Tech Tools for Teachers, by Teachers: Video Game Design in the Classroom

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Author: Greg Kehring

Summary: What can the writing process teach students and teachers about video game design, and how can game design expand our understanding of writing genres? Read about this middle school teacher who used Gamestar Mechanic to engage his students in digital writing and connected learning. From “creation” to “peer revision” and finally publication on a gaming website where others played the games and offered feedback, he and his students discovered the power technology can have in understanding composing and creative processes and providing new avenues for writing. For teachers who are reluctant to engage in digital work (or who are ready to take some new steps), this article can provide encouragement, guidance, and testimony about how students learn and respond to such experiences.

Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education of the 21st Century

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Author: Henry Jenkins

Summary: This resource challenges teachers and schools to have conversations about the social skills, technological access, and cultural competencies involved in a connected-learning approach to learning and literacy. Written by Henry Jenkins and members of Project New Media Literacies, it describes “new literacies” that rely on collaboration and networking, and argues that schools have been slow to develop pedagogies that support youth in participatory culture, with its potential benefits of “peer-to-peer learning, a changed attitude toward intellectual property, the diversification of cultural expression, the development of skills valued in the modern workplace, and a more empowered conception of citizenship.” Without school involvement, Jenkins argues, groups of students will be left behind in developing the new skills and competencies needed to succeed “as full participants in our society.” For teacher leaders who want to offer ideas and help their colleagues understand and embrace participatory culture in school settings, this resource is a place to begin the conversation.

Literacy, Technology, and the Underprepared: Notes Toward a Framework for Action

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Author: Glynda Hull

Summary: After introducing cases of underprepared students using computers in a community college literacy course, Glynda Hull raises important issues and tensions related to the role of technology in the teaching of writing. While she argues for the democratizing potential of “information technologies” to support a liberatory pedagogy, she also acknowledges that greater access within structural constraints of schools and writing centers must also be addressed to best support the diversity of these students. Although there are a few terms and technologies representative of its 1988 publication date, this piece may be explored from an historical perspective, perhaps as part of a study group or retreat focused on equity, access, social justice and advocacy.

Professional Development in the Digital Age: A Virtual Conference on Digital Literacy

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Author: Kim Douillard

Summary: This short article on the 4T Virtual Conference on Writing could be the perfect starting point for sites/leaders looking to integrate online learning into a program or those ready to make the jump to a fully online conference/professional development experience. Key to the success of the 4T annual online conference, which is hosted by the University of Michigan Schools of Education and Information and the Oakland Schools, has been the 15 hours of training all presenters and facilitators receive on effective interactive webinar facilitation and moderation.

Building Connection and Community as a Social Educator

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Author: Howard Rheingold

Summary: Teacher Brianna Crowley describes how shifting into being a connected educator expanded her network of colleagues and renewed her teaching career. She spotlights benefits and challenges for herself and the students, and provides advice for ways students can connect to the community and to their learning through social media. She also describes online communities that sustain her as a teacher. This resource can offer an informative door for those educators hesitant to learn along with their students in digital ways.

Students Take a Stand

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Author: Scott Glass

Summary: Are you looking for resources to help teachers to use digital media in safe and positive ways in their classes? This teacher’s brief essay describes the curriculum he created to support his students to develop a productive digital routine, craft a positive online identity, and use social media to be generous, kind, and thoughtful. As they developed skill using YouTube Editor, WeVideo, and iMovie, they addressed a real-life tension with anonymous, bullying posts on Yik Yak by leveraging social media in a positive way. The video they developed, as a class, is embedded in the article.

Evolving the Research Paper

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Author: Jack Zangerle

Summary: This blog post describes an alternative research-writing project: developing public service announcements (PSAs). This resource may be helpful as a model for any instructors who want their students to develop PSAs for civic engagement or for the development of digital skills and message-making. This digital “making” event could also be used during summer youth writing camps. A student-created PSA is included with the blog post.

Such Stuff as Writing Dreams Are Made Of: Technology in the Writing Retreat

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Author: Michelle Rogge Gannon

Summary: This article describes how to plan and implement a Professional Writing Retreat that supports writers who create multimodal texts, and how to troubleshoot technology-related issues that might arise. Included are guidelines for responding to multimodal writers in ways that support their revision in various media. This resource may be useful for groups who are planning writing retreats at their local sites; additionally the revision guidelines may be adaptable for working with students.

Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design

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Summary: “Connected learning is realized when a young person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement.” This report—which emerged from the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative, of which the National Writing Project is a key member—describes a set of design and learning principles meant to support a new approach to learning and presents the latest findings in the design and implementation of Connected Learning principles in education.

Digital Storytelling for Language and Culture Learning

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Author: Judith Rance-Roney

Summary: Interested in introducing digital storytelling in a writing classroom? Rance-Roney, a teacher with the Hudson Valley Writing Project, explains digital storytelling, discusses its strengths in promoting literacy, and, by documenting her own multilingual classroom work, suggests a path for getting started with this technology.