Deborah J. Meister
5926 Clarabella Road.
Clare, Michigan 48617

August 13, 2009

Mr. Kevin McAlvey, Administrator
Fellowship Baptist Academy
8070 Bloomer Street
Carson City, MI 48811

Dear Kevin,

The old adage, “two heads are better than one,” is really relevant today. In his text, Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky states, “Society is not just the product of its individual members; it is also the product of its constituent groups” (14). Both business and academia are aware of the need for high school students to be prepared to collaborate while in college and in their chosen careers. In addition, according to college counselors and Human Resources departments, preparation for life needs to include the technology tools to collaborate in the 21st century. With these criteria in mind, I propose implementing an online student response and collaboration tool - a discussion board - in the World Literature class for juniors and seniors, this fall.

My rationale for requesting permission to implement this tool goes far beyond the criteria outlined by universities and the work world, because I know there are many immediate benefits for this class. One benefit these students will receive is needed experience and practice in actual collaboration. This is more than participation in an athletic team where one person calls the shots and the team does what he says, for example. The work world wants employees to actually problem solve in a collaborative setting. Implementation of a discussion board will allow students to practice this skill. Use of a discussion board will also allow students to practice writing in different contexts. They also will experience immediate publication for a real world audience: their peers, possibly you and their parents, as well as their teacher. Realizing the larger audience gives students an understanding of the impact and possible consequences of what they write. This awareness has real world applications.

After investigating several discussion board formats, I have chosen the internet site called nicenet.org. It is easy to use. Students will log on to the internet at home or school,sign in to the nicenet site with a password, and reply to a teacher generated prompt relating to a specific literature text. Students will also have to respond to at least one peer-generated response to the prompt. At times I will ask for a group-generated response, where students must integrate their ideas and opinions. This practice will allow students to realize that they are not only consumers of content, but also creators of that content as well. Students will also further develop not only their writing skills, but also practice online rhetoric etiquette, and receive immediate feedback from their peers. Ongoing use of this technology will increase student comfort level with this type of technology, as well.

Kevin, I will meet with you next Friday, at your convenience to answer any other questions you may have and talk through the computer equipment and usage issues. Thanks, in advance, for being willing to consider this use of technology in the classroom.

Respectfully,



Debbi Meister