Kevin Hodgson, Western Massachusetts Writing Project
The new tools for communication, community-building, and creative production, available in the “new” World Wide Web, otherwise known as Web 2.0, significantly open the possibilities for teachers and students to collaborate and express themselves in exciting ways that engage them in the writing process. Teachers of writing have the opportunity to work on their craft and share their work with other practitioners and build networks that can help build their practice. Students are given a means to develop new means of self-expression, since technology can serve as a tool to aid the writing process.
There is a strong focus on writing for the claymation movies, produced by Mr. Hodgson and his students, from the beginning, when they start planning their story using worksheets and storyboards, which allow the students to visualize each scene of the film before they create a stop-motion movie or multimedia project. In groups, the students think about and discuss setting, characters, plot design, and dialogue, ensuring that each character is given the appropriate amount of lines, writing everything on a computer, revising the script throughout the filmmaking process if one aspect does not feel well developed enough.
The revision process occurs by assigning students to read different roles in rehearsals of the script, which are color coded, further allowing the students to see if characters are underrepresented. This allows the students to tap into a creative desires and engage differently because they are creating the story from many different aspects. They are writing the script, but also giving voice to the characters and literally building them from clay, allowing them to get to know their characters intimately. They can take chances and be more inventive, taking ownership of their projects. Students love to create and share, and explore new technology in ways in which they can express themselves, resulting in a sense of accomplishment when they finish and receive feedback. Knowledge that they will be sharing their work with other classes, family members, and friends will motivate them to do their best work. Therefore, the Web 2.0 tools that students and teachers can use will significantly improve the writing that students produce and the work teachers can do to help their students.