In lieu of an individual log report, I am inviting each of our participants to join me in commenting on the most important thing they feel they learned today. I'll add my own insights at the end.
This has been a day, like most, punctuated by food--literal and figurative. We began with an amazing homemade bread and fruit bowl (watermelon, strawberries and blueberries! YUM!) that Kristen made for us. Lunch was a collaboratively developed salad bar. Salad greens, cheeses, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, and a variety of salad dressings were complimented by animal crackers; a whipped cream, chopped apple and candybar fluff; and chocolate chip cookies. All afternoon we were able to graze on these leftovers and the miniature candy bars that Mitch, who is facilitating WIDE PATHS: Digital Writing Workshop, shared first thing in the morning.
But we have fed one another figuratively as well. From short consultations on pieces of writing and teaching demonstrations to check-in's on portfolio progress, we were busy, busy campers. We looked at children's books and their ability to break complex aspects of grammar, syntax and usage down to manageable chunks for our students. We adopted a critical stance on language usage, and talked about colleagues whose life work has been devoted to trying to make school a more equitable, accessible place for students often marginalized. We applauded Mandy's film trailer and film review log report that once again, pushed the log genre envelope, and we discussed the cookbook that hasn't yet materialized though it remains on our minds (usually accompanied by stomach growls).
Teachers came to this institute with the knowledge, skills and dispositions that had already helped them achieve "outstanding" teacher status, but they also brought with them the humility, critical and creative thinking skills, and desire to better serve their students and country that will keep them in the vanguard throughout their careers. And now a word from them...
Even before Mitch began the marathon with a couple prompts, he mentioned in an off-hand way that he had Tiger tickets for today's game in his pocket --- and they were going to go unused. I may have pretended to write the prompts, but all I could think about was whether or not I should pounce on those tickets like a team of tigers. So, at 10:45, I called Aaron and we decided to go. We scurried to Detroit for the 1:00 game. He even drove part of the way so I could do some writing. While it's true we missed the first half of the first inning, as we walked into the stadium, Curtis Granderson, #28, was introduced as the first Tiger batter; this was somewhat kismetty (is that a word?) since I wear #28 on the church softball team --- I took it as an omen of good things to come.
I skipped one fun moment. As we approached the stadium, we passed a saxophone player tooting out the rhythm to the Addams Family TV show. Just then, a bus with about 40 kids in it pulled up to the stop light in front of the sax player. Without skipping a beat, as if they had planned it all day, the kids joined in on the song. They clapped in the right spot over and over again...da-da-da-Da, clap-clap, da-da-da-Da, clap-clap, da-da-da-Da, da-da-da-Da, da-da-da-Da, clap-clap! They were all smiles and it made us get into the mood too.
The game zoomed into the 5th inning. No runs, lots of hits, and fortunately plenty of shade & breeze (see the photo, above)...thank you, Mitch. The chili cheese fries --- a tradition with Aaron and me --- smelled like baseball, tasted like heaven, and disappeared entirely too fast. By the bottom of the ninth inning, we were down 2 to 1 and it looked like the afternoon would end about the same time the sun was catching up with our seats. Then, Gary Sheffield clobbered a home run out to left field, only 20 yards away from us. Our defense & pitching held in the 10th inning and Curtis Granderson started the rally in our half of the inning (that's the sort of thing that goes unnoticed by the media, but us #28s stick together). A couple intentional walks later and Clete Thomas earned a walk with the bases loaded --- giving us the victory.
Forty one thousand twenty two fans were overjoyed! Actually, I bet there were about 200 Cardinal fans in the ballpark who were on the grumpy, pissed off side of the street.
Assorted observations: people do many other things while the game is being played including reading the Detroit News and texting each other like fiends; this one little kid didn't seem to care that his dad spilled beer on his cap; I bet 300 people stood and watched the whole game leaning on one rail or another; not only is people-watching fun, but watching people people-watch can be very entertaining; sometimes it seems like players want to get thrown out of the game (Polanco reminded me of Rasheed Wallace today...firing up the team with his unnecessary, but entertaining, antics).
Part of the fun for me is avoiding the traffic jams leaving the game. Adding to the challenge was that the game ended right before rush-hour traffic began. Suffice it to say that with Aaron as my navigator, we used the side streets well and skirted around most of the long lines. In essence, we won, again.
The chili cheese fries were long gone by this time and we were happier because of it.
P.S. Curtis scored the winning run and extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Go #28!
Two points to consider as you listen to the conversation. First, Inverness Research Associates did a nice job of framing the conversation around four dimensions and seven propositions, which I list below.
Second, this was a conversation held in the larger context of a full-morning meeting, and in the even larger context of the last three years of the NWP's Technology Initiative. So, as you listen, know that this group has been thinking about these issues for a long time. For us at RCWP, it gives us lots to think about in terms of where we want our work to go next. For other sites that may not have started with tech work yet, it can be overwhelming to think about all these issues, so don't let this list get you down. Instead, use it to guide your thinking about where you are and where you want to be in terms of technology and literacy.
All in all, this was a good conversation, and I appreciate the many NWP colleagues who allowed me to record them for this podcast:
- Heidi Mick
- Rita Sorrentino
- Paula Parson
- Dave Boardman
- Katherine Ramage
- Lynne Anderson Inman
- Darla Keatley
- Bobby Cummings
Develop Site Capacity: Dimensions to Explore
- Knowledge of writing and technology
- Professional development design and programming
- Development of teacher consultant leadership
- Interacting with school and district contexts
- The powers of technology exist alongside challenges and vulnerabilities.
- The world of technological innovation moves at a different pace than the educational system.
- Technology is integral to the discipline of writing today and is here to stay.
- Knowledge of the discipline (writing) is essential for wise use of technology to teach in the discipline.
- Technology amplifies aspects of teaching and learning writing (e.g., audience, voice, equity and access, publication, collaboration).
- Technology challenges assumptions and approaches to assessment of writing.
- New language associated with the use of technology to teach writing is emerging.
As I reflect upon the wealth of ideas shared in NYC, I noticed that tonight the tree was lit at Rockefeller Center in NYC. It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago (where did the time go?) the scaffolds were surrounding this huge tree in preparation for the holiday lights. This year the tree reminds me to dream big and start small. I never imagined the shear mass of the tree before standing at the base of it with RCWP friends. I realize that sometimes teaching can be like that big tree. You can take the metaphor in different ways, but quite simply, I can’t imagine decorating that tree. I can however, imagine that to work on it you’d have to work one bulb at a time. So, just as there are many aspects to our work as teachers, we can address them one step, conversation, student, at a time. We dream big and imagine that beautifully lit tree, but start small, one bulb at a time.
From great sessions on digital writing, preparing for testing, starting a writing center, to reading policy, etc. (for details to sessions visit the RCWP wiki) we also had a great opportunity to learn and reflect on ideas with others at the NWP social. Meeting up with RCWP TCs was great. We walked by “The Late Show” to rodents of unusual size and Broadway show workers who were on strike, all on the way to our fabulous soup dinner. Yum.
I loved NWP and NYC. I was however, surprised that despite the advertising overload of Times Square, which makes the city feel like a constant buzz, I actually found it a bit difficult to gain internet access without paying quite a bit. So, if anyone knows the wi-fi tips for big cities, I am in need of some good tips.
Thanks for a great time.
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Like the Rodents of unusual size, this lovely lady surprised a few of us at Brazil, Brazil. She was showing the proper way to flush (in Brazil, I guess). In case you can't see Step 4, it says "Praise each toe for a job well done. Call the big toe, Chubs." I have no explanation for this. Pure silliness, I'd say.
This is what I love about NWP - and this is what makes the NWP conference unlike other conferences. Each of the two break-out sessions I attended on Friday either began or ended with a spontaneous guitar solo by one of the participants. In addition to the performances, the one session also utilized a pretty impressive variety of different technologies for multiple purposes. The presenter used a laptop and LCD projector to display his PowerPoint and his students' blogs. He asked two participants to use digital cameras to videotape portions of the session to represent their own personal points of view. Participants took notes on laptops and took pictures with their own cameras. Participants also multitasked using cell phones to take pictures and send texts during the session.
In that case we were definitely plugged in, HOWEVER, our work over the last few days has also reminded me that the value of technology and twenty-first century multimodal literacies in English classrooms is still being held up for debate. In more than one session a few colleagues seemed to ask, "Is technology worth the trouble?" Through our work at RCWP I (perhaps 'we') have become so emersed in reading/thinking/talking about technology in writing instruction that the connection seems obvious. It is not so obvious to many teachers. In a few different sessions I was really challenged to articulate arguments for integrating technology - not just for the sake of using 'cool' technology - but in strategic and responsible ways that advance multiliteracies relevant to students' lives in and out of the classroom. Consequently, I have been reminded of the role NWP sites can and should play in advancing teachers' understandings of multiliteracies - and more than ever I see that RCWP is doing important things in technology leadership and has an important role to play within NWP.
I'd like to send a shout-out to our comrade, Andrea Zellner, who is home preparing to give birth to twins. Andrea, this pic is for you, my fellow Burke groupie. At this particular moment we were sitting in the hotel lobby resting our feet when Jim Burke entered the gift shop. I snuck a quick - blurry- photo as he walked by. I would only risk this humiliation for you, Andrea.
(It's him, I swear. Eade and Nobis can back me up on this.)
First, I have noticed, especially in NWP circles, that the conversations about tech and writing no longer require any bit of a prefacing about why and how we should even think about using technology. It is simply an assumed part of the conversation. Contrast that with two years ago in Pittsburgh or a few years back in San Francisco, and I think that our field has come a long way in a short time. From the looks of the NCTE program, the argument about why tech is important still needs to preface the main ideas of the presentation (as evidenced in one session I attended today), but I think that the change is now fully underway.
Which leads to point two. In a small group conversation I had with other Lead Tech Sites teacher consultants today, we developed a central question from our lengthy discussion (which I hope to post as a podcast later) and it cuts to the heart of the matter:
Within the context of new state requirements for teachers and students to use technology in the service of literacy, how can writing project sites affect school policy and infrastructure that continue to block internet sites and applications as well as other opportunities to compose in digital environments.
Well, the store is closing, so that is all I can post for now. More when I get another reliable connection. Safe travels to all who are heading home today and tomorrow.
(right) Our group wrote at
Today's Site Leadership session started me thinking. We need to do some thinking about the future. Our baby (RCWP) will be all grown up and needing therapy in 2020 if we don't take steps now to develop a long-range plan for her...a vision, dare I say, of how things may be when we are reading about our baby in the news from Burcham Retirement Home.
Would people be willing to take a day or dare I suggest a weekend (dare, dare) to do a visioning retreat? If we sat down and looked at how our baby is put together (can I leave this analogy, please?), we could put together an organizational structure that allowed for continuity and increased depth/strength over the years. Other sites have some good ideas on this topic and I bet we could fashion some pretty awesome plans.
Who's with me? (Don't leave me hangin' like Bluto in Animal House here people).
Our dormant blog will light up over the next few days with posts from the 2007 NWP Annual Meeting and NCTE Convention. Here, we show our enthusiastic smiles as we wait in the Lansing Airport.
Melissa and Jill just arrived, too, so perhaps we will get ambitious and record a podcast before our flight leaves. If not, there is some time in Detroit to catch up, although they don't have free wifi (yeah, Capital City Airport!) so don't expect to hear it until much, much later.
We hope that everyone else traveling tonight and tomorrow has a safe trip and we look forward to seeing you under the lights of Broadway.