I’ve had a couple of crappy days this week, so when it looked like things might be easing last night, I found myself sitting at my desk, itching to make something. Let me be more specific. I found myself craving the experience of being immersed in the process of creating something. Of composing.
Resources in this collection
4T Virtual Conference on Digital Writing 2016
This collection features posts written by 4T Virtual Conference on Digital Writing (#4TDW) presenters from the 2016 conference. The conference focuses on the research, pedagogy, and tools of writing in digital spaces in the K-12 classroom. Throughout the virtual sessions, participants will explore the complexities of teaching writing in a digital age in which students potentially play the role of writer, multimedia creator, collaborator, publisher, reader/viewer/audience member, and critic during their online engagement both during and outside of school.
This four-day event also provides a space for dialogue between K-12 and university educators about the ways that the teaching of writing is enacted in schools, colleges, workplaces, and communities. The National Writing Project is a conference partner, and many of the presenters for the #4TDW are Writing Project teacher consultants and directors, facts that are reflected in the webinars' design and presenters' approach to teaching digital writing.
Each post in this collection discusses a pedagogical topic or approach related to digital writing that the blogger presented on during his or her webinar. In addition, there is a link to the recorded webinar and associated resources for that particular session.
Resources in this collection
It's quite possible this is impossible. I am trying to narrow in on the affordances of what we mean by the phrase "Digital Writing." I may even veer way off track here, and perhaps it is best for all of us just to drop the "digital" once and for all, and just call it .. writing. Although, I, for one, still prefer the word "composing."
Keynoting and presenting in a virtual site like Blackboard Connect is sort of like hanging out with roomful of ghosts. They're very friendly and curious ghosts, sort of like Casper if he were to become a teacher instead of just a cute spirit. You feel the presence of participants in the scrolling chat room as you talk to a screen featuring slides you made and know by heart (mostly). Sometimes, they take the mic. Yeah, being a presenter in that kind of screen-based format is slightly odd.
Research papers often get a bad reputation. But we conduct research all the time in our everyday lives. Whether we want to understand civic issues or make a major life purchase, we need research skills to sift through all the information. Research writing skills students practice in the classroom need to transfer to their lives too. The most powerful opportunities for this kind of academic learning to transfer to lifelong skills happens when students have some degree of choice about the topics and texts they will study, are able to socially construct new meaning from shared experience, and to demonstrate their skills in both writing and through other media.
Believe it or not, grammar can be engaging to students.
Believe it or not, grammar can be engaging to students.
The post first appeared on my blog, All Hands on Deck, at the end of August 2016. It emerged as part of a discussion about remix, digital writing, etc., in the #clmooc2016 community. Kevin Hodgson and Sheri Edwards responded, beginning a thought-provoking conversation in several digital spaces. Kevin suggested I repost this here.
Yesterday was the fourth and final day of the 4TDW digital writing conference, culminating in Kevin Hodgson’s keynote, “A Day in the Life of a Digital Writer”. Kevin blogged about his experience here. As with all the conference sessions, a recording of the session, as well as slides and notes will be available shortly on the 4TDW home page. These are all well worth exploring.
I left a long comment on Kevin’s post then realized it was more blog post than comment. Here’s an expansion of my comment.
As I enter my 21st year of teaching at Thurston High School in the South Redford School District, I have seen the change in how my students learn. Students in 2016 are no longer the same passive consumers of information that they were in the mid 1990s. Instead, they have transformed into creators of information they disseminate through blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos and more. In fact, hundreds of hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. The transformation from consuming to producing created a need for me to change my teaching style in order to encourage student engagement.
Their World – A Digital One
By Amy Quinn
This is the only world young students know of… a digital one.
As an adult, we can see this “change” as clear as night and day because we remember the “before.” There was a time we didn’t all carry our smartphones everywhere. The “before” was a time when every place didn’t have wifi. We remember how Sunday mornings were spent holding onto a crinkly newspaper. Our main inbox was an actual mailbox. Book stores were common. The only choice for programs to watch on TV were the shows scheduled. When having a phone conversation, the only image we had was… the one in our mind.
Years ago, I went in search of an audience for my students, although at that time I didn't know that was what I was doing. I’d seen enough student writing to know that I wasn’t doing something right. They were smart, interesting and capable of all manner of argument, but I was frustrated by assignments that weren’t helping them put those traits into their writing. I noticed that they were willing to risk suspension by breaking through the district’s internet firewall to reach sites like Myspace and Facebook where they went to write (Write!) about the things they cared about and in ways that reflected their personalities. This was what I was looking for, so I started a website where my students and I could build on the conversations we were having in class, where they would write like they were for those websites. I envisioned a free flowing forum of ideas and enthusiasm, a place for authentic voices like I’d seen in other places, like I’d heard in my classroom.
As my district moved to a 1:1 environment with Chromebooks for all students in grades 5-12 a few years ago, I couldn’t help but be excited about the possibilities of moving to digital writer’s notebook. Afterall, wouldn’t that be a more authentic, modern writing experience for students? How many of us handwrite a draft of anything these days? For me, the majority of my writing happens digitally, with my drafting, revising, and editing happening concurrently as I type, rather than as discrete steps. For many students, their out of school writing happens this way, too: on social media and in messages to friends. Despite this, I also wondered if some intangible part of the writing process would be lost or if the magic of having such a linear, messy paper notebook would hinder students’ thinking.
When I began my work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013, I was surprised to find both confusion and concern over teaching with technologies from the millennial preservice teachers I worked with- so-called tech-savvy digital natives. Little coursework and even fewer opportunities in practicum/student teaching placements offered experience planning for or implementing technology in the classroom. Even when I integrated digital writing projects into our methods curriculum, we still faced the challenge of transfer, as preservice teachers needed support diving into the why of designing their own digital writing projects in order to make them manageable and meaningful for their differing classroom contexts. It struck me that these were many of the same challenges facing practicing teachers in the schools I had worked in previously.
I’ll be honest. I have only played Pokemon Go once or twice, and not even on my own phone. But I will say that its application of technology illustrates a major concept I want to highlight in my workshop Collaborative Writing 2.0: Learning the Moves Writers Can Make. It's that our mobile devices have had GPS and maps for several years now, but in that time, they’ve been used as just that: GPS and maps. The developers of Pokemon Go have given GPS and Maps a new purpose, so that they are a means to a new end, not the end in and of themselves. As school districts everywhere immerse their students in digital platforms, teachers of writing must think creatively about practices that harness the unique features of digital tools to help students grow as writers.
In my experience conversation flows freely when paired with food. While I wish I could offer my webinar guests an actual snack, the company and conversation that is bound to occur will be rich and rewarding, I'm sure!