EDTECH 501: Research Assignment

Amy Simon

Master of Educational Technology

Graduate Student

Subject Area/Grade Level: Elementary Writing

Instructional Objective: Students will be able to write multi-paragraph pieces with high quality vocabulary, good structure and organization, and proper use of conventions through the use of technology.

Discussion: In an attempt to address the following Common Core State Standards in Writing:

I would like to improve the quality of writing in elementary students. I would like to create a vocabulary rich environment where students transfer vocabulary to improve their writing. Working in a high poverty school, students need to be exposed to experiences that will allow them to develop a larger vocabulary. With a large vocabulary, students will be able to use more words to share their knowledge. I also want to provide students with an authentic audience for their writing through the use of weblogs. Weblogs can not only be a place where students can share and publish their writing, but they can be used as a collaborative tool to improve student writing. Students will gain new ideas from reading and evaluating peer writing. They will be able to transfer those ideas into their own writing.

Quality writing in first grade should include good structure and organization, events should be sequenced in a way that makes sense, students should use phonetic spelling for unfamiliar words and should consistently spell high-frequency words correctly, they should be able to focus on one topic in a piece of writing, and should use capitalization and end punctuation rules appropriately.

Resources:

Blachowicz, C. L., & Obrochta, C. (2005). Vocabulary visits: Virtual field trips for content vocabulary development. The Reading Teacher, 59(3), 262-268.

        This research looks at the impact of virtual field trips in vocabulary development of elementary students. There is a known correlation of vocabulary development and life experiences. There is also research that shows students with a well-developed vocabulary are better able to learn new words to expand vocabulary.

Drexler, W., Dawson, K., & Ferdig, R. E. (2007). Collaborative blogging as a means to develop elementary expository writing skills. Electronic Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education, 6, 140-160.

A study completed by preservice teachers working with third grade students looks at the benefits of using blogging in writing as a collaborative tool to improve student writing. They found that students seemed more motivated to write when being able to work collaboratively with other students. Students were able to transfer their writing skills gained in the collaborative learning into other content areas. It was also a good way to provide differentiated instruction to move writers along at their own pace. I would begin with having students work collaboratively with peers in the classroom. It takes time to build trust between students and feel that having the opportunity for face to face conversation would be beneficial. Eventually it would be nice to have students from other classrooms, or even other schools work collaboratively to evaluate and improve student writing. Weblogs provide an avenue for collaboration from around the world.

Fellner, T., & Apple, M. (2006). Developing writing fluency and lexical complexity with blogs. The JALT CALL Journal, 2(1), 15-26.

This article explains findings of a study on the impact of using blogs has on developing writing fluency. Among other things, the findings show that word count increases drastically in just 7 days of using blogging in the classroom. The article also touches on why there is an increase in writing fluency with blogs including the creation of an authentic audience as well as the opportunity for authentic learning. While writing is not just about the quantity of words, having the ability to expand on ideas and provide additional details is an important part of writing. This study shows that providing weblogs as an avenue for writing can potentially do just that. Microblogging can also improve writing by focusing on word choice.

Hetzroni, O. E., & Shrieber, B. (2004). Word processing as an assistive technology tool for enhancing academic outcomes of students with writing disabilities in the general classroom. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37(2), 143-154.

        This study looks at the use of word processing technology to assist students with disabilities. The findings show that in writing with the use of word processors, students were able to produce work with fewer spelling errors, fewer reading errors, and better structure and organization. By removing the exhausting and sometimes overwhelming task of physically writing, students are more willing to share their thoughts in writing. The tools in word processors that allow for spelling and grammar support take away some apprehension of using the words or phrases that students may otherwise be too afraid to try. With the speech-to-text software available, that also provides a feasible outlet for students who have difficulty putting their thoughts in writing.

Sullivan, N., & Pratt, E. (1996). A comparative study of two ESL writing environments: A computer-assisted classroom and a traditional oral classroom. System, 24(4), 491-501.

        This study looks at the use of technology to improve writing for ESL students. Findings show that while there were no great impacts on attitude toward writing or apprehension about writing with and without technology, the quality of writing increased significantly with the use of technology. Translation software available can help ease some stress of not knowing the proper way of phrasing or saying things in the English language, but oftentimes students are able to communicate properly in their native language. Providing a safe environment for students to learn to translate their thoughts may be just what ESL students need to thrive in the classroom.