Digital Literacy Resources and Ideas for Teachers

Digital Literacy Resources and Ideas for Teachers

It’s well understood that we now live in a digital world. Around 70% of American adults today own a smartphone, and over 50% get their news from social media sites. As technology continues to replace traditional ways we work, play, and learn—it’s becoming essential to teach digital literacy in the classroom.

Just what constitutes digital literacy, however, can be difficult to define and equally difficult to teach. While the term “digital literacy” generally refers to the use of technology to communicate and understand information, it’s become much more than that. An incredibly large and diverse set of skills is needed to effectively and safely use digital communication tools, networks, and digital technology.

Here is a basic checklist to consider when planning a digital literacy curriculum.

Say Goodbye to Writing Anxiety

Say Goodbye to Writing Anxiety

The dreaded blank page. Every time you start to write, you fight this battle. You sit with fingers poised over the keyboard, a head full of ideas ready to pour out, but all you get are beads of sweat and an overwhelming desire to scroll through your Twitter feed just one last time. You have plenty to say, of course, if you can just manage to write that first sentence, that first word. But writing anxiety keeps your fingers from moving.

The good news is that every writer faces it. The bad news is it won't go away no matter how long you stare at that empty screen or bare page. So what is writing anxiety, and how do you conquer it?

Why Academic Writing Can Stink (and How to Fix It)

Why Academic Writing Can Stink (and How to Fix It)

If you’ve ever had the opportunity—or the obligation—to read scholarly articles, academic journals, or a big batch of student essays, you know that academic writing can stink.

It’s not a lack of basic writing ability or good ideas. Most academic writing simply fails to engage the reader. Perhaps Steven Pinker said it best in his article “Why Academics Stink at Writing,” calling the genre “turgid, soggy, wooden, bloated, clumsy, obscure, unpleasant to read, and impossible to understand.”

Ultimately, these flaws lead to convoluted syntax and a lack of reader engagement. So how can we fix academic writing and spare readers from extreme boredom and confusion?

WriteLab's Response to Betsy Devos's Speech on Education

In 2015, Betsy Devos spoke at SXSW, where she explained her views about education.  We ran that speech through WriteLab. Here are the highlights.

Devos: The truth is that each and every child deserves the opportunity to fully develop their potential, and collectively, our country will not be competitive unless all kids have opportunity.

WriteLab: You could condense your sentence by deleting The truth is that.

Devos: Government tends to favor one size fits all solutions handed down from central command.

WriteLab: Many people have said something similar to this. How might you present this idea in a new way?

Devos: And as we know, too many politicians and too many leaders from within the education system oppose education choice, but they use it for their own families. 

WriteLab: How do many politicians oppose education choice?

Devos: As long as we think political parties might solve the problem, it will never be solved.

WriteLab: Who will solve it?

Devos: Meanwhile, America falls further behind, too many kids are denied an opportunity, too many kids get substandard educations, the status quo remains, change is thwarted, and everyone loses.

WriteLab: Instead of using the passive voice with too many kids are denied an opportunity, try converting your verb into the active voice by specifying who denies too many kids an opportunity.

What is Good Writing?

What is Good Writing?

Good writing fulfills a purpose. It communicates clearly. It’s easy to understand. It flows logically from one point to another. Writing can be entertaining, moving, even upsetting. Good writing creates an emotion.

Readers know good writing when they see it. They may not be able to say what makes a piece of writing “good,” but they know what reading a well-written piece feels like.