Thursday, July 3, 2008

Reflection on Vance Stevens' Presentation: Motivating Student Writers by Fostering Collaboration through Tagging and Aggregating

Students write constantly in school. Unfortunately, most of that writing is mainly seen by two people - the student and his/her teacher. Blogs open student writing to the world. This can be a powerful motivational force for students to produce quality work that is good enough for a world-wide authentic audience.

As I watched Vance Stevens' presentation with his Writing Matrix Project collaborators I found myself thinking about the tremendous learning the students are gaining through this project. If we are truly preparing students for their future we must teach them how to navigate and manage information in a digitally networked world. The tools are simple, the implementation takes time and effort. The gains will be tremendously evident and worth this investment in time. Students need to know how to make information work for them. This information needs to find the user as opposed to the traditional ways we search for information. Using blogs, RSS feeds and tagging students can create a steady flow of information that they are invested in and collaborate with others that share those interests.

RSS is the key to all of these great information resources. Teachers need to learn how to use RSS for their own professional practice and how to use it in the classroom with their students in order to work smarter - not harder. I have been pushing these tools to my teachers over the past couple of years. This year I want to take a more aggressive move in using these tools in more powerful ways.

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