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EFL Writing for Digital Natives: Reimagining instruction for new realities.


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Action research was carried out to study the effects of providing opportunities for EFL digital native
students to reflect about their writing by means of scaffolded Web 2.0 activities in a wiki. Online
tools, materials, activities and student text samples will be presented. Results and
pedagogical implications will be discussed.

Published in: Education

EFL Writing for Digital Natives: Reimagining instruction for new realities.

  1. 1. Efl/Esl writing for Digital Natives: Re-imagining instruction for new realities Bertha Leiva Universidad Simon Bolivar Maggie Heeney University of Waterloo
  2. 2. Priming <ul><li>Teachers ' wish list: What do we want? </li></ul><ul><li>New reality: Digital natives. </li></ul><ul><li>Objective of the action research study. </li></ul><ul><li>Online tools, materials, activities. </li></ul><ul><li>Student text samples, revisions, error correction, evaluation. </li></ul><ul><li>Findings and pedagogical implications. </li></ul><ul><li>References. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Empower students. </li></ul><ul><li>Give them more freedom and responsibility about their own learning </li></ul><ul><li>Provide an environment for socio-cultural and collaborative interaction. </li></ul><ul><li>Foster autonomous learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Help students learn how to learn . </li></ul>What do we want?
  4. 4. <ul><li>Digital Natives vs. Digital immigrants </li></ul>New reality
  5. 5. <ul><li>Widespread Internet and Social Network use. </li></ul><ul><li>Frequent and sometimes obsessive use of video games and electronic gadgets. </li></ul><ul><li>Wider digital socio- economic divide. </li></ul>New digital reality
  6. 6. <ul><li>Less writing on paper. </li></ul><ul><li>Extensive use of computers and cell phones for text messaging, chatting and twittering. </li></ul><ul><li>Countless numbers of hours spent writing online. </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to multitask. </li></ul><ul><li>Use of technology transparently, without marveling at it, or wondering about how it works. </li></ul>New digital reality
  7. 7. New digital reality “ My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we used 2go2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :- @ kids FTF. ILNY, it's a gr8 plc Bt my Ps wr so {:-/ BC o 9/11 tht they dcdd 2 stay in SCO & spnd 2wks up N. Up N, WUCIWUG - O. I ws vvv brd in MON. O bt baas & ^^^^^. AAR8, my Ps wr :-) -- they sd ICBW, & tht they wr ha-p 4 the pc&qt…IDTS!! I wntd 2 go hm ASAP, 2C my M8s again. 2day, I cam bk 2 skool. I feel v O:-) BC I hv dn all my hm wrk. Now its BAU. (2003)
  9. 9. Digital literacies … Multiliteracies Digital technologies are changing education, identity and society. Mark Pegrum
  10. 10. Where do we stand? <ul><li>Are we really helping our students acquire and/or practice those skills which will be crucial in their future </li></ul><ul><li>personal, </li></ul><ul><li>social or </li></ul><ul><li>professional </li></ul><ul><li>activities? </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Are we really using learning resources that </li></ul><ul><li>will provide them with opportunities to connect socioculturally among themselves, learn to interrelate </li></ul><ul><li> with one another </li></ul><ul><li> and with other groups? </li></ul>What should we do?
  12. 12. What should we do about writing instruction? <ul><li>Have students write on paper during class? </li></ul><ul><li>Let them share ideas only with their teacher? </li></ul><ul><li>Use the same traditional instruction methods? </li></ul><ul><li>Correct every mistake or error we find? </li></ul><ul><li>Worry fossilization will take place if we don't correct everything? </li></ul>
  13. 13. Objective of the study Provide opportunities for EFL digital native students to reflect about their writing by means of scaffolded Web 2.0 activities in a wiki .
  14. 14. Context <ul><li>University EFL blended writing course (12 weeks) </li></ul><ul><li>7 intermediate students </li></ul><ul><li>Elective/extraplan </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering majors </li></ul><ul><li>Ages: 19-22 </li></ul>
  15. 15. Course activities/evaluation <ul><li>No cumulative grading but percentage of completed tasks. </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative feedback aimed at helping students become aware of their errors. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Tools Google docs Wikispaces Others: Google search Wordreference LexTutor, WVP Word
  17. 17. SIDEBAR Wiki
  18. 18. Each action got recorded
  19. 19. More tools Chat: Cbox Tags: Delicious Goggle Docs Aggregation: Pageflakes
  20. 20. Support pages Tutorials Web Tips Calendar Grammar
  21. 21. For each week <ul><li>General introduction, </li></ul><ul><li>online materials, </li></ul><ul><li>activities to be carried out, </li></ul><ul><li>list of benchmarks to check task completion. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Plagiarism Introduction: About me Me as a writer … and reader The brain Digital immigrant or native? Me as a learner and teacher Web 2.0 First impressions About my life Procrastination How this course has affected me as a writer, reader … Moving abroad or staying home Improving my community Sample Topics
  23. 23. Sample student page
  24. 24. International collaborations Sisterclasses: Argentina, Brazil, Hungary, Kuwait, Romania, Sudan, USA, Venezuela
  25. 25. International collaborations
  26. 26. Truscott : “The state of the evidence, especially regarding grammar errors, points to a clear conclusion: Correction is a bad idea.” Ferris: “Students who receive error feedback from teachers improve in accuracy over time … Less explicit feedback seems to help students to self-edit just as well as corrections coded by error type.” Error feedback controversy
  27. 27. Teacher's comments Self-revisions Peer revisions f2f student-teacher conferences Feedback Methods
  28. 28. Teacher's content comments Content comments but paraphrasing corrected mistakes. In later corrections quotation marks were placed for noticing . Challenge Find two sentences where you missed the verb to be
  29. 29. Follow-up of teacher's content comments
  30. 30. Comments : Your message is quite understandable and the highlighted words are elements to be improved , especially when they are related to grammar and word usage . All sentences in English must have a subject. Do all of your sentences have one ? A reader may get the point you are trying to get through but a professor at a graduate program or an employer will not regard those typos or mistakes favorably. They can be fixed rather easily and I hope you are able to figure out their correct forms. You are also missing some commas here and there. Try to find out where they would go . Keep up the good work! Revised by Teacher Modeling by teacher in Googledocs before peer revisions
  31. 31. Peer revisions in Googledocs <ul><li>Comments: You express your idea well and I understand pretty much everything that you put in your text about plagiarism. I really liked when you searched another website to complement the concept of plagiarism because it wasn't completely clear for you. The things that could be improved in your text, I think it could be the vocabulary part and the spelling , for example you need to correct some words like &quot;becouse, allways, becarfull&quot;. You may find the link about &quot;sentences&quot; on the week 2 assigments very helpful. Try to find something about auxiliaries in English. Revised by E . </li></ul><ul><li>2) Comments: added ( green ), removed  ( blue ) could be changed  ( yellow ), comments (in red ). Congratulations! You've done a great job! Your text is pretty good. I think you only have to check for some run-on sentences , that way it would be easier to read . Revised by: J. </li></ul><ul><li>3) Comments :  I find the text understandable and enjoyable because is very funny. Is a bit informal and I might have passed some mistakes ( let's wait for the teacher to re-revise it ). You could improve your vocabulary and spelling  a little bit and the order in your sentences another little bit.  What I think are mistakes are the words and phrases in lilac , and  my corrections are in pink . Based on the rubric  that the teacher gave us for the peer revision I'll give you the following: 1) Content: 4; 2) Organization: 3; 3) Form: 2; 4) Main Idea: 3 Revised by: M </li></ul>
  32. 32. Student-teacher conferences <ul><li>3-4 individual sessions. </li></ul><ul><li>45-90 minutes each. </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher's office computer. </li></ul><ul><li>No previously set procedure. </li></ul><ul><li>Student at keyboard. </li></ul><ul><li>Several windows open. </li></ul>Wow !!!
  33. 33. Survey results 7 28.6% (2) 28.6% (2) 14.3% (1) 28.6% (2) 0.0% (0) When you revised the texts of your peers 7 14.3% (1) 14.3% (1) 14.3% (1) 57.1% (4) 0.0% (0) Peer revisions and comments 6 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 33.3% (2) 66.7% (4) Student-teacher conference at teacher's office 6 0.0% (0) 16.7% (1) 0.0% (0) 16.7% (1) 66.7% (4) Specific indications for corrections by teacher in DT 7 0.0% (0) 14.3% (1) 14.3% (1) 42.9% (3) 28.6% (2) Paraphrasing of your corrected mistakes by teacher in DT 7 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 57.1% (4) 42.9% (3) General content comments by teacher in discussion tab (DT) Response 1 2 3 4 5   Which feedback method was most effective for you ? (mark 5 as the most effective and 1 as the least)
  34. 34. Survey results 6 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 100% (6) revising texts at student-teacher conferences 6 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 16.7% (1) 83.3% (5) getting comments from teacher about your texts 7 14.3% (1) 14.3% (1) 71.4% (5) 0.0% (0) getting corrections of texts by classmates 6 16.7% (1) 50.0% (3) 33.3% (2) 0.0% (0) correcting the texts of classmates 6 16.7% (1) 50.0% (3) 33.3% (2) 0.0% (0) self-correcting texts Response Not at all little somehow very   Were the following types of feedback helpful ?
  35. 35. Results on revisions <ul><li>Teacher-student conferences most helpful form of revision. </li></ul><ul><li>Specific indications for corrections by teacher in the wiki discussion tab. </li></ul><ul><li>General comments from teacher, paraphrasing of corrected errors and peer revisions. Giving feedback to their peers was considered the least useful. </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple revision methods </li></ul><ul><li>more opportunities to notice language, clear up doubts, get a variety of explanations and examples, and maybe increase the chances of identifying those mistakes in the future. </li></ul>
  36. 36. Findings* <ul><li>Extended listening, reading and writing practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforcement of writing strategies. </li></ul><ul><li>Development of background knowledge: content learning and vocabulary preview. </li></ul><ul><li>Content generated and shared by students. </li></ul><ul><li>Constant contact with classmates and teacher. </li></ul><ul><li>Scaffolding: Peer help. </li></ul><ul><li>Learning about wikis, blogs and other online resources (videos, dictionaries, concordancers, Googledocs, Slideshare, etc.) </li></ul>* Student survey, st.-teacher conferences, last evaluation essay
  37. 37. <ul><li>Sense of community and ownership towards the virtual site where the course took place and the exchanges were made. </li></ul><ul><li>A real audience was established who read and wrote about given topics which were interesting, personal, challenging, thought-provoking, reflective. </li></ul><ul><li>Students were motivated to find other sources of information in the Web (use of search engines, articles, photos, videos, etc.) </li></ul>More findings
  38. 38. Pedagogical Implications <ul><li>Web 2.0 tools can help ESL/EFL students practice reflective writing in a collaborative and sociocultural environment. </li></ul><ul><li>The gap between those who have not used these social tools before and those who have is narrowed. </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers come to a middle ground between digital natives and digital immigrants becoming digital multipliers . </li></ul>
  39. 39. Pedagogical Implications <ul><li>There are certain digital skills we should be taking into account as we prepare our students to become 21st century professionals in an ever changing world. </li></ul><ul><li>As teachers, we don´t need to be masters in technology but should provide students with opportunities to integrate digital tools in their learning. </li></ul>
  40. 40. Technology overload; autonomous learning skills; no static skill set . Knowledge is the ability to locate facts when needed, utilizing a network of peers who can help you access information. Learn along with students, connect with other teachers also learning how to use technology to re-learn how to learn. Vance Stevens, 2007 Pedagogical Implications
  41. 41. Some limitations <ul><li>Lack of knowledge about tools -> </li></ul><ul><li>initial fear, shyness, caution. </li></ul><ul><li>Too much teacher time required to: </li></ul><ul><li>- find interesting/motivating materials </li></ul><ul><li>- give continuous feedback </li></ul><ul><li>- maintain st. attention, curiosity and </li></ul><ul><li>willingness to carry out activities in </li></ul><ul><li>the wiki and other sites. </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulties in setting up international collaborations: timing, proficiency level, motivation, etc. </li></ul>
  42. 42. <ul><li>“ The illiterate of the Twenty-first century will not be those who cannot read or write but those who cannot learn to learn, unlearn and relearn ” </li></ul><ul><li>Alvin Tofler </li></ul>A final thought
  43. 43. ? & comments [email_address] [email_address]
  44. 44. References <ul><li>Abdullah, M. (2003). The Impact of Electronic Communication on Writing . ERIC Digest, ED477614.ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading English and Communication Bloomington IN. Available at </li></ul><ul><li>Bitcherner. J., Young. S., and Cameron. D . (2005). The effect of different types of corrective feedback on ESL student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing , 14, 191-205. </li></ul><ul><li>Cumming, A. (2007). Assessment. In I.Leki, A.Cumming, and T. Silva, A synthesis of research on second language writing: 1980 to 2005. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. </li></ul><ul><li>Ferris, D. (1999a). The case for grammar correction in L2 writing classes: A response to Truscott (1996). Journal of Second Language Writing , 8, 1-11. </li></ul><ul><li>Ferris, D. and Roberts, B. (2001). Error feedback in L2 writing classes: How explicit does it need to be? Journal of Second Language Writing , 10, 3, 161-184. </li></ul><ul><li>Jukes, I. (2007). Understanding the new digital landscape, kids & the new ―Digital Divide‖. The Info Savvy Group (pp. 1-12). Retrieved July 17, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>Jukes, I., & McCain, T. (2008, May). Closing the digital divide: 7 things education & educators need to do. The Info Savvy Group (pp. 1-31). Retrieved July 18, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>Prensky, M. (2009). Let´s be &quot;Digital Multipliers&quot;: Eliminating the digital divide is something educators can do. Educational Technology (in press). Available at </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Truscott, J. and Hsu, A. (2008). Error correction, revision and learning. Journal of Second Language Writing. In press. Available at </li></ul><ul><li>UNESCO. (1998, October 9).World declaration on higher education for the twenty-first century: Vision and action. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from </li></ul>