I wrote about this project, including the overarching plan and the collaboration between myself and my social studies colleage, in more detail over at Middleweb.
My sixth graders finished our version of their Letters to the Next President right on Election Day. The next day, we knew who had won. Yes, we will add President Trump to the salutation and ship the letters out nearer to Inauguration Day. I hope the transition team isn’t in such disarray that the letters get lost.
As I was going through and assessing the final version of the letters, I kept track of the topics they chose to research and write about. This was a combination research/civics/writing assignment, mirroring some of the amazing work done by older students at the Letters to the Next President site (nearly 12,000 letters from middle and high school students).
It is no surprise that the environment was a popular choice. Young writers often are worried about what is happening with Climate Change (yes, Mr. President, it is real and not a hoax) and the plight of animals in the changing world. I suppose “pollution” could have fallen under the “environment” umbrella, too, but there was enough distinction to warrant its own category for my purposes.
Again, you can read more about what we were up to at Middleweb.
Peace (in what they write),
My latest post at Middleweb explores the notion of reflection as a crucial part of writing experiences for our students. This post got a lot of play in different spaces, which I appreciate.
Come read Why Student Reflection Should Never Be Skipped at Middleweb
Peace (go deep),
Over at Middleweb, I used my last Working Draft column to pose some questions to John Spencer about his new book, written with A.J. Juliani, called LAUNCH. The book centers on design process thinking and student learning.
Come read John’s insightful responses, and learn more about the book.
Peace (designed and implemented),
My start-of-the-year post for my Middleweb blog — Working Draft — is about what happened when I realized that the technology platform that I use at the beginning of the school year for a few projects with my sixth graders … died and disappeared on me. I had that slight panic of now what and then realized, again, it is never about the technology.
Read More Proof It’s the Teaching, Not the Tech at Middleweb
Peace (settling in now),
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),