Upcoming Series on Teachers Teaching Teachers

Each Wednesday for the next three weeks, I will be hosting a series of episodes that invite teachers highlighted in the book on for conversations about teaching in the digital writing workshop. Here is the announcement for this week’s webcast:

Teachers Teaching Teachers: Choice and Inquiry in the Digital Writing Workshop
September 30, 2009

This week, please join Troy Hicks, author of the new Heinemann title, The Digital Writing Workshop, and Director of the Chippewa River Writing Project at Central Michigan University, as we begin a three-part series exploring the principles and practices described in the book. For this first episode, we welcome four teachers to the conversation as they discuss how they foster student choice and inquiry in their writing classrooms:

  • Penny Kittle, Kennett High School in New Hampshire will offer perspectives on writing workshop principles and why we need to begin to focus on digital writing
  • Sara Beauchamp-Hicks, formerly of Negaunee High School in Michigan will discuss her use of wikis and Google Docs to spur student inquiry
  • Chris Sloan of Judge Memorial High School in Salt Lake City will share insights on how students can make choices with RSS readers and blogging
  • Shannon Powell of Central Montcalm Middle School in Michigan will discuss her experiences as a new teacher as she has begun to use digital writing in her classroom, including her recent integration of “SSR with RSS” for a class of reluctant readers

Then, on October 7th we will explore the idea of “author’s craft” as it relates to creating digital texts and, on October 14th, discuss the process of conferring and response to student writers as they create digital texts.

We would invite you to join us on Wednesday at http://EdTechTalk.com/live at 9:00pm Eastern / 6:00pm Pacific USA Wednesdays / 01:00 UTC Thursdays World Times

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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!

Join us live!
Wednesdays
9:00 pm Eastern
at EdTechTalk

6pm PDT / 9pm EDT / 1am GMT (global times) EdTechTalk A

Telling the Technology Story in K-12 Schools

The past week or so has been crazy. Yes, busy crazy for me personally, for sure.

But, I am talking about another kind of craziness.

I am talking about the number of teachers that I have talked to who have been fighting filters, trying to get equipment to work, and generally trying to make meaningful use of technology in their classrooms.

After last week’s Teachers Teaching Teachers about infrastructure, and being invited to talk with the group again this week, there are two stories that I feel I need to tell. The first comes from a research project about blogging and podcasting in which I am collaborating with an RCWP colleague, Dawn Reed. The second, from another RCWP colleague, Stacy Schuh who was trying to figure out who to get colleagues in her school to use blogs.

First, Dawn and I have been working for the past few months to create an opportunity for students in her speech class to blog, podcast, and offer peer response to one another. In so doing, she has run into multiple layers of complications in regards to allowing audio content over her school network, having the appropriate equipment in her classroom for students to listen to podcasts, getting technical support, and having parents sign off on a consent form for students to post their work online (or, perhaps, getting students to take the consent form home for parents to sign…). In short, she feels that:

Basically, I need help to get around what our technology is set up not to do.

Now, this is not a matter of Dawn throwing up her arms in frustration at the first sign of a problem. Instead, I feel that this comment speaks to the deep and sometimes unseen forces that school infrastructure — both social and physical — can have on a teacher’s ability (and willingness) to engage in technology-based work with her students. These roadblocks that she has encountered are indcative of how we refuse to change what Tyack and Cuban would call the “grammar of schooling”: the ways in which the traditional school day, quarters, semesters, and years are structured as well as the generally restrictive and skill-and-drill ways in which we view using technology in school. These visisons continue to propel our decision making processes about why and how to use technology, even though the changes are happening faster than we can keep up with if we are willing to innovate, let alone if we are not.

Second, Stacy a teacher at RCWP — who works at a public charter school — has essentially become the webmaster for her school because she was able to get the free Lunar Pages account for K-12 educators. The school didn’t have a website, nor did teachers have email, until she set up the site a year ago. She has had her students blogging this year on a Word Press blog that she installed on the site.

Recently, she wanted to create a blog for her colleagues but everything in her school is filtered (Blogger, Edublogs, etc) except for the domain that she created through Lunar Pages because it is, essentially, the school website. So, as she and I were trying to think through all the options, I just suggested that she install another Word Press blog. She did. And they are blogging now.

As I think about these two teachers and the infrastructure problems that they are encountering, I think that someone needs to help out. Perhaps NWP — or at least local sites — could team with a hosting company like Lunar Pages to make things easily available to teachers that can help them do their work better and empower them to make their own decisions related to technology. Then, teachers would have control over their domains, both classroom and web-based ones.

Students Researching Online

Paul has invited me to be part of an upcoming Teachers Teaching Teachers show about students doing research online. Check out the Google Notebook for the show to get a sense of what will be happening and let me know if you have things that you want to add to it.

My interest in this topic goes back to my time teaching middle school and first-year composition at the community college. At the time, I know that asking my students to keep a list of citations with an online citation generator was considered pretty cutting-edge. Now, however, I wonder if that is A) still cutting-edge and B) enough?

In this age of hypertext composing and plagiarism detection services, I have to ask whether or not our old means of citing sources is good enough. Clearly, there are cultural norms and rhetorical traditions that we have to meet here, so I am not suggesting that we ask students not to cite their sources. However, I do want to suggest that we begin thinking more about why we are asking them to site their sources and how to keep track of them.

I have put some initial thinking in the “Citing our Sources – How and Why?” section of the notebook. And, as always, I would appreciate hearing what all of you think about this issue — what is happening in your classroom? How has the research process changed in the past few years with the emergence of read/write web tools?