Reflections on NWP and NCTE 2009

As the holidays begin, another conference season comes to a close.

For the past week, Sara and I have been in Philadelphia at the National Writing Project‘s “Digital Is…” pre-conference, the NWP Annual Meeting, and the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention. As it is each year, we enjoy spending time with colleagues and find opportunities to learn about their work. Moreover, we pause to think about our own work including what we have accomplished in the past year and what we are looking forward to in the next.

To that end, I began writing this reflection in the lobby of the Sheraton in Philly, continued it at the airport and on the plane, and now post it as I spend Thanksgiving with my parents. Here is my day-by-day account of NWP/NCTE 2009.

Tuesday, 11/17/09

Arriving in Philly on Tuesday afternoon, we had some time to enjoy a quick walk and prepare for the “Digital Is…” reception. Sponsored through NWP’s work with the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative, the entire “Digital Is…” conference was designed as an opportunity to convene teachers, teacher educators, and other stakeholders in conversations about what we know about teaching and learning with digital media. The opening reception was fun, followed by dinner with colleagues from Science Leadership Academy. A great way to begin our week, for sure.

Wednesday, 11/18/09

Digital Is…“convened in the Sheraton, with two slideshows from Danielle DeVoss. The first ran as a background show during breakfast, the second was her keynote. There is no way to capture the energy that she shared during this session, except to say that she really framed the day with her eight key themes about “digital is…” that I outlined in a previous post. So, even though the experience is not nearly the same, here are the slideshows:

For the afternoon, I was again fortunate to present with Dawn about our work with podcasting, as featured in Teaching the New Writing. By doing a protocol analysis discussion of the work, we were really able to dig deeply and think about what was there. One of the more stunning realizations that we had in the conversation was about the ways in which the composing process changes when writers begin with the goal of creating a spoken and, in some sense, permanent text. I think that the line from the notes that captures it best is that the process of recording the podcast “reinforces writing as a capacity that changes across genres and audiences and mediums.” It will be interesting to see where Dawn goes next with this work.

The second round of discussion was interesting, too, as we mixed up groups and have conversations across the elements of student work. Rather than try to capture all the complexities of that conversation in writing, I will share two items. The first is a list of “final words” that I asked participants in our session to state in relation to their thoughts about composing in digital environments at the end of this hour-long conversation. The second is a concept map that I tried to draw while we were talking. Neither alone captures all that happened in our session, but perhaps will give you some insights into what happened.

Concept Map from Digital Is
Concept Map from Digital Is
  • Hybridity
  • Genre
  • Messy
  • Openness
  • Elegance
  • Excitement
  • Immediacy
  • Future
  • Mistakes
  • Surrender
  • Reciprocity
  • Space
  • Dirty
  • Play
  • Organic

I had the opportunity to then help close the day, asking participants to create “invitations” that could be used to ask other stakeholders to join in the conversation about digital writing with youth. One of the most consistent themes from throughout the day was the fact that most of the digital writing opportunities that students have are taking place outside of school. This is a travesty. If we can create these types of engaging opportunities outside of school, then surely we can consider how to do better at creating these types of learning spaces inside of schools. This is something to chew on in the weeks and months to come as I figure out where to go next with my own work and the direction of our writing project.

That night, we were treated to a panel discussion of “What Kids Learn When They Create with Digital Media” with Renee Hobbs, Founder, Media Education Lab, Temple University; Nichole Pinkard, Founder, Digital Youth Network and DePaul University professor; and Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, Director, National Programs and Site Development, National Writing Project.

Thursday, 11/19/09

The NWP Annual Meeting kicked off with morning and afternoon workshops. In the morning, I attended one on developing site leadership and, in the afternoon, on integrating new literacies into the site’s work that featured Paige Cole, Joe Conroy, Shasta Looper, and Sara Beauchamp-Hicks. Along with Sara’s overview of how she integrated her own growth as a tech leader into her site’s work and securing mini-grants and creating professional development experiences, I was particularly interested in watching Paige and Joe talk about the work that they initially developed at Tech Matters 2007 and to see how they have grown work at their sites. Literally, I had goose bumps watching Paige’s video reflection. Taken with ideas from the morning about how to support and encourage site leaders, the two sessions reminded me of the power of the NWP network, and how small doses of encouragement from a mentor can turn into incredible work.

Friday, 11/20/09

More NWP today, with Billy Collins bringing down the house at the general session. Truly, truly wonderful. Also wonderful was the introduction of the Chippewa River Writing Project as one of the new sites in the NWP network! Later in the afternoon, I was able to attend a session on community partnerships, including a presentation from Joel Arquillos from the amazing 826 organization (which, if you haven’t heard about, watch Dave Eggers’ TED Talk and then visit the 826 website). Also, I got to hear about the Eastern Michigan Writing Project‘s Family Literacy workshops from their program director, Kim Pavlock. So many powerful ideas here from both Joel and Kim, but the biggest one being that we need to make learning to write purposeful for students and the process of doing so clear to their parents. What incredible programs to model from. To close the day, I got to hear from two of my mentors — Patti Stock and Peter Kittle — about the power of taking an inquiry stance towards teaching demonstrations in the summer institute. I am very much looking forward to returning to CRWP and talking over all this information with my leadership team, most of whom were there with me and will have ideas of their own to share, too.

Saturday, 11/21/09

An early morning brought both Sara and me to the NCTE booth, leading Tech-to-Go sessions for those beginning their day at NCTE. I talked about wikis, while Sara presented on Google Forms and then, later in the day, on iPod Touch applications. This led us to my presentation with Bud Hunt, “Reports from Cyberspace,” This was truly an amazing session, as we tried to incorporate a backchannel discussion through Twitter, delicious, and Chatterous. Also, in trying to use newer tools for presentations, I created a Prezi and Bud made a Voice Thread. The conversations that occured in the session, both face-to-face and online, were amazing, and we are thinking about repeating the session again next year. One recurring question was about access, and both Bud and I contended that it is reasonable to expect kids to do digital writing now, because there is access available in many more places and most of the tools are web-based. We also touched on issues of filtering, curriculum, assessment, and how to begin digital writing workshops.

http://prezi.com/bin/preziloader.swf

Later that night, Sara and I were able to join the Heinemann reception and found out that my book sold out in the convention hall! Thanks to everyone who picked up a copy there, as well as to everyone else who then ordered one online. I am  looking forward to where my next writing opportunity may take me…

Sunday, 11/22/09

We awoke Sunday morning for a wonderful session on erasing copyright confusion, and I was then able to interview Renee Hobbs for an aricle on fair use for CCCC-IP. We also were able to meet with the CEE Web Site Editors, and came up with a plan for developing some basic content for the site. Our afternoon found us on adventures in Philly with my friend Carl Young, and we enjoyed a visit to the National Constitution Center. In thinking about how and why we ask students to compose digital writing, our visit to this center was particularly appropriate, as we were greeted with remixed versions of “People” magazine covers, featuring such historical figures as Abraham Lincoln and Betsy Ross, as well as a highly-interactive multimedia experince in the museum.

Monday, 11/23/09

While we had planned to go to SLA, and appreciated the invite to be there, we ended up spending most of our day at at the Franklin Institute. Perhaps we will have to do EduCon instead. So, even though we missed SLA, we greatly enjoyed the Body Worlds exhibition, and felt that was a good use of our final hours in Philly.

Also, we realized that we missed the NCTE Centennial Preview, but John Golden provided the link for me, so you can enjoy it online!

As with all NWP/NCTE trips, this one game me so many good ideas and connections with colleagues. Next on my agenda are to begin planning next summer’s CRWP SI and, ideally, an advanced institute related to digital writing and copyright. Also, I am working on writing the article for the Cs Intellectual Property Caucus, CCCC-IP. Still thinking about so much, and hoping to get back to Philly with my entire family for more of the historical aspects of the town that we missed.

And, so goes another NWP Annual Meeting and NCTE Convention. Thanks for sticking with me through this whole pose.

Now, time to plan for the convention in Orlando, celebrating 100 years of NCTE.


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Notes from “Erasing Copyright Confusion” at NCTE 2009

Notes from “Erasing Copyright Confusion” at NCTE 2009

Joyce Valenza, Renee Hobbs, Kristin Hokanson, and Michael RobbGrieco

Center for Social Media

  • Renee Hobbs, Temple — What is the purpose of copyright?
    • Protect intellectual property
    • Ownership, profit
    • Authors’ right
  • In fact, the purpose of copyright is to promote creativity, innovation, and the spread of knowledge
    • Owners have pushed for longer length of copyright
  • How we Cope as Educators with Copyright
    • “See no evil” teachers — don’t examine copyright issues at all
    • “Close the door” teachers — know that there is something to copyright, yet keep it private
    • “Hyper-comply” teachers — they hold on to this idea more strongly for their students than themselves
  • When I use creative materials, which concepts apply?
    • Attribution — citing your sources (an academic community’s normative conventions that they agree upon to acknowledge other’s work)
    • Plagiarism — not acknowledging source material used in your work
    • Infringement — copying another’s work in violation of the law
    • Fair Use — the legal use of copyrighted works without permission or payment
    • Licensing — Asking permission and paying a fee
  • Copyright balances the rights of owners with the rights of users
    • Owners get to control how their work is controlled and distributed for a limited use of time
    • As users, however, we have some rights, too
    • All those things you knew about the “30 second rule,” the “10% rule,” the “45 day rule” are not the law
      • The charts that you see, they are not the law — they are negotiated agreements that have “the appearance of positive law”
      • The guidelines actually limit our understandings of fair use
      • You can use copyrighted material in a variety of ways — criticism, comment, news reporting, scholarship AND creative work
      • Peter Jazi — the benefits to society outweigh the private costs to the copyright holder, or else copyright law becomes a form of private censorship
  • Michael RobbGrieco, Temple — Responding to the Rise of Remix Culture: Challenges and opportunities for teaching, learning, and literacy
    • Are you a part of remix culture?
      • Build on others?
      • Quote passages?
      • Do you have a website?
    • Our students are fully immersed in a remix culture
      • Remix is how our students add their own personal experience to the wider culture and make their experience known to others
      • Can remix perpetuate cultural norms that are oppressive?
      • Critical remix for democracy, dialogue, and exchange
      • Single Ladies in Mayberry
    • Develop media literacy skills
      • Balancing producer and consumer identities
      • Can create shallow engagement without critical interpretation (this is where educators come in)
      • How do we realize the potential of fair use while also facing the challenges that are present?
      • How can we be critical with our students and invite interpretation and argument?
      • Michael’s video: Copyright, What’s Copyright?
  • Kristin Hokanson, Upper Merion High School
    • What does it mean to add value to other people’s work?
    • Use of Flickr images for a biology project
    • Use of Dave Matthews “Gravedigger” with Spoon River Anthology
    • Media Lab’s “Teach Them to Reason” tool
    • Ending Copyright Confusion Wiki
    • Attribution is an ethical practice, not a legal one; citing sources doesn’t let you off the hook
    • Fair use is a reasoning process that requires critical thinking; context and situation determine how fair use applies.
    • Am I creating something new (through transformative use), or am I redistributing (which is, in contrast, a violation of the law)?
  • Joyce Valenza, Springfield Township High School
  • This project is a user-rights movement
    • The Code of Best Practices for Fair Use is NCTE’s official policy on fair use
    • The guidelines that have been created since the implementation of the 1970s copyright law were brought about from negotiations by the media industry; the guidelines that were created are not set down as the law


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Notes from “Integrating New Literacies into Classroom Practice and the Resulting Impact on Site Leadership”

Notes from “Integrating New Literacies into Classroom Practice and the Resulting Impact on Site Leadership”

NWP 2009 Annual Meeting

This session invited four teacher consultants/tech liaisons to discuss their personal experiences with technology and the ways in which these
experiences led to changes in their site’s work. Knowing two of these teachers through my work with NWP’s 2007 Tech Matters Institute, and
one as my wife and tech liaison for our site, I found the stories shared here very powerful. Each one of them talked about a key
technology and professional development experience that launched them into new work, both in their classroom and at their site.

  • Shasta Looper, Upstate Writing Project
    • Used Voice Thread in her summer institute in 2008, then incorporated it into her classroom through the use of a persuasive writing assignment
  • Paige Cole, Red Clay Writing Project
    • Experience at Tech Matters in 2007 which led to creation of tech team, the “Army of Dorkness”
    • Advanced institutes came from Tech Matters mini-grant
    • Learned iMovie and other technologies in support of classroom and site work
  • Joe Conroy, NWP at Rutgers
    • Looking at the history of the writing project’s website over time; Joe’s history as webmaster
    • Use of Yahoo groups; began there many years ago and it has worked for us
    • But, the website didn’t filter into the site’s work — then attended Tech Matters in 2007
    • How can I use Web 2.0 in the classroom without having access to Web 2.0?
      • Podcasts were still accessible, use of NPR’s This I Believe and Audacity via Portable Apps
    • Shared work at site’s mid-winter writing conference through a technology strand and “Tech Thursday” workshop series
      • Topics for future Tech Thursdays
        • Bulletin boards for Socratic Seminars
        • Podcasting
        • Ignite
        • Voice Thread
        • Wikis
        • Blogging
    • The site has integrated technology into the core of “what we do.”
  • Sara Beauchamp-Hicks, Upper Peninsula Writing Project and Chippewa River Writing Project
    • 14-year veteran special education teacher, TL for UPWP
    • Story about involvement in summer institute by organizing pictures in 2005 SI
      • Growth is not linear; there are all sorts of influences that impact your growth in technology use over time (created concept
        map/timeline with VUE and shared in Skim)
    • Site development at local level and through participation in the national network
      • Summer institute to annual meeting to advanced institutes next summer
      • Also incorporated outside funding from state professional organization grants to fund tech team, many of them TCs, in one school
    • Key Themes
      • Accessibility — trying new technologies and being willing to change; the issues are difficult for all of us in our own classrooms
      • Continuity — meeting regularly and sharing ideas and questions about tech use
      • Site Development — developing technology work at your site is a messy process
        • We are in a time where there is more questions than there are answers
        • You have to have patience and flexibility when you are in the tech world and with site development


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Notes from “The Social Media Portfolio: Using Technology to Promote Meta-cognitive Skill Development” at NWP’s Digital Is

The Social Media Portfolio: Using Technology to Promote Meta-cognitive Skill Development

At NWP’s Digital Is

Rafi Santo, Amana Kaskazi, and Shonell Richmond

  • Global Kids
    • 20 Years in existence and focusing on significant global issues
    • Issues: Local to global and global to local understanding
    • Leadership: Skills necessary to affect change
    • Technology: How does new media contribute to our mission of global citizenship; our mission to empower youth voice aligned well with the use of technology
    • Youth: We work with youth in a variety of contexts, both locally and from a distance through technologies and in virtual worlds
    • Afterschool: Need to overcome the stereotypes of afterschool technology programs that create “super geeks”; our students are not geeks, necessarily, but there is something much broader about how to use technology in these contexts
  • Media Masters
    • Goals for addressing the challenges to media literacy
      • Giving students the means and skills to produce media who otherwise might not be able
      • Discussing ethical issues surrounding digital media production and participation
      • Promote active student reflection on skill development
    • Creating a “digital transcript“creating a portfolio with Voice Thread
      • Examining media use (music, web, etc)
      • Visualization, negotiation, and other key themes
      • Recognize the skill, utilize the skill, and enact the skill (Do it, recognize it, talk about it)
    • Discussion
      • Specific example of Harry Potter reading to discuss copyright, appropriation, and “whole life learning”
      • What can the assessment tell us — about students’ change in media literacy skills, attitudes, and abilities?
      • How can an assessment like this work in school contexts (very qualitative, not quantitative)?
      • How can we connect this to other academic skills?
      • Student preparation for portfolios — having earned the badges, it was easier to identify the project that connected to the skill, but then we had to add a reflection to it, and that was more difficult
      • Extending the assessments into different contexts; using this portfolio with meta-cognitive elements for other purposes, such as college admissions
      • Helping make explicit for young people the ways in which we are asking them to think
      • Power of ownership and the ability to hear someone’s voice, as well as the commitment behind the voice
      • How does having a framework help make the portfolio more powerful?
      • Using writing to teach critical thinking in different content areas


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Notes from Danielle Nicole DeVoss’s Opening Keynote at NWP’s “Digital Is…”

Danielle Nicole DeVoss asks us to think about what digital was then and is now…

Digital is…

  • Networked — we compose in networked spaces
  • Collaborative — people are able to connect and create through these networks (LolCats)
  • Multimodal — typography, kinetic type, digital stories
  • Re-Mediated — taking a media object and recreating it so it moves across media; moving across text to audio to video (StarzBunnies)
  • Remixed — taking bits and pieces and parts of other media to create new messages and meaning
  • Policed — digital millennium copyright act; You Tube copyright issues (Fair Use)
  • (Requires) Critical thinking — because of the visuals (Harry Potter, Redbook)
  • (Can be) Democratic — Iran and Twitter, YouTube Debates

Writing is Digital — this is, as Elyse put it, our moment.


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Looking for Feedback on the Idea of a Digital Writing Project

As we prepare to head to the NWP Annual Meeting and NCTE Convention in just about a week, I am also plugging away at our Chippewa River Writing Project Continued Funding Application. I have come to one of the most compelling parts of the report, at least for me… the point where we reflect on the summer institute and think about what that means for our site. So, here is where I am at right now and, in the spirit of collaboration, I look for any insights that you might be able to offer me here as I try to articulate my vision of our “digital writing project.”

Thanks in advance for your feedback and I look forward to seeing many of you in Philly next week!

From the CRWP CFA — Troy’s Reflections on the Summer Institute:

Our summer institute, from its inception, focused on a clear integration of literacy and technology. In seeing ourselves as a “digital writing project,” we began our work with the intent that a “web 2.0” ethos of collaboration, creativity, and commitment would infuse our work. As we reflect on our experience as leaders in this first summer institute, and review the comments of TCs, we see that these elements were present. In terms of collaboration, we relied heavily on the wiki and Google Docs as spaces to share all of our work, from our initial writer’s profile to our responses to teaching demos to our own personal writing. Teachers began the institute with the expectation that they would, indeed, become part of a collaborative and connected group, largely enabled by the technologies that we chose.

In terms of creativity, we invited participants to engage in literacy and technology not just from a functional perspective (although, getting the technology to simply function was sometimes a problem!), but from critical and rhetorical perspectives as well. Our use of digital storytelling, for instance, highlights this perspective. While inviting participants to create their own digital stories, we also analyzed the stories that others had created to get a sense of what worked, what made the digital stories more than simply a collection of images set to a narration. By constantly moving back and forth from the technical to the critical and rhetorical aspects of composition – both analog and digital – we feel that participants were better able to articulate what was creative about their work, as well as why that approach worked.

Finally, we look at the commitment or level of engagement from participants. While we are happy to report that participants in our summer institute, like participants at countless other institutes, reported that their summer experience was, to use an oft-quoted phrase, “life changing,” we were also surprised to see the level at which they believed the digital aspects of our work influenced them. For instance, one participant may sum it up best by responding to the “most important thing” question from the final SI survey conducted by Inverness: 

The most important “thing” I gained is confidence with some interactive technology to implement in my classroom. I think implementation of the Wiki will benefit my students. Their mindset is that school work isn’t “real” work, and I’d like to change their mindset. Use of the Wiki will assist, I believe.

Simply stated, we “wikified” our teachers’ beliefs about what it means to be a writer and teacher of writing. Like Wikipedia, where many contributors create a collective whole that is, indeed, much more than the sum of its parts, we feel that our summer institute, with its focus on “collaboration, creativity, and commitment” allowed participants to see writing, and digital writing, in an entirely different perspective. We hope, like all NWP sites do, that this new vision will help inform the ways that they teach writing in their classrooms, especially in the ways that they integrate technology.


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