This morning, my secretary laid a few magazines on my desk. One of them was EdTech Focus on K-12 with a neat article on writing and technology.

The article is entitled, “Inspiring Education” and is descirbed as “Littleton Public Schools watches test scores soar after utilizing netbooks in its language arts program.” Some of the key take-aways from the article for me, which I intend to share with our District’s Reading/ELA director, and encourage folks who facilitate writing instruction to review include the following:

  1. When asked for feedback on the first year of what LPS calls its Inspired Writing program, more than 150 students posted similar insights on the blog…”I used to not like writing…Now I keep looking at the time and inside I am saying, ‘Is it time for writing yet?'”
  2. School officials say access to technology–in the form of Asus Eee netbooks–engages students and makes them excited about learning.
  3. Students use the netbooks to post on blogs and wikis and collaborate with other students on assignments.
  4. The netbook program is so successful that the district’s “pencil and paper” scores for the writing portion of the state standardized test sky-rocketed after the program’s first year. Scores rose by double digits in seven of the 10 schools with Eee PCs. “In those one to one classes, we’re reaching 3,675 students throughout all of our 24 buildings,” says Dan Maas.
  5. In 2007, we began an initiative that ultimately changed literacy instruction to organize around a writer’s workshop model. This model includes a short lesson, followed by independent work time, and then critiquing session all within the class period.
  6. Various formats for the critiques include use of what sounds like socratic seminar. With netbooks, perimeter students (outer circle) are more engaged as they find pictures or video that can be displayed on the classroom smartboard.
  7. Students post on the classroom blog, or create and revised related content on a wiki. Even students who usually prefer not to talk in front of the class are more involved than before
  8. From the posting times on our blog and wiki, we can see students continuing the discussion long after class…because students publish and revise continuously, it creates a community around writing in which students truly see themselves as writers.
  9. As a means to display student work, school-developed blogs and wikis proved to be the perfect vehicle.
  10. When used daily, students became better writers even on pencil and paper standardized tests. Unlike standard training classes where you walk through all the technical capabilities, we suggested teachers select one writing tool to start. So one teacher chose blogging and focused on becoming comfortable and proficient with that tool.

Littleton Public Schools certainly has captivated attention with how they have combined using writing and technology.