National Writing Project feeds

Here are some of the updates out of the National Writing Project following the Annual Meeting last month in Philly:

2009 NWP Annual Meeting Photo Album

Monday, December 14, 2009
Type: Resource
Over 1,000 writing project colleagues gathered for the 32nd NWP Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. View this Flickr stream of photos from the meeting to see many sessions, workshops, socials, and other activities through the attendees’ eyes.

2009 Annual Meeting Highlights: General Session Writings

Monday, December 14, 2009
Type: Resource
Inspired by a Billy Collins poem “To My Patron,” teachers at the NWP Annual Meeting were asked to write about what it takes to teach students to write. A long metrical poem or a short well-crafted argument? A set of colleagues to talk to? A blank mind? Model readings? Just a pen? Here is a sample of their responses.

Video Highlights from NWP’s 2009 Annual Meeting

Monday, December 14, 2009
Type: Resource
Check out these video highlights, including teacher-consultant interviews and a delicious writing marathon, from NWP’s 2009 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

Peace (in the gathering),

National Writing Project, day 2

This morning, we had our huge gathering of teachers at the National Writing Project Annual Meeting come together into one crammed room (more than 1,000 strong). It’s always amazing to look out at that sea of fellow teachers and know we are all connected with our teaching and writing.

NWP Executive Director Sharon Washington told us about her own writing and sharing experience with one of the NWP Summer Institutes (OK, so it was our Western Massachusetts Writing Project) where she sat in with a writing response group in action during a visit to the the site. She shared a children’s story she is writing and admitted to being nervous.

“I took a deep breath and started to read … and I felt accepted,” Washington noted, touching on the community of writers and teachers that comes together during the Summer Institute. “My experience is not unusual. It is reflected … across the network.”

Washington explained the importance of the NWP ideals by sharing out the mission statement and vision statement, which reflects writing in the digital world as well as being grounded in the traditions.

Our Mission

The National Writing Project focuses the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation’s educators on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning for all learners.

Our Vision

Writing in its many forms is the signature means of communication in the 21st century. The NWP envisions a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world.

Former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins was the guest speaker. As expected, he was funny and deep and insightful with his poetry, reading a variety of poems that touched on teaching, writing and kids.

I loved this quote by Billy Collins this morning:  “Usually, I don’t know where I’m going (with a poem) when I begin.” The poem creates itself and he follows along with the inspiration, he said.

In response to a quest, Collins explained how different poetry, with its freedom, is from prose, which requires exact meaning.

“Poetry’s a bird. Prose is a potato.” — Billy Collins

Now, I am off to dinner with a large group of Tech Friends.

Peace (in reflection),

Philly Reflections: National Writing Project Day Two

Yesterday was the official start of the National Writing Project Annual Meeting, with long sessions in the morning and shorter ones in the afternoon. Many of the workshops were centered on developing and supporting the work at our writing project sites.

I attended an always-interesting session called Writing in the Digital Age: Learning Environments and Student Writing (which I led a few years ago myself). Here, four different teachers presented various pieces of student work — podcasting, video storytelling, voicethreaded poems, and blogging connections. We broke off into smaller groups to examine the work and have a discussion around what we saw and what we could take out of it.

The first group that I was part of was a project from Hawaii in which teacher Cathy Ikeda brought us through how her students used voicethread to publish a version of the “I am” poems that connected students to their sense of place and culture through metaphors. I loved the students that used their voice, not just typed writing, but Cathy said there are technical issues at her district (too many computers accessing the net, and not enough wireless room — making audio difficult at times). What I really liked is how she published the threads to her school website and then invited family members not only to view and listen, but also to comment and give feedback. When we talk about the affordances of the media, this is a great example. How else would you have grandma leave a message for you? (as was the case with at least one of the young poets.)

Next, I sat in with Dawn Reed, who did an amazing podcast project with her speech class around the “This I Believe” concept from NPR. We listened to a student from Germany use his voice to encourage Americans to be open to new ideas. They also published to a blog (to the world!) and expanded their ideas of audience. (Note: Dawn and I are presenting together on Saturday at NCTE and she wrote about this project — with Troy Hicks — in our Teaching the New Writing book.)

Later that day, I ventured into a workshop called 21st Century Literacy and the Graphic Novel. This was a fascinating look at how the use of comics and graphic novels can open the doors for some of our students. Presenters Bee Foster and Anastasia Betts gave us a lot to think about. Bee, in particular, did a fantastic job of showing us examples she uses in her classroom to support the deBois’ theme of “twoness” in character and adversity, race and self.

Anastasia also gave out a top ten reason list for using graphic novels in the classroom (which you can find at her website, along with the slideshow presentation and various handouts) which include:

  • It’s visual
  • It’s relevant
  • It’s manageable
  • It’s rigorous
  • It’s engaging
  • It’s positive
  • It’s 21st Century
  • It’s communicative
  • It’s brain-based
  • It’s cross-curricular

This morning, we have the general assembly — more than a 1,000 teachers and educators who cherish writing and students in one room, together — and BILLY COLLINS is the guest speaker. I can’t wait. (Gosh, he better not disappoint me, right?)

Peace (in the sharing),

What Digital Is is

It will be an exciting day today. I can tell. I’ll be participating in the Digital Is Conference here in Philly. The Digital Is Project is a new partnership between the National Writing Project and the MacArthur Foundation to explore how students are using digital tools for writing and learning. One of the larger projects still underway is an online site that documents what teachers are doing to scaffold use of digital tools in writing.

A session I am attending this morning is called “Change Writers: Empowering Students to Write for Change.”  If that doesn’t pique your interest, then you must not be a teacher wanting your students to become active participants in the world around them. One of the facilitators is my friend, Gail Desler, and I can’t wait to hear what she and the other presenters will share out about their experiences of using digital media (podcast, etc.) to explore social action projects with their students.

Later, I am presenting some student work at a roundtable discussion. My piece is a Digital Science Picture Book and there is an entire protocol for folks to examine the work and think about it as a piece of digital composition. It’s a little nerve-wracking, I guess, although there is no real reason to be nervous about it. They’re all friends, right? I’m sure the conversations will be interesting and give me some outside insight into what my students are doing when they compose with these tools.

Tonight, I signed up to attend an event called The Power of Youth Voice: What Kids Learn When They Create With Digital Media. It is taking place over at The Academy of Natural Science and that, too, should provide a real interesting take on what is happening with students composing with various media, for various purposes, for a variety of audiences. Neat.

Peace (from Philly),


The National Writing Project Annual Meeting

It’s that time of year: the Annual Meeting of the National Writing Project. Next week, I’ll be heading off to Philadelphia to join my fellow colleagues in celebrating and exploring the art of teaching writing, and the art of writing, in a variety of sessions.

My hope is to blog and tweet about my experience there, including the exciting Digital Is conference on Wednesday that comes from an incredible new partnership between the NWP and the MacArthur Foundation. The work, which I am part of, helps take a look at where writing is going in the digital age. We’re in the process of developing online resources but this conference will bring together a lot of people to look at, discuss and then consider the implications of digital composition. I am presenting a piece of student work — a digital science book.

That same night, I am going to a a conference entitled: The Power of Youth Voice: What Kids Learn When They Create with Digital Media. I can’t wait for that!

My only other presentation at NWP this year is on Friday, when I am joining a number of other people in roundtable discussions about how to use an online social networking site to discuss books. A friend and I are focusing on a section of the online site where we talk about graphic novels and comics. We even had an interesting online book talk about a graphic novel that was fascinating and a bit frustrating, and shows the possibilities and the drawbacks of an online discussion site.

I am planning on going to three other sessions while in Philly:

Writing in a Digital Age

This workshop explores the evolving nature of writing and literacy today. Participants will examine students’ digital writing from a range of classrooms and consider the digital and physical environments that support such writing practices. Participants will have opportunities to discuss the implications of what they observe for their own classroom and writing project site work.

21st Century Literacy and the Graphic Novel

This session will focus on the prevalence and permanence of the graphic novel. We’ll examine its integration of multiple literacies as well as its impact on youth culture, youth identity formation, and the development of students as readers and writers. Participants will examine the graphic novel as a format and as a specific mode of communication and written self-expression and will explore its potentialities in the classroom as a tool for fostering the developing literacy of diverse student populations. Through discussion, participants will develop rationales for the increased use of graphic novels in 21st century classrooms.

Reading the Research: Living and Learning with New Media

This Reading the Research session examines a research report titled Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project. Funded by the MacArthur Foundation as part of their digital media and learning initiative, this report emerges from a three-year study carried out by researchers who explored the ways that the interaction with and use of new media impact the lives and learning of youth today. Facilitators and participants will explore implications for their local writing project work and applications for local programming.

Plus, all of the other fun stuff — like social gatherings, the big morning address to all NWP folks in attendance (a great way to see how many people are there at the conference), with guest speaker Billy Collins. (wow!) I wonder if I can get him to sponsor me with my 30Poems 30Days project. Ha!

And of course, my work over at the NCTE meeting on Saturday (presenting and then book signing. See yesterday’s post)

And, to top it off, I am hoping that we can gather up a bunch of folks from my Tech Friends networking site — where NWP technology liaisons like me come together online to chat, share and connect. We usually try to convene for a dinner and face time.

I hope to see you there!

Peace (in the City of Brotherly Love and losers of the World Series to the Yankees!),