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):
As I mentioned, last weekend, I headed off to Missouri to give a keynote talk at a conference at the Prairie Lands Writing Project. I also created a shortened version for their website and I figured I would share that out with you. (Actually, this is the main keynote and the smaller presentation on using Web 2.0 in Education I will share out later).
I was lucky enough to be asked by the National Writing Project to write an article on how I use my RSS feeds and blogging to connect with the world and other teachers, and also to move myself forward in thinking about technology and information flow as a teacher and as a blogger. The article was published this week at the NWP’s revamped Resource site. (See the article entitled” “Bringing the World to my Doorstep“)
How do you use RSS?
I would be curious to know if other folks see RSS as a way to control the wave of information. What I am finding is that I need to continually nurture the RSS (I use Google Reader now but I used to be a fan of Bloglines, until it would not play nice with Edublogs one time too many) and weed it like a garden: I add new sites as they pique my interest and remove old ones that just seem to take up space, and worry about the sites that I don’t even yet know exist but would be important to me.
Whenever I have given a workshop on Edublogs for teachers interested in blogging for themselves or their classrooms, I have always turned to the manual put together by my friend, Gail Desler, who is part of the Area 3 Writing Project and who is the “blogwalker” (I love that name). Her clear and concise steps and explanations, and her willingness to share, are greatly appreciated. So when Edublogs did a major make-over this past week (and it looks fantastic to me), Gail was just about to finish up a revision to her old manual. She quickly went back to work and came up with a revised, revised Edublogs Manual.
I was fortunate to be part of a recent discussion about online student publishing the other week on the wonderful Teachers Teaching Teachers program. While the focus was on Space, a new online publication for and by students, the talk also moved into how the web provides a unique platform for publication. Space uses YouthTwitter for students to submit work and network with each other.
We were joined by a few students, too, and I love that their voices were part of the discussion.
In NYC last month, I helped organize and lead a presentation entitled “Writing in the Digital Age: Using Media in the Classroom” with three other National Writing Project teachers. The session went well, with about 75 people in attendance. In the aftermath of the presentation, we decided to pull together our presentations and resources and create a webpage for folks at the session and for others, too.
You can head to the resource page and then also find a link to the reflective notes from the various tables, as we asked people to consider how they could integrate technology further into their classrooms and into their writing project sites.
I used the simple Google Page Creator to pull these together, along with the slideshows, podcasts and links embedded into the site for easy access.
I had the honor again of joining folks on the Teachers Teaching Teachers webcast (now a podcast) that focused on the work of the National Writing Project and came on the heels of the annual meeting in New York City. The focus of the webcast was on collaboration, but the theme soon became: how do we engage teachers in our writing projects with technology. The TTT show is run by Paul Allison and Susan Ettenheim and takes place every Wednesday night at EdTechTalk.
Here are the guests who joined the conversation on this particular night:
Cynthia Calvert, Alcorn Writing Project
Jason Shiroff, Denver Writing Project
Lynne Culp, UCLA Writing Project
Kevin Hodgson, Western Massachusetts Writing Project
Peter Kittle, Northern California Writing Project
Christina Cantrill, NWP Program Associate in Technology
In New York City for the National Writing Project, I had the pleasure of co-leading a session that centered on encouraging teacher leadership and developing strategies for encouraging teachers to become more active in programs via the NWP and also showing some ways that current leaders can facilitate that growth and development. It’s not easy and we began our session by having folks come up with some inquiry questions — the ideas that brought them to the session in the first place.
(Note: TC = teacher consultants = teachers in the writing project)
Here is that list:
How can I motivate/inspire overworked teachers to jump at the chance to be writers?
How do we draw too-busy TCs into leadership?
Are there “good reasons” to attract “teachers” – not just leaders – and if so, what are those reasons?
What are different ways leadership can “look”?
How do we keep others wanting to lead?
How can TC leaders help us build participation in initiatives they lead?
How do we open closed ears?
What strategies can address burnout?
What timeline should we pursue?
How can we encourage those who won’t take risks?
As the site grows, and the responsibilities of various positions grow, how do you figure out what positions to pay and how much is reasonable?
What are the issues of teacher leadership from the perspective of school districts?
How does a relatively new or developing site develop leadership capacity without “burning out” existing leadership?
What are some incentives to encouraging TCs to take on leadership roles.
How do we give up responsibilities that we do because no one else can do them?
Why are people so afraid to step up to the plate?
How can I keep the work I want to do and share the work others want to/should do?
How do we groom leaders – allowing for “messy maturation” process and respecting the growth – without micromanaging or having crash and burns?
Finding venues for TCs to grow?
How do you get people to follow through on promises made?
How can we sustain our current leadership – keep them from taking on too much responsibility or burning out?
What resources are necessary for growing teacher leaders?
What are the qualities of a good leader in the Writing Project? A good potential leader?
How can we turn “leadership” into an opportunity instead of a burden?
What carrots do you give? Long term and short term. What mentoring do you provide?
How can we move from beyond sustaining our site and create systems for growth?
Are there approaches that you have used at your site that have increased involvement of TCs after they have participated in the Summer Institute. (Our TCs are willing but time is such an issue)
How do you find your voice among a strong leadership team that has defined its own?
How can we empower TCs and share leadership and ownership?