Later today, we head off to Boston for the National Writing Project’s Urban Sites Conference. This will be my first USC and I am pretty excited to listen to Ernest Morrell as the keynote tomorrow and to tap into the expertise of teachers who work in different settings than I do.
The conference title is Nurturing Student Writing: Navigating Literacies. Much of the focus of the sessions is around use of media and culture as a way to inform learning and to tap into the expertise of our students. So, while the focus may be on how to engage urban learners as writers and composers, there should be plenty of great ideas in any school.
Some of the sessions that have piqued my interest:
Turning Distractions into Tools: Taking Technology from Their World and Bringing it to Ours
This interactive presentation will examine the integration of writing and technology for a variety of authentic purposes and audiences. Participants will engage in mini-lessons that have been used to guide middle and high school writers to create effective persuasive writing in the form of product reviews. Teachers will analyze and annotate samples of student work and will begin to draft their own consumer reviews on class blogs and wikis. Dottie Willis, Bellarmine University, Louisville (KY) WP; Susan Cintra, Madison Central High School, Eastern Kentucky University (KY) WP
Whose Blog Is It? How ELLs Represent Their Layered Identities in Digital Writing and What Teachers Can Learn From Them
Teachers and students need to recognize each other’s cross-cultural values and individual identities for learning in a globalized community. We will examine how ELLs shared their cultural borderlands, lifeworlds, and individual identities by engaging in peer revision, writing for a class blog, and recording podcasts. Participants will investigate their own cultural identities and propose how they would use this awareness to engage students in further academic writing development. Michelle Ohanian, Mountain View Alternative High School, Northern Virginia (VA) WP
Mapping our City with Stories and Histories
This interactive presentation will show how middle school students investigated the history of their city and wrote about places important to them. They came to know historical characters, use primary source documents, and write about places they love and deepen their sense of identity. Nikole Breault, Southside Middle School, and Meg Petersen, Plymouth State University, Plymouth (NH) WP: The National Writing Project in NH
Reaching Students: Developing Narrative Skills through High-Interest Mentor Texts and Digital Compositions
This session will begin with visiting a short story, Richard Matheson’s “Drink My Blood,” as a model for proper paragraph techniques. The second part of the session will explore the ongoing inquiry work of the UNC Charlotte WP’s Digital Learning and Literacy Narratives Project focusing on the intersection of digital composition and the powerful voices of students who have multiple language competencies. Mike Herrera IV, Texas A&M International University, South Texas WP (TX); Shaftina Allen, Midwood High School; Lacy Manship, UNC Charlotte (NC) WP; Jennifer Ward, Kannapolis Alternative Learning Center; and Alicia Wright, Whitewater Middle School— all from UNC Charlotte (NC) WP
Writing for Change: Giving Voice to Urban Students
by Fusing Writing and Digital Media
Creating spaces for urban student voices means finding ways to make writing relevant, engaging, and accessible. Participants will engage in writing with social justice at the core, explore student writing/digital media products, examine resources for supporting students’ digital learning, and brainstorm applications for their own classrooms and contexts.
Margit Boyesen, Cardiff School, and Janet Ilko, Cajon Valley Middle School—both from San Diego (CA) WP
Empowering Student Writing through Filmmaking
This workshop looks at how to incorporate filmmaking into expository essay construction, autoethnography, and creative writing. With hands-on strategies for critical engagement within students’ communities, workshop participants will engage in critical writing and produce short films and documentaries to use as examples in their own classrooms. The processes involve pre-writing, sequencing events, revision, and reflection. Peter Carlson, Manual Arts High School; Antero Garcia, Manual Arts High School; and Clifford Lee—all from UCLA (CA) WP
A Technological Dreamer in an Urban Landscape
After having facilitated a successful out-of-school high-tech young authors’ camp, session facilitator Janelle Quintans Bence made big plans for her own Dallas ISD classroom. Blogger, Google Sites, and digital story-telling were to be explored. However, despite having the best of intentions, harsh reality
caused a rethink of a plan of action. Join the discussion of what could have been, what could have been improved, and what could be in the future for digital learning in an inner city class of ELLs. Janelle Quintans Bence, North Dallas High School, North Star (TX) WP
I hope to use my cell phone and Cinch to post some reflections from the conference. I think I have a lot to learn …
Peace (in Boston),