When other educators ask me about my journey to becoming an educator who readily uses digital tools in my classroom, I always point to the work of the National Writing Project (NWP).  The NWP is a national network of over 200 writing project sites. Each site is affiliated with an institution of higher education and seeks to impact literacy K-16. At the core of the work of the National Writing Project is a four-week Invitational Summer Institute where K16 educators of all subject areas come together to learn from one another what really impacts student learning and writing. The National Writing Project ethos is of “Teachers teaching Teachers shared best practice.”  It was at my site, the Red Cedar Writing Project, that I first thought through blogging, podcasting, digital storytelling and the other myriad ways to integrate this brave Web 2.0 world into the High School English and Biology classes I was teaching. Now as an “ed tech” person, it is the very air I breathe.

The National Writing Project now has gathered resources from the thousands of educators who are doing digital work in their classrooms across the country. The website, a partnership between the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative and the National Writing Project, is called Digital Is  (think of finishing the sentence “Digital is….”).  If you want to hack your classroom with the best guidance out there, set aside an hour and point your browser to http://digitalis.nwp.org.

The site features three main content streams: Art/Craft; Teach/Learn; and Provocations. The Art/Craft collections and resources focus on the art and craft of digital writing. The Teach/Learn focuses on what we’ve learned about the teaching and learning about digital writing. Finally, the Provocations section (which is my personal favorite) provokes us “to think in new ways about education and culture in the digital age.”  The site invites a visitor to set up an account: this is so that you may additionally engage in the discussion around each resource and collection that is posted on Digital Is.

To whet your appetite, I thought I would highlight a few resources that might be of interest to the Gradhacker readers.

  • The first comes from Dr. Kim Jaxon, a professor at CSU, Chico. Her collection, “Where Do I Start: Beginning the Digital Journey in the Classroom,” offers a place to begin in the sometimes overwhelming digital realm. The collection features resources designed to give a person striking out a place to begin, the first small step in what will undoubtedly be a lifelong journey.
  • Felicia George, an educator from the New York City Writing Project, offers a collection called “Technology in Kindergarten.” I included this one here because I want every Higher Ed educator to read this collection. As a secondary and higher ed educator, I am always amazed at what talented educators like Ms. George can do with these young writers.  You will not regret spending time with this collection of resources.
  • As I stated before, I love the “Provocations” collections because of the way they push my own thinking about education, technology, and digital writing.  I love Dr. Danielle DeVoss’ “When Images Lie: Critical Visual Literacy” for the brilliant way she introduces critical visual literacy. I can’t think of a subject area study that wouldn’t benefit from some critical visual literacy and this collection is a great place to begin.
  • Finally, as a self-admitted lover of the Twitter, I give you Paul Oh’s collection on “The Short Form,” which highlights resources that question the impact and value of the short bursts of text messages, tweets, and status updates that now saturate our interactions.

The resources and collections I’ve highlighted here are just the tip of a growing iceberg over at the Digital Is site. I’m not sure how many times I’ve used “love” in this post, but I’m going to do it once again: what I love about this site is the way that any educator, at any level, of any subject area can find and use the information on the Digital Is site to improve their integration of digital tools into the classroom.

Have you seen the Digital Is site? What do you think? Do you have any favorite resources or collections from the Digital Is site? Share them in the comments!


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4 Responses to Hacking the Digital Classroom with ‘Digital Is’

  1. Nice article pointing the way to some of the more useful resources at Digitalis Andrea! One other collection on there that I found insightful, especially for urban educators, is Tools for Change

  2. Thanks, Greg! Thanks, too, for pointing out Cliff Lee’s awesome collection on the site. Cliff is a former High School teacher in East Oakland, CA who is now a doctoral student at UCLA. Really, really smart guy.

  3. I am always impressed by the resources offered by the NWP. During my time with Teach for America, I attended a workshop by the Connecticut Writing Project-which was one of the best workshops during my two years. My big takeaway, just get kids writing–that National Novel Writing Month has it write, getting people to turn off their internal editor empowers them to take risks and become writers. I look forward to checking out the resources you listed here.

  4. Luke Hokama says:

    Thanks for sharing Andrea. I think it’s really helpful to have some highlights distilled here since it can be so overwhelming.

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