Guest Blogger: Dr. Troy Hicks
On July 1, 2020, I was fortunate enough to be invited to deliver a webinar titled “Designing Purposeful and Engaging Arcs of Writing Instruction in an Era of Remote Learning” through the National WRITE Center, co-sponsored by the National Writing Project, The recording is available below, and a “force copy” of the Google Doc handout (with an additional link to the slides) is available here.
There were a number of questions that came from the chat conversation that I didn't get to respond to in detail.
There were a series of three questions that all centered on engagement. They include:
As we know from research and experience, one of the best ways to authentically connect with students while teaching writing is to be a good reader / listener, and to offer a genuine response that comes from the voice of one writer talking with another. So, this involves at least two shifts in our pedagogy.
First, we need to provide students with opportunities for low-stakes, ungraded writing. This is writing that allows them to explore, to express, and to share experiences. The writing they do in these pieces may lead to reflections, poetry, or other forms of writing that we may typically feel are not "academic" or that we might also feel we do not "have enough time for."
However, as colleagues like Kelly Gallagher (who is leading a webinar on 7/8/2020), show us, it is the act of providing students with multiple opportunities to engage in writing, over time, and without the pressure of grades that will make the biggest difference. As noted in my webinar, there are many places to look for mentor texts as well as engaging props, and yet at the end of the day – while we still need to meet some academic requirements / assignment types – providing students with at least some opportunity to pursue writing of their own is probably the most effective way to get them engaged.
Second, with the foundation in place that students will have multiple opportunities to write for various audiences and purposes, we can then encourage engagement and feedback. This can happen in a number of ways, with a number of tools.
In sum, I strongly encourage you to invite your students to write many, many short pieces, some of which will never go beyond their own writers notebook, as well as a few longer essays that can be complemented with a parallel multimodal component (such as a podcast, video, website, interactive map, or other form of presentation).
Then, another two questions fall under the broad category of “tools.”
Question 1: “Which of the tools do you recommend we can use with a more rigid pacing guide/curriculum that we are unable to design ourselves?”
If I can only encourage you to use three kinds of tools outside of the expectations that have been placed upon you by others, I would strongly suggest that you build into your toolbox:
TOOLS FOR COLLABORATIVE TEXT ANNOTATION
A tool for collaborative annotation of texts such as NowComment (free), Kami (freemium), or Edji (freemium), as well as supporting them to learn how they can effective annotate and question a text.
TOOL FOR MANAGING BIBLIOGRAPHIES
A tool to manage their bibliographies such as Zbib or Zotero (both free), as well as supporting them to document their sources and learn about source evaluation.
TOOLS FOR VOICE AND VIDEO FEEDBACK
A tool to provide voice and video feedback to your students such as Vocaroo (voice, free), Screencastify (screencasting, freemium) so you can (quite literally) share your voice in the feedback that you offer to them.
Question 2: “Did you create the sentence combining padlet yourself? Or is it something we can borrow and make our own?”
This activity, which was adapted from an example in Jim Burke’s article, “Developing Students’ Textual Intelligence through Grammar,” is something I made on Padlet. You can find — and remake it into something new for your own students — from this link. Enjoy!
Thank you again for all your engagement during the webinar session, and please stay in touch as you continue to plan for your 2020-21 academic year.
Integrating technology and writing can be challenging for students and teachers alike. Here are some strategies that may help!
by Jacob Steiss
Through research, advocacy, activism, and teaching, Dr. David E. Kirkland has made immeasurable contributions to improving the learning, literacy, and life outcomes of our nation’s youth. With a particular concern for research that advances educational equity and social justice, his works in the fields of education, youth literacy, cultural studies, ethnography, and sociolinguistics have led him to the distinguished role as the Executive Director of NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools.
In this role. Dr. Kirkland continues to bring issues of educational equity to the foreground of policy debates in order to best enable children from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds to flourish. One way Dr. Kirkland has continued moving U.S. educational systems forward on the arc of justice is manifested in the Metro Center’s contributions to new, culturally responsive educational standards in New York State, standards that have potential to affect close to 3 million students in New York.
by George Newell
Ms. Hill was aware of the literary scholarship on the short story “Indian Camp,” and its emphasis on the theme of loss of innocence. But this secondary ELA teacher decided to focus her students’ explorations on the theme of dominance. She supplanted authorized literary knowledge (the renderings of literary scholars) with knowledge derived from her students’ concerns for social justice, her own readings of the story which are connected to her history as an African American woman and her experiences (and her knowledge of others’ experiences) of racism. As Ms. Hill orchestrated a text-based discussion of dominance in “Indian Camp,” she framed the social construction of knowledge in terms of claim, warrant, evidence, and counter argument. However, she located those categories not in traditional argumentative structures used in classrooms but in terms of “arguing-to-learn.”
This blog provides a brief overview of a new framework for teaching and learning literature in secondary schools, like what was observed in Ms. Hill’s classroom. This framework is an inquiry-based approach to engage students in communicating and exploring ideas about literature. More information on the practice and research behind this framework are found in two resources featured below that are offered by The Ohio State University Argumentative Writing Project.
National WRITE Center
-Adapted from National WRITE Center's survey results.
Friday, March 13, 2020: What better day to close schools down and send us all home to begin our new careers––as online teachers. As I made the long drive home that afternoon from Middle College High School, I had no idea how long we would be teaching from home. Instead of seeing the quarantine as an obstacle, I thought of it as an opportunity to examine the different types of writing we assign and how these assignments might (or might not) be adapted to remote teaching for the juniors with whom I spend my days—online, of course.
Over the course of this and upcoming blogs, I will examine each one of these types of writing assignments in more detail and within the context of teaching online during such difficult times as we currently face. For now, it seems that we should all expect to be grappling for some time with the challenges and constraints that come with teaching online or, as seems the likely scenario in the fall, some balance between in-person and online.
-- A summary of Steve Graham’s article “The Science of Writing is the science of Reading and Vice Versa”
by Jiali Wang
by Jazmin Cruz
A 2020 study conducted by Graham, Kiuhara, and MacKay shows that writing about classroom content can enhance learning for students in grades 1-12. The study revealed that writing about content was equally effective across multiple subjects in supporting students’ comprehension and application of content knowledge.
by Jazmin Cruz
Students can be supported synchronously or asynchronously during online writing instruction in the following ways.