Because Jill said
But seriously though, today's students are seriously disadvantaged when we work only in our ways of learning and ignore their ways of working. Today's students are born into technology rich environments where
Such children arriving into our classrooms to be confronted with paper and pencil that doesn't talk to them or respond to them in anyway, can find this quite daunting, uninspiring, and devoid of any reason or purpose. Where is that instant response and feedback, that audience or that person that reads to them or shows their success score? Instead of engaging with their prior learning, we turn off the tools and shut down many of their processes.
Is it any wonder then that someone coming in and using computers, cameras, recording devices, web 2.0 tools that publish their work and engage with other people, can be such a strong turn on for these students.
However, it is more than just about engaging students. It is about Universal Design for Learning. It is about ensuring that our ways of working support all learners with their multitudinous areas of strength/weakness/interest. Check out this video about designing for the average and why that doesn't work for anyone. If we then apply this to our teaching, we need to personalise as much as possible, but also align the tools with the goals and strategies so that students can select what they need to optimise their learning and self expression. Offer multiple pathways, multiple strategies, a range of tools, and then freedom to operate in each student's most effective way of working.
NB. UDL (Universal Design for Learning) is about releasing talent for all, not about special education.
For further information on Universal Design for Learning check out these links.
UDL - Virtual Learning Network group
UDL Technology Toolkit
It's also about taking our vision for learning, our knowledge of how learning occurs best and creating an environment that optimises the potential for learning for each of our students. You have probably heard talk of MLEs (Modern Learning Environments) but if not here is a brief snippet of Mark Osborne from CORE Education talking about MLEs.
For more specific ideas about impacting literacy, Jill Hammonds' 2010 and 2012 EDTalks about engaging the student to raise achievement in literacy still have relevance.