The National Writing Project provides a wealth of information and experience and connections and this policy briefing/report just got published on the NWP site. It is a research briefing from a company hired by NWP to look at data from technology work at sites within the NWP. (A disclosure: our Western Massachusetts Writing Project site was one of the sites included in this study of a project known as the Technology Initiative).
You can read the full report — entitled “Keeping the Promise of the 21st Century: Bringing Classroom Teaching into the Digital Age” — here but I thought I would share out some of the findings, in my own words:
Teachers learn best from other teachers who are using technology, not from some canned professional development;
It takes time for teachers to think about and integrate technology, so one-shot professional development is less effective than long-term supportive work;
Technology is best used and most effective when students are engaged in real classroom projects with authentic learning standards;
Teachers who effectively use technology are engaging and motivating their students;
Access to technology is a real issue – either to the equipment or through “firewalls” set up by school districts;
Students in poorer school districts often have the least access to technology and technology-inspired curriculum, although they may need it the most;
State and federal standardized mandates offer little incentive for teachers to engage in use of technology.
The report also adds some “policy implications” for its findings:
Teachers have to be the leaders and demand more professional development and access to technology for their students. It can’t rest with administrators;
K-12 teachers should connect more with Universities and other institutions for access to technology and expertise;
Teachers need hands-on experiences using technology themselves and then time to consider the implications of the classroom;
Provide students in underserved communities with access to technology and related curriculum opportunities;
And more …
This report is worth the read and it once again makes me proud to be part of the NWP, as it moves to think about writing in new ways that engage our young learners and makes writing relevant in their lives.
Or, as the report notes:
NWP is distinctive among professional development providers. It is a network of teachers who build leadership and knowledge of teaching and learning from systematic study of their own classroom practices and the practices of colleagues, as well as from research. These leading teachers—called teacher-consultants—share their professional knowledge and practices with other teachers through local NWP professional development programs. . . .
I was one of a handful of guests recently on the wonderful Teachers Teaching Teachers webcast, where the discussion centered on a white paper put out by The New Media Literacies Center at MIT. The paper, by Henry Jenkins, focuses in on the concept of how students can move forward, navigate and thrive in the new world of media and technology. (Oh, TTT is also up for an Edublog Award this year)
You can see a video put forth by the Project for New Media Literacies:
This is one list of skills that the white paper talks about for our students:
Play – the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving
Performance – the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery
Simulation – the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes
Appropriation – the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
Multitasking – the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details
Distributed Cognition – the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities
Collective Intelligence – the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal
Judgment – the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources
Transmedia Navigation – the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
Networking – the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information
Negotiation – the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms
Visualization – the ability to interpret and create data representations for the purposes of expressing ideas, finding patterns, and identifying trends
Here is the workshop that I co-presented at the National Writing Project Annual Meeting a few weeks ago in San Antonio. I had a wonderful co-facilitator in Pen Campbell and the discussions were just wonderful, even in a large cavernous room with about 50 people.
Our focus was on the writing element of digital stories, but we also had long discussion on the elements of digital stories. I’ve included the podcasts of the session, if you are interested, and the website that was the heart of this session is a collaboration between NWP and Pearson Foundation that Pen and I were part of. You can view the website (still in beta) here. This presentation is also now part of my own collection of workshops around writing and technology.
Also, the short video examples that we shared are not in this presentation. Sorry.
One of the workshops I attended at the National Writing Project’s annual meeting in San Antonio was about a new venture called the National Conversation on Writing. A group of mostly college professors is trying to change perceptions of writing in the public mind and one of their ideas to collect vignettes from people about what writing means to them. In particular, they would like to have a collection of short videos, in which teachers and students and others talk about writing.
I decided to give it a go, sort of as a rough draft approach, and recorded some of my own thoughts.
What about you? What does writing mean to you?
Peace (in reflection),
I made it back from San Antonio on time, and with no fuss, and still brimming with the experiences of connecting and re-connecting with so many wonderful teachers in our National Writing Project network who openly share ideas. (I will be posting some podcasts from the main session later and share out the workshop that I co-presented on The Writing Processes of Digital Stories).
When we return home to our Western Massachusetts Writing Project, we are asked to write a one page reflection on our experiences, so here is is mine (as a Scribd file):