I was following a link to where someone is linking to Amy’s blog post on assessment — 🙂 when I saw another article posted that was about achieving “flow” in the classroom. On the same page as the link to Amy, there are a number of articles on motivation and engagement that you might look at.
Author Archives: Elise Wormuth
Interesting article related to our discussion of motivation:
Kory Ching’s blog (Teaching Writing in a Digital Age) has some resources in his top two posts for those looking at technology and critical literacy.
I also found another site that has lots of info for scholars working digitally, but it also has posts related to teaching with technology: Getting Started in the Digital Humanities
And you all might want to search Research in the Teaching of English, if you haven’t already done so.
I’m giving you a link to the Verbal Cupcake blog — the blogger is one of our own, Sarah Fidelibus, who was a lecturer and who now has moved on to some very interesting things. She’s a great advocate for using technology in the classroom; in this post she’s talking about the 2012 Digital Learning and Media conference. Other pages on her blog are worth exploring, too — this one, for example. Those of you interested in issues surrounding technology might get something from her many links.
In my first blog entry, I asked: “How much is too much technology in the classroom?” and expressed my concern about the academic uses (and overuses) and validity of sites like Wikipedia and, more importantly, the development of students’ critical literacy skills (esp. when considering multiliteracies and semiotics) in a Google epoch. When I wrote the post, I was imagining a situation wherein students are invested in merely finding the correct answer to questions posed by the teacher. In that case, students are basically being called on to regurgitate information from texts and present it as knowledge.
My wariness of technology probably stems from my own academic identity and values, but I know something of the extent at which students rely on sites like Wikipedia & Google for gaining/providing knowledge on a subject. I’m not saying such information-getting doesn’t work on a certain level–the information is right there, easily accesssible! But such research does not involve work of a challenging nature, and thus it truncates students’ processes of inquiry and denies them the chance to practice organizing and synthesizing multiple ideas in order to come up with an interpretation that contributes to a discourse community’s body of knowledge, which is always growing and changing.
All the readings we’ve done on metacognition and pedagogical approaches that emphasize metacognition–specifically self-monitoring and awareness of strategies–have helped me to understand something I didn’t before: that every time we direct students to seek an answer to a question–especially a question to which we already have a specific answer in mind– we are denying them the opportunity to ask questions and explore possibilities for themselves. We, not just Google, can unwittingly prevent our students from developing critical thinking/critical literacy skills! Even though I’m not exactly answering my own question from blog one, I can’t help thinking of the differences between quizzes (traditional, seek-and-find) and blogs (a good used of technology in the classroom–it fosters community in and outside of the classroom)… Which approach would a student benefit more from in the long run? I’m guessing that if students set out to explore a blog topic of their choosing (or with some level of choice involved) and go through the process of realizing that there’s no exact answer to the questions they pose but rather a variety of possibilities for further exploration and questioning, then blogging has done more to enhance their learning (and self-monitoring, and strategizing) than memorizing parts of a text for and filling in the blanks.
In some sense, the blogger’s typically less academic voice is relevant to my question. From our readings for the week, including the “Study Strategies” chapter in the handbook and the articles on pre-college and college level reading and critical literacy in “Teaching Developmental Reading”, I was inspired to think about motivation and student interest.
My question is, how can instructors generate student interest and foster critical literacy skills if developmental students have significant and consistent trouble identifying main ideas due to lack of interest in the readings?
My question is partly inspired by my observation of an English 114 class last year. Students spent an entire class period reading a Time Magazine article about a man who was fighting a law that negatively impacted the environment. Sections of the article were read aloud by students and each student completed a handout that asked basic questions about the article. By the end of the class, only two students out of 20 were able to identify whether the guy was for or against the law discussed in the article.
Lesley’s article on critical literacy suggests that inquiry or critical engagement are key to success, and I tend to agree. However, many students seem so disinterested or unused to owning their own sense of academic inquiry that using this strategy as an entry point seems of limited use. Which brings me back to the tone of blogging. Would encouraging students to frame their inquiry in a more visual and casual blog format help foster habits of critical inquiry?