When a Project Gets Sidelined

The room buzzed with voices and movement. Students hovered in small groups around workstations, talking, pointing to the computer screens, gesturing. I had given what I thought was a simple assignment: find images that will bring to life a new layer of meaning in the poem you received at the start of class. It was one of the first classes of the semester in a […]

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Writer’s Notebook on Steroids

I was sitting with my notebook this morning, relishing the heft of my favorite pen. Me, the passionate digital writer and reader, the enthusiast for the transformative teaching and learning possibilities the web offers us– forget all that. This morning, it was all about the pen. Its shiny gold-colored clip. The cool, smooth barrel and the way it sat perfectly against the nubbin of my […]

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Free-sliding into NCTE

My friend and colleague, Rick Kreinbring and I have been working on our presentation for the November NCTE convention in Houston. Yes, we know we’re not typical (in this and other ways šŸ˜‰ but we know how we work; we need time to think, then reel in our thoughts. In line with the theme of this year’s convention, amplifying student voice, we’ve called our presentation […]

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If It Doesn’t Matter to You, I Won’t Care Either

Some time ago, Ken Lindblom, a professor of English Education at Stony Brook University, wrote a blog post,Ā The Rubric Criterion that Changed Everything ,Ā about a simple move that helped him attack the never-ending pile of grading he (and all writing teachers) face.Ā He added a single, simple criterion to his rubric for grading writing assignments:Ā Is it interesting? Voila! The weight of grading suddenly lightened by a […]

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Writing Teachers: Think You Donā€™t Matter?

Think again. Because our students are not only listening, they’re living as writers, for reasons both professional and personal. Last weekend, I attended a WordPress meetup called “Bogging for Professional Development.” Dozens of people showed up at a co-working space on a Saturday afternoon t o hear a panel of young professionals talk about the ins and outs of blogging. Yes, they talked about blogging […]

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“You are not the boss of me:” Talking Back to The Technologies In Our Lives

There’s a time in the lives of young children when they toss their heads, place their hands on their hips, jut out their little chins, and announce, “You are not the boss of me.” It usually happens when a parent is trying to get out the door, or wants the toys in the living room put anywhere but in the middle of the floor before […]

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When Theory Breaks Your Heart

I recently spent time in the classroom of a newish Language Arts teacher. He works in a high school school in one of the poorest parts of the city. Every life story of every student is hard to hear. The day I visited, fewer than half his students were present; he says that’s typical. This teacher finished school to earn his teaching credential less than […]

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If A Tree Falls In The Woods, Will Robert Frost Be Surprised?

I. We promise magic, we teachers of writing. A kind of electromagnetism that will connect writer and reader; a moment when words, ideas, and intentions collide and BAM: meaning explodes. Once upon a time, we teachers asked kids to write on paper, pass it in, then we would hand it back. Then we asked kids to write for more than just the grownups. We asked […]

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Do As I Say or As I Do? Making Blogging Matter

I’m reflecting on this thing we callĀ blogging. Why do I do it– what do I expect to get out of it? What am I writing about? Does it matter? To whom? What do I want this blog to look like– how does it represent me? (If you can think of any, please add them in the comments.) I’m thinking about this becauseĀ I’d been thinking about […]

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