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Learning Flows at Queens Paideia School

Today I had the opportunity to visit the Queens Paideia School for the second time this year. An instructor at the school, Tim Fredrick (a good friend and a great writer), had invited me earlier this year to check out the multi-age, open design in action. Within just a few minutes of being at the school again, I was reminded of how positive and pleasant the learning flows felt in the space. Along with time and space divisions typical of schools, such as small reading and writing groups and individual work cubicles, teachers and young learners moved to different areas through the open spaces around the school rooms in different allotments of time.

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A NWP Backchannel: Rethinking Interest-Driven

I had the opportunity to present at the National Writing Project’s Annual Meeting at the end of last year. For the Annual Meeting, NWP used the concept of “HOMAGO”—a new term that comes from Connected Learning research and refers to the learning that comes from Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out.  Nicole Mirra and I were invited to present our research and work with youth in the Geeking Out strand–specifically, to address how our work with youth has moved us to re-think some current approaches to “interest-driven”  connected learning.

I shared some of the findings of my study into how young men develop as writers in their teen years. For this session, I focused on sharing the ways the young men participated in activities in schools, in out-of-school contexts, and online. Quite briefly, the young men used their experiences in these contexts as resources to help them achieve their developing writing purposes, preferences, and aspiring literate identities. Their invested interests in who they wanted to be as writers, what they wanted to write, and how they wanted to go about doing those activities influenced the writing practices they took up, adapted, and resisted. The young men habitually reminisced Continue reading “A NWP Backchannel: Rethinking Interest-Driven”

What Do We “Let the Page Be”?

Today I came across this recording of the spoken word piece by Bonafide Rojas called “In Front of the Class.” In it, he describes a group of youth who, at first glance, may seem hopeless. He says to the young people:

Let the page be a doctor.
Let the page be a therapist.
Let the page be a lover.

Let the page be your enemy, punch it in the face.
Let the page be your best friend
who will never stab you in the back.
Let the page be your Prozac.

Let the page be your hip hop.
Let the page be your rock and roll.
Let the page be that fancy ride you’re always talking about.

Let the page be that bling, bling on your wrist.
Let the page be the underground beat you’re about to rip.
Let the page be your autobiography.

This week I will be speaking with the NYU’s ELL (English Language Learners) Think Tank, a consortium of teachers from across New York City. One of the first things I am going to do is ask us to (re)think the typical definition of writing that we see at work in our schools, and particularly the limited ways we talk about writing when working with those who are learning English. What do we “let the page be”?

photo (5) 2For the young men I got to know while researching how young men develop as writers, “the page” was all of the things Bonafide Rojas listed, and more. At some point during the two years that I traced their writing practices, each of the young men dealt with particular social tensions like for one young man, trying to make sense of having an abusive father, and for another young man, being considered by some to be “too White” and by others as being “too Latino.” To make sense of these social tensions, each of the young men independently turned these literal issues into figurative literary tropes through writing.

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Teachers as Contemporary Learners

Today I will be speaking with those at the Fordham Literacy Institute about how teachers can harness contemporary literacies for themselves and for their own professional growth. We’ll be taking their already great Guiding Questions and making a little twist in order to ask:

  • Who are contemporary teachers?
  • What is the potential for professional development in an age of Web 2.0?
  • How can we use technologies to build our literacy & content teaching knowledge & skills?
  • How can we use technologies to expand the walls of our professional development?

Ultimately…

  • Who am I as a teacher, and where do I need to grow to meet the needs of contemporary learners?

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Dummy Runs and Schooled Writing

In December I had the pleasure of joining a group of 5th graders in the high desert mountains of Utah. That week, my niece, Alaina, and her classmates had just asked their teacher if they could have time to write to children in Newtown, Connecticut after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. In a discussion with Alaina about how she decided what to write about, … Continue reading Dummy Runs and Schooled Writing

Playfulness, Risk-Taking and the Developing Writer: #engchat Reflection Part I

Last month I had the pleasure of guest hosting the weekly #engchat on Twitter. Sixty minutes zoomed by as the tweets poured in in rapid succession. I knew I would need some distance and time to reflect on the wide range of ideas and extended multiple conversations that happened that night. After combing through the responses to just the first question of the night in the archives of the chat session, I realized that this would have to be a series of reflections. I am no Wonder Woman. So, without further ado, here is the first question and what I saw as a few of the salient points made in just the first 15 minutes of the evening’s chat. Continue reading “Playfulness, Risk-Taking and the Developing Writer: #engchat Reflection Part I”

Your Invitation to Join Me When I Guest Host #engchat 01/07/13

I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to guest host #engchat on Monday 01/07/13 at 7PM EST. By hosting #engchat, I get to have 100s of dedicated and inquisitive English Language Arts teachers think with me about a topic about which I care deeply. What a way to start a new year! #engchat is the brain child of Meenoo Rami, an ELA teacher herself. She describes … Continue reading Your Invitation to Join Me When I Guest Host #engchat 01/07/13

Sticks and Stones May Break my Bones, but Your Words CAN Affect my Literacy

The following is a Guest Post from Phil Park who is currently studying at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development as a Masters student on a track to teach Educational Theatre and English in Secondary Education. You can join him in the conversation to promote tolerance through literacy education on Twitter by using the hashtag #teachread. Together we can change a nation! … Continue reading Sticks and Stones May Break my Bones, but Your Words CAN Affect my Literacy

My Month as a “Disconnected” Educator–Part I

In Part I, I describe the Connected Educator Month and what activities I’d participate in if I were not so “disconnected” right now. In Part II, I describe what I have learned from being a “disconnected” educator this month. Apparently, August is Connected Educator Month. This is a project funded by the US Department of Education to support educators in building their personal learning networks (PLNs). … Continue reading My Month as a “Disconnected” Educator–Part I

The #literacies Chat is Born!

Below you’ll find the birthing story of the #literacies chat, a weekly chat on Twitter bringing together educators, researchers and thinkers fascinated by contemporary literacies. Our first chat will be June 7 @ 7:00 PM EST. Skip down below to read the post I wrote to introduce our first topic or  just head on over to the new home of our #literacies chat: http://literacieschat.wordpress.com/  The Birth of an Idea … Continue reading The #literacies Chat is Born!