"Sharon J. Washington, executive director of the National Writing Project, said:
'Today’s young people are using a range of digital tools to compose and create in new and exciting ways. It is a game-changing moment for teachers of writing. The very notion of what it means to write is shifting, and educators are faced with adapting their teaching practices to integrate new technologies while redefining writing and learning for the 21st century.'
Google Docs is an online suite of digital tools that provides teachers with some powerful features to help students develop 21st century writing skills. Since Docs are collaborative and available 24/7, the tool is well-suited for facilitating digital writing workshops that combine peer editing with cooperative grouping and small group fine-tuned writing instruction.
Writing Workshop at a Glance
Teachers start by defining cooperative grouping jobs for peer editing that are appropriate for the the level and needs of the learners in the class. While students are writing drafts, teachers take advantage of opportunities to work with small instructional groups to focus on specific job-related writing tasks to prepare students to put their new skills to work and contribute to the peer editing process. Here is an overview of some of the integrated writing supports available in Google Docs to include in small group instruction to that will empower students and help redefine the writing process."
The author's deatailed notes and reflections on his co-leaderhip of a 3-day workshop on Historical Thinking and Argumentative Writing, in which his focus was the argumentative writing. Zotero was used as the multimedia tool.-JL
"Beckie and Tim asked me to bring a focus on argument writing, with the clear goal of integrating credible, web-based sources and, to the extent possible, digital writing with multimedia tools beyond slideware. When we first met, we immediately began constructing a working agenda via a wiki, and I knew that Zotero would be a key component of our teaching and learning. While somewhat fearful that the topic would be one that teachers would find mundane, Tim helped guide us through thinking about Truman’s decision to drop the bomb as a time-period appropriate dilemma that we could use to teach historical empathy and argumentative writing.
"Thus, we decided on two main tasks for the teachers to complete over the three days by engaging in a digital writing workshop that would involve lots of research, collaboration, and development of both a written individual essay and a group multimedia presentation from one of three perspectives: Truman’s advisors who supported the bomb, those in his cabinet who were against it, and the scientific community. As Tim led the group through many exercises on historical thinking, DBQ (document-based questioning), and historical empathy, I took the lead on teaching the argument writing."
Publishing with iBooks Author is a free 110 page publication from O'Reilly Media. I just discovered the guide a couple of days ago and I wish I had found it earlier because it would have saved me a lot of time in learning how to use iBooks Author. Publishing with iBooks Author covers everything from copyright, DRM, and the End User Agreement to templates, layouts, media insertion, publishing, and distribution. You will have to register for an O'Reilly Media account to download the book (that does take a few minutes and requires email verification) but I think that's a small price to pay for an excellent free ebook. Publishing with iBooks Author is available to download as an ePub file and as a PDF."
"This year I stopped assigning the reading responses altogether. It no longer felt right. I have been respectfully questioned, again, about whether I am preparing my current students as well as my previous students. Some parents truly miss the reading responses. I clarify that my current students are more prepared than before because they truly comprehend what they are reading through asking questions, making connections, creating multi-sensory mind pictures, making inferences, and finding the author’s message.
I can provide evidence that my students are successfully able to write any message clearly, and with great voice, regardless of the topic and genre. My students love to read and write because they choose their own topics and they read and write often. They are constantly reflecting on their literacy goals and creating new ones, thus becoming excellent readers and writers as well as passionate ones who trust the learning process. All of this is so much more meaningful than making them write about their reading which creates resentment. (Read a little more about this idea here.)"
"As the popular television series “Downton Abbey” proves, stories of Americans mingling with members of the British aristocracy titillate as much as they did when Edith Wharton wrote of them. [Tuesday,] Jan. 24 is the 150th anniversary of her birth."
"In dramas about the British aristocracy we Americans await with tingly pleasure the inevitable moment when the family learns that there is no more money to run the estate, and everyone must retrench or — worse — the heir must get a job. Then, like the arrival of the cavalry in a western, all is saved — the footmen, the ancestral portraits, even the Georgian silver — by the imminent commingling of fortunes with an American kissing cousin who has daughters and dollars. The 'Upstairs Downstairs' details long familiar from novels, movies and television shows, and now from the popular “Downton Abbey,” seem to render us spellbound.
The English actor and writer Julian Fellowes, who created the PBS mini-series 'Downton Abbey' and wrote the screenplay for 'Gosford Park,' told The Telegraph that the idea for the series came from a book he was reading at the time, 'To Marry an English Lord,' by Gail MacColl and Carol Wallace. It was about 'American girls who had come over to England in the late 19th century and married into the English aristocracy.' Mr. Fellowes added, 'It occurred to me that while it must have been wonderful for these girls to begin with, what happened 25 years later when they were freezing in a house in Cheshire aching for Long Island?'"
"Edith Wharton, whose 150th birthday on Tuesday will be celebrated around New York — she was born on West 23rd Street — knew exactly what she was delineating. She was the ultimate insider, born into the New York upper crust, which she called 'a group of bourgeois colonials' transformed into 'a sort of social aristocracy.'"
In her work with UCLA's Graduate School of Education, Rebecca Alber assists teachers and schools in meeting students' academic needs through best practices. Alber also instructs online teacher-education courses for Stanford University.
"Twenty Tips for Creating a Safe Learning Environment
I visit a lot of classrooms. And I'm always fascinated by the variety of ways teachers launch the new school year and also with how they "run their rooms" on a daily basis. From these visits and my own experiences as an instructor, I'd like to offer my top 20 suggestions for keeping your classroom a safe, open, and inviting place to learn."
Early in the video Godin notes that blogging is not about the number of readers, but about the other benefits gained by blogging. That is a great point for all bloggers, but especially new bloggers to remember. Focus on consistently (it doesn't have to be every day, some of my favorite bloggers write only twice a week) producing quality content that you find beneficial to yourself and a small group of peers or colleagues and eventually your audience will grow. I started this blog for the purpose of keeping a record of things that I found interesting and that my colleagues could use too.
In his contribution to The Stone last week, Alex Rosenberg posed a defense of naturalism — “the philosophical theory that treats science as our most reliable source of knowledge and scientific method as the most effective route to knowledge” — at the expense of other theoretical endeavors such as, notably, literary theory. To the question of “whether disciplines like literary theory provide real understanding,” Professor Rosenberg’s answer is as unequivocal as it is withering: just like fiction, literary theory can be “fun,” but neither one qualifies as “knowledge.”
"A documentary-drama set in Pakistan about the assassination of the Governor of Punjab over his stance on the blasphemy laws.
On 4 January 2011, self-made millionaire businessman and Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer, was gunned down in a parking lot of a popular Islamabad market. He had been leading a campaign to amend Pakistan's blasphemy laws, after an illiterate 45-year-old Christian woman Asia Bibi, from a village in his district had been sentenced to death for blasphemy.
Within hours of his death, a Facebook fan page for the assassin Mumtaz Qadri had over 2000 members, before site administrators shut it down. When Qadri was transferred to jail, he was garlanded with roses by a crowd of lawyers offering to take on his case for free. President Asif Ali Zardari, an old friend of Taseer's, didn't go to the funeral for fear of inflaming public opinion. Leaders of state-funded mosques refused to say funeral prayers for the slain governor.
Owen Bennett-Jones speaks to Taseer's family and friends, and the family of the assassin." The programme includes both interview material and dramatic reconstructions.
"The Little Red Schoolhouse writing course for graduate students and advanced undergraduates has been a staple offering at the University of Chicago for decades. Over the years, Lawrence McEnerney (Director of the University of Chicago Writing Program) and the late Professor Joseph M. Williams worked together to craft this fine guide to college writing. The guide was created with first and second year students at the University of Chicago in mind, but it can be used effectively with a wide range of students who wish to write clearly and concisely. The guide is divided into five sections, including "Some crucial differences between high school and college writing," "Preparing to write and drafting the paper," and "Revising the introduction and conclusion." An important section here is: "But what if you get stuck? A good solution and terrible solution," which discusses, among other things, how to avoid plagiarism. Throughout this work, the advice is sage, lucid, and well-intentioned. It is an indispensable resource for any and all persons who wish to succeed in becoming better writers in college."
"The art of writing can be reduced to a few simple rules. I share them with you now.
Rule No. 1: Show and Tell.
Most people say, “Show, don’t tell,” but I stand by Show and Tell, because when writers put their work out into the world, they’re like kids bringing their broken unicorns and chewed-up teddy bears into class in the sad hope that someone else will love them as much as they do. 'And what do you have for us today, Marcy?' 'A penetrating psychological study of a young med student who receives disturbing news from a former lover.'"
I have long been a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien. Every year, when school dismisses for summer break, I read The Lord of the Rings. This year I will read it to my children and do all the voices for them. Tolkien was a brilliant writer, but what if we could sit down with him and ask him any question we wanted? What if he could give writers advice about their own writing from his years of experience as an incredible storyteller?
This is possible if we read his letters. I have a musty old book entitled The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter. I once spent the better part of a month reading it cover to cover and underlining every instance where the master of Middle Earth wrote about his process. What follows are the best of those notes:"
"Summer vacation is here! While the long hiatus is a welcome break for kids, the time off has also been proven to cause 'brain drain' and undo as much as several months of the learning that’s taken place during the academic year.
One way to combat this is to keep kids reading books they enjoy. The following apps provide entire virtual libraries that cover classics like “Winnie the Pooh” as well as modern tales. And no need to keep track of your child’s reading. Some of these apps will do that for you, too. So grab the iPad, pick an app, and settle down with your child for an afternoon of summer reading."
"When we tell students to study for the exam or, more to the point, to study so that they can do well on the exam, we powerfully reinforce that way of thinking. While faculty consistently complain about instrumentalism, our behavior and the entire system encourages and facilitates it.
On the one hand, we tell students to value learning for learning's sake; on the other, we tell students they'd better know this or that, or they'd better take notes, or they'd better read the book, because it will be on the next exam; if they don't do these things, they will pay a price in academic failure. This communicates to students that the process of intellectual inquiry, academic exploration, and acquiring knowledge is a purely instrumental activity—designed to ensure success on the next assessment.
Given all this, it is hardly surprising that students constantly ask us if this or that will be on the exam, or whether they really need to know this reading for the next test, or—the single most pressing question at every first class meeting of the term—"is the final cumulative"?
This dysfunctional system reaches its zenith with the cumulative "final" exam. We even go so far as to commemorate this sacred academic ritual by setting aside a specially designated "exam week" at the end of each term. This collective exercise in sadism encourages students to cram everything that they think they need to "know" (temporarily for the exam) into their brains, deprive themselves of sleep and leisure activities, complete (or more likely finally start) term papers, and memorize mounds of information. While this traditional exercise might prepare students for the inevitable bouts of unpleasantness they will face as working adults, its value as a learning process is dubious."
Why does this written doe bound through these written woods? For a drink of written water from a spring whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle? Why does she lift her head; does she hear something? Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth, she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips. Silence - this word also rustles across the page and parts the boughs that have sprouted from the word "woods."
These are some of the daily writing prompts that I use in class. The prompts and pictures are scraped together from so many sources - forgotten websites, old journals, overheard conversations, the crusty recesses of my hard drive - that attribution is difficult. I've tried where I can, but if you know how any of them should be attributed or have a problem with one of them, please let me know, so I can fix it. Other stuff I'm working on is over here.