My school started a one-to-one iPad initiative two years ago, and in that time I feel like every day has been an exercise in implementing, succeeding, and failing with technology. I find myself in a strange limbo in this area: I'm young enough to be somewhat of a digital native (born in 1983, so close enough to wikipedia's definition of someone born after '85 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_native ), but I'm not exactly a tech-lover. I implement tech when beneficial to my classroom (or budget, or paper-saving) but I'm not married to the idea that technology makes everything better. I write this post with the concern that too many teachers and administrators see technology as a miracle cure, when it's really just another tool to enhance learning.
That said, I know I don't provide my students with enough real publishing opportunities. Yes, they write for their peers and me, and even for the school website, but none of that is authentic as what I feel they probably should be doing. I want to try to give them more publishing opportunities this year, but (as always) I'm cautious about what will best suit my classroom and my students.
One website I'm currently looking into for this is Lulu.com. This is a site where anyone can self-publish and sell their original books. The idea of having an end of the school year anthology of all my students' best work is appealing. I usually have them create a portfolio for their final grade, but if I decide to go with Lulu, I could have their final assignment be to pick and perfect one single piece of writing to go in the anthology. It would also be a great gift if I could provide each student with their own copy of the book itself (their parents, grandparents, and adoring masses could also buy their own copies through Lulu, if I understand it correctly). As with all tech in the classroom, I need to give it a test run to work out the kinks before I introduce it.
Another option for tech is blogging. My students already write blogs for their social studies class, so I would not have to create new accounts for them through KidBlog. It's a safe site and relatively easy to use, but I need to decide what I really want it for. Is it any different than having them share in class since the blog is protected and will only be seen by other students and teachers? Many of my students write about very personal, sensitive topics (I encourage their freedom to do so); will this censor some of them who do not want to share publicly?
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.