2006 Tech Research Reports
Hill Elementary School, Lincoln, Nebraska
My project for the Nebraska Technology Initiative was centered on getting my class's writing published. I wanted to get it out so others outside of our classroom could enjoy the writing. My kids do a lot of fantastic writing, but their audience generally lies within the classroom. That was frustrating for me, so I thought about ways to get it "out there" where others could read it. What I found was that there were many frustrations in this process, as well.
The first difficulty I had was to get approved to conduct this "research" through the University. The IRB process was very slow and confusing to wade through. We completed the on-line training in September 2005, but we didn't get IRB approval until April 2006. This basically took the excitement out of the entire process for me. It was difficult to think about getting the kids writing into the computer when we didn't even know when we would be able to post their writing to the web.
We had been practicing getting the kids' writing into a word processor throughout the year. This was frustration number two. The fourth grade curriculum does not focus greatly on keyboarding or formatting skills. This is no one's fault, but it does limit what the kids can do. I was fortunate to be able to work in the lab when our technology teacher had her plan time, so she was very willing to work with my class on an advisory basis. This frustration actually turned out to be a good thing, because my kids now know how to work on a word processor, have practiced their keyboarding and formatting skills, and can save documents and transfer them into an online folder for me to use. This is much more than many soon-to-be fifth graders can do!
After the kids transferred their work to my Universal Locker, I took it and put it into a newsletter format. I called it Fourthcoming Writers and put a piece of writing in for each student for whom I had permission. Only one chose not to participate, and only one chose to use a pseudonym. I did very little editing, but did do some format changing because many of the students chose to use funky fonts, colors, and other formats. We ended up with an eight page newsletter. The students chose the pieces they wanted in there, but there were some students who wanted to put several pieces in. I told them I had to limit their submissions. This tells me that it would have been nice had I been able to do this more than once this school year.
I would love to continue this next year. I will be teaching third graders instead of fourth graders next year, but I will also be at a different school. I am guessing that I will need to have parents do the typing, and I will probably put a couple pieces of writing in each biweekly newsletter that I do for my own class. This will be much more doable than what I have done this year.
I am looking forward to continuing this project on my own. It will be a great way to showcase my kids' writing throughout the year. It will give them another way to be published and have their writing read.