Thursday, June 16, 2016

Connecting With Other Writers in this Digital Age

I have been doing a lot of thinking over the last several years about how digital tools have changed our reading and writing workshops. One thing I realize over and over again is that what is possible in our literacy workshop has expanded for our students.  One way I notice this is the ways that we can connect with and learn from other writers in Writing Workshop.

Learning from texts by authors of some of our favorite picture books is always an anchor for our writing.  This is the beginning of a board we had up for a bit this year as we were learning from authors such as Cynthia Rylant and Lester Laminack.  Baskets of mentor texts and mentor authors are so important in our Writing Workshops. This is the way we learned from other writers long before digital tools came into play and is still critical.


But digital tools have allowed even more when it comes from connecting with and learning from other writers.  First of all, we can study each other's writing in more ways and kids can do that more independently now. It used to be that we could study student writing in the midst of Writing Workshop, during mini lessons or share time.  But because our students have blogs and access to sharing in Google, they always have other students' writing to read and study. And because so many students around the world have blogs, these are always accessible to our students.  They can read and study other students' work during writing workshop, at home or whenever. It is fairly new that our young writers have access to this many other young writers as they learn and grow.

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We can also use digital tools to collect student writing and other texts.  Tools like Padlet can help us collect a piece of student writing that we'd like to look at along with other connected pieces. This Padlet is one we created when we were learning about Slide Design. Several students' slides became part of this Padlet and we used it over several days to study the craft moves students mad to create slides in informational writing. Students also had access to this Padlet online anytime. Having the ability to use tools like Padlet to connect students to other students' great leads, powerful sentences, slides, etc. expands what is possible in our workshops. Whether students are creating digital or more traditional texts, these digital tools can help us collect and revisit pieces worth studying.

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And of course we can learn from authors around the world. Melissa Stewart has an amazing website with Video Mini-Lessons for writing informational text. The power of learning from someone who is a published author and whose books are used as examples changes writers in the classroom.

And we have amazing writing teachers like Ruth Ayres creating videos we can use with our students. My kids talked about Ruth Ayres like she was in the classroom because they learned so much from her quick videos.  She is brilliant at the way she teaches young writers.  And I love the way I can pick and choose lessons that my kids need.  She shows so many pieces of her own writing throughout the videos and it is just another way we can mentor to another writer because of digital tools.  If you have not seen her videos, this is one of our classroom's favorites.

I know I've shared some of these resources here before but when we look at them together, it is clear how much more is possible when it comes to connect with other writers and learn from mentor texts in this digital world.

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