Writing

Building Community With Peer Mentors

Monday, June 05, 2017 Comment mentors

“The more I give my teacher-power to students and encourage them to take more responsibility for their own learning, the more they show me how to redesign my ways of teaching.” — Howard Rheingold, “Toward Peeragogy” Howard Rheingold has been a champion of peer-to-peer learning for years. Howard’s ideas are often in my head, milling about with Lev Vygotsky and social theories of learning. When I set out to design a large writing course for college freshmen, I was particularly focused on the role more capable peers would play in our writing class. In fact, I


Making Science: When Does Spaghetti Become a Light Ray?

Monday, March 20, 2017 Comment spaghetti artifact

For the past few years, we have been fortunate to work together in a scientific inquiry class. Bringing together science faculty and composition faculty makes for some lively conversations about the teaching of writing. The course is offered to future elementary school teachers who are typically non-science majors. We recently co-wrote with Irene Salter Composing Science: A Facilitator’s Guide to Writing in the Science Classroom (TCPress 2016), which describes our work with these future teachers and our practices for teaching writing in science. The book lays out how we engage students in practices that mirror the


Reading as a Social Act

Thursday, March 24, 2016 Comment young girl reading book while standing in front of other books

It’s commonly acknowledged that writing is a social act. What does it mean to write online? When we write in the digital age, we are writing to share and to connect. But, what about the act of reading? I open this reflection by quoting myself from a prior DML post: These days, the role of the reader is much like the role of the learner (in a 21st century digitized context). I see a kind of inherent transformation in both of these roles. Reading used to be a more solitary act, bound to a private and


Cursive Writing and the Importance of Teaching Skills

Monday, September 21, 2015 Comment kareem trump letter signature written over typed out 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 graphic of word Idea with stick figure characters drawing letters

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 close up of iphone showing keyboard and typed words hello world

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 harry potter book collection on display

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 group of kids sitting around classroom computer working together

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 woman with coat sitting on subway writing in notebook

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 young students hand in the air to answer ask question to teacher in classroom

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