Report from RCWP’s WIDE PATHS 2010

This morning, I was fortunate enough to be invited “home” to present my session, “Creating Your Digital Writing Workshop” at Red Cedar Writing Project‘s WIDE PATHS II. Beyond the wonderful feeling of being “home” with about 30 colleagues from RCWP and sharing my book with them, I continue to be inspired by the amazing work that teachers do in their classrooms and schools, despite the continued barrage of criticisms that come both directly from politicians and the media as well as indirectly from the ways that our society and government structure “educational reforms” such as Race to the Top. For more on what these “reforms” mean for organizations such as the NWP, check out Sara’s recent post on IdeaPlay.

At any rate, there were many good parts of the day, and ideas from the conversations in the opening session were captured by Dawn on the presentation page. There were a number of issues that came forward, and the conversation was rich since, as a group, we were talking as knowledgeable peers, many already engaged in digital writing practices. Most notably, we thought about a number of issues related to the actual composition of digital texts, moving beyond the logistical questions that often come up (as important as they are) and into conversations about how and why students compose digital texts. Maggie captured one idea (and I am paraphrasing) in the idea that digital media allow us to create texts that are “long enough to accomplish goal, but also short enough to keep interest.”

Then, throughout the day, there were three strands: social networking, collaborative writing, and visual studies. Overall, I feel like the day was filled with timely, relevant, and useful information, right out of the NWP tradition of “teachers teaching teachers.” We worked together, learned some new ideas, got reminded of some ideas I had forgotten (like using Diigo), and, while I couldn’t attend everything, here are some notes from the other wonderful sessions throughout the day.

Social Networking (Andrea Zellner)

  • Four components of participation in social networks
    • Digital Citizenship
    • Digital Footprint
    • Personal Learning
    • Impact on Writing
  • Thoughts from the discussion, after creating our own personal network maps on paper
    • What does it mean to “know” someone? Be connected to someone?
    • How and when do we connect to someone? To a group? Knowing that we have access to the network at our fingertips, when and how can we leverage it?
    • Thinking about how they are invited to join social networks (Pixie Hallow, Webkinz, Facebook, Second Life) and the commercial/consumer interests that some of these networks have? What about the critical literacy practices that students need to have to understand how they are positioned within and across these networks?
    • Do we create networks that are “echo chambers” where we only listen to others in our own network that do not allow or invite us to think about alternative or opposing ideas?
    • Are we co-opting the purposes of social networks? What are we trying to teach them so that they can be digital citizens? But, are we replicating traditional, teacher-centered practices that would be the same in Blackboard, or are we taking advantage of the aspects of social networks?
    • Resources:
Troy's Social Network Map
Troy's Social Network Map

Collaborative Writing (Aram Kabodian, Heather Lewis, and LaToya Faulk)

  • Heather introduced Etherpad as a tool for collaborative response to an article, then used VoiceThread as another tool for response, too. In using the two types of tools, we were thinking about the ways that text and voice comments can contribute to our own understanding of other texts, including an online article and responding to a video.
    • This got me to thinking more about VoiceThread and how to have students use that as a tool for conferring. I think that the idea of having students comment one another’s work while still “in process” is powerful. Not sure how to embed the comment at the exact moment of the video that it would be pertinent, however. A tool like Viddler‘s commenting feature would work more effectively for that, I think.
    • Lots of time for playing with the tools. Thinking about collaborating across time and space with Skype, Google Docs, VoiceThread, Diigo, and other tools. What is also interesting to me is to think more carefully about the nature of the collaboration…
      • What are the affordances and constraints of the tools?
      • What is the task that we are asking students to complete? How does that enable collaboration, or does it simply require cooperation?
      • Are you asking students to create single-authored, multi-authored, or co-authored products? How does changing the role of the writer change the technology that you are able to use?

Visual Studies (Dawn Reed with Jen Garmon and Reggie Manville)

  • Dawn – Showing a number of examples of images as a way to think about critical literacy, especially with images used in media and popular culture texts, for instance:
    • The ready.gov website and parodies of it
    • Forest Gump, and the ability to visually recreate history
    • Kent State image with fence post removed
    • Asking students to define “literacy” and how they experience misinformation and critically evaluate information and images. Thinking about “photographic truth” and the implications of how images are constructed in an age of easy photo manipulation.
  • Reggie – Thinking about how to fit visual literacy into the already crammed English curriculum with digital storytelling
    • Moving from statements of belief (ala “This I Believe”) to statements of change created as a digital movie. Combining elements of argumentative writing with visuals.
    • Then moving from this digital video project into understanding how to create a traditional text for the ACT. In this example of women’s body image, this includes ways that the student could use the same arguments and refutations used in the movie project and translating them into traditional essay structures (building context, argument, counterargument, rebuttal, etc).
    • Complexity of assessing these texts with a rubric that was already in place. Looking at three examples — one on body image, one on global warming, one on the “open beverage” rule. But, are there some qualitative differences in these works? I think so, and I am wondering how we can help students see that there are some standards of quality in the production of digital texts. One option would be to have a “viewing” day in the class, and then inviting them to revise based on what they saw in other videos as well as feedback on their own.

Final Reflections on the Day

We were going to have a large group discussion to report out on the day, but ran out of time. My final thoughts are that Andrea and the entire RCWP team organized a wonderfully thoughtful day of exploration into these three strands: social networking, collaborative writing, and visual studies. As we continue to think about the future of what it means to be a writer and a teacher of writing in a digital age, the conversations that began today can continue to guide our work into the future. I look forward to this team sharing their insights at the NWPM retreat this summer!


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Cross Posts from NWP Walkabout Blog on Posterous

Earlier this month, I blogged about some sessions from the Wisconsin State Reading Association on the NWP Walkabout Posterous site and I am (finally) cross-posting them here with links to the original posts… sorry for the delay!

2/7/10 – Cinch from Coiro and Kajder

I really enjoy it when new technologies challenge me.

Honest…

Figuring out how to embed a Cinch into a Posterous, as strange as that all sounds, has been a challenge. I thought that Posterous only allowed posting from email, as that is how the technology had been introduced to me. That was my mindset, and I was struggling because I asked Paul how to post a Cinch and he said it couldn’t be done via email. I scratched my head as I worked from my iPhone, moving between Cinch, looking at Posterous on Safari, and reading Paul’s tweets… why not?

So, Gmail wouldn’t let me do it and, until I finally logged into Posterous, I couldn’t figure out how my NWP colleagues had done it. I didn’t see a “Publish to Posterous” button on Cinch, nor did I realize I could compose a “traditional” blog post through Posterous until I did some searching around today after Paul told me it could be done. Couldn’t figure out how at first, but I finally figured it out. It all goes to show that even the techies amongst us have our conceptions of how new literacies work challenged from time to time.

At any rate…

On to the real reason I am writing this post today — the Cinch recordings of Julie Coiro and Sara Kajder speaking directly to an NWP audience about their latest thinking related to reading and writing in digital environments, straight from interviews that I snagged with each right after their presentations at the Wisconsin State Reading Association Conference last week. Thanks to both of them for sharing their time and expertise.

Enjoy!

(Additional note: even though the Cinchs are appearing as Flash embeds in my web browser, they don’t seem to be showing up when I actually post this. So, here are stable URLS for each, too. Coiro: http://www.cinchcast.com/hickstro/wsra-2010/21082 and Kajder: http://www.cinchcast.com/hickstro/wsra-2010/21096

http://www.cinchcast.com/cinchplayerext.swf

http://www.cinchcast.com/cinchplayerext.swf

2/5/10 – Notes from Sara Kajder’s Session on Bringing the Outside In

1. Instructional challenge – find readers. Engage reluctant readers to create a book trailer via digital movie making in three class periods.

– examining movie trailers and dissecting them
– discussing how to craft a trailer for the book
– creating the book trailer in movie making program (or via the sims and using Jing to create a video)
– “Dr. Kajder, I don’t like to read and write, but I like to make movies… You tricked me!”

2. Instructional challenge – summarizing. Creating podcasts. What do you have to say about this book? It is a synthesis -you need to teach something to the other kids in the room. Then, the entire school votes to decide which podcasts go up on the school website.

– example of fifth graders podcasting about the six traits of writing

– in inviting other people into classroom literature circles via skype

– podcast with an expert (submarines in the American Revolution with Harvard Professor); listened to interviews on NPR as examples

– want to make kids “googleable” for the good, smart work that kids do (ala Bud Hunt), depends on where we save things and how they are archived

– creating visual “mentor text” via iMovie. Choose just a small portion of the text. Recite from the text (checking for understanding) and also thinking aloud with text-go-world connections. It is an assessment, but this is the least “assessy” assessment they have ever done.

– using delicious and diigo with kids to create their reader’s identity. This gives digital readers a way to hold on to texts and show what is important to them.

Many resources and ideas. We need to appreciate the ways in which kids work and play. How do we figure out a way to build curious readers?

Kajder’s “Promise into Practice” Wiki

Sent from my iPhone

2/5/10 – Notes from Julie Coiro’s Session in Internet Reading

Listening to Julie Coiro talk about “How Does Reading and Learning Change on the Internet? Responding to New Literacies” at WSRA 2010

Examing students’ reality of multiple and overlapping literacies – how can we capture some of that same excitement in schools?

She just cited Tom Freidman’s “The World Is Flat” as the source for the phrase “racing to the top.” I didn’t realize that, but sitting here next to Sara Kajder and we both agree that this makes the clear economic focus of RTTT

Online readers and offline readers are successful in different ways. What’s the difference?

1. Identifying important questions – yes, we have a curriculum to follow, but students can ask questions that they are curious about that will likely meet the objectives, too. For instance, why do cats cough up hairballs? As this moves into MS and HS, the questions become deeper and more substantial.

2. Locating information – for instance, finding a website bit then searching within it (can’t rely on a site’s navigation bar alone any more, espe ially with graphical interface). Teach kids to be flexible to take what they know about layout and design to seek out new info. Using kid’s search sites vs regular search engine. What about limited engines or visual searches like Kartoo? Tag clouds?

3. Evaluating Search Results – how many sites found? Who sponsors the sites? What sites may not be available in a few months? How can you tell, in the results, what search terms are used? What disadvantages would visiting the sites have?

— play a game with kids to make the number of search results go down (refining the search) of making it go up. Looking at the number to make it go up or down is a process of adding and subtracting words to refine.
— Teaching about context clues to help students to read URLs — why is it important to know who sponsors the site before you even view it? Do you make predictions when you read inthe Internet? We do so all the time with stories, sometimes in content area texts, and rarely online? Put a label on it — call it predicting, and help them know what they are doing? This can “take all the fun out of searching,” but if helps students pause to think. Need prior knowledge about URLs and how sites are housed. — prior knowledge if the topic used to be critical to comprehending texts, but know google can give you prior knowledge in a snap and bring you to that level.

4. Where do I read first? — am I on the homepage? Like a book walk, help students take the “brain steps” to preview a website. Who is the author?

Great ideas, had planned for two hours, but had to end!

Sent from my iPhone


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Sessions at Wisconsin State Reading Association Conference

Tomorrow, I will be presenting two sessions at the Sessions at Wisconsin State Reading Association Conference. Here are descriptions of the sessions and the related presentations:

From School to Screen: Why Digital Writing Matters (9:30 – 10:45)

Without question, writing continues to change in the twenty-first century. Teachers, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders value the teaching of writing — and see that our very notion of what it means to be literate is evolving —  yet continue to wonder how best to teach writing in a digital age. Based on work with the National Writing Project, we will discuss practices that hold promise as we develop understandings of what it means to write digitally, create spaces for digital writing in our schools, and extend assessment practices that account for the complexities of writing in a digital world.

Creating Your Digital Writing Workshop (1:30 – 3:30)

Digital writing tools such as blogs, wikis, digital stories, and social networks can contribute to what you are already doing in your writing instruction as well as appeal to a new generation of students. Building on the principles discussed in the first session, we will explore how new ways of thinking about well-established practices in the writing workshop—student choice and inquiry, conferring on writing, examining author’s craft, publishing writing, and broadening our understandings of assessment—could be updated for the digital age. With examples of how to teach digital writing throughout, this session will help you create your digital writing workshop. Join the Ning!

For both of these presentations, I want to acknowledge and thank my many colleagues from the National Writing Project with whom I have been able to collaborate in my research, teaching, and professional development work.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.