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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Tech Success

Tech Success

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Now Playing» Band: Afghan Wigs Record: 1965 So, you say you have a reluctant writer? Don’t we all? Little ones, big ones, old ones, young ones, defiant ones––What do you do? Well, I’ve found that if you let those anti-writers compose within their “own” medium, they usually at least...write. They are getting “black on white” (I forget you said that). It might be a comfort thing or a physical thing or just a plain old interest thing, but they are writing. Blogs, Wikis, Nings, text messaging, I’m sure you’ve heard it all. But what about Power Point? And in the words of the Beastie Boys (And many other rap artists), “Check it out!” I teach third grade in New Jersey. Last year I had the most defiant/reluctant writer in my ten years of teaching. He did absolutely nothing. I gave him the usual freedoms I give all of my students: different types of paper, you can sit anywhere in the room (even on desks and under desks), choice of style and genre, pen or pencil, journals, pads, computers. Now, I thought that that last freedom, the “computer thing,” was going to get him. It didn’t. So, I went further. I let him compose on Power Point. Believe it or not, that did it. He started to get black on white, his career as a writer took flight on the wings of Power Point. As long as he was on the computer, using Power Point, he wrote and revised everyday. The scary thing was that when a computer wasn’t available, he reverted back to doing nothing. I kept him in the computer as much as possible. Will he do well on a state test? Probably not. Did he discover that he is indeed a writer? Absolutely. I thought it was a comfort thing, a physical thing, and an interest thing for him. I was wrong. It was a video game thing. I asked him a few times during the year why he did his best work in Power Point. He looked at me like I was crazy. His eyes said, “Why don’t you know this answer, Mr. P.?” Then he simply answered, “ Dude, I can make the words fly and the pages turn really cool and I can add real pictures from the Internet. I can’t draw.” Power Point is a writing video game. Amazing! What are your stories of success with tech? Talk to me, goose.

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Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

What an incredible story, Gaetan! Way to keep at it, too. Sounds like he's really reaping the benefits of some persistence (and patience) on your part.

I'd love to hear where he goes next with his talents. There must be some game-writing tools out there for elementary kiddos, no? Wow...how exciting to see this grow!

Caroline Ayala-Rich's picture

Gaetan, what a wonderful story! I agree with Betty, persistence does pay off in the end. Now to help the adults with the same problems, there must be a way to them, any ideas?

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