Enhanced English Teacher

A blog about using technology in an English classroom

The Digital Writing Workshop

November 6, 2009 by Tara Seale · 8 Comments · 21st Century Literacy

I recently read The Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks.   This is the book that every English teacher in America should be reading.  Troy Hicks takes the traditional writer’s workshop, introduced by well-known educators, such as, Donald Graves and Nancie Atwell, and reinvents it to include the all important digital element.

On page 5, Hicks discusses the purpose of his book, which relates to the obvious changes in technology; he explains how to create a writing workshop that goes beyond paper and pencil to implement a workshop that emphasizes 21st Century skills.  Hicks addresses RSS, blogs, wikis, and podcasts, and he provides a companion website to support the book at the Digital Writing Workshop Ning.

I love that Hicks discusses how to introduce NPR’s This I Believe series into the classroom.  His ideas, thoughts, and rubrics are more than enough reason to buy this book.  If your high school is not implementing this writing assignment at some level in your school, I highly suggest that you visit the website and buy Hick’s book to discover why it is a keeper.

The most important element that Hicks brings up is on page 104 when he discusses why we are missing the point when we assign digital projects as assignments.  Is the font, the colors, or even the number of slides used, make a project relevant?  None of this really assesses whether a student can effectively create a worthy digital product.  As an English teacher who understands that digital elements and images are connected to words on a deeper level than just using the required number of pictures in the slides, I know this is true, but assessing and creating a rubric is difficult.  The Digital Writing Workshop demonstrates not only how to use new technologies, but also provides teachers with charts of effective digital writing.  If you have just purchased this book, turn to page 115 to figure 6.2 to see what I mean.

I have used wikis and nings with my students, but this is the first year I have ventured into letting my students support their own personal blog.  Hicks created a Blogger’s Matrix that includes assessments for teachers to use with student bloggers in the classroom.  I plan to incorporate these assessments into my classroom.

I was excited to find a book called The Digital Writing Workshop.  The title alone inspired me, and I knew that this would be a book that would be an invaluable resource in my classroom.

I recently read on the ning that the Heinemann is offering a special discount on this book thorough Nov. 30th.  I encourage you to purchase the book to discover how you can change your classroom with digital writing.

8 Comments so far ↓

  • sinikka

    Hi Tara
    Thank you for sharing this! I’m heading off to amazon to order the book straight away. Sounds exactly what I need to learn how to change writings assignments and assessment. Will have a look at the Digital Writing Workshop Ning, too!

  • Troy Hicks

    Thanks, Tara, for the thoughtful review. I appreciate hearing your response to the book and knowing that you find the way in which I connect the writing workshop philosophy to digital writing tools is useful.

    Also, I want to note that I have had the good fortune to work with a number of National Writing Project colleagues over the past few years, including a partnership with Dawn Reed for the “This I Believe” project and collaborating Paul Allison, who began the “Be a Blogger!” matrix, and invited me (and about 50 other people!) to contribute to it.

    All told, I feel that the book really represents both my voice as a teacher educator as well as a number of teachers who are taking a digital writing workshop approach in their classroom, and they should be recognized, too. I hope even more teachers join us on the Ning to continue this conversation.

    Again, thanks for the thoughtful review and see you at NCTE!


  • Tweets that mention The Digital Writing Workshop | Enhanced English Teacher -- Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by EnhancedEnglishTeach and Troy Hicks, Digwritwkshp. Digwritwkshp said: Thanks @tseale for the thoughtful book review! http://bit.ly/2EE5EQ [...]

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