The Community Continues
For the last two summers, I have worked closely with two fellow teacher consultants at the Bay Area Writing Project’s Young Writing Camp in San Francisco. Last year, we were new writing camp teachers so we were experimenting with writing and technology -videos, and digital story telling. We wanted to intertwine writing with technology to engage our students and push their creativity.
Our first summer, we used Google Documents as a way for students to share their work, to comment and help each other edit. However, we found that it limited the audience, the author had to invite readers to their piece thereby limiting both feedback and encouragement. We wanted a space that was inclusive to the entire camp. We wanted an open space where every student had the opportunity to read everyone’s work. We also wanted a space that was both user and instructor friendly, especially with only three weeks of a half-day camp.
This summer, we improved upon the previous summer’s lessons and used pbworks.com, a free blog and wiki site with each student having their own blog page to compose and receive feedback on. We continued with the video and digital story telling, however pbworks.com allowed for a wider audience and was very user friendly when it came to students sharing and editing, or uploading pictures and finished videos.
Our writing camp is different, because it has a “Technology Component” that includes film-making and photography. We strive to enhance the technology component using the Web 2.0 technologies of our camp, yet, not lose the essence of writing.
In pbworks.com, we created a page on our wiki for each student, allowing for individual creativity.
The wiki allowed all the students at the camp to read, and comment on each other’s work. Though the students were divided into groups, based on age and skills, to help better meet their needs, they were not confined to them. The students were not limited to only reading writings from their group, rather they could read across ages. Hearing some parent concerns on Internet safety, we safeguarded the website via invitation, only students, parents, and staff were allowed access to the wiki.
Although the summer has ended and camp concluded two months ago, students are still using the website. Students are still writing, editing and commenting on each other’s writing. As we reflect upon the summer, we ourselves, why are our Young Writer’s Camp students still writing on the website? What’s motivating them to continue writing?