Syllabus & Schedule
YWP Digital Writing Practicum
August 2012 – May 2013
Title: Digital Writing Practicum – Engaging students in the 21st Century
Instructors’ Names: Geoffrey Gevalt, Director of Young Writers Project; Barbara Ganley, former Middlebury College and Middlebury High School teacher; veteran digital teachers Darcie Abbene, Nick Brooks, Pam Campbell, Kathy Folley and Cindy Faughnan; Lisa Italiano, director of Green Mountain Writing Project.
Office Hours: By phone or email anytime, Skype: youngwritersproject
Phone and email: Primary contact: (802) 354-9537 or 482-5625(h), firstname.lastname@example.org
Mailing Address: Young Writers Project, 12 North St., Suite #8, Burlington, VT 05401
Classroom Location: There will be at least four sections of this course: Chittenden/Franklin, Lamoille/Washington, White River, and Rutland area. Classes will be held at a convenient location to be determined with WiFi. Participants should plan to bring their own laptops. Much of this course will occur online: Course work will center on private space in digitalteachers.net and on a working digital classroom using the YWP platform that they will be expected to use with their students during the year.
Credits: Three graduate credits from St. Michael’s College.
Schedule: This course has an essential all-day session on Aug. 15 at Rock Point School or Sept. 8 at YWP Writing Center in Burlington (details will be provided to participants) that will provide a foundation for the year’s work. If attendance at that event is impossible yet there is deep interest in taking the rest of the course, contact Geoffrey Gevalt. Class meetings, usually 2.5 hours long, will occur in regional locations five times during the year in October, December, January, March and April/May. Participants will receive consistent feedback and support through their online course classroom, in-school visits by YWP instructors and Web conferences during the year.
Deadline for enrollment: August 8, 2012 (for Aug. 15 introductory session) or Sept. 1, 2012 (for Sept. 8 introductory session).
Cost: $1,200 for course credit; $850 for no credits.
Course Description and Rationale:
Overview: The aim of this course is to help teachers shift to or deepen their shift to the digital age to enhance their instruction of writing in all curricula. This course is aimed at learning by doing in two online communities: with colleagues taking the course and in their own school classrooms. The course emphasizes community building, peer-to-peer learning/feedback, digital literacy, writing revision, commenting, use of multimedia, operating a digital classroom. The practical knowledge gained will be a road map to personal learning exploration, using digital media and writing instruction techniques suitable for all curricula, including Common Core. Instructors will provide ongoing support in school and via Web conferencing, email and telephone.
This course is based on the belief that teachers – and most students – learn best by doing with guidance from instructors who have deep expertise in writing, the instruction of writing and the use of technology and Web spaces to enhance learning. This collaborative practicum will provide participants with a dynamic, hands-on learning experience, instruction in making best use of leading Web apps and resources and development of strategies to improve the writing of students in grades 4 through 12. As many teachers have said in prior years, this is a challenging but transformative experience.
The course is also unique in that it includes considerable one-on-one time directly connected to teachers’ direct work with their students, so instructors and Young Writers Project Coaches will be helping teachers with technical questions, brainstorming and problem resolution during the course through in-school visits, Web conferences and communication by phone or email.
THEORY: The practicum is based on proven learning theories, principally that improvement in writing comes from engagement in the idea and topic, that the writing process is enhanced by critical feedback and revision and that the final piece must have an authentic audience to enhance the writer’s sense of purpose. The course also is predicated on the fact that while educational attention is being focused on outcomes and on needed skills in math and science, strong writing skills are necessary in all learning and that writing skills are needed now more than ever. Additionally, teachers are able to instruct writing more effectively if they have confidence in their own skills as writers and if they have a firm understanding of how technology can extend their classroom work.
AVAILABILITY: This course is open to teachers in all curricula – language arts, world languages, art, science, music, math, social studies – and is worthwhile for technology specialists, special educators and school leaders if they are able to work directly with a group of students or are in a collaborative teaching project. Teachers who’ve taken our earlier courses are encouraged to sign up; this course is different than prior courses and work/projects will be individualized.
IMPACT: This course is rigorous in part because there is so much to it. The course will help teachers see the power of building online communities, embracing peer-to-peer learning techniques, helping to focus student energy on their initial ideas and developing new methods of assessment and digital literacy: critical thinking, Web research, civility, online feedback, collaboration, using multimedia.
EXPECTATIONS: Participants will be expected to learn how to become more connected to digital educators around the world. They will be expected to read the required readings (the primary text will be provided; participants need to obtain a copy of Elements of Style by Strunk and White). They will be expected to build community in their online course space on digitalteachers.net and to regularly post about their experiences and react to others’. They will be expected to regularly use their digital classroom in school and help foster their students’ sense that this is their space and not, simply, a classroom management tool where they post homework. For those who are unfamiliar, go to ywpschools.net and log in as demo (password: demo).
DETAILS: The primary reading text, Because Digital Writing Matters, will be provided to each participant as will copies of various Creative Commons white papers, and research or links will be provided. Teachers will be expected to purchase Elements of Style by Strunk & White and are encouraged to borrow or buy recommended texts. Much of the “reading” material will be available by Web links. Participants are also expected to share reading material they find useful.
This three-credit graduate-level course (accredited through St. Michael’s College) begins August 15 (or Sept. 8) and ends May 11. The first session will last 8 hours; during the year, five progress trainings/discussions will begin at 4 p.m. and last 2.5 hours. Exact dates for the school year meetings will be announced at the first meeting and each geographic section will be assigned a specific day of the week; the meetings will fall in the 2nd week of October, the first week in December, the 2nd week in January; the 3rd week in March and the 1st week in May (straddles April). Total class time: 19 hours.
Web conferences via Skype will be required in September, November and February; these last 30 minutes and are intended to allow screen sharing and to focus on more technical issues within the classroom. Total Web conference time: 2 hours
The instructor or local teacher coaches will meet with teachers at school during the year. Additionally, the coach can observe or assist the participant in class. YWP will provide training and follow-up instruction at the second meeting to ensure that teacher participants have sufficient skills and confidence to adequately participate in the course. Total in-school conference time: 4 hours
Participants will be provided their own private school Web site (for more, go to ywpschools.net) where they will engage their own students in writing exercises designed to raise those students’ digital literacy skills, including writing for a private online audience of their peers; giving constructive, civil feedback to peers; revising work; using the Web for additional learning; connecting to other communities; and using sound and images to enhance their writing experience.
Participants will be expected to read course materials; explore leading educators’ blogs and writings and share what they learn; develop their own exercises for use in their school classrooms; draw from the experiences and ideas of colleagues; take advantage of YWP’s library of best practices; and participate actively in their online learning space on digitalteachers.net Participants will write about their own learning. They also will take part in a variety of writing exercises before and during each class meeting.
Participants will be expected to assign work that requires their students to use the site and observe, reflect on and assess that work in order to accomplish these goals:
Expected online class time, beyond time spent in normal school class prep time: 6 hours.
The rationale behind this course is threefold:
Participants in this course will increase their knowledge and expertise in these areas:
Participants will build skills, knowledge and experience in these areas:
Assessment of participants:
50% Work with students in your school digital classroom
35% Online course participation on digitalteachers.net
15% Meeting participation, Web conferences and attendance
To get an “A” in this course, participants are expected to 1) get their students to write and comment regularly on the Web site; 2) actively integrate their regular class work onto the Web site and develop new methods for doing old curricula; 3) complete their writing assignments in a clear, concise and timely fashion and in a way that reflects learning from readings and Web research and that shows strong assessment of student results; 4) actively participate (comment) in the work of others posted on the practicum’s site, digitalteachers.net; 5) complete all required readings; and 6) innovate – devise new ideas to be tried out in the school online classroom and to be shared with other teachers.
The assessment breakdown:
During the course, the instructors will provide assessments of work being done by participants on their school site and regular responses to participants’ posts on digitalteachers.net. In some cases, participants will receive private messages, emails or phone calls about their work. Teachers are welcome to have the instructor visit their school and classroom during the year.
The Elements of Style, Strunk & White
Supplied to participants:
Required Exploration Online:
YWP Digital Writing Practicum
August/Sept. 2012 – May 2013
Notes: A syllabus schedule is intended to be the framework, a road map. There may be slight shifts in specifics to accommodate the interests/skill levels of each group. Be sure to check in with your classroom space at digitalteachers.net to check for updates. | Assignments are pieces that should be accomplished before a meeting; they are generally tied to what you are doing in your own classroom. Exercises are done in class meetings. | Required readings should be accomplished prior to class. | A final version of this will be posted on digitalteachers.net with hot links to readings, etc.
MEETING 1 – Foundation.
Wednesday, August 15, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Rock Point School, Burlington, or Sept. 8. 8:30 to 4:30, YWP Writing Center, 12 North St., Burlington (Participants can choose either day to attend but must advise YWP which day is being chosen.)
Overview: This all-day conference is aimed at giving participants a firm foundation with which to start the year: discussion of purpose, training on how to use the digital sites, presentation of best practices by top teachers around the state, development of plans and introductory exercises for the participants’ school classrooms.
Assignment #1 (All assignments are to be completed one week before the respective session): Go to digitalteachers.net, sign in, create a new blog entry and write a short story that shows something about yourself and tell people why you are taking this course. Include a photo if you can.
Make sure the blog is place in the classroom: Digital Practicum 2012/13
Choose the Tag: Bio.
Read and comment on two other classmates’ posts.
Readings: (all readings are to be completed before the respective session):
Closure: Questions and Next Steps:
Oct. 8-Barre (Mondays)
Meeting 2 – Digital Literacy.
Monday, Oct. 8-Barre
Overview: Why does digital literacy matter; how can you raise students’ digital literacy; where are you in becoming digital learners? Bring Assignment #2.
Assignment #2: How are you building a community of digital learners? What do you do? What could you do? What are you trying in class? Create a blog entry on digitalteachers.net. Tag: Digital Literacy. Read and comment on two others’ posts. Take Digital Use Survey.
Readings: Digital Youth White Paper, full (Ito) (For those who didn’t get to it before Meeting 1)
NML White Paper (Jenkins), posted as an attachment on the site with Assignment 2 instructions
Because Digital Writing Matters, “The Landscape of Digital Writing” pp 19-40
Closure: Questions, Problems, Next Steps: (45)
Meeting #3 – Community Building & Commenting.
Now that you’ve gotten going, what strategies are you taking to build a community where the students feel like the digital classroom is their space? Are students posting their own work? And what are you doing to focus on commenting of all kinds – organic reaction and affirmation, feedback with suggestions, more pedagogical & rubric-based guides and sprouting new stories?
Complete Assignment #3 and Readings prior to class meeting. (Also get caught up on Assignment 2 and Readings for Meeting 2)
Assignment #3: Student Profiles & Check In.
Create a blog entry on digitalteachers.net. Tag: M3.A3 Student Profiles & Check In. Your entry should include:
[NOTE: Some folks prefer to do two separate blog entries for these two part assignments. This is fine - just be sure to use the tag (M3.A3 Student Profiles & Check In) for each entry, and make sure your title reflects which part of the assignment you are answering in your entry.]
Read and comment on two others’ posts.
Additional Preparation: bring a compelling picture - and a story - of a relative
LOGISTICS: The course now meets in regional groups. We will meet at 4:30 and finish at 7 p.m. We’ll provide a few snacks, but feel free to bring your own (to share).
As a rule:
You are “assigned” to the group nearest you, but if you run into a specific issue on a given week you can attend a different class; just let us know.
If you have any questions or concerns about the assignments or our meetings, please let me know.
Pamela Campbell, Teacher Coach, Young Writers Project
MEETING 4: Taking Stock
Monday, Jan. 14-Barre
Tuesday, Jan. 15-Rutland
Wednesday, Jan. 16-Chittenden
Thursday, Jan. 17-Lebanon
Overview: Share and recharge; focus on the months ahead; polish commenting and revisioning; begin a project. Bring Assignment #4.
Assignment #4: Take a few minutes to reflect on how YWP is going for you in your classroom. Peruse your classroom(s) and take a few minutes to think about the exercises you have posted and the work and comments the students have posted. Then create a blog entry (under tags look for the "Strategies" drop down menu and select "reflection" as your tag) where you answer four questions: 1) What has gone well? Please copy/paste a link to the exercise or student work that you are especially exited about. Why do you think it has gone well? 2) What hasn't gone well/has held you back? If you are feeling brave (please feel brave!) copy/paste a link to the exercise or student work...And lastly, 3) What specific way would you like to use YWP in the coming semester? 4) List what topics (if any) you would like to discuss over web conference and what your prep periods/ best times are. Tag: Success. You will be asked to present this at the class.
Closure and Next Steps:
MEETING 5: Images and Sound and the Assessment Conundrum
Monday, Mar. 11-Barre
Tuesday, Mar. 12-Rutland
Wednesday, Mar. 13-Chittenden
Thursday, Mar. 14-Lebanon
Overview: Use images and audio as part of the writing process - in creating, focusing, complementing text, or even, as alternative ways to “write.” Take a look at the Common Core and assessment in general and Creative Commons and the issue of plagiarism. Bring Assignment #5
Assignment #5: Post links to examples of your three students’ work from their work with the photo story idea (Ex.#9). What do you notice about improvements or continuing struggles for your students? If you have undertaken the Elders Project, also post the most well-written elder’s story and most surprising elder’s story. These may or may not have sound. Provide links. Explain why these worked, why these students elevated their work to be exemplary. Explain what you might want to do to give these pieces – and others – more audience. Create a blog entry on digitalteachers.net. about the work of your three students and Elders work if it applies. Tag: Exemplars5. Comment on two others’ posts.
Advanced preparation: Make sure your laptop has Audacity and Lame encoder installed. Consult the HELP section on your classroom for more info. Familiarize yourself with the program.
Closure and Next Steps: (30)
MEETING 6: Reflection
Monday, Apr. 29-Barre
Tuesday, Apr. 30-Rutland
Wednesday, May 1-Chittenden
Thursday, May 2-Lebanon
Overview: This class is aimed at sharing best things that happened, reflecting on what you learned, finishing the year strong and making plans for next year. Bring Assignment #6.
Assignment #6: The most important thing you’ll write - Look back on your plan written in the fall and write about what impact this year has had on you, your teaching and your students. Then look forward - what are your plans? Create a blog on digitalteachers.net. Tag: Impact&Plans. Comment on two others’ posts.
Assignment #7: Revisit one of your students whom you highlighted during the year as struggling. How is s/he doing now? Link to the exemplar. Create a blog on digitalteachers.net. Tag: Exemplars7. Comment on two others’ posts.
Closure: Feedback forms. Discussion. Next steps.