The ABC Book of Blogging

I came across this very wonderful resource put together by a group of fifth graders from Conyers, Georgia. They created an ABC guide to Blogging for Kids and it is a wonderful production that not only provides great information but also, as a project itself, showcases some wonderful inquiry and presentation by young writers and researchers (including the use of idioms). The entries include illustrations by the students. All around, this project is very nicely done!

The ABC Book of Blogging

Some examples from the students’ work:

  • From the Letter A: The anticipation we feel just before opening our blogs is awesome. We’re “all ears” listening to Mrs. Anne Davis and each other as we begin the day discussing what we will be doing during our blogging session. Some times we have our articles ready to post. We are most anxious to hear from our internet audience and can’t wait to answer comments. We’ve got a good attitude because this is “A Place to Be Heard!”
  • And on to Z: After good discussions full of dialogue from everyone we really get good ideas to use while blogging. Of course, that’s after we omit the zany comments. Derrick told us about Zaxlies, who don’t always project their voices. We have learned to project our voices and zero in on the writing. Sometimes Mrs. Davis tells us to zip our lips and blog away! We zip to the lab and zoom in on our computer screens. We have a lot of zest when we are writing on our blogs.

— from


A Call for Proposals: Technology and Composition

I am working with two distinguished researchers/writers in the field of composition (Charlie Moran and Anne Herrington) from the University of Massachusetts Amherst to develop a book that examines how our view of teaching writing and composition is changing with the integration of technology. Anne and Charlie have looked at writing practices from a variety of angles, including writing across the curriculum and genres. Now they want to add technology to the mix.

We are looking for classroom teachers in grades 4-13 who can write about their experiences. We have just published a call for proposals in English Journal and other sources but I wanted to use my web of Blogs to get the word out, too.

Here is our Call for Proposals:

Practically everyone agrees that writing is changing, as writers compose more on screen than in previous generations. But how has this change in what we consider “writing” affected teachers’ classroom practice? In the context of emerging multiliteracies, what are teachers’ goals for their students’ learning? How have teachers revised their definitions of writing in the age of digital literacy? How are these expressed as changes in their classroom practice? And what new writing do the students produce?

The primary goal of this edited collection is to examine the ways in which teachers in grades 4 to 13 understand changes in writing, and to examine the ways in which these changed understandings are reflected in their classroom practice and in their students’ work, particularly given reductive definitions of writing now current in national and statewide testing. Classroom teachers will principally author chapters in this collection. Each chapter will include the teachers’ understandings of the ways in which writing has changed, new goals for students’ learning, and the ways in which the teacher has adapted curriculum and classroom practice to respond to these changes. Chapters would include excerpts from students’ new writing and the teacher’s criteria for assessing this writing.

Editors Anne Herrington, Kevin Hodgson, and Charles Moran seek 500-word proposals for chapters of 3,000–4,000 words. The deadline for proposals is January 15, 2007. Please email proposals as Word or RTF attachments to

Please consider contributing to this project, as it will inform the teaching practices of many (hopefully) others in the field of writing.



Considering Elgg

Last week, I joined an online conversation with folks through Teachers Teaching Teachers that explores the convergence of technology and teaching in its many varied forms. I have been curious about the concept of Elgg communities and jumped into the conversation with some questions (for my own benefit and for my wife, who is a high school teacher). As far as I can tell, Elgg offers the possibility of a safe online community that links members together through shared interested and through related “tags” that they create in their profile. It mirrors Facebook and MySpace, but without the advertising and mess of those sites. Dave Tosh provides a good overview of Elgg at his site.
You can listen to the podcast of that conference through the Teachers Teaching Teachers site. Or you can find that link here:

microphone Listen to the podcast

Meanwhile, I notice that the authors of one of my favorite blog sites — Bud the Teacher — is posing his own inquiries into Elgg, so I hope to follow along that conversation, too. And I have joined a teacher Elgg, too, just to tour around and get familiar with the tools that are there.


Student Biopoems: Creating a Class Community

The first writing project for my sixth grade this year is a BioPoem in which our young writers create an 11-line poem about themselves based on a series of prompts that explore emotions, fears and family.
To move beyond the personal and more towards a community of writers, we created Class Audio Biopoems in which each student contributed one line from their poem.
Take a listen:


Touring the Museum of Museums

Some days, you just stumble across a very neat idea and have to share it with other people, you know? Someone fed me this link to the Museum of Museums through a Delicious account and I was hooked.

This Museum of Museums collects links to the sites of any variety of museums from around the world, with the very ambitious idea of linking every single museum together for one mass site of collective knowledge. (It’s nice to have reasonable goals, I suppose). Art galleries, dinosaurs, music and any other topic that you can think of is someone’s museum obsession and can be found within the categories of this site. You can even view the Museum of Bad Art, if that is more to your taste.

And then, there are those virtual museums — the places that don’t exist in the real world and yet, are repositories of information. For example, there is a museum for toaster ovens, if that is your thing. And the Museum of Talking Boards (meaning: Ouiji) that can raise some goosebumps on people.

I can envision some neat virtual field trips from my classroom, with links and reactions and descriptions right from the class Weblog site.


The Power of Voice: Student Narratives

The connections between writing and voice is an interesting one, particularly in this age of podcasts and audiocasts across distance and time, and I know that my NWP colleague Chris S. in Utah has been very much into capturing the voices of his students and researching the ways that voice can influence and enhance writing.

Last year, my students were part of a Cyberpal exchange with some students at Jefferson Junior High School in Washington DC (through another NWP partnership with Maria) and they shared some of their own personal narrative writing via an audiocast.

Students wrote a short personal narrative piece that focused on an object that represented some memories. Take a listen:


NWP Profile

The National Writing Project received a wonderful feature in the National Staff Development Council’s publication (Summer 2006) which showcases the work being done by teachers in the NWP network.

“The National Writing Project is a leading example of how teachers, immersed in the practice of writing, are better able to both teach writing and lead peers to improve.” — By Mary Ann Smith

The article can be found PDF file from this link from the NSDC archives. Pass the link on to someone else who might be interested in the work of the National Writing Project and spread the good word.
(thanks to Troy for sending this along).


Viewing the Read-Write Web

The emergence of technology as a source for user-generated writing, audio and video files is intriguing to me as an educator, but I still wonder about how everything will pan out in a few years. Will it all become a commercialized jumble of incoherence? (MySpace is an absolute mess that began with promise, I think). Or will we find a path to utilize these resources to generate critical learning and collaboration for our young student writers and creators?

read-write web

Last semester, I took a course at UMass and wrote a final paper about my thoughts on the integration of the Read-Write Web (also known as Web 2.0 in some circles) into classroom practice and so I share it here for anyone who might be interested in what I wrote. Will Richardson continues to explore the possibilities of these technologies in education in interesting ways and his Weblogged site is always worth a gander. My own paper and inquiry remains a work in progress for me and a piece of writing I will return to at a later time for more reflection and work.

Read Kevin’s Seminar Paper

O'Reilly Web 2.0


Student Voices: A Falling Leaf

Listen to sixth graders read their stories.

Today in my Sixth Grade Writing Workshop, students learned a bit about point of view narrative techniques in writing.

  • First Person Narrative: stories told from the view of a character.
  • Third Person Narrative: stories told from a perspective outside of a particular character
  • Second Person Narrative: stories that insert the reader into the story.

Students then wrote in a First Person Narrative style that captured a leaf falling from a tree in Autumn. Some of those young writers, after sharing their writing with the class, agreed to help create this audiocast.


The World of the Saxophone

Since blogging is often a source of obsession as well as of information, I figured it was time to check out some sites dedicated to the windy world of the saxophone.


I used my Delicious account to track down some sites as opposed to Google because I was interested in meandering through some other folk’s networks and interests as I pursued my own. So here are some sites of interest to the saxophonists out there:

  • First, there is the Wikipedia entry on the Saxophone. One interesting fact is that Adolph Sax, who created the instrument, designed over 14 different models of the musical invention in the 1800s.
  • There is a neat timeline of patents related to the Saxophone at this site. The last patent (according to this site) was in the 1920s and had to do with a key that makes playing a few multiple notes a bit easier.
  • Here is a photo gallery of all sorts of saxophones, spread out across the years and companies. Very nice pictures here. I liked the last few folders that shows rarities and odd assortments, such as the Slide Saxophone.
  • Apparently, saxophone players are feeling underprivileged in the music world because there is a Saxophone Alliance. The group even has a constitution and bylaws. This is serious! Actually, it’s nice to know that all sorts of communities of interest can spring up on the ‘net.
  • One fellow has designed a site to make fun of saxophone solos in pop songs over the years and it is quite funny. The site provides short audio clips of the solos and there are even grades for the solos there (example: the solo in Billy Joel’s Still Rock and Roll to Me garners a B while Huey Lewis and the News’ Back in Time gets a lowly D grade.
  • Finally, check out this classic video clip from the one and only Sesame Street on how a saxophone is made in a factory. This is from YouTube, just so ya know, so I can’t vouch for copyright protection. (Ahh, go ahead and watch it — it’s very neat)