external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTZt1qniL8OagcCQK31tLoFvEkFgRgYA_1r7gBPr1CUj39Lah0Z Welcome to Diggin' Through the Digital Dirt.

Roll up your sleeves, grab a shovel, and come dig in the dirt...

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At its inception, this wiki was a simple demo lesson for the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project Summer Institute 2011, created by English/Language Arts teachers Marsha Boyd and Maya Woodall. As you can see, it has evolved, and we hope it continues to do so with your help.

Of course, in the spirit of wiki-ing, we envision our wiki becoming your wiki, too: a place for teachers of all grade levels, including ourselves, to come to find meaningful and authentic ways to integrate technology into instruction or to brush up on how to use various digital tools.

We welcome contributions from National Writing Project teachers and other teachers, as well. Feel free to add pages for digital tools we haven't included. Please share your lessons, exemplars, and assessments, too. Thanks for joining our wiki and helping us as we dig through the digital dirt together and try to uncover digital tools that work for all of us.

Want to connect with National Writing Project teachers who are using digital tools in their writing classrooms? Join Digital IS

Ready or Not?
Ready or Not?

Let's face it--integrating technology is hard work not just for the student, but for teachers as well. We have so many questions to ask ourselves:

  • Will the school's network block the sites I want to use?
  • Will the network cooperate on the day(s) I want to use the technology?
  • Will the students be able to help me with what I can't figure out?
  • Will the amount of time it takes to use the technology take away from my content instruction?
  • Does what I am doing with technology agree with my philosophy of teaching?
  • What is the best tool for what I want my students to do?

In creating a wiki to serve as a resource for educators (including the two of us who tend to forget the basics and have to continually ask ourselves, "How do we do this again?"), we will provide information and resources to help us use digital writing in meaningful and authentic ways to engage and motivate students.

Each digital tool we include will have four parts:
1. A Tutorial
2. Suggestions for Teaching
3. Sample Projects with Rubrics
4. Links and Resources

Why? So what? Those were the overriding questions we asked ourselves and each other while collaborating on our demo. Why incorporate technology--specifically digital writing--into our secondary English/Language Arts classrooms? That's easy. It's the language in which our students are fluent. This is what they speak, write, listen, converse, and live.

So what? Yeah, yeah, the county tells us we must incorporate technology in our classrooms, in our lessons, with our students, but so what? Unless we are using the technology to engage our students in relevant and meaningful ways, why bother? Digital writing offers choice and differentiation for all our students whether they like to write or not. We hear students and teachers alike complaining about student writing today. Kids don't read anymore. Kids can't write. Yet you'd be surprised how many students are reading about video games, reading and responding to Facebook quizzes, and yes, even creating their own blogs. Students are readers and writers in new ways, and we must latch on to that and meet them on their own playing field. We cannot afford to be digital immigrants; we need to learn their language.

But look around your classroom, your school, your community and what do you see? Students immersed in technology: updating their Facebook profile, creating Tweets on Twitter, blogging on their Tumblr, texting furiously, working on their laptops, or downloading music. Today's teens are always connected, always on, connected to each other through multiple media and for multiple reasons (Wilber 8). Technology has become deeply intertwined with our lives; to google is interchangeable with to look something up (Wilber 11). As kids are constantly bombarded with information in the digital age, the written word becomes more important. We want students to write, but we don't offer them any choice. Fostering choice for our students is important for helping them discover their own interests and use writing as a tool to make meaning in their own lives.

Traditionally students have had few materials from which to mine ideas: the library, encyclopedia, newspapers, etc., but all of these resources become dated as soon as they are published. Now information changes by the minute (Hicks 16). New literacies encompass the technical aspects, as well as the more traditional ones. Blogs have become the new student journals.

A few resources from Troy Hicks, author of The Digital Writing Workshop:

The Digital Writing Workshop: A Companion Site