Resource Kit for ePublishing

Resource Kit for ePublishing - High in Learning Value


The challenge in teaching writing effectively has been compounded in recent years by the emergence of communications technologies, resulting in the need to learn new skills along with traditional ones. As a result, educators have a bigger job than ever in ensuring student success. The kit is a resource to support teachers and learners as they meet this challenge. The ePublishing Kit will inspire today's students to learn a challenging set of skills that all must acquire in order to succeed in and beyond school. These include traditional writing skills, technology skills (especially those that support writing), and 21st Century Literacy skills.

TRADITIONAL WRITING

Poor student achievement in the essential literacy skill set of writing remains one of education's most pressing challenges.

In 2007 The Nation's Report Card showed that while 88 percent of American 8th grade students performed at or above the Basic level of writing achievement, only 33 percent performed at the Proficient level and a mere 2 percent at the Advanced level. Furthermore, the report showed very little improvement over the writing scores of 2002.

The capacity to write well directly impacts success throughout one’s school career. Furthermore, writing is an essential skill for lifelong learners and is directly tied to success in the world of work. Employers are more critical of writing than any other area of employee preparedness, asserting that young workers have difficulty with all aspects of writing.
In its New York press release dated July 5, 2005, the National Commission on Writing stated “Despite the high value that state employers put on writing skills, a significant number of their employees do not meet states' expectations. Providing writing training costs taxpayers nearly a quarter of a billion dollars annually..." This survey confirms what governors and educators already know: strong writing skills, and the critical thinking skills associated with the ability to write well, are important prerequisites for success in college and work," said Virginia Governor Mark Warner. "The next generation of workers needs strong communication skills to compete for the best jobs in a global economy."

THE ROLE of TECHNOLOGY in WRITING and LEARNING to WRITE

It has become something of an article of faith among many educators that word processing, as well as a broad range of other technology skills associated with gathering, analyzing, and communicating information and ideas, has the potential to positively impact the level of student achievement in the area of Writing. This makes sense. After all, virtually all professional writers, editors, and publishers use technology to do just about everything associated with their jobs. It is not surprising, therefore, that prominent educators and scholars have asserted that technology improves student writing. A good example is Kyle L. Peck and Denise Dorricot's article in Educational Leadership titled “Why use technology?” in which they state “Technology can foster an increase in the quantity and quality of students' thinking and writing...”

Still, it is a very great distance from understanding the potential of technology to support students as they learn to write, to the availability of a body of activities with which to successfully implement this idea. The kit provides it though, with all the planning and 'integrating' of technology into the writing curriculum taken care of. Its 60 activities are thoroughly infused with word processing, web-based research, and use of online language tools like search engines, dictionaries and thesauri, and bibliography and citation engines.

Each of these solid writing activities is supported by technology in a very natural way. Furthermore, this is writing with a purpose, the publication of finished student work as professional style books and magazines. To accomplish this there are many technology methods and skills embedded that support students in enhancing and designing their work. There are high motivation items like the use of crossword puzzle engines; tools to search, download, and create digital illustrations; and table, chart, and graph applications. Finally there is a rich body of resources and techniques to produce and share finished publications either in digital format (including online) or in hard copy.

THE NEW LITERACY

Beyond the pressing need to improve student achievement in traditional literacy goals, a new set of goals that account for the way technology has changed literacy in recent years has emerged. The following is taken from a 2008 policy statement of The National Council of Teachers of English, our nation's foremost professional organization for literacy educators:

...As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable...Twenty-first century readers and writers need to develop proficiency with the tools of technology...

The kit directly and thoroughly addresses this need.

TECHNOLOGY SKILLS ACCOUNTABILITY

Under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) the following goal has been established as an expectation of all schools: To assist every student in crossing the digital divide by ensuring that every student is technologically literate by the time the student finishes the eighth grade, regardless of the student's race, ethnicity, gender, family income, geographic location, or disability.
While this requirement has been temporarily overshadowed by NCLB's initial heightened focus on reading, writing, and mathematics skills, our nation's renewed awareness of the need to develop a globally competitive workforce will guarantee interest in ensuring that students learn about technology and become savvy in its practical integration into the many dimensions of intellectual work. The kit is specifically directed at these goals. Students who have completed kit activities will do well on the emerging technology skills assessments that are being adopted across the nation.

21st CENTURY SKILLS

In its recently released resource and policy guide “21st Century Skills, Education & Competitiveness” The Partnership for 21st Century Skills states, “Over the last several decades, the industrial economy based on manufacturing has shifted to a service economy driven by information, knowledge and innovation.” As a consequence of this, a new framework for understanding what students should learn and be able to do in school in the 21st Century has emerged. Nine states have already committed to using this new framework to guide their efforts in public education. The concept of 21st Century Skills increasingly impacts the understanding how education must change to be relevant by educators and policy makers everywhere. Importantly, this framework places traditional core curriculum subjects at the center of its focus, although recontextualizing how they are best taught, learned, and understood as part of the greater educational whole. The kit provides a curriculum that mirrors the Framework for 21st Century Learning, fleshing out its concepts with good-to-go classroom activities. Furthermore, it implements important dimensions of related progressive educational approaches like project-based learning, performance (portfolio) assessment, and student collaboration.

ALIGNED TO STANDARDS

The kit’s activities align with the English Language Arts Standards established by the IRA/ NCTE (International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English), the NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) established by I.S.T.E (International Society for Technology in Education), and the 21st Century Outcomes established by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. As a result, the kit offers very timely curriculum designed to support students in learning the essential skills of writing in a context that is guaranteed to be relevant as student learning needs evolve.