Gail Desler's picture


Thirteen years ago, my classroom was the first in the county to have Internet access. I could see that we “were on the verge of something,” but I could never quite articulate what that “something” was. Now I know: we were on the verge of Web 2.0, and all its amazing, 24/7 ways to connect people across multiple, dynamic learning communities.

Without a doubt, the greatest impact on my approach to teaching and learning comes from my long-time and on-going connection with the National Writing Project, an organization founded before the arrival of the Internet. The Writing Project’s basic tenet that for teachers to teach writing, they must also be writers themselves was certainly true before the arrival of the Internet. In this digital age, becoming a writer still takes effort and support, but what has changed are the incredible opportunities to connect, collaborate, and take our voices beyond the walls of the classroom.

Writing Project Site

Area 3 Writing Project


Elk Grove




Twenty years ago, I started on an amazing, ongoing professional development journey by applying for the Area 3 Writing Project’s Summer Institute (SI). I knew from the opening day that my SI experience would provide me with exceptional best practices in teaching writing and, equally important, with an incredible professional learning community. But in 1995, I certainly had no idea of the life-changing connections that would come my way as a result of my joining the NWP community. I’d like to share one of those connections.

Hmong 40, NWP, Secret War in Laos
May 10, 2015
by Gail Desler