This week's readings focused on new media literacies, problems that teachers may encounter when facilitating the usage of new writing styles and publishing methods, and how to overcome those problems. The explosion of peer-to-peer publishing as facilitated by the World Wide Web has shifted the entire paradigm of literacy in just fifteen short years. As a result, new styles of writing, reviewing, and sharing have been formed, and continue to morph and develop at break-neck speed. Teachers are now required to have a working knowledge of these new styles and platforms. Instructors must also be able to integrate these new technologies with basic writing instruction, as well as provide supplemental assistance to English Learners. It is a daunting task for teachers that must be mastered if one wishes for their lessons to remain relevant in these changing times.
Tompkins focused on shedding light onto new forms of personal writing, particularly e-mail/letter writing, journal entries, and blogs. It is in the ancient art of letter-writing where I noticed what was to me the most egregious intersection of old and new methods. While some aspects of this writing method have not changed since my grade school days, Tompkins applied these traditional formats to the modern technology of e-mail. In a world where paper communication is fast becoming obsolete, students will have to learn the appropriate techniques for sending both personal and professional communication via this format.
Furthermore, in the vast sea of user-created content, possessing the knowledge to express one's own unique voice in writing is even more important now than in the past. Tompkins provides several dynamic methods for instructing young students in the art of using (or not using!) the traits of ideas, organization, voice, word choice, fluency, conventions, and presentation to effectively communicate. By providing this scaffolding to young writers, teachers will create confident, able writers who will be well-equipped to deal with the break-neck change in the realms of publishing, formatting, and the like.
While Tompkins provided methods for encouraging youth to engage in meaningful written communication and sharing, Richardson focused mainly on internet safety. After providing a comprehensive rundown of the latest types of publishing technologies, Richardson then offered methods for introducing and advocating web publishing to class parents, school administration, and the like. By providing letter templates and example outlines of safe surfing practices, Richardson offers genuine support for teachers facing the daunting task of maintaining student safety on the Internet.
While applying these methods to the classroom, one would be well-advised to take Tompkins's scaffolding and skills education to allow their students' writings to grow in many ways. And while sharing with others is a key aspect of the Writing Workshop approach, Richardson's tutorial on web publishing and related safety issues proves to be a valuable tool to allow students to share their writing with new audiences.