How fitting is it that I post my professional reading response to Troy Hicks' book, The Digital Writing Workshop during the Slice of Life Challenge which transformed my writing life and my teaching of writing. I will be posting about this book in 4 sections as part of my work with my English education students in the Teaching Writing in Secondary Schools that I facilitate at the University of Central Florida. They are blogging weekly as part of our work together to learn about digital writing firsthand. I have read a few books about digital writing, but Hicks' work is the just right book for me right now as I consider where to go next to nurture digital writers and future teachers of digital writers.
Hicks opens chapter one by contextualizing the work and defining writing workshop. What resonates with me is that Hicks acknowledges the work of others from Donald Graves and Donald Murray to Ralph Fletcher and Penny Kittle. There is a history or a lineage of how teachers of writing got to where we are now. I hate it when educators do not acknowledge that in their work. We are resting on the shoulders of not only giants, but also on all the teachers in our profession who work continuously to refine their craft in the best interests of their students. He also establishes his definition of writing workshop which includes student choice about topic and genre, active revision, author's craft as a basis of writing instruction, publication beyond classroom walls, and a broad vision of assessment.
Chapter two examines the use of RSS feeds, social bookmarking, and blogging as ways to foster student choice and inquiry. Some highlights are listed below.
"Teach the writer, not the writing." P. 7
" I am only one step ahead of those with whom I work." P. 14
"Drafts could be posted to a blog or wiki, while final drafts could be submitted as email attachments." P.17
Use an RSS feed for SSR and inquiry driven research
Use social bookmarking to support inquiry and collaboration
Blogs as the new writer's notebook even keeping it private
How will a totally digital inquiry project work with actual students?