Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Digital Writing Workshop

      Troy Hicks

Digital Writing, Digital Teaching

There's no such thing as a free lunch.


Troy Hicks' NING.com site is offline -- probably because the site started charging money. The lesson here -- and it's a very important one: if you are not using your own site with your own domain, you are not in control. None of these so-called "free" third-party sites are adequate on their own because users are at the mercy of the web host. Sites like NING.com are fine to use as webware but they must be housed at a secure server. Google (Docs and Blogger) are free and of course very stable, but things change quickly -- so "free" is a relative term. You must own the digital content in order to manipulate it and preserve it The cost of a protected domain name and server space is minimal, and, importantly, it allows for maximum control over what web page content is private -- and what content can be scanned, read and repeated by search engines.

Troy Hicks Wiki

Hicks' Twitter account is @hickstro

International Society for Technology Education
National Educational Technology Standards

NETS-S Implementation Wiki

What happens in the writing workshop when
we introduce digital writing tools and processes?

The Workshop

Teacher researchers such as Donald Graves, Donald Murray, Lucy Calkins, Nancie Atwell, Katie Wood Ray, Jim Burke, Ralph Fletcher, and Penny Kittle -- among the countless numbers of us who have employed their ideas in our own classrooms -- have developed the writing workshop into a theoretically sound and pedagogically useful model for teaching writing.

While we each can and should make our own list of particular ideas about what constitutes the philosophy of the writing workshop in our own classroom, I feel that we can generally agree that it relies on a core set of principles that center on students as writers, where we “teach the writer, not the writing” (Calkins 1994), as many of the aforementioned authors would remind us. There are a number of core principles that proponents of the writing workshop approach advocate, and I offer my summary of them here:

  • student choice about topic and genre active revision (constant feedback between peer and teacher)
  • author’s craft as a basis for instruction (through minilessons and conferences)
  • publication beyond classroom walls
  • broad visions of assessment that include both process and product

Blogging and BookMarking

We have learned from our writing workshop mentors that inquiry and choice drive the workshop approach. With RSS and social bookmarking as ways to share and gather information, students’ individual choices are highly malleable, and students can easily add to and subtract from their interests.

With a blog, their writing is archived and searchable, open for comments, and ready for presentation in a final portfolio. Combined, the ability to capture, share, and write about information through RSS, social bookmarking, and blogging provides students in the digital writing workshop an opportunity to write, revise, and reflect on their work in ways not possible with spiral-bound notebooks or even word-processing documents alone.

Once students understand the basics of blogging, they can begin to use blogs and two additional tools of the read/write web—wikis and collaborative word processors—to engage in productive writing and conferring practices.


Site is updating. Not needed or recommended.

Fine for what it is. Not needed or recommended.

Social Bookmarking


Weblogs and Wikis

7 Things You Should Know About Blogs

Common Craft
How Blogs Work


Class BlogMeister


Each of these pages offers general lists of wikis that educators have created and are using in a variety of ways:

Educational Wikis
Free Wiki Spaces


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