Reflecting on TTT, Preparing for CEE

It has been a long day of travel from East Lansing to Chicago and now a bit further north to Lake Forest, where the CEE Leadership and Policy Summit begins in just a few minutes. Just a few quick thoughts on last night’s Teachers Teaching Teachers and what I will be doing for the next three days here at Lake Forest College with my CEE colleagues.

There were many things that came up in last night’s show that I will have to really re-listen to be better able to offer a reflection on it.  One thing that I will note is the idea of teachers developing their own online skills before working with their students. In the context of talking about Dawn’s experience creating podcasts with her students, Paul invited Dawn into the Youth Voices work, and we got into an interesting side conversation about how and why teachers would want to join online communities, create their own content, and generally engage in the processes that we are advocating happen with students related to digital literacies. Long story short, it has to be personal. I want to think more about that, especially in relation to all the institutes I will be involved in this summer.

The other thing going on — and starting in about 15 minutes –  is the CEE Leadership and Policy Summit happening this weekend. I am a part of the strand exploring doctoral education for English educators. This proves to be an interesting topic for me personally (as I am almost done with revisions to my dissertation) and professionally (as I will likely be working to develop a PhD program at CMU once I get there next fall). So, I am looking forward to the weekend and hope to blog about some of the general sessions and other ideas that come to me. More soon…

Teachers Teaching Teachers, 5/30/07

Please join Teachers Teaching Teachers for a special show this Wednesday.

Our guest hosts will be Troy Hicks and Dawn Reed from the Red Cedar Writing Project!

As podcasting has become a part of our language arts classes, we have seen firsthand the ways in which it gives students an audience for their work. By its very nature, podcasting is an oral phenomenon and while it involves the writing process, examining the production of podcasts as a speech act also merits our attention. We, Dawn Reed and Troy Hicks, have been interested in how podcasting — because of its ability to record, edit, and revise oral language as well as to time-shift content — can be used as an extension of speech class in high school.

Our project this spring attempted to engaging students in responsible, ethical, and productive composing activities through blogging and podcasting. We set out to study how creating and publishing a podcast modeled on NPR’s This I Believe essays could change the composing process for students. In so doing, Dawn’s students created and published their own podcasts, and the two of us discovered a few things about our own technology skills, the school infrastructure, and students’ ability to rise to the occasion that we would like to share with you.

Also, we would like to discuss three ideas that we began our project with and think about how these were actualized:

  1. To understand how blogging and podcasting can be considered a part of Michigan’s new “online experience” for high school students and, rather than take a class fully online, teachers might incorporate elements of digital writing into their regular classroom work.
  2. To consider themes that emerge from a project like this and how a K-12/university research team can better understand those themes through collaboration.
  3. To reconsider how teaching “speech,” a curricular partner to composition, changes when the media for production includes podcasting. In that sense, we will discuss how purposes and genres change, as well as the affordances and constraints of podcasting, both from technical and pedagogical perspectives.

Join us in the conversation!

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at EdTechTalk

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Blast from the Past (Or, the More Things Change…)

Earlier today, an RCWP colleague – Marcia – invited me to lunch to celebrate my graduation. She also brought me a unique gift: a collection of four books ranging in copyright date from 1888 – 1918, all a part of her personal collection of antique educational artifacts.

There is a guide to the district schools of Michigan from 1908, a “Teachers Manuals No. 9: How to Train the Memory,” and “The Vitalized School,” written by the state superintendent of Ohio. The fourth book is the one that is most interesting to me, and is one volume in the International Education Series (which includes, among others, Froebel‘s Pedagogics of the Kindergarten) called Teaching the Language-Arts: Speech, Reading, Composition by B.A. Hinsdale.

While I can’t go into a complete review of the book here (as I have not read it yet), I have skimmed and found some interesting quotes to note:

On composition: “While we may cheerfully concede that the great writer, like the poet, is born and not made, we need not hesitate to say that the ordinary writer is made and not born. It is a matter of practice rather than of talent or genius.” p. 115

On examining literature: “It is so difficult for many minds to believe that any valuable educational work is being done, unless it can be measured out in examination papers!” p. 139

On teaching Language Arts: “… to teach English successfully requires a combination of cultivation, taste, judgment, and practical skill not found in the common teacher.” p. 199

There are many more gems in here that I look forward to reading about, especially the chapter on rhetoric. Yet, I though just a taste of the field from over 100 years ago shows us the foundations of where we are at now. I would have to read this more closely to get a full understanding of the argument that he makes about what ELA is and how it should be taught, but it seems pretty progressive at first glance (although I could be wrong once I read it more closely).
All the same, this is a great gift and begs the obvious question: Would Hinsdale have ever imagined that a book review of his work, or a digital copy of the book itself, would be available over 100 years later? And, more importantly, that the discussions he was engaged in then still engulf us now?

Thanks, Marcia. What a thought-provoking gift!