Designing a Website for 21st Century Writing Instruction
The opportunity to design a website revolving around the wonderful world of writing was a dream come true! I knew that whatever ideas I came up with, I wanted them to be both comprehensive and easy to navigate and access. As a teacher who hits the road running the minute she steps on campus, I knew that I had to create a tool for teachers that provided a lot information with minimal searching. It's an unfortunate fact how limited our time is during the day.
The logo had to symbolize the melding of the writing process with technology. I chose the quill to represent the centuries old art of writing. The laptop represents the place innovative digital tools hold in modern writing instruction.
The Prototype Drawing
I created this idea map for my capstone project using BUBBL.US.
The above video explains my thought process while designing my website.
SITE: Looking at my Students Under a Lens
In the development of a strong, technology-rich writing curriculum, it is vital that teachers fully understand who their students are. The SITE Model is useful in analyzing valuable information regarding your students' background, technological strengths and weaknesses, and what information they need to successfully implement the writing tools and platforms.
* The fourth graders who participated in my study were enrolled in my English Language Arts class.
* Their ages ranged between nine and eleven years old.
* 96% of the class were Hispanic/Latino
* 4% were White.
* 90% of my students were on reduced or free lunch.
* Most students had access to Smart phones through their parents or older siblings. (While one student shared that he owned a Smart phone, it cannot be confirmed that more students possessed their own phones. It is against school policy to bring a cell phone to school. I sensed that some were holding back honest information due to the fear that the phone would be confiscated.)
*Two students out of twenty-five had a computer at home.
* One student had a tablet, but no internet connection.
* Beyond texting and browsing Youtube, students did not possess advanced technical or internet skills.
* Prior to this school year, students were not aware of online tools, such as, Google Classroom, Google Docs, Google Slides, Storybird, Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com, or Pixton.
* Students writing skills were on the low end of the grading scale.
What information do they need that will help them access the guidelines, directions and suggestions that will allow them to navigate around the tools and systems.
The writing component in the Benchmark Advance ELA program is one of the stronger programs on the market. However, I needed to fill the technological gap with explicit instruction in word-processing, key-boarding and digital citizenship.
In order to be successful in this writing course, it was imperative that students knew how to use Google applications, such as Google Docs and Google Classrooms, since most writing assignments are written and submitted through Google Docs.
For this writing class, it was required that students had a basic understanding of Google Drive, Google Docs and Google Classroom. Students were required to demonstrate how to access Google Classroom from Google Drive.
Students needed to understand how to work basic editing and word-processing tools featured in Google Docs. Basic keyboarding skills were a requirement.
Students needed access to Chromebooks for at least 30 minutes a day. Currently, the classroom provides a Chromebook for each student with limited use.
The school district assigned a Google account to each of the students. It was the students’ responsibility to maintain responsible and respectful digital citizenship.
Chromebooks were stored in a locked cabinet when not in use, and were not checked out for home use.
When possible, I used an overhead projector to share my computer screen for whole group presentations. Students also used the overhead projector to share their writing projects with the class.
Students will receive explicit instruction for writing and word-processing skill enhancement in a classroom environment where all students are given plentiful opportunities and ample support to successfully meet the Common Core State Standards for Writing. 21st Century Skills will be utilized to meet the interests of a global society.
Using the ARCS Model in the Design of the Website
The ARCS Model of Motivational Design was a valuable tool during the production of my capstone project. It helped me focus on four key points of my design.
ATTENTION: My goal was to grab the attention of teachers searching for meaningful ways to incorporate technology into their writing curriculum. It was important to design a website that was both gentle on the eyes, and held a plethora of easy access information.
RELEVANCE: I chose topics that were relevant to teachers of writing. Today's teachers want to know how online writing platforms measure up to the Common Core State Standards and the 21st Century Skills. I created an infographic that helped teachers make connections between online platforms and tools with literary genres. (Scroll down to view infographic).
CONFIDENCE: It was vital that I present sound research behind my recommendations and rationale. I made sure to include a vast collection of related books, peer-reviewed research articles, presentations from the experts, and the results of my own research study. I want teachers to feel confident that the information I have shared is valid and beneficial.
SATISFACTION: Most importantly, I want teachers to feel motivated to think outside of the pencilbox, and feel safe to try new tools. I want teachers to feel a sense of accomplishment when they see the motivation to write among their students leap and bound across their classrooms. I strongly feel it'll be a win-win for all of us.