EdCamp Blog Post

Unveiling the Writer

Anyone remember the 8086 microprocessor? Floppy disks? Green flashing cursor waiting for the next DOS command? That was my first classroom computer, and I knew little about it. Yet I rolled it on a cart into my resource class determined it would make a difference for my students.

Jim was a fifth grader in my class that year. Witty, creative, personable, Jim lit up the classroom - until I asked him to write. Then he shut down. He would sit, twirling the pencil between his fingers. The little writing he did consisted of poorly formed letters, misspelled words, short sentences with erasures and insertions. Editing was painful because the final copy often contained more mistakes than the initial draft. More often than not, he wadded up the paper, shot it at the waste basket, and stared at another blank page. Sound like a student you know?

And then came the desktop computer with a single program on 5 ΒΌ" floppies: The Learning Company's Children's Writing & Publishing Center. (There were no apps or Web 2.0 tools for classrooms at that time.)

Jim's writing changed overnight. We still had a lot of work to do, but for the first time we had content with which to grow! His lessons quickly ramped up to age-appropriate skills such as complex sentences, paragraph development, and writing for specific purposes. His writing surpassed many of his peers with rich vocabulary, detailed description and subtle humor.

One image is fixed in my mind. Jim's fingers tapped away at the keyboard, writing a response to literature essay. Text filled his screen, but he was not done. He looked up and nodded, more to himself than to me, "I think I'll write a book!"

At Edcamp Dyslexia, March 25, 2017, share your stories and inspire others to unveil the writer within your students!