The curriculum meets technology

The biggest idea on my mind right now is still the question I posed to the class: since the focus of the English classroom does not presently seem to be about the classic literature I love and adore, why exactly am I going to teach?  This is such a complex question and I really don’t think there is an answer.  The truth of the matter is teachers are still responsible for teaching some of the classic content, in addition to building students’ digital literacies, their writing skills, their knowledge of English grammar, and more that I cannot even name at the moment.  As society has progressed, it seems like any sort of “other” category of what students need to know has fallen under the care of English teachers to communicate.  Our classrooms have really become a conglomeration of many different disciplines, from journalism to technology (in addition to the working knowledge students need to have of religion, biology, history, politics, etc. which are necessary to understand literary allusions and metaphors).  Even though this is a lofty task, technology may actually make it more feasible to teach the curriculum I want to teach, simply because technology makes many tasks easier and faster to complete than before.  If done meaningfully, with  a strong purpose in mind, the invasion of technology in the English classroom may prove to be extraordinarily helpful to the preservation of rich literary material.

One of the main ways I can see this happening is through the use of blogging.  The class can read a novel, short story, poem, etc. together and then the students can post discussion questions, comments, or criticisms on their blogs.  Giving students the opportunity to voice their opinions and demanding that they take time to reflect on the text in order to write the blog encourages participation and connection with seemingly archaic material.  As they comment on each other’s blogs, students are gathering multiple perspectives about an issue or idea in the text while garnering evidence to support or reject their theories.  Because it is likely that technology will only continue to expand in its prevalence and influence (understatement?) as students share their thoughts on the Web they are almost guaranteeing the spread of those ideas.  Though the website to which they initially posted the blog may be shut down, by posting on a public forum where other users from around the globe can access that information it is inevitable that those analyses will be shared.  Perhaps if students put interesting ideas about a text on the Web, other people’s interest in the text may grow because they want to participate in the discussion that is happening in my classroom.  It is usually unclear for teachers how far or how much they have impacted students, but technology could help our arms extend a little further to beyond our own classrooms.  I think most of us would agree that this is a positive thing.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The curriculum meets technology

  1. jasonpaddock

    Kailey, you’re absolutely right: I don’t think there is an answer to exactly what we should be teaching in the ELA classroom these days. So many people make strong arguments for a variety of things that I can only conclude that we need to be teaching a variety of things. I battle with this question on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

    You’re also right that a LOT of things get dropped in our lap. For better or worse, I think we just need to see these as opportunities students to read, write, discuss, and critically engage an idea, whether it’s about safe driving or a complex literary theme.

    One thing that many teachers have told me is that you should always teach what you love. I think that’s very true. You may realize that one thing you love works better than another thing you love, but I think you have to be passionate about the texts that you choose.

    Great comments.

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