I posted a book review over at Middleweb that explores the difficult terrain of assessing student digital writing. It’s an area I know I continue to struggle with. This book — edited by National Writing Project colleague Troy Hicks and featuring a number of National Writing Project educators — seeks to show a variety of paths (via protocols) to look at digital writing, mostly from the view of process of creating as opposed to evaluation of the final product.
Read my review of Assessing Students’ Digital Writing: Protocols for Looking Closely
Peace (we’re all looking),
In my latest blog post over at Middleweb, I explore the use of digital portfolios as a tool for student curation of their own writing over time. This was a pilot year for me, with my own professional digital portfolio, and my students, with a digital writing portfolio.
Read Digital Portfolios: Curation in the Age of Cacophony at Middleweb
Peace (in the think),
flickr photo shared by Leo Reynolds under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license
Over at my blog at Middleweb, I explore something that has been bothering me all year. We added five minutes to each of our classes for more instruction. The trade-off was losing social connection time. I’m not sure it was worth it.
Read How Five Minutes Altered Our Class Culture
Peace (every minute of every day),
In my latest blog post at Middleweb, I explore the potential of digital portfolios for teachers. (My follow-up in a few weeks will focus on how my students are creating their own digital writing portfolios as the school year comes to a close). Here, I explore my own shift towards a digital teaching portfolio as home for evidence and reflection for my educator evaluation process.
Check out: Exploring the Potential of Digital Portfolios
Peace (port it),
(My piece was the lead-off in this education newsletter, which is pretty neat)
I wrote my latest column at MiddleWeb about our science-based research project, in which I tried to balance an openness for students to choose topics while digging into elements of research itself. I think the results from students were pretty strong in terms of writing and researching. Plus, they did media projects as extension activities.
Come read Enter the Research at MiddleWeb
Peace (in the sharing),
flickr photo shared by dishfunctional under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license
I helped co-write an article over at Middleweb about the development of a summer youth program through our Western Massachusetts Writing Project that explored a relatively unknown resource in our backyard: the Springfield Armory. The summer camp brought middle school students from urban Springfield into the only National Park site in our region, and it is quite an eyeful to walk in and see walls and walls of guns and munitions, let me tell you. The Organ of Muskets will make you pause, I guarantee it.
Read Writing the History in Your Backyard at Middleweb
The article provides resources for connecting with local National Park sites. The camp was funded through a grant by the National Writing Project and the National Park Service. My role was as a documentarian, not a leader of the youth program.
Peace (in innovation of industry),
My review of Building School 2.0 by Chris Lehmann and Zac Chase is live over at Middleweb, and I highly recommend this book for its smarts, and its philosophy of education and learning, and for the lively writing and musings of these two talented educators.
Read my review at Middleweb
Peace (in the wonder),
(This is for Slice of Life, a regular feature with Two Writing Teachers).
My latest column at Middleweb is a humorous take on an ethnographic study of my four classes of sixth graders. I was trying to have some fun, even as I was thinking of the trends of class characters that can emerge after a few weeks of teaching into the new year.
Read An Unofficial Field Guide to Sixth Graders in the Wild
Peace (and quiet),
Over at Middleweb, I reviewed a new book about “connected reading” by Kristen Hawley Turner and Troy Hicks. They push our thinking about the ways that Connected Learning principles can take root with adolescent readers.
It is a thoughtful book that looks at classroom practice and the ways in which Turner and Hicks were doing the “connected reading” even as they were writing the book itself. (I am sucker for that kind of reflective writing)
Read the review of Connected Reading: Teaching Adolescent Readers in a Digital World
The comic I share above was my way of putting connected reading practice into reality, as I mapped out how I came to review the book and then am asking readers at Middleweb to extend the conversation even further.
You can do the same.
Peace (in the read),
My latest column over at Middleweb is an interview with my Western Massachusetts Writing Project (and musician) colleague, Michael Silverstone, and his writing partner, Debbie Zacarian, about their new book, In It Together, that looks how to establish and build school partnerships with families and organizations in order to enrich the learning lives of all students.
Here are a few quotes that I think speak to what they are talking about:
… expending energy in the direction of collaboration leaves you with more energy than you started with. It’s kind of a paradox. I’ve come to know that isolation depletes my energy sooner or later. I’ve had supremely satisfying times in my own little classroom world, but after a while, going solo gets draining. — Michael Silverstone
Tapping into the experiences of our families greatly helps us in building these connections, and the possibilities for doing this are wonderfully endless. For example, some students might have a parent or sibling who is deployed, and others might have a family member who fled their home country. Both groups have depth of knowledge on this topic of study and can greatly help our instruction to come alive. — Debbie Zacarian
I think the Q&A format brought out some interesting insights from Michael and Debbie that is worth a read as the school year begins and we look to the community of our classroom and beyond for support and inspiration.
Check out the piece at Middleweb.
Peace (making connections),