Monthly Archives: April 2016

Teaching Students Digital Organization Skills

by Elizabeth Dobler

digitalorganizationA teacher, Mike, recently told me about a student who was ready to submit an assignment but couldn’t remember where he had digitally saved it, so he completely recreated the assignment. Yikes!

Technology provides us with vast ways to find, store, and use information, but students need instruction, modeling, and practice to develop the digital organization skills needed for success. Encourage students to try these tips to develop effective habits for digital organization.

Utilize an online tool for keeping track of web resources. Online tools for cultivating web resources enable the user to sort favorite websites into folders or collections that can be tagged for easy retrieval and shared with others. Zotero and Diigo, social bookmarking websites, give the option of adding an icon onto the browser toolbar so users can save websites. They also let users form groups for easy website sharing. Pinterest displays favorite websites by visual image and can be used to organize resources by topics.

Use project folders to organize resources. When beginning a project, my first step is to create a new folder on my desktop, and then I can add related resources as needed. On my iPad, I use the share symbol to put website icons onto my home screen. I can then join them to form a folder.

Learn to match information with its source. When I find useful information on a website, I copy it into a Word document and then use the comment feature to document the source URL and link it to the content. Google Docs has a research feature that lets a user search online for more information while still working within the document instead of toggling back and forth between webpages and the document.

Create a system for saving drafts and finished products. I label my documents and projects in a similar way each time, including the title, date, and draft version, then immediately save it to the project folder. I save a work-in-progress or finished product onto my cloud storage space (e.g. iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box) for safekeeping and convenience.

Share some of your digital organization disasters with students to emphasize the importance of practicing good habits (like the story of my colleague who spilled a cup of coffee on her laptop and lost everything). If students can instill these habits early they may avoid disasters and the kind of pain and anguish suffered by Mike’s student.




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Literacy in the Disciplines

by Diane Lapp and Thomas DeVere Wolsey

2 We want to tell you about an exciting project we’ve been working on that connects experts in various disciplines with teachers and literacy professors. We believe that when great minds meet, wonderful ideas emerge. In our series of vidcasts and podcasts, teachers, artists, musicians, engineers, and technologists have wide-ranging conversations about the role of literacy in the disciplines and in their careers. We invite you to take a look at this growing library of conversations about language and how it shapes thinking about a discipline and vice-versa. The voices of the teachers in these conversations put into perspective the preparation of students for college, careers, and citizenry.

These conversations suggest that while significant aspects of disciplinary work cut across the domains of inquiry, there are important differences to which educators might attend as they work with students in disciplinary classes. We found important differences, as noted by disciplinary experts, related to vocabulary, reading and writing patterns and habits, approaches to the use of visual information, and use of sources. At the same time, we found a commonality we should have expected and did not. In almost every case, the disciplinary experts were concerned about their ability to use highly technical or academic language with clients, customers, and colleagues who were not experts in their domains of inquiry. They expressed the need to be precise in their language without overwhelming their intended audience. They all emphasized that the precision of communication was the most important literacy skill in their job success.

3 The teachers as experts of pedagogy in their disciplines frequently elaborated on the points from the disciplinary expert interviews in terms of what their students should learn. Each teacher, as a content expert, understood that they were working with students who needed the ability to understand the world through a disciplinary lens that permitted them to engage in social discourse in academic, political, and workplace environments.

Take part in these conversations by visiting:

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