National Writing Project

Digital Learning Day Mobilizes Teachers Nationwide

Date: February 28, 2012

Summary: The first-ever Digital Learning Day included an outpouring of activity from Writing Project sites and teachers, joining educators from across the country.



National Writing Project teachers joined thousands of other educators across the country as they engaged in digital learning experiences with their students, highlighted practice, and tried something new as part of the first-ever Digital Learning Day on February 1, 2012.

The National Writing Project partnered with The Alliance for Excellent Education , The New York Times Learning Network , Figment , and Edutopia to spread the word about Digital Learning Day , which supported the building of a digital learning movement and facilitated the sharing of resources for effective teaching. Over 39 states and roughly 2 million students participated in the day's events.

The California Writing Project , for instance, held an early-evening event on February 1 in Sacramento called "Writing Our Future: A Celebration of Students' Digital Learning & Writing" in which teacher-consultants shared their work in areas ranging from becoming effective digital citizens to using Google Earth to teach content-area writing.

Blogging at Digital Is

Meanwhile, at the National Writing Project's Digital Is website , teachers blogged about their efforts in relation to learning and teaching in digital contexts, and their thoughts on the day as a whole.

"We have to meet our students where they are," Janelle Quintans Bence of the North Star of Texas Writing Project wrote in her Digital Is post . "We have to know our students and the cultural wealth they bring to our schools. Using what they already know as a method of mediating new learning is just good teaching. So why not meet our students in a milieu that they already know?"

"Translating centuries-old material into modern day forms, like blogs or tweets, help students better understand and connect with what they're reading," according to a post from Shaelynn Farnsworth , of the Iowa Writing Project, as she described a project in which she assigns her students to blog as Shakespearean characters.

Larissa Pahomov, a teacher at Science Leadership Academy , asked in her blog post , "What happens when Digital Learning Day is every day?" She pushes us to consider, "What can you do that will last?"

A Collaborative Effort

Collaborators with NWP, such as The New York Times Learning Network, the publishing website Figment, and Edutopia, provided resources and opportunities for educators and youth writers alike to write and share their experiences with digital learning.

Digital Writing Matters

Additionally, in the lead-up to Digital Learning Day, NWP Radio hosted a program, "Digital Writing Matters," that included the voices of educators such as Troy Hicks and Jeremy Hyler from the Chippewa River Writing Project; Gail Desler from the Area 3 Writing Project; and Janelle Quintans Bence. They discussed digital composing practices at their sites and in their classrooms and also talked about how they were going to mark Digital Learning Day.

Adding a youth perspective, 8th grader Maddie, who writes as Vee Weasley at Figment, discussed the importance of having a social, online platform for writing and publishing, whether in school or out of school.

As Maddie said on the program, when asked what she would tell educators about the experience of writing digitally: "I know that teachers do use Figment for classes. I personally have never used Figment as an environment for learning, although, I think it would be very, very cool. I know that even without using it at school, it's helped me grow hugely as someone who writes, and it's showed me that writing is really, really fun. And I feel that using it in classrooms could show that to more people, which would be wonderful."

In the end, Maddie's experiences composing and creating digitally represent the desire embodied by those who participated in Digital Learning Day: to create powerful learning experiences mediated by technology for young people, in and outside of school.

Related Links

Digital Learning Day: Celebrating Innovative Teaching Strategies

Related Resource Topics

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