Writing

Cursive Writing and the Importance of Teaching Skills

Monday, September 21, 2015 Comment kareem-trump-letter

For most of the past decade, I have spent a week each summer reading essays by high schoolers in the Advanced Placement program. In the past few years, I’ve noticed a trend: They are getting easier to read. Not in the sense that the students are better at organizing their ideas or crafting sentences than they have been in previous years, but rather they are literally easier to read. This past year, while reading through my 100th or so essay one day, I realized why: Most of the students aren’t writing in cursive anymore. Of course,


Speculative Design for Emergent Learning: Taking Risks

Thursday, June 11, 2015 Comment idea-600.jpg

As I look in the rear view mirror at this past semester, I marvel at the grand experiment of my #WritingRace class at Kean University that I blogged about as we embarked on our journey. I decided to take co-learning one step further. When I first met my fantastic group of graduate and undergraduate students for this course, I announced that they were in charge of their own learning outcomes. I also mentioned that there was no prescribed syllabus for the course.  Rather, they would design their own syllabus as they considered their collective goals. Along with


The 5 Most Interesting Writing Developments for 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014 Comment johnjones.600x500.jpg

It is a common theme to complain about the way that writing (or reading or math) skills are declining as our society becomes increasingly digitized. In this post, I look at some examples of the way that digital technologies are making writing more interesting by exploring stories or trends from the past year that have impacted writing and the teaching of writing. Not all of these examples suggest that writing is getting better (or that it is getting worse). Rather, they illustrate how writing is changing under the influence of emerging technologies. 1. Writing is in


Fanfiction, Capitalism and Draco in Leather Pants

Monday, December 16, 2013 Comment antero.16.600.jpg

Earlier in the semester, I found myself lecturing to a class and having students in my Young Adult Literature course take notes about “Draco in Leather Pants.” Stay with me. Along with contemporary books like Gossip Girl and classics like The Outsiders and Go Ask Alice, my undergraduates at Colorado State University and I looked at how online environments in the past decade have transformed the world of teen literature. For readers of this blog, such a focus shouldn’t be very surprising. Discussions of the Harry Potter Alliance and John Green’s legions of nerdfighters highlight the


Learning Online in the Second Grade: Teacher Linda Yollis

Monday, May 20, 2013 Comment yollis.1.600.jpg

Blogging, commenting thoughtfully on others’ blogs, staying safe online, creating a positive digital footprint, using audio and video to connect with students in other parts of the world, creating and publishing video – at what grade level should students be introduced to these essential digital literacies? How about the second grade? Linda Yollis, a teacher in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, remembers the classroom in which she started teaching in the 1980s: “Learning was confined to the four walls of the classroom, was entirely paper-based, worksheet-driven, and I was the audience for most of the written


Avenging ‘Making’ For All: Challenging Iron Man

Monday, May 13, 2013 Comment antero12.600.jpg

With Iron Man 3 raking in millions and marking the official start of summer blockbusters, it is thrilling to recognize that moviegoers are largely staring at a screen enraptured with Hollywood’s most successful maker. As such, I have good news and bad news for the maker movement. First the good news: to state the obvious, the movie’s hero, Tony Stark, has an uncannily familiar special power – he’s a tinkerer. Without diving into the plot too deeply, it is fair to say that the reason Tony Stark can save the world is because he’s a really


Teachers, Youth, and Social Media: Experiments

Friday, April 26, 2013 Comment 6093017647_0b38e062ab_z.jpg

While young people are often adept at navigating networked spaces for social purposes in their everyday lives, it is less clear what role schools and teachers should play in that process. In what ways can educators support, mentor, and scaffold youth’s navigation of online spaces to foster rich learning experiences and ethical communication practices? Amy Stornaiuolo, an assistant professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, explored this topic from 2008-2011 while serving as the research coordinator for a large-scale design research project that studied how youth around the world communicated on a private social


The Social Relevance of Public Writing

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 Comment tie8.jpg

I want to talk about the nature of writing in today’s age of participatory media. In particular, I want to talk about how writing within my classroom has helped foster community amongst the students. In fact, the subtitle of this post could be, “How Wearing a Tie to Class Spurred Community Building.” For one of my undergraduate composition courses, my students and I meet three times a week in a small computer lab with LCD projections on all four walls, a smart tablet for the instructor and a document camera for displaying anything that might not


Online Learning and Teaching Writing

Friday, September 21, 2012 Comment johnjones.30.600.jpg

For whatever reason, discussions of online education are in the air. Cathy Davidson frequently writes about the challenges facing our education system on this blog, and when a consortium of top universities combined to create an online course initiative, it seemed that online education had grown past its infancy as was ready for mainstream acceptance. That initiative, Coursera, has clearly excited the public, as it now boasts over one million students taking free online courses. Yet it has not been without its critics. Recently, Adam F. Falk has argued that solutions like Coursera offer students an incomplete education


Writing Like the Web

Thursday, August 16, 2012 Comment johnjones.29.600.jpg

In my last few posts, I have argued that network writing—that is, writing that mimics the conventions of emerging, online genres—should occupy a larger place in writing instruction. However, it can be challenging to imagine how literacies that students have developed in writing, say, text messages, can be applied to writing traditional genres like the argumentative essay or the academic writing that are the centerpiece of most writing instruction. While many innovative instructors have developed assignments that integrate network-native writing like Twitter into classroom settings, how does this writing inform or lead to writing that is