I started this journey thinking that I would only look at a target group in my classroom. Instead I found that I've been looking at others in my class, and students in other classes/year levels in my school. It's important to understand that just using technology so you can tick off a box doesn't really work. It's how you use the technology to support the learning and how you use technology to support the teaching - and they are not the same! [1]

In talking to students I've including some talk from New Entrants - not because of the use of technology, but because of the change in thinking on the part of the teacher - and the effect it has had on the writing of her students. This change is a real beginning to self-directed learning which is needed as you begin to integrate ICTs into the classroom.

New Entrants

I interviewed 5 NE students - 3 girls and 2 boys. They have been at school between 2 and 8 weeks in total. In class their teacher has changed the writing time. After modeling a story with the class the students are then allowed to choose when they write their story during the first teaching block of the day. Some choose to write their story straight away and others choose to go off to the discovery or play dough table or on to the computers or another activity that's set out for them. Benefits of this are that the teacher is able to work with smaller numbers at a time. She has also noticed that those who go away and play for a while before writing, come back to the writing table with their story ready in their head. I wonder if this is similar to what James Nottingham talks about with the different between introverted and extroverted thinkers? [2] While this section doesn't specifically reference the use of ICTs, it does look at the importance of enabling students - right from the age of 5 - to begin taking charge of their own learning. This is an important skill for them, especially if they continue on through school with teachers who recognize the importance of student choice and student directed learning.

I asked the students what they liked about their writing sessions.
"It's fun being able to play before writing."
"I like to do my writing when I want to."

I also asked them what they did - play or write first.
One student chose to write their story first, one went to the orange table (play dough) and the other three went onto the computer.

I then asked them if they'd like to go back to everyone writing at the same time.
"No, it's more fun playing then writing."
"I like to be able to choose."
"It makes writing more fun."

Year 2

I interviewed 2 Year students, a boy and a girl, both 7. They have been blogging in their class, using the Kidblog platform. They start by drafting their stories in their draft writing book, and then publishing some of them to their blogs. They work with buddies from a Year 5 class to do the blogging.

I ask them how they felt about their blogs.
"Proud to have my writing in my blog."
"I feel like a famous writer."

I then asked them how they felt when people commented on their blogs.
"I feel proud."
"I feel special inside."

Then I asked what kinds of things they said when they were commenting on other people's blogs.
"... how good the writing is..."
"... what sort of words they've used..."

I asked them if there was a difference to their draft writing when they knew it was going onto the blog.
"It encourages me to work harder at my writing."
"I know that I have to write some more detail in my writing."

They were able to identify the audience for their different types of writing:
Draft book: the teacher and maybe a buddy
Blog: mum and dad, grandparents, maybe friends, all sorts of people[3]

Finally, when asked, they both said they'd like to continue blogging.

Year 5

These are students from my class. I interviewed 2 boys who struggle with their writing, and then 2 high achieving students (boy and girl) who both are accomplished writers. In our class we use both a draft writing book and Google Docs as an online draft writing medium.

Student A - aged 10 (boy)
On writing in his draft writing book:
"... (it) takes time (for a story) to get into my head - spend most of time trying to come up with an idea"
"...sometimes hard to find where I'm up to..."
"Easier to draw in my book."
On writing on the computer:
"It helps with spelling; it's a lot easier..."
"... it's easier to start off with some ideas and then brainstorming and then with bullet points and then writing...
"My writing is all in one place - easy to look back to what has already been done."
"I prefer to do my writing on the computer in the mornings."

Student B - aged 9 (boy)
On writing in his draft writing book:
"'s hard to write, I get really confused with letters..."
" I get confused about where my story is."
On writing on the computer:
"...I don't get confused with my letters because the keyboard has capital letters."
" I write a lot more on the computer - easy to write more and I don’t have to go looking for where the story is."
"It's easy to see what’s already there."
"I think I'd like to try working with a buddy."

Student C - aged 9 (boy) - currently working on a story that has reached ~3000 words
"I seem to get more ideas when I write on the computer - the text seems to make it easy to read and ideas flow more easily."
"I'm able to go back and change things around."
"It's easier to type than to handwrite although I do worry about whether the story has gone off track."
"I've learnt about paragraphing and was able to go back and put the paragraphs in - can’t do that in a book - you can’t change things around in a book, especially if it’s a long story."

Student D - aged 9 (girl) - currently working on a story that has reached ~2000 words
"When I'm writing in my book I get distracted by friends and often don't really finish it."
"I'm more focussed when writing on the computer."
"I prefer writing non-fiction - dealing with facts but I'm also more likely to write more with an interesting subject."
"Sometimes when my writing is in my book if have good idea at home I sometimes forget the next day what the good idea was and that frustrates me. But if I've been working on computer I can go and add to story straight away."
"In my draft writing book it's really hard to go back and do lots of edits - I end up not being able to read my own writing."
At this point she stopped and said "wow you type real fast - I can't type that fast." I pointed out that our hands are different sizes and that she will get faster and find it easier as she grows. We decided that the iPad was easier for her (and others in the class) because it lends itself to 2 or 4 finger typing.
"I prefer to use my draft writing book if we're doing a picture and then some writing about the picture. But if it's writing on it’s own then I prefer to use the computer."

  1. ^ Robert Douglas, Howick College, Manukau, Auckland in Computers in New Zealand Schools Vol 23 No 2 (2011) says that: ICT for teaching as (being) those technologies that support the teacher in their teaching of students... This ICT is teacher-centric and revolves around the outcomes that the teachers wish to achieve; ICT for student learning is characterised as being student-centric. It is ICT focused upon the needs of the student to continue their learning and as such this ICT needs not only to suit the learner but also to be available to the learner when they require it.
  2. ^ Introverted thinkers → need to think before they talk (if you put them on the spot they usually will say nothing); Extroverted thinkers → talk to think – will often be the person who shouts out the answer; (Notes from James Nottingham PD at Raumati Beach School )
  3. ^ Some of the blog comments from family: A's dad "I think this is soooo cooool, just like A"; "Well done B what great free writing story. Love Daddy"; J (B's Brother) "Really good B sounds fun."