News Detail Page


Chelsea Colatriano

August 1

Jordan Bennett, Upper School English

Technology integration is one of the most important areas that both students and parents frequently suggest is critical for teachers to focus on in the classroom. As a teacher of writing, what does that mean for me? Am I to abandon the hardcover book? How much to embrace web-based reading, supplemented with audio and visual components? What will "reading" look like fifty years from now? Will it still be important?

The neurological answer is an unqualified yes. The students in my freshman composition course had an excellent experience with how new media can reinforce traditional modes of learning to engage in a subject by following the saga of the baby polar bear Nora – live and in serial, on the internet – yet never abandoning the critical reading skills necessary for our conversation about what makes good writing so effective, and how to accomplish it themselves. Her story can now be found here, in The Oregonian:

The fascinating part was watching it happen with students, in real time. Each day they came to class wondering what would happen next. Would chapter 3 be updated? What would transpire for the baby bear? Multiple, fruitful writing assignments developed out of our following this story online. We discussed whether people care more about animals than fellow human beings, the ethics of owning a pit bull, and the moral dilemmas that present themselves when nature intrudes on our existence on the planet. An active, excellent journalist was updating her story each day from afar, and our kids were at rapt attention, watching – and most importantly reading/consuming it as it happened.

As a teacher of writing, my primary focus is on what makes excellent writing stand out. When can I be sure that something I see on the internet is worthy of exposing my students to and productive for our classroom environment? I am the arbiter, in some new and unforeseen ways, of the content that I want them to see. What is our children's experience with screens (not the family televisions we grew up with) doing to them physically, socially, morally, educationally? I naturally worry as a father, a teacher, and a reader. However, even as "texts" change, students still need to learn the same "reading" skills to navigate multimedia effectively and intelligently.

  • Educational Blogs