I got back yesterday, late afternoon, after three days by the Connecticut oceanside as part of a Professional Writing Retreat and it was just a fantastic experience. The house that the dozen or so of us stayed in was right on the water and the view across Long Island Sound was splendid (if a bit hot).
The retreat provided me with valuable to time to work on the first draft of my chapter for a book about technology and writing. I am focusing on a digital science book project, and although there were struggles along the way (aren’t there always?), I feel as if I made real and substantial progress. I know I need to add some more about assessment and standards, and go through a do quite a bit of trimming to what I wrote (11 pages), but I feel as if it is on the right path.
See — I really was working hard!
As part of my role as co-editor of our WMWP Online Newsletter, I also interviewed other retreat participants about what they were writing about and how the writing process was working for them, and then created a podcast of the interviews.
The topics under development for articles ranged from examining personal beliefs about teaching, ways for administrators and teachers to share leadership opportunities, the development of an after-school writing program in an urban city where kids are starved for creative writing, the ecology of a classroom and the impact on student motivation, and the use of technology to inform student writing skills.
Listen to the podcast
Peace (by the ocean),
Some days, I wonder just what in the world I am doing. For example, I was reading through John Hodgman‘s articles in Wired magazine and remembering his book, Areas of My Expertise, and then was pondering just how closely his last name resembles mine — man versus son. So I got to thinking about the name Hodge, and so I composed this (supposedly funny) letter to John. And I emailed it off to him (an email account for him was in Wired). And I decided to podcast it, too. And now I am blogging it. Sigh.
Read my letter to John HodgMAN.
And then listen to my audio of the letter. Letter to John.
I’ll be sure to let you know if he responds. 🙂
Peace (with humor),
Yesterday, I posted some of the writing from teachers in a workshop that I was leading in which they were asked to create a short Technology Autobiography. So, of course, I had made my own too.
Here it is:
Listen to my Autobiography
It was the mid-1990s and I was standing in a third grade classroom when a shriek burst forth from one of the smallest girls in the room. She was standing by the only computer in the room, pointing to the small screen.
“It’s Mr. M.,” she called out, and students rushed forward to crowd around the computer. They jostled one another to get a better look. “He sent us mail.”
Mr. M. was a science teacher at the city’s middle school but he owned a house in Costa Rica, and on academic sabbatical, Mr. M. was doing research on the migration of Monarch butterflies. Before he left the country, however, he made contact with various elementary school teachers and students, and he regularly emailed them updates on his adventures and his research into the butterflies. Students used this information as data for their own understanding of science.
As a newspaper reporter covering education for a major newspaper in Western Massachusetts, I experienced one of those singular moments when the merging of technology and education suddenly seemed like a true possibility. The excitement generated by a few lines of text was undeniable and it was clear that technology had the capacity to break down geographic lines.
Suddenly, for these students, Costa Rica wasn’t so far away.
Since then, I have moved into teaching myself, and through the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, I have become a technology leader for teachers in our network. But it all began during my own Invitational Summer Institute, when I started using a Weblog to connect with other members of the institute and the e-Anthology to connect with teachers from across the country. There seemed to be power there in the connections being made between writers and readers, and I went back to my sixth grade classroom that fall with plans to launch a Weblog in the classroom.
Over the past three years, that site (called The Electronic Pencil) has grown by leaps and bounds and I am now leading a larger Weblog project for schools across Western Massachusetts called Making Connections as a way to help other teachers experience the same power of technology for their students.
Now I am blogging on a personal level, too, with this site and I have found that it has given me a different voice that allows me to move through my interests such as music, writing, poetry and curiosity. This year, I added podcasting and videocasting to the mix and found that the multi-media elements of this technology gives me avenues of expression that weren’t there before. I am not sure if technology is changing who I am as a writer, but it has certainly given me more creative outlets to explore and discover. And what I learn on my own, I bring back to my classroom and to our network of teachers in the Writing Project.
I am not sure what the future holds for technology and writing, but I am ready and willing to explore it all.
Peace (with reflection),