You can listen to Judith Ortiz Cofer as she introduces the activity.
Listen to the audio.
"One of the interesting things about teaching is how ancient your students believe you are. If I mention that I lived through the Sixties, they immediately start asking me how the Great Depression, you know, affected me than the one I'm going through now, you know.
"But one of the things that has changed dramatically and within my lifetime is how one writes and communicates. When I first decided that I wanted to write for publication, I faced a dilemma. I had just gotten out of Graduate School so all we had was a very ancient portable typewriter that the keys got stuck, and two, I had never learned to type. And so, all of my work . . . my husband had to type for me because he went to a school that taught him, you know, practical skills, and so that put a strain on many aspects of my life.
And I remember that one of the first things that happened when we found out that there were personal computers available-and at that time they were still monstrously large and expensive-is that we went into debt and bought one because we could not deal with this [practice] of my husband coming home from work and my needing to get a manuscript in the mail and I was making one mistake per word and that sort of thing. It could have literally made me decide not to go on, as silly as that is. Some thought I could afford a typist. But even at that primitive stage, with the, you know, floppy disk being about this big and getting stuck in there occasionally, it still changed my life. It changed my life completely. I became a mater of my own writing process, you know, and it allowed me to make revisions quickly that would take me forever and now, to me, is still extraordinary.
"Just this past week I picked up a new skill. I now . . . I learned how to make my Microsoft Word program automatically outline my book of poems and it was magic to me.
"And so I say this as introduction because of when I first started teaching, about 23 or 24 years ago, it was completely different than what it is now. I have students who will bring their portable printers with them to school and borrow somebody's outlet, and they'll be printing a story right before, you know, we come into the classroom. It's instant."