are making it a priority to get that technology to each and every middle school and high school student. Watching specific elementary students who struggle on a daily basis with the actual physical act of writing because of processing delays and dyslexia is very frustrating when I know how much their writing could improve with the aid of technology. When I have only three computers in my classroom, the children are not getting the same opportunities to apply reading and writing skills as often as is necessary in comparison to other children with more computers. I understand the amount of problems and management is quite an undertaking when all students have laptops. But, if our future leaders, programmers and managers of technology are going to have these tools in their hands everyday, they are also going to be savvy about helping to solve the problems as they arise. Isn't this exactly the kind of real world problem solving we want our children to experience. It is a real part of the technology culture to have to learn how to find multiple ways to solve problems. Just giving them the machinery would demand they engage at that very level of problem solving we hope to prepare them for.

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