National Writing Project

The Buzz: From the Blogosphere and Twittersphere

Date: December 10, 2010

Summary: NWP"s "Twitter Tribe" had their fingers on their keyboards and/or their mobile devices as they blogged and tweeted about teaching writing before, during, and after the meeting.


NWP Annual Meeting attendees blogged and tweeted about everything from teaching writing with digital tools to writing centers to assessment—and, yes, to Mickey Mouse.

Many teachers registered their blogs and Twitter pages with NWP before the meeting and tagged their posts (nwpam10 for blog posts and #nwpam10 for tweets). To get a flavor of the meeting, peruse these samples of the many posts.

Blogging and Tweeting the Annual Meeting


NWP kicks off! HVWP is ready to go! Speakers check! DS ready to rock! #nwpam10


Reading Is Its Own Reward: Reflections on Donalyn Miller's Keynote Address

Donalyn was asked about her students' reading. "Your students," the inquirer asked, "read fifty books a year without any rewards or incentives?"

Donalyn replied, "Isn't reading its own reward?"

Yes. It is. The reading of the book, the mastering of the text, the enjoyment of the story.

That's the reward. That's the prize. That's the incentive. That's what gets folks to put down one book, and pick up the next one.

We don't need stickers, or points, or prizes. Just good books, thoughtful people who know their students to read and recommend to them, and students willing to explore the world through writing.

—Bud Hunt, Colorado State University Writing Project, Bud the Teacher


One of my fave things from #nwpam10 is that I now read tweets from my #nwp tweeps in their voice :)


K-12 Writing Centers: Transforming Students, Schools, and Sites

Writing centers empower students to use what they learn. The writers work 1:1 with the peer tutor with the writing that comes to them.

Some things that can be done at my school might be:

  • Simplify the forms to train 1st grade students on peer tutoring.
  • Create a list of questions for my students to edit their own papers.
  • Train 5th/6th students to peer tutor with my 1st grade students.

—Jeromy Winter, San Joaquin Writing Project, nwpam10 summary


Geekiest star struck moment = just met Ann Lieberman and shook her hand. Listening to her talk about NWP teacher leaders. #ncte10 #nwpam10


Digital Literacy?

Our roundtable on digital literacy hosted by representatives from a dozen different sites around the nation began with an invitation for all of us to explore what digital literacy means and whether it really is a "new" form of literacy at all.

In the course of that reflection (written reflection, of course, this is the NWP after all) I found myself thinking about the book I was reading on the plane while heading out to Orlando, Pandora's Seed by Spencer Wells. In it Wells chronicles what he calls the "unforeseen cost of civilization," the myriad ways that settling down in cities and growing our own food has reshaped our bodies and minds. One of the takeaway ideas from Wells' book that I couldn't help but think about when considering digital literacy is that there's no going back.

So it was time to indulge my pragmatist side and stop letting those other sides label digital literacy a catchphrase or try to look down their noses at the new fangled. Whatever digital literacy might mean for reading and writing in the 21st century, its ascension is inevitable. Every teacher in the country knows that there is something new at work in our children's lives.

—Richard Helmling, West Texas Writing Project, WTWP Speaks Out


#NWP #digitalis Begin with a simple question - how is it different when we write on paper as compared to writing on screen? #nwpam10


Annual Meeting as Rock Concert

Every year we feel inspired and amazed by the group of talented and dedicated teachers who gather together for this convention. The energy I felt in the room was similar to what I felt at a recent rock concert with my daughters. Instead of being teenagers excited about music, we were teachers excited about writing!

—Heather Hollands, Blended Voices


The books do not change, but we do. We see ourselves in different characters. Jim Burke #nwpam10 #ncte10


The Invitation of Space

There are no lines in the National Writing Project, only the invitation of space waiting to be filled by whatever I'm able to bring. That kind of environment can sustain an entirely different sort of ecology than a fancy journal with lines and filigrees at each footer. The distance between writing and editing, of teaching, learning, and failing are all mitigated by the space in which they occur.

—Steve Moore, Moore on the Page


A lot of tweeting in a tiny room here at distributed identities. #nwpam10



Wish I could be in all the great sessions I'm reading about on Twitter! #nwpam10



The Twitter Tribe

It was kind of amazing to be sitting in a room of 1,300 people, but to share quotes, comment, and even make a few jokes with people that I haven't met—I wasn't even sure where any of them were sitting. I still have a lot to learn about Twitter, but I really enjoyed what this added to the whole experience of listening to a lecture.

—Kathee Godfrey,


Rereading "Racial Microagressions in Everyday Life"; where has this vocabulary been? New Words to write, think, masticate.#nwpam10


Having Each Other's Backs

Every year I wonder at the numbers who flock to these meetings and, as I pack my bags, why we must gather face to face in this age of Web 2.0 forums and other platforms for connectivity.

And then I go and am reminded.

Like any profession, these meetings are important for the intense exchange of ideas and the re-cementing of personal relationships.  It is easy to forget that there are many like-minded people who remember what the work is and why it needs to be done when we are mired in the day-to-day of public schooling.

The digital world cannot adequately replace the energy of over a thousand people writing their thoughts in a ballroom of the Contemporary Resort, as we do annually at the general meeting of NWP. It's the same cognitive hum from the classroom, amplified.

No Ning can replicate the intensity of a discussion on microagression in perhaps the most culturally diverse room I've ever been in. We explored race in the classroom and the need to engage our students in a discussion of their experiences and how they shape their perceptions and sense of self. It was an energizing and difficult discussion for the adults.....

But more than the programs, the human connection proves to be the most valuable.  As the kids say, it's great to know that somebody "has your back" when it comes to explaining the importance of pedagogical decisions that are proven remedies to motivation, memory, and depth of understanding.  And the ones who make the trek, each represent at least another hundred who could not.

—Mary Tedrow, Walking to School


#nwpam10 From RethinkingAcademicLiteracy When was the last time you were very conscious of the language/dialect/the way you were speaking?



i think the word "intentional" will describe my learning this year. #nwpam10


The Standards

This topic came up in sessions as well as out of sessions. How do we balance the use of technology with the push and pressures of standardized curriculum and assessment? It's a legitimate concern, and one that is local to the school and district where we teach. Some of us have greater freedom, as long as we are following curriculum frameworks, while others have more shackles, such as a cookie-cutter curriculum. It seems to me that we need to find ways to get more administrators involved in the kind of discovery that teachers are doing. If teachers have that support from the principal or superintendent, they are more likely to dip their toes into the water.

—Kevin Hodgson, Kevin's Meandering Mind


A21 Some of the best research comes from teachers working hard in the classroom & sharing what they have learned. #NWPAM10



NWP taught me that I was a writer. And I then gave that powerful gift to my students. We are writers together. #nwpam10


More than Assessment

First session for me at NWP and every time I'm amazed to hear where everyone is from. Writing Projects from around the country and the world are all represented here. At this first session we talked about the AWC (Analytic Writing Continuum). The AWC seems to be about a national writing initiative. Group of sites that have a common assessment system. They trade student work, are trained at scoring with a common rubric.

Prompt: in a perfect world assessing writing would lead to more. What might "more" mean for your classroom, your project, or schools in your area? 

—Betsy Woods,  Ohio Writing Project, Betsy Woods


#nwpam10 session 1: Teacher Inquiry as a Political Act. Let's get rowdy!


Professional Development Using Second Life

Lynne Anderson-Inman, from the Oregon Writing Project, gave a superb presentation regarding technology outreach and forming a technology learning group using Second Life. Her project's goal was to develop a means for 20 rural teachers from 10 rural districts to gain technology training as well as form a collegial support group/learning community. Each teacher developed an avatar who interacts with other group members on a regular basis. There are weekly optional meetings (book clubs, etc.) and monthly mandatory meetings.

It's a well-designed world that has a lot of potential. This led to discussion of how to best lend the project's efforts thus far to the National Writing Project for development of its own outreach efforts and meetings.

If the funding issues we are currently experiencing continue we can anticipate these types of interactions becoming more viable and necessary. This was certainly a great way to start the annual meeting.

—Dave Stone, University of Illinois Writing Project Summer of Writing


What is one word that describes your Writing Project site? #nwpam10?


Making Students Feel Like Writers

Our students should be made to feel like writers. If they write doesn't that make them writers? Teaching the value of writing and creating open conversations about education and how to teach students is the key focus of the National Writing Project.

—Jessica Olivarez-Mazone, The Texas Bookworm


Perhaps a person can be home and alone, but family offers advantages. With the National Writing Project, I've found I don't have to be alone with my convictions about situated knowledge. These family gatherings of twenty or more persons have affirmed meaning that is actually grounded in significant experience; and the experiences are not just personal but are on the quest of social justice, joy of learning, increased tolerance, healthy ecology, and respect for multiplicity.

—Joseph McCaleb DocHorse Tales

Attending the Meeting Virtually

The delight of social networking is that the source of my longing is also its cure.  Sure following the tweets and blog posts from #nwpam10 will not be the same as being there, but it's also not the same as staying here.

—Shullamuth Smith, Denver Writing Project High Jinks Below Stars


Thanks NWP friends for the shot of rejuvenation and sunshine. I'm happily heading home a better teacher. #nwpam10

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