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Scenario #4: High School English Teacher

I send my students to the computer lab to use various grammar programs to help them edit their written work.

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Technology spectrum: Hooray! These students are learning how to use spell check!

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Learning spectrum: This is another instance of using the computers "just because." Nothing about the lessons have changed other than the fact that the editing is done digital rather than with pencil and a big eraser.

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Rigor/relevance: Giving much benefit of the doubt to the contents of this single-sentence scenario (try saying that three times fast!), we can hope that some of the editing software that the students are using allows them to perhaps analyze their writing and improve. Otherwise, this scenario sits firmly in quadrant A. I'm particularly unhappy with the "I send my students to the computer lab," rather than "I take my students to the computer lab."

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Recommendations: Grammer checkers can be prescriptive, but real English grammarians tend toward descriptivism. Two useful, real-life, lively podcasts (for the auditory learners or gym rats among us) for students of English are Grammar Girls Quick and Dirty Tips at http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl, and A Way With Words at http://www.waywordradio.org/.

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