Is writing a dying skill? It appears to me that good writers are in short supply – analytical writers, storytellers, creative writers.
I am talking up writing and publishing in my school because I see the huge gap between what people read, and what (or how) they write. Young people read Dr. Seuss, but hardly take a stab at poetry. They may binge watch on Netflix, but never consider a screen play, or even coming up with a skit. They consume the news, but seldom look at the nuts and bolts of news writing, features, or Op-Eds.
You want to write? Here are a few places to start.
- WriteTheWorld, an organization I have been talking to, has a very interesting Poetry and Spoken Word Competition. It’s open to students between the ages of 13 and 18. And there are prizes. $100 for the first prize! More details here.
My colleague and robotics coach, Donna Horn gave me a Wall Street Journal article on Coding that’s worth sharing. It’s about why coding shouldn’t be so intimidating (at least to us teachers who didn’t learn to code).
Titled “We want our children to code, even if we can’t.” it argues why this is a skill we need to introduce early and often. Reading. Writing, and Coding…The timing of the article is not accidental.
February is when Coding fills the news, since Digital Learning Day is on Feb 17th. This year we have plenty to pick from –the usual powerhouses Code.Org and Khan Academy. There’s also Scratch, and other visual programming tools. Plus, there’s Mindstorms, the visual programming language we use in robotics.
Grant Smith, a tech writer for Edutopia makes a god point about teaching coding in schools. We need to set the stage first by (a) Curating the resources into the curriculum (b) Organizing the classroom to be coder-friendly and (c) Rallying around those who might support your initiative. Including use some of the social media tools to build one’s personal learning network or PLN.
I’m planning on getting experts to come into the classroom, and teach.Ideally I’m thinking of App developers, from surrounding tech companies.
Please contact me if you know of someone!
It’s easy to get sucked into the belief (or is it group-think?) that apps are the only way to disrupt an existing business model, or that true engagement is all about stubby fingers on a screen.
I tend to take the contrarian point of view that tablets are not the thing that will change everything. We romanticize these pieces of glass too much. Waaay too much.
I come at this from two angles. First as someone who runs a computer lab, where the touch-screens will soon over-run the grey boxes. Second hearing first-hand what very young kids barely out of diapers, can do. At the Montessori school my wife runs, pre-schoolers show leaps of knowledge, grasping complex ideas in science, geography, and math, with no tablet in sight.
Against this backdrop I took a deep dive into the Khan Academy, and even got some of my 5th grade students to follow its curriculum. Online, mind you. The opinion I came away with is neither black nor white. It’s not about the screens. It’s not about the technology. It’s a lot more simple –and subtle–than that.
If you have fallen in love with tablets, you may skip this link below:-)
If you want to read about it, it’s in this month’s LMD Magazine, for which I write a monthly technology/business column.
“Disrupting Education. Why Schools Love It.”