At the 4Cs: Our NWP Connections

On Friday, I will be in Atlanta for the annual Conference on College Composition and Communication (4cs) and I am presenting an early morning session with some fellow National Writing Project/Western Massachusetts Writing Project colleagues– Anne Herrington, our site director and a professor at the University of Massachusetts; Donna LeCourt, a member of our WMWP technology team and a professor at the University of Mass, and Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, a co-director of  the National Writing Project.

Our talk is entitled “Broadening our Community to Reaffirm Connections with K-12 Educators” and our goal is to explore the connections between the university and the classroom, with the National Writing Project as a model for how those connections are made and nurtured.

Of course, our focus will shift a bit, given the latest news that the federal government has cut out all of its funding support for NWP, so we will be framing some of our discussion around what that change may mean for teachers and universities. (on a side note, the #blog4nwp effort continues to grow — read through the more than 200 blog posts so far in support of the Writing Project. It’s not too late to add your voice.)

My own part of this talk is entitled  “An NWP Site’s Teacher and Student Collaborations on Digital Projects,” and I have been thinking of what I can talk about in my 15 minutes or so. There are so many connections that have been made with the National Writing Project and so many ways in which my students have benefited from those connections.

So, here is an outline of my path of talking (still subject to change).

For me, the teacher

  • First year teacher — WMWP opened up my eyes to the value of what we now call PLC — that of teachers coming together to share and support and nurture each other.
  • Blogging in the Summer Institute with WMWP colleagues — realized the potential of blogging as a writing platform for my students — as publishing space, authentic audience, peer feedback
  • Led to Tech Friends (social networking space for NWP teachers across the country); the Collaborative ABC Movie Project; and the iAnthology (inspired by the eAnthology) which is now home to almost 450 NWP teachers for writing.
  • The Digital Is site is the latest iteration of collaborating for shared knowledge, with a focus on digital learning and how technology is shifting the way we teach and the way we learn.

For my students, collaboration opportunities

  • The Electronic Pencil — my classroom’s online home
  • The Flat Stanley Project (with fellow WMWP teacher Sara Palmer)
  • Blogging with DC (Maria Angala)– an online poetry collaboration
  • Making Connections — blogging with middle school students
  • Longfellow 10 Movie Site — movies by students
  • Youth Radio — podcasting with schools around the world
  • Voices on the Gulf — environmental exploration
  • Summer Writing Projects (through WMWP partnership with a local vocational high school) — Webcomics, Stopmotion Movies, Digital Storytelling, and Gaming.

The benefits of these connections/Projects

  • Authentic writing spaces
  • Authentic audiences
  • Fosters collaborative nature
  • Using technology for meaningful work and learning
  • The connections as WMWP/NWP teacher allowed me to tap into knowledge and expertise, explore it and then bring it into the classroom.

Peace (in the connections),
Kevin

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