Welcome to Launching Digital Writing in the Elementary Classroom. Here you will find the stories of seven teachers who were willing to take risks and venture into new territory by integrating technology into their workshops in meaningful ways. All of us are writing teachers who write. We believe that it’s important for us to do the work we ask of our students. It is in that practice that we learn about the real work writers do. It is here that we learn the struggles that our students face. It is here that we reflect on and hone our practice.
This belief that writing teachers need to be writers spills over into the digital world. If we want our students to craft quality digital compositions, then we believe that it’s important for us to do the same. Over the last several years, we have each ventured into the digital writing world. Our idea of community changed as we connected with others we might not have been able to connect to before. The way we share our writing has changed too. Our writing no longer lives just inside our notebooks. Instead, we share ideas in 140 characters or less. We communicate visually through images and graphics. Our blogs give us the space to write about our thinking, reflect on issues we grapple with, and celebrate the work we see our students and colleagues doing. This work has not only helped us grow as writers but it’s also given us the impetus to make changes in our classrooms in order to give our students new opportunities afforded by digital technologies.
And while our choice of writing tools and publication options have expanded, we still hold strong in our beliefs that good writing instruction is good writing instruction. Our beliefs about literacy lay the foundation for our work. We believe in the importance of workshop where students have choice to do the work they deem important. We give students time to dig deeply into their writing so that they can create, reflect and revise their work. Our students are making purposeful decisions as writers. They are determining which tool is the best tool for their message and who their audience is. The power of community cannot be ignored.
This book is a book by teachers for teachers. We are all in different places along the path of digital writing. Many of us are just beginning, while others have been exploring digital opportunities for a longer time. All of us continue to be reflective and responsive to our students’ needs, enabling us to continually evolve as writing teachers.
What you will find in this book:
Cathy Mere shares her own journey as a digital reader and writer. She explains how her personal writing work nudged her into thinking about what her students needed in order to be successful readers and writers in the digital world. She lays the foundation for the rest of the book in this chapter.
Mandy Robek, second grade teacher wanted to achieve the same digital writing success she had with her previous kindergarten class. With a picture of the end in mind, she tells about how she worked through the struggles she faced as she moved into a new grade level and wanted her students to begin writing digitally. This chapter focuses on why she chose blogging and how she implemented it in her second grade classroom.
Community is the foundation of a strong writing workshop. Deb Frazier discusses the importance of building community not only in her classroom, but also globally. She is very thoughtful in how she integrates digital tools and social networks like Twitter to help her students build relationships.
Debra Lairson explains the thinking she did around digital citizenship. As a literacy coach, she worked with several teachers as they implemented blogging in their classrooms. She realized that her writers needed to understand the responsibilities that go along with writing digitally for a global audience. She shares the work she did with a third grade teacher in her school.
Making Purposeful Decisions as Digital Writers focuses on how Julie Johnson uses digital mentors to help her students look closely at the craft of digital writing. Her students use these mentors to study design principles and analyze the purpose behind craft moves that digital composers use in their compositions.
Tonya Buelow explores how digital technology supported her English Language Learners. Using technology tools like Skype and video afforded her students the ability to access information more easily. Tonya used these tools to connect her students to a variety of authors. In addition, she explains how screencasting apps and blogging gave her students opportunities to be successful readers and writers.
Scott Jones discusses how his perspective and then his teaching changed after reading a professional book. His belief in the importance of giving his students more choice in the work they do led to him implementing a variety of digital tools, including digital portfolios. In his chapter, Scott shows the reader how student work was impacted when they were given opportunities for conversation and reflection with an audience that reached beyond his classroom walls.