Monday, October 31, 2011

Web 2.0 in the Classroom and the Reading Gender Gap

Web 2.0 in the Classroom

I would love to move my class to the computer lab, but the reality is that not every school has computers for each student.  Most schools have shared computer labs, or just a few computers per classroom, making extensive computer use difficult.  

I have been learning ways to implement Web 2.0 technologies in my HACC classroom, but half of my students do not have computers and Internet access at home so they frequently do not complete their online assignments.  We only have two and a half hours of class time per week, and if I want them to use computers, I have to book the computer lab weeks in advance.  

Although my students’ lack of computer access and lack of knowledge of the Internet and Web 2.0 technologies, I still want to continue using computers and other technologies to assist in learning process.  I've asked them to complete in-class assignments on properly punctuating dialogue and quotations using text messages from their cell phones, which they did enjoy.  I am actively trying to learn/create lessons like this.

photo by stuart miles
You Read Like a Girl

I also read “Why Johnny Won’t Read” by Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky about the gender gap in reading. As they succinctly put it: “Girls read; boys don’t.”  If I relate this article to the “Moving my English Class to the Computer Lab” article, I wonder if more boys would be more interested in reading if it more closely related to their generation’s interest in information and communication technology.  I know there are books like Lauren Myracle’s series (TTYL, L8R G8R, etc) that use discuss technology and text speak.  Would boys be interested in these types of books but with male characters discuss male topics?  Or would regular old books with more masculine topics be enough to generate more interest in reading?

Because I am a writer, I often read blog posts from literary agents, and there are increasingly more literary agents seeking “young adult books for boys,” so I believe that the publishing industry is well aware of the downward trend of boys’ book reading habits and are seeking to remedy this. 


Noelle Buckman said...

It is difficult to have the student use technology when they do not have it at home and it is a limited resource in the school. I think your idea of using text messages from their cell phones is great! Any way to connect to the student is a good strategy. If they are learning, even with their cell phone, at least they are learning it. The cell phones are also something they are already comfortable with and can use with ease.

I read "Why Johnny Won't Read" as well but did not talk about that article in my blog. It was difficult to think about how to make reading more enticing for boys. I like your ideas about technology and text speak. Technology is something that relates to everyone in the younger generation and would probably be enjoyable for them to read. Great thoughts!

Heather said...

I agree with you and Noelle that it would be hard to complete assignments without the access to the internet or a computer. I do have a personal story though that may help. I had told you in class that I did not have internet at my house in high school. I did not convince my parents that we needed it until I was almost finished in my senior year. We got dial up, which was almost pointless anyway. My stepmom and dad told me that reason they felt that I did not need a computer or internet at home is because I could go to the library at school. I stayed after school to use the internet and felt as though I competeled my work in a timely matter because I did not have time to just mess around on the computer. So, do you think you could cancel one of your classes to give your students time to go to the library and use the computers at HACC? I feel there a way to include computers in a lesson even if that means taking a class field trip to the library. If your classroom has a computer bring up the assignment on the projector and work on it as a group. I would like to know how to decide to work this issue out. It seems like you have great ideas though!

Nicole Lysle said...

I really liked the way that you incorporated technology into your classroom with the text messaging. That is a great idea that would definitely engage students and help to make a subject like grammar that many students find boring, a little bit more fun. I agree with your point however about how it is hard to incorporate technology with computers into the classroom, when not everyone has access to this type of technology outside of school and also when many teachers are trying to make use of the limited number of computer labs and resources in the school.

I would have to agree with Bauerlein when he says that today it often seems that “girls read and boys don’t”. This seems to be the common thought in our society today and I also think that it is because many of the books in the classrooms appeal to mostly girls and reading isn’t looked at as a masculine characteristic for some reason. I hope that thing begin to turn around and we do start to incorporate some more books into the classrooms that deal with issues that boys can relate to more often. I think this could help in some ways, but as teachers we still have to be that main source of motivation to get all of our students to read and be engaged.

Cara said...

I'm glad that you brought up the issue of the technology gap. I'm a tour guide here at Ship and I always stress the number of computer labs here, the laptop rentals, and the printing. You never know what students don't have access to technology and it can be a deciding factor when choosing a school. A lot of classes students have to take to require a technology component and people can't really avoid using it. I think including technology in the classroom is a great idea, but like you said, you need to make sure everyone has the opportunity to complete their work.