DigiLit Sunday: Function

slide11This week’s DigiLit Sunday topic is “function”. Connect to Margaret Simon’s blog Reflections On the Teche to read more.

I’m wondering, how are my students functioning with technology and how is technology functioning for them.

My students have the opportunity to write on technology. Every day. They have a blog. They connect to other classrooms and each other. They write for themselves and units of study. As they draft on google docs, the concept of revision has become clearer and more doable.  Electronic tools from spell check to research are becoming second nature. Many are taking notes and collaborating with electronic tools. The resistant note takers and writers are using voice to text apps. All students have time to write. Every child. Every day.

I am thrilled. They are writing more. Their writing is improved. They want to write. It’s all good.

But. Wait.

Hold on.

As much as these technology tools liberate my students as researchers and writers, there is a downside, unless we consider technology through the lens of function. We, as readers and writers, need always be asking ourselves: how does this tool help me; is this the best tool for the job.

Friday, we started a researching colonial times. Even though there were books on their tables, students jumped online. They found quick facts, pictures and much more than they could understand, yet. The books sat their in their baskets. Untouched. I knew they held what they needed to start their inquiry into the period.

In the past, I have controlled their access. Book in the beginning. Controlled whole group introduction to videos and websites. Lectures. Then, when their knowledge was stronger and couldn’t find answers to their questions, access to the internet. It worked.

But. Wait.

Hold on.

Students need to learn how and when to use the tools they have, books and the internet. Just like they need to know how to select a book that is just right for them, without me directing them to the correct basket, they need to know what places to go to find research that matches their needs.

So tomorrow, after testing, I’ll call them to the carpet and ask them to consider this:

Researchers,  I want your to think about the tools you need to do your job as a reader and a researcher. Consider a few questions:

Is this the best tool for the job?
What is my question? Did this tool answer it?
Does this tool hold on to my thoughts in a way I can reference it any time?
Can I add to it at any time? Is it limiting?
Is it flexible enough?

Just as we decide if we want to draft on our blog or on google docs; just as we decide if we are going to use post its or our notebook for writing about our reading, we must make decisions as to where and how we research.

As we start today let’s consider the function of our tools and question it. Is this giving me what I need now?

Technology is a powerful tool and resource. When we pick it up we must always consider its function and question, does it meet our current need.