Teachers Teaching Teachers #88 - Me and my inquiry in relation to a whole community of learners - 01.23.08

Listen to seven National Writing Project teachers plan a Spring Blogging curriculum together.

Find out if seven people can plan a curriculum together over skype. These seven teachers from Writing Projects across the country met and planned a 15-week blogging curriculum that they have started to put together (click read more).

  • Bob Levin and Gail Desler (Area 3 Writing Project, Sacramento, CA)
  • Woody Woodgate (Alaska Writing Project, Marshall, Alaska)
  • Bill O'Neal (Trenton, NJ Writing Project)
  • Chris Sloan (Wasatch Range Writing Project, Salt Lake City, Utah)
  • Paul Allison and Susan Ettenheim (New York City Writing Project)
Image Source: Art for the Soul by RICHARD LAZZARA, a Creative Commons image uploaded to Flickr on January 13, 2006.
by shankargallery


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Teachers Teaching Teachers #79: Helping students blog their passions, hunt caribou, share culture, and feed elggs with RSS

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Find out what happens when you bring together seven teachers and a student to talk about perennial questions that come up when we use blogs in the classroom.

  • a 6th-12th grade "New Journalism" teacher from the Bronx (with laryngitis) (Paul Allison)
  • a half-time computer teacher/half-time technology coach from a town west of Chicago, "right about where the corn begins" (Scott Meech)
  • a high school art/technology teacher and librarian from New York City (Susan Ettenheim)
  • an 8th grade computer technology teacher and Webhead from Virginia (Lee Baber)
  • a math/science/employability skills/hunting safety teacher from Alaska (Woody Woodgate)
  • a ninth grader from a small town in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia (Victoria)
  • an eighth grade science teacher from northern New Hampshire (Rick Biche)
  • a middle-school technology integrator from an independent K12 school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Matt Montagne)



Image: "Stalking a Caribou" by Travis S. ( License:

Teachers Teaching Teachers #65 - Is blogging a new way of seeing how to teach?

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[Listen to This Blog Text Here] Blogging in the classroom isn't an experiment anymore. It may still be new to many teachers, and we may still have plenty to learn about how to take the most advantage to this new genre, but many of us have been blogging with our students for several years now. We've grown more and more clear about why blogging in a social networking is central to our curricula, and we are more confident in the tools we can use to do this work.

One of the things we say to each other in this podcast is that this work is exciting because it has a history (and a theory) and a future. As schools begin again this fall, over a dozen teachers will be joining together to plan curriculum for two school-based social networks. Last year we started collecting together our plans on a wikispaces site, Elgg Plans. Our high school students' work can be found on an elgg, Youth Voice and on another wikispaces site, Youth Wiki. Our middle school students' blogs are on an elgg, the Personal Learning Space, that is a "walled garden."

Can you imagine blogging with your students? Want to join us? We would welcome you, especially now! Please respond to this post. Let us know of your interest, and we'll help you get started. Also, take a look at these Guidelines for Joining

We'll show you how we use James Beane's "10 self and 10 world questions" to build curriculum with out students. (See this Trailfire for more information.) We plan to also mix in a healthy dose of Paulo Freire's "generative words" and "generative themes." (See a description of "generative themes that discusses images in a book, Brave New Schools. And find "generative" in the third chapter of Pedagogy of the Oppressed.) There's also some business about Peter Elbow's notions of freewriting and focused sentences, and so much more!

At the end of this podcast, Lee Baber shows how blogging has changed her way of teaching:

"I'm looking forward to this year. I feel like I understand now that in teaching my technology class, I need to start with this blog, and in joining with the other teachers in this space first, and fit my curriculum in around it. Because this is probably the most important skill that they're ever going to leave my computer technology class with, which is how to work the same kind of thing that we do in our community. So I'm really excited about re-working my whole year, and laying this thing out to be more participatory and to be more on time with the lessons with everybody else.... This is going to be a new way of seeing how to teach this curriculum. Again, just first teach them how to put it into practice and build community and how to write in their blog spaces and join with these other students. Second, all these other standards will fit in to that. That is why we teach them. It's life skills. It makes perfect sense. It's just just not the way anyone teaches it now."
Why would we make these kinds of changes, and invite you to do the same? In this podcast, Gail Desler answers:

"It's nice that [this blogging] project has a history. It has a past. It has a future, and it just keeps building. And it really is about engaging kids, and using tools that have something to do with how they actually learn today."
Please listen to this podcast, and consider joining us. Give your students a voice this year! Please express your interest or ask questions in the comments attached to this post.

Teachers Teaching Teachers #54 - 05.23.07 How do we keep it real in school blogs?

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We invite you to listen in as eight Writing Project and WorldBridges teachers from five different (U.S.) states reflect on our students work in Youth Voices.
  • Alice Barr, Yarmouth HS, Yarmouth, Maine
  • Barbara Mehlman, Humanities and the Arts High School HUM, NY. New York
  • Bill Oneal, Trenton Central High School, West, Trenton, New Jersey
  • Ken Stein, Satellite High School, Midtown, NY, New York
  • Lee Baber, F. Hillyard Middle School, Broadway, Virginia
  • Matt Makowetski, MHS, Lompoc, California
  • Paul Allison, East Side Community HS, NY, New York
  • Susan Ettenheim, Eleanor Roosevelt HS, NY, New York
After welcoming our newest members of the community, we spent some time celebrating what is going well in this school-based community of about 1000 student writers/bloggers. We discussed ways we might collaborate more over the summer and into next fall. And we began to make plans for next year. We are a community of teachers, focused on fostering a social network where students can become compelling bloggers. Some of our questions include:
  • How can we cover all of the required skills and topics of our various curricula (technology, global studies, art, English...) and still allow students to blog about topics of their own choosing?
  • Could we select a group of books and invite students to form communities (reading groups) around each of these? How could we have a common text or common texts available as an option for students to blog about... without loosing our environment of student choice?
  • How do we continue to nurture our ethic of student peer response. Do the sentence starters we've been using work? Can they be more open?
  • Can we use the elgg to share multimedia work, art, or visual work more? How do we sponsor peer response to this work? Can we all learn to use the wiki more, following Susan Ettenheim's lead on Gallery pages like Flash Creations Page 2? Will an update to the new elgg profile pages (see Paul Allison's example) be part of the solution?
  • How do we remain a community of teachers that is open to new teachers jumping in with their students, yet maintain a transparent support structure where we can share tips and community standards (e.g. "only Creative Commons images, please, and no pictures of the students themselves... and... and...)?
  • What role might our wiki play: How might we organize this site better? How do we get everybody to contribute to and use this site?
  • Could we use our new Gcast to stay in touch on a regular basis? (Email Susan Ettenheim -- [email protected] -- to learn more.)
  • What can we do this summer to build this community? (Step one. All of us should register at the elgg: - We'll form a community or communities there.)
Come hear us talk about these and other questions. Hear what teachers talk about when they talk about their students blogging in an elgg. Join the conversation! Leave a comment if you would like to join Youth Voices, and start blogging in your classroom.

Teachers Teaching Teachers #48 - Hard Questions for Teachers Who Teach Blogging

After a few months of blogging with all of her classes at, Susan Ettenheim sent Paul Allison a few questions:


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