It’s hard to imagine what classes use to look like. Not only are the kids changing, so is the world. Every teacher has discovered this rapid evolution happening and more prominently in the last decade. Fort St. John teachers have a reputation of striving to be innovative in how they reach each and every student. The grade 6 teachers in our district have taken on that challenge known as the “Wireless Writing Project”.
In 2002, a group of educators, including myself, decided to find out what would happen if every student, in our class, was given a laptop to complete writing. Writing, in the sense of communicating ideas and thoughts and not in presentation by penmanship or spelling. Creative ideas, which show meaning, style and organization. Imagine coming into a classroom where students actively participate in the writing process, the editing and even the evaluation. That’s what is happening in our classes.
So, what are these devices doing for these students? They are allowing the young writers to have a tool, that no professional writer could live without, the word processor. When students quickly put down their thoughts and edit as they write, quality and quantity of the written work improves.
Astonishingly, when I went to school, I neither could figure out the letter grades, nor the comments, engraved in red on my written work. Drop into one of these classes, and the students will tell you what they can do to improve their writing. Each student has access to the BC Performance Standards for Writing and they can tell you if they are meeting or exceeding expectations in components of their writing and what they need to do to improve. Girls, and most notably boys, are talking about how to improve their writing. They have become their own editors.
In 2003 the district expanded the project into every grade 6 and 7 class. Support to teachers was given through in-services. In 2004, a 0.4 teacher coaching position was given to further support classroom teachers. I have had the privilege of being one of these “guru’s of technology”. In the Fall of 2012/13 teachers began a new pilot project using iPads instead of mac Books. In 2014 this pilot went district wide for all grade 6 students.
My experience in my classroom is not unique. We have a district full of future writers. As technology creeps up into every facet of our lives, our future generation is looking at a world with a vast and endless amount of information, and we are preparing them to communicate in that environment!
by Toni Thompson