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Ideas for teachers

Ideas for teachers

Written by Chris Sloan
August 24, 2010

If you’re curious about the curriculum for the kind of digital composition that I’ve been describing, look at the collaborative curriculum section of the Youth Voices site.  And if you’re a teacher who’d like to incorporate digital composition into your own teaching, you’re welcome to join us!

In the past ten years or so, I’ve incorporated these newer digital literacies into the more traditional approaches that I’ve used in my teaching for years.  For instance, I’ve taught Orwell’s 1984 a few different times in my career, but no matter what year my students read it, they always find relevancy to their life and times.  With the incorporation of new literacies into the curriculum, the 2008 political season proved again that Orwell’s book is a classic. 

I moved between group and independent work as we wrestled with Orwell’s text in the beginning.  As we read 1984, the class brainstormed ideas about how his ideas are still relevant today. We did this as a whole group discussion; a student volunteered to enter class discussion points projected via a Smartboard while the rest of the students annotated their own book and took notes in their writers notebook.  The next class period students wrote a timed, in-class essay where they used the group’s notes, their own notes, and their own annotations to compare the government of Oceania with the current U.S. government.

After reading the novel, it was time to apply the ideas to the current political situation.  I demonstrated to the students how I set up a news feed for 1984 in my news aggregator.  Here’s a post of mine that illustrates how a story from an information stream like an aggregator can inform writing.

One of the educational social networks that my class participated in was Letters to the Next President.  Notice how one of my students connects Orwell and the Patriot Act using information that he discovered through his news aggregator.  This is a very important skill – studying the past, and using digital tools to collect information on its present relevancy so that we might create a better future.

If you’re interested, here are more resources I used with the Letters to the Next President project that show how I led the students through the letter writing sequence:

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