student engagement

Building Supports For Passion-Driven Learning and Social Change

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Author: Connected Learning Alliance

Summary: This profile of a 14-year-old aspiring photographer from a New York City public high school illustrates the power of connected learning, showing what is possible when a young person is able to openly pursue a personal interest with the collective support of friends and compassionate adults. It could be useful as part of an introduction to connected learning for teachers new to the theory, or as an advocacy tool for teachers working to create more space for connected learning.

Finding Support for Teaching Civic Literacy Skills in the Common Core Standards

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Author: Nicole Mirra

Summary: Rather than viewing civic education as a particular body of knowledge, belonging in social studies class, Mirra argues that civic literacy is a set of skills that can be incorporated throughout the curriculum, reinforcing Common Core standards along the way.

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.

Multiple Texts: Multiple Opportunities for Teaching and Learning

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Author: Laura Robb

Summary: Offering a vivid glimpse into her middle school classroom, author Laura Robb illustrates how making available a range of texts at different reading levels and from a variety of perspectives on a subject promotes the engagement and success of all students in her heterogeneously grouped classroom. Noting that multiple texts help all students engage as active members of a literate community of readers, Robb also shares a list of sources for locating a range of nonfiction texts along with a variety of effective teaching strategies. Sharing both theory and practice, this article could be easily the basis for a single workshop session or a series of workshops demonstrating strategies for strengthening students’ content-area literacy skills.


Book Review: Teaching Reading in Middle School

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Author: Rosalyn Finlayson

Summary: This review of Laura Robb’s book, Teaching Reading in Middle School, is a useful resource for professional development program leaders and teachers looking for strategies to implement reading workshop in their classrooms to benefit students at all reading levels. Sharing the impetus for and insights drawn from her inquiry into reading in her middle school classroom, Robb has identified a framework that enables all students, including struggling readers, to realize that being a successful, strategic reader is within their reach.

Exploring “Systems Thinking” with Grinding New Lenses (NWP Radio)

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Summary: Eight teachers from three National Writing Project sites spent a month in Chicago exploring the power of systems thinking to support students in the way they learn, make, and write. Of particular interest to teachers planning and leading young writers programs that focus on digital literacy, this project, called “Grinding New Lenses,” engaged teachers in their own learning and thinking about systems, followed by an opportunity to lead a summer camp with youth from the surrounding area.

Curriculum Rewired: Teachers and Students Come Together Around Innovative New Pedagogy

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Author: Razeen Zaman

Summary: “Grinding New Lenses,” a four-week summer camp supported by a MacArthur Foundation grant, combined intensive professional development in design thinking for teachers with their leading a program for sixty-five rising sixth- and seventh-grade Chicago area students that engaged them as game designers and digital storytellers. “The end result: students who learned to take on roles as proficient designers, philosophers, writers, and activists; teachers who become avid systems thinkers; and strong curricula that underwent a rapid process of iteration, innovation and refinement.” This article and the related NWP Radio show offer inspiration for teacher leaders planning youth opportunities focused on developing students’ digital literacy.

Boys’ Literacy Camp Sets a Standard

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Summary: When adolescent readers can read, but won’t read, how can teachers get them engaged? Teacher-consultants in Maine created a summer wilderness camp where students discovered they had to read in order to do things they wanted to do. For example, they had to read about canoe safety before piloting a canoe, or study how to edit a film digitally in the process of making one about their adventures. The goal was to make reading and writing real and necessary. This idea would be readily adaptable for summer youth programs.

The Evolution of a Model Writing Teacher and a Model Writing School

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: How does a Writing Project teacher become a leader? This brief portrait describes how award-winning elementary teacher Julie Johnson evolved into an exemplary teacher of writing and collaborated with colleagues to develop a model writing school. This resource can fulfill multiple needs for site leaders and leaders of advanced institutes or teacher inquiry groups if they are looking for examples of effective early-grade writing classrooms, evidence of content-based writing in elementary grades, or schoolwide efforts to find effective approaches to writing.

Composing Science (NWP Radio)

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Guests: Kim Jaxon and Leslie Atkins Elliott

Summary: In this engaging NWP Radio Show, Kim Jaxon and Leslie Atkins Elliott, authors of Composing Science: A Facilitator’s Guide to Writing in the Science Classroom, talk about teaching writing, teaching science, and creating classrooms in which students use writing to learn and think scientifically. In a lively conversation, Kim, a composition and literacy specialist, and Leslie, a science teacher educator with a Ph.D in physics, talk about concrete strategies and approaches for engaging students in practices that mirror the work that writing accomplishes in the development and dissemination of scientific ideas. Together they address a range of genres that can help students deepen their scientific reasoning and inquiry in this excellent resource for teachers engaged in inquiry into disciplinary literacy.