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.
Peace (in sharing),
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
And here is the podcast.
Peace (in collaboration),
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?
Peace (in inquiry),
Richard Sterling, the executive director of the National Writing Project, is stepping down from his post as leader of this wonderful organization. Last week, in New York City, he gave his last public address to the more than 1,000 teachers attending the NWP annual meeting. I have only met him once, briefly, but I have always looked forward to his talk at the last three annual meetings that I have attended. His words and stories have been inspiration and empowering, and I will miss his voice and humor at these meetings.
If you missed his speech in New York City, you can take a listen here as I created a podcast of his public address. (The sound is just OK, not great).
Peace (in inspiration),
I had the great pleasure to be the keynote speaker of a technology in education conference for the Hudson Valley Writing Project this past weekend and it was a wonderful experience all around. The audience was full of interested, engaged educators and educators-to-be who were curious about the possibilities of technology integration.
For me, it was the first time I delivered any kind of keynote speech, so I was pretty nervous but once I got going, it seemed fine to me. My concept was to provide a gentle push forward into the Web 2.0 world for folks sitting on the edge, wondering how to dive in.
In the interest of sharing, here is a podcast of my speech and also a copy of the presentation that I gave to the participants.
My Keynote Address
Peace (in sharing),
Some colleagues from the National Writing Project (Chris Sloan and Paul Allison) are also part of the K12 Online Conference and their work was released today and deserves a good listen as they discuss the ways they have nurtured two Elgg-platform social networking sites for middle and high school students. It is an amazing project and deserves kudos and attention.
Along with the podcast and presentation, they are also opening up the lines of their Teachers Teaching Teachers weekly chat session at EdTechTalk to anyone interested in discussing the project.
All the information is at their K12 presentation site: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=188
Peace (in partnership),
Last week, I went on Teachers Teaching Teachers once again and found myself in conversation again with some friendly voices from last summer. A few of us from Tech Matters 2006 used the forum to talk about what we have been up to and how we view the use of technology for creation of a vibrant community.
I talked a bit about the ABC Movie Project, my Ning experiment, Youth Radio and a few other tidbits that sprung out of Tech Matters (which is a week-long retreat for technology and technology-minded folks in the National Writing Project). It was wonderful to hear Joe, Bonnie and others once again.
Take a listen to the podcast from TTT
Peace (with connections),
As our Massachusetts Writing Project moves further into the Edublogs network (via premium service), I have started to map out the various connections of our blogs so that we can think about how best to strengthen the ties between the various initiatives. Our hope is to have a vibrant web of activity among our various sites.
I turned to Bubbl.us to work on a concept map. It was fairly easy to use, although I wish I could have embedded it directly into this post. Instead, I have to provide a link (via this picture) and let you wander through the sites yourself. The map includes individual links to various blogs in our network.
Peace (in networks),
I have been trying to understand social networking a bit more these past few weeks, as I think this is the direction I want to take our Making Connections project that creates an online shared writing space for middle school students in our Western Massachusetts area (this past year, we had about 200 students writing and responding).
My dilemma has been, what platform? I know others are using Elgg and it seems interesting but a bit complicated for teachers in my group who are not tech savvy and need to be able to troubleshoot and help students basically on their own. There are aspects of Elgg that I really like, including the automatic tag-links created via profile writing.
And then, there is Ning. A few months ago, I became part of the Classroom 2.0 community over at Ning and it has been quite a wonderful experience. Created by Steve H., Classroom 2.0 has grown leaps and bounds since I came on board. And this network has shown the power of the collective voice, as teachers are sharing resources, strategies and questions, and probing deeper into the Web 2.0 tools, and questioning such things as assessment in the connected world.
I also wanted to try my hand at administering a Ning network, so I created an informal one for technology liaisons within the National Writing Project. It was easy to set up my own Ning network — incredibly easy, and we now have 23 members (I am hoping for many more but don’t want to push too hard). I like the ease of administration and the use of widgets that allow such easy access to load and share videos, audio, and anything else you can think of.
And again, this is just another tool for creating a sense of community, so I enjoy “seeing” some old friends and some new friends in the Ning space. And that is a big part of the social networking experience, I think.
Peace (with networks),
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my work with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project and our intent to use blogs more frequently. So far this year, through a generous grant from the National Writing Project, I have worked with almost 30 teachers and WMWP leaders to create their own blogs within Edublogs as a way to understand the potential and tinker with podcasting.
The second phase of that project is to establish a network of blog sites through our entire Massachusetts Writing Project network and we decided to contract with James Farmer and use his new Edublogs Premium account that allows us to create and administer our network, with James doing all the maintenance and upgrade work (Thanks, James!). Plus, everything will fall under the url/banner of a common MassWP web address.
In the past, we have used the Manila platform made available by the National Writing Project and we certainly appreciated the no-cost element to the blogs, but they just never caught on with our teachers, mostly due to the complexity of the platform. I used to see eyes rolling on the back of heads when I gave workshops. I am hopeful that Edublogs/Wordpress will be easier to use (it is) and more likely to become part of our network.
Our hope is that over time, a MWP/WMWP network of interconnected blogs begin to form and that first phase is the concept of online newsletters with rss feeds pulled together. We hope the blogs are not only for individual teachers, but also for the various programs within WMWP and MWP — such as Project Outreach, the Reading Initiative, and the English Language Learners network.
Here are some of the blogs I have established in the past month:
So far, so good.
Peace (with shifting platforms),