Learning the Craft
My husband and I are tiling our backsplash this weekend. Neither one of us has done this kind of job before, which means that basically, neither one of us knows what we're doing. How do we prepare the walls? What tools do we need? What techniques will we need to master in order to be successful and have a beautiful finished product that we can be proud of?
These questions aren't that much different from the ones I ask myself as I start a new school year and I think about helping students begin to make purposeful decisions about crafting their own digital compositions. What foundational tools are students going to need in order to create? What skills do they need? What mentors can we learn from?
My husband and I went right away to the experts. We started by watching YouTube tutorials about tiling walls. We rewound sections to study them more carefully and in some cases, even watched entire videos several times. We took notes on the supplies we needed. We talked to people who had tiling experience. We wanted to learn more from the masters.
This intentional study of craft is what I want for students as well. As we begin the school year, we will study mentors to learn more about digital composition. Just as I do when immersing students in a new genre study, I will create a chart for us to complete as we dig into our digital mentors. Our chart has these major headings along the top:
What Do We Notice
I will gather mentors, both those published on the web, as well as those published by former students. I think it's important that we hold our students' work up as examples too. It is empowering for our students to see work done by someone just like them. Together, we will learn from the experts and students will try new things in their own compositions. It is this apprenticeship in crafting that I find most fascinating in digital composition. It is here that I see students take risks, share their thinking, and learn from each other. It is here that I see students grow.
Thank you to Margaret Simon for hosting DigiLit Sundays. Please visit her site to read how others are using technology in their reading and writing workshops.