The Digitally Writing New Histories project was designed with principles of best practice for professional learning in that it is timely, inquiry-based, connected to relevant curricular reforms. We thank the many teachers who created the the inquiry-driven units that are in alignment with the C3 Framework and make use of primary sources in critical and creative ways.
With a shift towards disciplinary, digital, and critical literacies, we find that historical documents and artifacts — as well as images, social media posts, and videos created with contemporary technologies — all serve as primary sources. The Digitally Writing New Histories project was designed with principles of best practice for professional learning in that it is timely, inquiry-based, connected to relevant curricular reforms. We invited 20 Michigan educators to engage in the kinds of practices that we would, in turn, expect them to enact in their own classrooms.
This professional learning experience took place entirely online during evening sessions, through Zoom video conferencing, throughout the entire 2020-21 academic year. In addition to the countless number of digitized artifacts available through the Library of Congress website, we invited teachers to examine artifacts through virtual visits to local museums and learn how to use digital writing tools. Moreover, we were able to virtually visit with many Michigan-based museums, including:
The National Council of Teachers of English, in partnership with the Library of Congress, invites high school teachers to apply for a fellowship in the New Perspectives on Primary Sources (NPPS) Project. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, December 1, 2021.
As one of the project facilitators, I am pleased to share that the National Council of Teachers of English, in partnership with the Library of Congress, invites high school teachers to apply for a fellowship in the New Perspectives on Primary Sources (NPPS) Project.
Fellowships offer approximately 60 hours of professional learning alongside the opportunity to contribute to an instructional unit and chapter for an NCTE edited book. As conditions for travel might allow, participants will be given complimentary registration for the 2022 NCTE Annual Convention in November.
Stipends of $2,000 will be offered.
Applicants must be current educators teaching in classrooms. English, literature, writing, speech communication, media studies, school librarians, and journalism teachers are all invited.
The deadline to apply is Wednesday, December 1, 2021.
This past week, I was honored to present “Digital Diligence” as the third in a series of webinars in this year’s Medialogue on Propaganda Project. Learn about “digital diligence”—an alert, intentional stance that helps both teachers and students use technology productively, ethically, and responsibly.
In this webinar, learn about “digital diligence”—an alert, intentional stance that helps both teachers and students use technology productively, ethically, and responsibly. Join us for a discussion on how to build adolescents’ skills for protecting online privacy, minimizing digital distraction, breaking through “filter bubbles,” fostering civil conversations, evaluating the information on the Internet, creating meaningful digital writing, and deeply engaging with multimedia texts.
Join Brandon Abdon (@BrandonAbdon), Alice Wu, Andy Schoenborn (@aschoenborn), and Troy Hicks (@hickstro) as we explore ways to give students a choice in topic and approach, all as they develop their digital writing skill. Watch the Live Stream Here on Wednesday, November 3, 2021 from 7:30 to 9:00 PM Eastern
Now more than ever, students need hope, guidance, and accessible avenues to attain digital equity. Discussing how to use “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” from The New York Times as a multimedia mentor text, join Brandon Abdon (@BrandonAbdon), Alice Wu, Andy Schoenborn (@aschoenborn), and Troy Hicks (@hickstro) as we explore ways to give students a choice in topic and approach, all as they develop their digital writing skills. We invite you to join us to see what students can achieve.
Set for release on October 29, 2021, my book Mindful Teaching with Technology: Digital Diligence in the English Language Arts, visitors to my website can receive a special offer of 25% off from Guilford Press. Learn more…
Set for release on October 29, 2021, my Guilford publication, Mindful Teaching with Technology: Digital Diligence in the English Language Arts, Grades 6-12 (2021).
The book’s companion page is available here, and the links provided here were active as of June 1, 2021, and are presented in the order they appear in the book.
Time to binge on some edu-listening! This fall, I have been fortunate enough to be invited to three different podcasts, sharing my passion for teaching writing with technology. Find the links here.
This fall, I have been fortunate enough to be invited to three different podcasts, including Teach Wonder (produced by Ashley O’Neil and Julie Cunningham from CMU’s Center for Excellence in STEM Education), Middle School Hallways (produced by my colleague and co-author Jeremy Hyler), and All About Literacy (produced by my colleagues Erica Hamilton from Grand Valley State University and Deb Van Duinen from Hope College).
I thank them for the opportunity to talk about education broadly, and my passion for teaching writing with technology. Find the specific episodes here:
What are your best practices in digital literacy? If you — or a K-12 classroom ELA educator that you know — are doing exceptional work and might be interested in being interviewed during the month of October or November 2021, please fill out the form linked in this post.
As we transition from “emergency remote teaching” and into a new era of hybrid learning that embraces technology more fully, I am working on a chapter for an edited collection that will share classroom case studies of best practices in digital literacy.
Beyond lessons that are just digitally delivered because they must be, I am looking for exceptional examples of K-12 ELA teachers inviting their students to engage in digital literacy practices that NCTE describes as “interconnected, dynamic, and malleable.” I wonder: how are you encouraging students to engage in active inquiry, connected reading, media literacy, and digital writing in ways that support authentic literacy learning?
If you — or a K-12 classroom educator that you know — are doing exceptional work and might be interested in being interviewed during the month of October or November via WebEx (video call or phone call-in), please take a moment to complete this brief Google form between now and October 15, 2021. I will get back to you about a possible interview after mid-October.
Thanks for spreading the word and sharing your work.
In this article in Language Arts, Holly Marich (a Nevada professional development coordinator) and Troy Hicks (Central Michigan University) suggest ways that elementary teachers can help students make the best use of word processing tools like spell check, autocorrect, predictive text, automatic grammar feedback, and voice dictation.
Helping Elementary Students As They Use Digital Writing Prompts
In this article in Language Arts, Holly Marich (a Nevada professional development coordinator) and Troy Hicks (Central Michigan University) suggest ways that elementary teachers can help students make the best use of word processing tools like spell check, autocorrect, predictive text, automatic grammar feedback, and voice dictation. “Many educators bemoan digital technology as an unnecessary distraction or even a sophisticated form of cheating,” say Marich and Hicks. “But it’s important to recognize that the choices these tools force writers to face matter, both for writers and for writing instructors.”
Marich spent time in a second-grade class in which the teacher regularly gave students the opportunity to write two sentences in the class’s Twitter account on what they were learning, why they were learning it, how they would use the information, and questions they wanted to ask. The teacher checked students’ tweets before they were posted and conducted individual mini-lessons on usage and content as she circulated. Marich observed a number of “micro-moments” when students got digital feedback on their tweets. Four examples:
A student started to write This and the predictive feature inserted The. The boy deleted the whole word and took a few moments correctly typing This and completing his sentence. He needed help dealing more quickly with the predictive text suggestion.
A student decided to use the iPad’s speech recognition feature (he’d learned about it on his grandmother’s computer) and quickly found the correct spelling of the word giraffe. Some students may bring sophisticated knowledge to the classroom and teachers need to teach when it’s allowed and appropriate.
A student misspelled a word in her tweet, got the correct spelling from Marich, then chose to ignore at least one incorrect predictive-text prompt – peas for piece. This student needed more teacher guidance on spotting words incorrectly suggested by the predictive feature.
A student spelled lizard incorrectly – first listed, then liserd – and spent several minutes brainstorming about possible words, ultimately finding the correct one. In the process she thought creatively about her reptile project.
Marich and Hicks acknowledge that it’s impossible for a teacher to be looking over every student’s shoulder and providing everyone with just-in-time suggestions. But teachers can give some general words of wisdom for students as digital tools pop up during their writing, encouraging them to ask themselves:
What do I know about the sound or letter that’s being suggested?
Do I like this word choice?
Do I agree with this suggestion?
What do I as a writer plan to do with this information?
“These are genuine dialogues with students that help them think deeply about their work as digital writers and the relationships they have with their devices,” say Marich and Hicks. “Before simply clicking without a thought on automated suggestions or corrections, we need to help our students pause to question the algorithms that are influencing them. In this way, we teach them to be critical, creative, and persistent writers and problem solvers, one micro-moment at a time.”
Troy Hicks, professor of English and Education at Central Michigan University, former middle school language arts teacher, and Director of the Chippewa River Writing Project shares about New Literacies in the classroom.
Have you listened to CCIRA Literacy Conversations yet?
Thanks to Molly Rauh and Jessica Rickert for the opportunity to talk about teaching, writing, and technology with the @ColoradoReading podcast!
As part of her keynote, Dr. Maha Bali invited us to build on Ian M. MacKay’s “Swiss cheese model applied to COVID19 prevention” to think about application to writing pedagogy and the use of these tools, as well as systematic and individual challenges that might inhibit our work.
As an inquiry group of about two dozen educators, teacher consultants from four National Writing Project Sites have gathered together in monthly meetings over the 2020-21 school year to explore what we have broadly named “writing assistance technologies” and their impacts on our teaching, our students’ writing, and the field of teaching writing more broadly. This project has been named “Ahead of the Code” and, yesterday, we met for an open conference, inviting colleagues to join in our inquiry, making our practice public, and sharing some ideas from our exploration of tools ranging from grammar and spelling checkers to automated essay scoring.
What I found most compelling about our conversations from the day is that many of the questions that teachers have explored this year have moved beyond our initial queries such as “what are these tools” and “how might I use them” into deeper, more substantive questions about what these tools really are, algorithmically, how they work with assumptions about academic language, and what purposes they ultimately serve. There were a number of creative ways that these educators have been pushing on the edges of writing assistance technologies that would previously have been seen as confining (e.g., inviting students to choose the writing assistance tool that they feel will best help them rather than being assigned a particular tool) as well as rethinking the use of these tools to make them better fit in a process-oriented pedagogy (e.g., using peer review tools at the sentence-level to offer feedback on compound and complex construction, rather than essay-level feedback, which can feel overwhelming). My hope is that more of their reflections (and resources from the sessions) will appear on our group’s blog soon.
As part of our day, we were welcomed in a keynote with Dr. Maha Bali (@bali_maha), an Associate Professor of Practice at the American University in Cairo’s Center for Learning and Teaching, whose work includes posts in Hybrid Pedagogy and as a founder of Equity Unbound. As part of her keynote, our conference planning team had worked with her to think through the keynote session, and she wanted to build on Ian M. MacKay’s “Swiss cheese model applied to COVID19 prevention” to think about application to writing pedagogy and the use of these tools, as well as systematic and individual challenges that might inhibit our work. Though we didn’t quite have enough time to think through the version I created during the keynote talk (as she had us engaged in a great breakout room discussions with one of the Liberating Structures protocols), I did want to share some brief thoughts here, as well as my image.
As I constructed my version of the Roumy Cheese model, I tried to think systemically about where we find ourselves with writing instruction, broadly, and with the use of writing assistance tools. That said, I didn’t make notation of the tools in my model. Instead, I focused on the context in which we find ourselves teaching writing, which includes diverse causes of inequity in the teaching of English that include the need for Linguistic Justice (Baker-Bell) and a long-held recognition of Students’ Rights to their Own Language (NCTE/CCCC); these both not the ways that teachers must balance the tension between students’ home languages and dialects, some of which can be seen as conflicting with more commonly-held conceptions of “academic” or “proper” English. With that, I took the “larger” to “smaller” approach as I moved left-to-right, beginning with school culture and the prevalence of the workshop structure in ELA classrooms, broadly, on the far left, and then to some of the ideas from Graham et al.’s work on the use of “model-practice-reflect” and explicit strategy instruction, heading toward the middle.
Continuing to the right, I thought that we should look at moves that individual teachers make during workshop instruction including an analysis of mentor texts, effective design of transparent assignments, and generative (as compared to punitive) grading policies and practices. Then, we move further into individual teacher decision-making, we think about the ways that students build in intentional time for conferring and scaffolding intentional peer feedback. These moves inside the classroom are then supported by timely and effective feedback outside the classroom, too, the final slice on the right, and the best way to support student writers as they continue to learn and grow.
Of note, I don’t talk too much about any particular writing assistance technology in my model. If there are moments where these technologies could be used (at a system-wide, school-wide, grade-level, or individual teacher level), my argument is that a skilled teacher can probably figure out a way to do so (even if the use of the tool, such as a grammar checker or plagiarism detection service might be used in a way that is slightly at odds with the way that it was originally intended to be used). For instance, we talked during the conference about how we might take a gamified grammar experience and invite students to think not only about correcting errors (like fixing commas in a series), yet also taking those model sentences and adapt them to one’s own writing. Or, another colleague talked about how she had students choose a writing assistance technology to focus on one element (concision, for instance, with the Hemingway editor), and then would be encouraged to pick a different technology and focus the next time, such as a grammar checker.
There is probably a place to think about the writing assistance technologies in a more explicit manner by layering them into the Roumy Cheese Analogy. That will need to wait, for now. Again, I thank Maha Bali for introducing it to us as a way to stretch our thinking about systematic challenges we face in education. And, as we move from the questions about what the tools are to more substantive questions about how to use them (and repurpose them from their original use), I am encouraged to see the ways that we can continue to stay “ahead of the code.”