REFERENCE: Erickson, B., and Mountain, L. (1993-94). Real Writing, Real Audience, and Real Gains: A Telecommunications Project. The Computing Teacher, 21(4), 12-14.
CONTEXT: The seven month, Telecommunications-at-Home program was
created as a way to enhance the writing skills of at-risk fourth grade students. Through a
pen-pal partnership with graduate students at the University of Houston, these Texas
fourth graders were provided the opportunity to write with a purpose and audience in mind.
Using a small device (no computer or modem required) that plugged directly into students'
home telephone jacks, the Homework Machine enabled students to access the Give and
Get BBS from home. Coinciding with their current curriculum, the goal of this project was
to "enhance the school's instruction for disadvantaged children through an
economical, easy-to-use electronic delivery system, accessible by telephone lines in
PRACTICE: Students engaged in structured writing assignments, while at the same time, they were also encouraged to write to their peers, teachers, and graduate school keypals. In addition to enhancing students' writing, this project made a significant impact on the overall learning process in students' homes. For instance, several of the students downloaded folk stories from the BBS to read to their younger siblings. Other students recruited family members to participate on the BBS along side them.
As a result of the Telecommunications-at-Home program, students' written work showed significant improvement in the following areas:
As many as 670 messages were posted on the BBS in a one week period. No fewer than 88 messages were posted in that same time period.
Dr. Barbara Erickson, Spring Branch Schools, 2045 Gessner, Houston, TX 77080 Dr. Lee Mountain, University of Houston, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Houston, TX 77204-5872
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