Today I listened to Angela Maiers‘ fantastic BLC 2010 presentation, “Writing for Real,” thanks to Bob and Zoe Sprankle’s podcast version. What an incredible collection of ideas focused on writing, literacy, and learning! According to Angela, there are three basic rules to writing we all need to understand and follow, to cultivate good writers:

  1. Writers write about what they know about, care about, and wonder about.
  2. Writers learn from other writers.
  3. Writers learn from other readers.

Angela encouraged her audience to publicly profess with courage, “I am a writer.” This made me think of the following tshirt message we could create with Cafepress for Storychasers:

I am a writer.
My words are powerful.
I am a storychaser.
Watch me fly.

Our official Storychasers logo

For quite awhile, I have been thinking of storychasers along similar lines to Angela in her discussion of writers. I want our Storychasers organization and movement to influence the identity of students, so they gain an understanding of the value as well as power of their own, unique voices. I want to help others define themselves not only as writers, but also as community journalists and storychasers.

I absolutely loved this presentation, and commend it highly to you. Thanks so much to Zoe and Adora for also contributing in the presentation! I’m going to share Zoe’s part, about 45 minutes into the presentation, with my daughter Sarah tomorrow. I’m sure she’ll be inspired too!

Angela’s “rule #2” of writing also inspired me to share the following photo. This is my outline for Monday and Tuesday’s presentation in Canyon, Texas, “Empowering 21st Century Learners.” This was the rough draft, which I combined with a few past presentation slides and a bunch of new photos found with Compfight to create the final preso in Keynote. It probably looks quite messy and disjointed, and it is… I brainstormed this mainly on our drive out to New Mexico the week prior to my presentation. After about six hours of work, this…

Brainstorming a keynote

… changed into this…

I want to help more teachers and students utilize “platforms for publishing” their writing and other creative, digital works. To that end, I’ve been thinking about creating a collaborative wiki to showcase links of Oklahoma classroom teachers who are actively using blogs, wikis, or other websites as INTERACTIVE classroom learning portals. By “interactive” I mean the sites permit others to comment and leave feedback. Out of the several hundred teachers who attended my sessions in Canyon this week, only two (who raised their hands when I talked) reported CURRENTLY publishing student work on an interactive website. I don’t think those statistics are far out of line for most public schools in the United States today. Interactive publishing online is RARE in classrooms. Many teachers are fearful of the negative things which could happen on the interactive web, and also (understandably) don’t perceive they have enough time to publish student work online. Given the wealth of benefits which can come from safely sharing student work online, on the open / PUBLIC web rather than the closed web, I wonder how teachers can afford NOT to share student work? This is part of my personal mission: To encourage more educators to SHARE their ideas and work, as well as (with permission, of course) the work of their students. The fact that this work is in line with recent advocacy work of Ewan McIntosh in New Zealand is affirming!

Instead of creating a collaborative wiki to showcase classroom learning portals, similar to the Support Blogging wiki, I’m considering contracting with a local mySQL database programmer to create a simple site I could use to add as well as solicit links to interactive classroom learning portals in current use around the world. I don’t think it would take TOO much to set this up, with help of course. If it was 2006, I could do it myself with Filemaker Pro and the server setup to which I had access at the university. Unfortunately four years later, I have comparatively FEWER online database skills / abilities, but my outsourcing options have improved dramatically. Stay tuned, I hope to get this site up and running soon.

Thanks, Angela, for the inspiration today. You encouraged me to share more, and want to do more to amplify the great writing and publishing work going on in classrooms around the world led by great teachers like you!

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3 Responses to Inspired by Angela Maiers #blc10 presentation: Writing for Real

  1. AllanahK says:

    I am staggered to read that so few are interactively sharing their children’s learning with others. Through our sharing we have been able to record those serendipitous moments that make learning with children so exciting.

    I am sure many of us strive to provide those moments for our classes but by sharing in an on-line interactive space those moments are preserved for further reflection and triggers for later recall.

    On our blog we are able to record some of those fabulous moments in our Year Four class down here in NZ.

    A visit to our class from Chloe Powell, Bahamas’ first female Olympic athlete running 11.4 seconds over 100 metres in the 1972 Games. What an incredible role model- someone who has overcome incredible challenges to succeed.

    A podcast with Dr Barrie Frost, reknowned neuro physicist, studying the migratory habits of monarch butterflies.

    A morning spent with children’s book illustrator Jessica Ahlberg.

    – An interview with Olympic Gold Medallist Rob Waddell when he was competing in the America’s Cup in Valencia.

    I encourage more people to look for those moments and share them. They help make learning real. Sharing can be challenging but also so rewarding. You can learn so much from others- it’s worth recording.

  2. Kristina says:

    Wes, I would love to be able to publish my kids’ work online. However, my district won’t allow me to do so. What ideas can you offer to someone with these restrictions?

  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    Do you know why your district won’t allow the publication of student work online? Richard Byrne had some very good suggestions for this situation in his post here recently, “We Need More Hawkeyes.”

    I have found sharing oral history projects of veterans and others in your community can be a good way to win “hearts and minds” for online sharing of student work. This is what we’ve done in “Celebrate Oklahoma Voices” and are starting with “Celebrate Kansas Voices,” through Storychasers. We have quite a few resources to assist with this process, and I’d be glad to provide more. The whole focus there is empowering others to constructively share their voices. I find these kinds of oral history interviews are difficult for school board members and others to argue with.

    A key piece is leadership: Finding ways to help your principal and superintendent see and understand the value of sharing student work. You could have your students interview one of them, and ask to share that interview. I think it helps when you ask for permission to join an existing project because it has outside legitimacy as well as focus. This is more specific than asking, “Can I publish student work?”

    You might need to make the case before your school board. That is what a teacher in Mesquite, Texas, had to do so she could start blogging with her class.

    Those are a few ideas. Let me know more about the situation you’re in, as you understand it, and I’ll see if I can come up with more. Hopefully others can chime in as well. 🙂

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