From the Principal's Office: Reinventing Writing by @Coolcatteacher

From the Principal's Office: Reinventing Writing by @Coolcatteacher

"You can't just drop new innovations into a classroom and hope that the instructor will invent effective ways to use them. To fully utilize a new teaching technology you often need to invent new teaching practices as well." - John Seely Brown

I absolutely love this quote that Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) uses in the opening chapter of her new book titled Reinventing Writing. I have seen all too often technology just get dumped on teachers and schools with no rhyme or reason. This often produces a disastrous effect as the pedagogy does not support the use of the technology tool in arriving to or assessing learning outcomes. Educators today are pressured to integrate technology as society becomes more digitized. With schools becoming more and more connected and spending countless sums of money to provide adequate amounts of technology educators are becoming increasingly overwhelmed. The missing link is guidance on how these tools can be used effectively and appropriately to allow students to create artifacts of learning to demonstrate conceptual mastery. Educators want to desperately see and know how technology compliments and/or enhances the work they are already doing.

Vicki Davis has created a resource that identifies how traditional writing can be taken to the next level with cloud-based tools. Students today are using technology to write outside of school, but more often than not they are not using them correctly or appropriately. Reinventing Writing sheds light on practical ways for teachers to integrate a wide array of tools, Common Core alignment, and tips to avoid pitfalls. The book is broken down into three main parts. In chapter 1 Vicki identifies compelling reasons how new age tools improve student writing by identifying five specific benefits. Chapter 2 focuses on the elements associated with picking the right tool to complete a specific writing task. I loved the fact that Vicki created 20 essential questions for teachers to use in order to identify the perfect tool to complete a specific writing task. This alone takes away a great deal of anxiety often associated with technology use as there are so many tools readily available to teachers, many of which are free. There are often many fears and misconceptions associated with technology, especially cloud-based tools. Well Vicki has that covered as well in chapter 2 as she addresses CIPA, FERPA, and HIPAA. This is all just part 1!In part 2 of the book Vicki breaks down 9 types of tools, each with their own dedicated chapter. There are so many tips and practical ideas embedded in each chapter that can assist any educator regardless of his or her proficiency level using technology. I know teachers will appreciate the "Ways to Use" table that is found in each chapter where Vicki has provided no less than 20 different ways to use the specified tool to improve writing. Here is the chapter breakdown:

  • 3 - Reinventing Paper: ePaper and eBooks
  • 4 - Reinventing Notetaking: Digital Notebooks
  • 5 - Reinventing Notecards: Social Bookmarking
  • 6 - Reinventing the Filing Cabinet and Inbox: Cloud Syncing
  • 7 - Reinventing Word Processors: Cloud Writing Apps
  • 8 - Reinventing Journals and Reports: Blogging and Microblogging
  • 9 - Reinventing Group Reports: Wikis and Website Builders
  • 10 - Reinventing Prewriting: Graphic ORganizers, Mind Mapping, and More
  • 11 - Reinventing Illustrations: Infographics and Graphics that Add Meaning

The third and final part of the book focuses on practical ways to implement the tools in the classroom. Here Vicki emphasizes the key elements to promote and enhance digital citizenship among learners. This is extremely important as working with online tools that focus on writing provides some new challenges for teachers and students alike. She then goes on to discuss how to set up writing communities that truly foster collaboration. The book concludes with a grounding in setting realistic goals in order to consistently push the innovative envelope when it comes to writing. All in all this is a must have resource for teachers at all grade levels. If you are a building-level leader do yourself a favor an purchase a copy for your school.

cross-posted at A Principal's Reflections
Eric Sheninger will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 New York Tech Forum on Friday October 24, 2014. He is a NASSP Digital Principal Award winner (2012), PDK Emerging Leader Award recipient (2012), winner of Learning Forward's Excellence in Professional Practice Award (2012) and co-author of Communicating and Connecting With Social Media: Essentials for Principals and What Principals Need to Know About Teaching and Learning Science. He presents and speaks nationally to assist other school leaders in effectively using technology. His blog, A Principal's Reflections, was selected as Best School Administrator Blog in 2011 by Edublogs.