This collection shares resources created by educators across the Educator Innovator network who are working to transform their teaching in order to promote connected learning.
Resources in this collection have emerged from a growing partnership between the National Park Service (NPS) and the National Writing Project (NWP) designed to bolster connected learning opportunities within the national parks and reach more young visitors and educators.
This collection features the work of three Teacher Consultants from the UNC Charlotte Writing Project who explored and reflected upon how a "maker" approach to teaching English Language Arts worked to empower students in the classroom and connect them with the community.
This collection of resources demonstrates the ways that middle school teachers at a high needs middle school in Eastern North Carolina are transforming their professional learning and teaching practices with Connected Learning frameworks.
What does it look like when young people are writing on their own terms, in spaces outside of school? What new ways of composing do digital media tools open up for us, and what does that mean as it relates to literacy pedagogy and writing instruction inside of schools? This collection features resources written by Hip-hop & spoken word artists & entrepreneurs who work first-hand with youth on initiatives that center youth production and literacy.
- english class
- high school english
- social justice and art
- students writing
- writing outside
- art and writing
- connected learning
- personal story
- classroom discussion
- public voice
- civic engagement
- peer mentorship
- community connections
- community engagement
- interest-driven learning
- teacher education
- lessons learned
- Group Process
- Social & Emotional Learning
- authentic audience
- LRNG Grant
- LRNG Innovators
- meaningful audience
- broadcast media
- LRNG Innovator
- digital storytelling
- media literacy
Years ago, I went in search of an audience for my students, although at that time I didn't know that was what I was doing. I’d seen enough student writing to know that I wasn’t doing something right. They were smart, interesting and capable of all manner of argument, but I was frustrated by assignments that weren’t helping them put those traits into their writing. I noticed that they were willing to risk suspension by breaking through the district’s internet firewall to reach sites like Myspace and Facebook where they went to write (Write!) about the things they cared about and in ways that reflected their personalities. This was what I was looking for, so I started a website where my students and I could build on the conversations we were having in class, where they would write like they were for those websites. I envisioned a free flowing forum of ideas and enthusiasm, a place for authentic voices like I’d seen in other places, like I’d heard in my classroom....
Their World – A Digital One
By Amy Quinn
This is the only world young students know of… a digital one.
As an adult, we can see this “change” as clear as night and day because we remember the “before.” There was a time we didn’t all carry our smartphones everywhere. The “before” was a time when every place didn’t have wifi. We remember how Sunday mornings were spent holding onto a crinkly newspaper. Our main inbox was an actual mailbox. Book stores were common. The only choice for programs to watch on TV were the shows scheduled. When having a phone conversation, the only image we had was… the one in our mind.
Research papers often get a bad reputation. But we conduct research all the time in our everyday lives. Whether we want to understand civic issues or make a major life purchase, we need research skills to sift through all the information. Research writing skills students practice in the classroom need to transfer to their lives too. The most powerful opportunities for this kind of academic learning to transfer to lifelong skills happens when students have some degree of choice about the topics and texts they will study, are able to socially construct new meaning from shared experience, and to demonstrate their skills in both writing and through other media.
As I enter my 21st year of teaching at Thurston High School in the South Redford School District, I have seen the change in how my students learn. Students in 2016 are no longer the same passive consumers of information that they were in the mid 1990s. Instead, they have transformed into creators of information they disseminate through blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos and more. In fact, hundreds of hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. The transformation from consuming to producing created a need for me to change my teaching style in order to encourage student engagement.
Yesterday was International Dot Day, and this is the first year I had my students join the millions (6.6 million from 139 countries, in fact) people making circles and dots as a way to nurture a sense of creativity and imagination. The Dot Day idea stems from a picture book by Peter Reynolds, called The Dot. We connected with Peter and his brother, Paul, last school year, and we hope to do so again this year.
It's quite possible this is impossible. I am trying to narrow in on the affordances of what we mean by the phrase "Digital Writing." I may even veer way off track here, and perhaps it is best for all of us just to drop the "digital" once and for all, and just call it .. writing. Although, I, for one, still prefer the word "composing."
As an English teacher, when I say the word literacy to my non-English teaching colleagues, their eyes glaze over. They’re no doubt thinking about reading a textbook and answering questions, and they’re bored by the thought of it. But in today’s world, the definition of literacy has changed. It is no longer acceptable to only teach students what I’ll call classic literacy skills. Of course, these are important, but if we as teachers focus solely on these, we are leaving out a large chunk of literacy skills that are necessary in today’s society, the so-called new literacies. But, what are new literacies? The National Council of Teachers of English (2013) defines 21st Century literacies as the ability to:
● Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology;
So, consider me intrigued ... I just re-discovered the MediaBreaker tool by The Lamp as part of the Letters to the Next President campaign. MediaBreaker is like the old Popcorn Maker (I still miss you, Popcorn!) by Mozilla, in that you can layer media and text on top of video content. In this case, the idea is to make commentary on top of political videos.
[Cross-posted on Edutopia]
There is a sad truth about the way that most students learn to write: They become boring writers. To write with clarity and insight involves struggle (regardless of age). When faced with this challenge, many students are taught to detach from content, to analyze with sterile language, and to develop ideas within a narrow formula.
Structure is helpful, but if not implemented strategically, it can stifle creativity and require students to go through motions rather than investing themselves in creating something. Many of our attempts to help young people develop writing skills actually deter them from the joy and power of developing a unique, insightful writing voice.
New Ways of Understanding the Writing Process
For three months in the fall my 12th grade students designed their own learning. Each plan culminated with a project. In the fall I wrote about the fear I felt when I began to step back. There is a lot I learned from this process (and I plan to write more about it in the future.)
Designing learning in this way meant students were able to pursue topics they felt passionate about and many did so by embarking on complex projects. The result is a collection of products that go beyond traditional ideas of school work and instead speak to the abilities of young people to create work that has meaning in the world.
But, you shouldn’t trust me. Go and judge for yourself!
Radio pieces made in collaboration with Jeanette Woods at WHYY:
So, I have been having more fun that I have a right to have by making political-themed distorted graphs that have no data correlation whatsoever. I don't even think or consider any numbers when making these. Who cares about data when you have cool graphs in a misinformation campaign!
When I first heard the term “cosmopolitanism” my mind immediately flashed to a scene from my favorite TV show, Sex and the City. I envisioned Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte sitting in some swanky Manhattan restaurant wearing the latest daring fashions. Little did I know that the term cosmopolitanism was actually a philosophy, one that, as a teacher, proves very valuable.
"Children should be seen not heard."
How many of us feel like this was the mantra when growing up?
In my classroom, math is organized into three stations.
A pop-up, unofficial, experimental #clmooc make cycle
To Teach Digital Writing, You Just Have to Color Outside the Lines
It used to be easy, neat, and contained. Like an old fashioned coloring book where you knew to stay inside the lines. But staying inside the lines is hard. And every time you strayed outside those lines, you swore not to the next time. But deep down you knew that to express yourself effectively, to make the most of what you needed to say, to make your message and meaning clear, you had to go outside the lines. And it would be messy.
I recently wrote a blog post sharing my reasons for assigning infographics, but the more I think about teaching with infographics, the more I realize there are a wealth of advantages for every level and every content area. So this week’s Notable Notes will be devoted to what others have to say about using infographics to support learning in classes from social studies to science and so much more.
In “Navigating in the Age of Infographics,” Troy Hicks points out that in today’s world visual literacy is important to teach, learn and understand as well as describing ways that infographics can be used for personal, professional, and creative expression.
I learned something new this week. Yet another reason why teaching is such an awesome job. Actually, I learned lots of things as my students are wrapping up their class projects, but one thing I learned is specific to teaching and that thing made me think again about how and why I grade with badges.
I currently have two classes of first-year college students working on a service learning project with a local middle school. This is my second year (third semester) using service learning in my classes. You can read more about why I like service learning in The Benefits of Service Learning.
I want to devote this Notable Notes to what others have to say about the benefits of service learning beginning with Erin Bittman’s great post “Service Learning Is Essential for All Kids—Here’s Why.” In her post she offers some great ideas for service projects for students at a variety of levels. I love the ways that young students can create service learning projects.
Reflection is a major component of my classes and I often use some fun, creative writing exercises as well as more traditional reflection. Last year I used a combination of slam poetry and praise poetry, but I’m not certain this approach will work as well with my classes this semester. So I have been thinking about the various tools on my belt and then a member of my PLN shared this awesome video from PBS Digital Studios. They have a whole range of “Art Assignments” you should check out (warning: wormhole), but the video that inspired me was called “Fake Flyer” featuring Nathaniel Russell.
This reflection was inspired by a recent departmental debate about a mandatory final in our first-year writing class.
There has been a debate raging in my department about the form and function of our Writing I and Writing II classes – those core “composition” courses that all students are required to take. This requirement is a good thing. It is essential that our students learn to be good writers, and readers and thinkers, which is why I have always maintained that these are among the most important classes students take in college. The debate centers on the focus of these classes. Will the classes be research-based or argument-based? What kinds of texts will be read and/or studied to support the writing? Will there be a final exam and what form should it take?
I recently read an article by Ken Goldstein about why we should move away from performance reviews toward coaching and mentoring (see 3 arguments against performance reviews). This idea resonated with me for two reasons. First, the only feedback I receive is a brief performance review letter (not even a personal session such as the one described by Goldstein) and the only coaching and mentoring I receive is something I must seek on my own. Second, as a National Writing Project site director I hear a lot about professional development fails (usually in contrast to whatever Morehead Writing Project event the teacher recently attended).
“You step outside, you risk your life. You take a drink of water, you risk your life. Nowadays you breath and you risk your life. Every moment now, you don’t have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for.”
~ Hershel Greene (The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 3)
I was recently challenged to think about a quote that was meaningful to me as a teacher and/or writer (for the Write Now! MOOC). I mulled over many options as I am a bit of collector and love it when people share great quotes with me. However, one idea kept resonating with me and so I chose to share the awesome quote from The Walking Dead above.
I'm past 20 now. Twenty-odd daily comics for The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid, an idea that was sparked by my participation in the open Western106 story adventure. I thought I would take a breather here to reflect on how it's going for me, the writer (I make an appearance now and then in the comic, usually for criticism for not writing better comics or not paying attention to equity issues. Guilty as charged!).
Well, breather, plus today's comic:
I have only been assigning infographics for about a year, but I am in love and here is why you should teach with infographics too. First, a quick explanation for how I got here. I first assigned infographics for my professional writing students, because I thought it would be a useful form for them to learn and I wanted a digital presentation format for our group learning document assignment. The infographic assignment fit the bill perfectly and did so much more. I now use infographics in my other classes as an alternative to traditional presentation tools (down with Powerpoint!) and I strongly encourage you to think about infographics in your classroom for these three reasons.
Laura Ritchie is a teacher, researcher, performer, and learner. She is currently a Reader in Pedagogy at the University of Chichester. She created Cello Weekend, a time for complete beginners to come together with novices, students, and professionals to learn to play the cello. Through Connected Courses, she created an open, online connected course about creating a curriculum for connected learning about music.
We’re a K–12 school, with K–12 makers, and we treat that making as a way of driving student learning, rather than simply showcasing it. What that means is that we let students tinker, discover, and hit walls with a project before giving them instruction, then use these successes and setbacks as learning tools. Driving our curriculum through our making requires shifting our roles as educators. We often take a step back from teaching directly, so students can teach themselves.
Receiving a Grant, joining the Flat Class Global Educator Course (FCGE), and reading so many incredibly helpful blogs has invigorated my desire to blog and share what is going on in my classroom. I hope it may be useful!
When I remember social studies classes, I most often recall reading from dated textbooks and completing essays or worksheets to accompany the text. Social studies was not usually an engaging experience, relying on more traditional paper-and-pencil methods that relayed a somewhat dry method of presenting interesting information.
When I imagine sharing this curriculum with teachers, I imagine what it means for teachers across the United States to teach for a more socially just world. It doesn’t mean framing texts for kids of color or English learners and leaving vast seas of white learners to simply absorb the “classics.”
In framing my unit for teachers, we begin with our own pressing needs and questions. We wonder, what is a problem we are currently facing? How can we access help and respond?
Katie was one of those quiet kids who came to school every day and did what was expected of her. But she was a digital creator in the confines of her bedroom, making movies on her MacBook that she shared with friends.
If Will Richardson, well-known tech educator, had run into Katie when he was researching his recent wake up call for teachers in the USA, entitled “Why School?” and asked her if she thought that school was offering her valuable learning opportunities in the digital world, she might have smirked, shrugged and then responded, no way!
"I don't put students in groups so they can learn to work in groups or be social...I put people in groups because I think that's how knowledge is created--by people who talk though ideas and puzzle through problems." Read how educator Dr. Kim Jaxon stretches the boundaries of 'literacy' in her classroom, and helps students draw on their strengths to make the group stronger.
One of the most difficult challenges of teaching first-year writing at the university level is moving students from a set of tightly held, prescriptive beliefs about what constitutes good writing into a space where they can broadly consider the unique rhetorical situation of every composition. Each semester, multiple students tell me they’ve never written anything for school other than a five-paragraph essay, and they look at me incredulously when I tell them that their thesis might not be best located in the last sentence of their first paragraph. They tell me good writers put five to seven sentences in every paragraph and never use contractions, and I tell them that this semester, we’re going to break all those rules and write with more than words on a page or a screen, just to see what might happen.
In my classroom, we wonder. We wonder how wildfires start. We wonder what is the largest dog in the world. We wonder who invented Legos. My 4th-graders are full of questions. Their curiosity is contagious.
We set the stage for wondering from the very beginning of the school year. Inquiry is the foundation on which I build my curriculum. My 4th-grade students know that our classroom is safe; it is a place to ask questions, take risks, make mistakes, and learn. I want my students to take own- ership of their learning and to produce work that is both meaningful and purposeful to them. I provide spaces and time for those very im- portant conversations that grow student learning. Books, both fiction and nonfiction, line the walls in my classroom. Websites are posted so that students can read articles and blogs online.
Excerpt from Assessing Students’ Digital Writing: Protocols for Looking Closely
Working with young children is something I feel very fortunate to be able to do each day. The best part of my day is being able to share great stories with my students. They love when they see me walk in with a large, plain, brown bag. They know it is filled with new treasures from the local, independent bookstore.
My 2nd-graders not only love the rich stories we share together, they become inspired by the authors who touch their lives. We share a strong sense of family in our classroom. We spend the first few weeks of school building routines, setting expectations, and getting to know one another. Throughout the year, we continue to do team-building & activities and share our lives with one another. We have a daily show & and tell, and I eat lunch with students every day. We are very close.
It has become increasingly clear that youths' experiences in schools do not match the kinds of experiences they are likely to have once they have completed school. The push to support "21st century" skills stems from this mismatch, and many have advocated for ensuring that young people learn to think about the world not as a simple set of cause-and-effect experiences, but rather as a set of complex systems.
Think globally, game locally
A former student of mine, now in education herself, posed this question on Facebook: "Teacher friends, tomorrow is the day before a vacation [Thanksgiving]. How are you addressing the [Ferguson] grand jury announcement."
Writing was always about the word. Even the most read book of all acknowledges that elemental idea: In the beginning, there was the Word... This collection looks beyond the word, examining how the digital transcends the traditional, reshaping and re-envisioning building blocks of literacy to convey meaning.
This collection considers the tension associated with helping students find their voices as communicators and make their messages public.
In November 2009, I had the honor and privilege of speaking to a group of NWP leaders, teachers, consultants, and friends at a convening for the NWP's DIGITAL IS initiative. This collection features the presentation itself along with a selection of related resources.
The Digital Is website hosts a growing collection of stories, reflections, and resources about teaching and learning writing in a digital age. As the collection grows, we hope to maintain a certain point of view about teaching and the practice of writing: heavy on reflection, open to inquiry, focused on authentic student accomplishment.
What does it mean to teach digital writing? Not in general, but in specific: specific teachers, specific students, specific opportunities. In this collection we invite you to look at a sampler of what 'digital' is in five classrooms.
How is the introduction of new technologies pushing NWP teachers & their students to rethink their fields and ways of composing?
This collection highlights three of the many excellent resources tagged voice and audience on the Digital Is website. Important elements of the digital classroom—inquiry, emerging experts, and a pedagogy of collegiality—are clearly themes in the work of these classrooms.
At its core, connective writing is the idea that digital writers using digital writing tools create an inherently different kind of writing. What is connective writing, and what might it look like in practice? Is it new and different?...or simply an extension of what's come before?
The Internet is our writing space par excellence, whether we access it via our smartphones, through a Web browser, or using an email application. Here, we delve into a complex narrative of how this space was imagined, designed, and crafted, surfacing important developments worth thinking about.
The typical kindergarten classroom is a cacophony of voices matched by the constant motion of little bodies. Every square inch of space offers opportunities for kids to construct, create, talk, share, and use their hands. Where in this picture is the time and space for technology?
Jenkins, et al. (2007) characterize today's society as one based on participation, using the term "participatory culture" to describe how we are no longer pure consumers of media, but producers, sharers, and collaborators.
The prevalence of new multimedia authoring tools has redefined the kinds of writing students can compose in our classrooms. This collection supports students in composing with and using new digital writing tools in purposeful manners.
Youth are communicating with each other and the larger society today using a variety of digital and social media tools, but what are they saying? What possibilities do these digital tools hold for social, political, and economic change?
Even the unstoppable momentum of 21st century literacy has not managed to completely debunk the myth of solitary genius, and the tension between solitary authorship and collaboration remains. In this collection, new voices dialogue in asking how individual perspective should be treated when it exists due to its role in a much larger, ongoing, public conversation.
The magnitude of the change in our core communications and media culture prompts speculation about the impact of that change on us as human beings. This collection gathers some of this speculation as various voices ask: Is it the end of the world as we know it? (By the way, I feel fine.)