Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Topic: Letter Writing and Assessment in the Tech Age

10-second review: Student writer sends an e-mail via Kidnet, an after-school international digital exchange program, to students in Africa and India. She changes color of text. She uses emoticons. She prints her main message in capitals. And the whole letter exudes having fun while writing.

She also misspells three words. The entire letter is in a single, lengthy paragraph and she concludes by saying, “Wel I got to go, peace.”

Title: Mobile Texts and Migrant Audiences: Rethinking Literacy and Assessment in a New Media Age.” A Stornaiuolo, G Hull and ME nelson. Language Arts (May 2009), 382-392. Language Arts is the elementary school publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: The authors plead with today’s teachers to use a different kind of assessment since students are using tech tools in their writing.

Comment: I accept the tone, the sincerity of the message and even the joy in the play with words in the introductory example of the child’s e-mail. But the problem with spelling, paragraphing and cliché closing is still a problem when the student moves into formal expression at another time and in another situation. I do not think a new [or more lenient?] method of assessment is needed because students are using the new tech tools to write. The tech tools simply enhance, perhaps, the basic structure of writing—tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and tell them what you told them. They do not change the nature of written communication. They are not essential to basic written communication.

Students need to recognize that increased levels of formality are required in society in order to be successful.

The writers for NCTE journals rattle my nerves when they insist that tech tools like texting are equal in importance to learning to communicate in writing at an acceptable level of organization, style, usage and correctness. You can call me the Grammar Grouch. RayS.

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