Two years ago at a Chippewa River Writing Project Winter Writing Retreat, the CRWP Teachers as Writers Blog was born. At the retreat, Troy Hicks floated out the idea of creating a blog where our teacher consultants could share their writing. The focus would be on helping our TCs to publish. Over the next several months, we began meeting by Google Hangout to brainstorm ideas, we drafted submission guidelines, and in April of 2014, we launched our first post, Framing the Flipped Classroom by Jeremy Hyler. We are proud to say that, since that time, our mission to nurture teacher writers toward publishing has been successful, and the CRWP Blog has made a name for itself among teaching and writing blogs. We are using today as an opportunity to share what we have been able to accomplish and to feature again some of our most popular blog posts.
To date, the CRWP Blog has had over 193,000 visits from over 37,000 unique visitors. That’s quite an audience. We have featured the writing of 17 teachers in 35 posts, and we have more TCs waiting in the wings with their posts for the coming months. A look at the tags for our posts will show that we have published blog posts on topics such as digital literacy (a CRWP specialty), inquiry-based learning, teaching strategies, flipping the English classroom, and writing instruction. We’ve been able to connect and collaborate with TCs from all of the CRWP summer institutes and to engage in great conversations with our Google group postings. In fact, we’ve contributed to conversations happening nationally and globally through the sharing out of our blog posts via social media.
Below are the five most popular posts from the two years of the blog. All of them are worth a re-read! Thank you to our TCs for all of the wonderful posts and thank you to our reading audience for your support.
Delia King, participant in the 2010 and 2015 summer institutes, wrote this post in response to the National Writing Project’s 2014 Annual Meeting. The page has been visited 9,078 times since it was posted in January of 2015. In the post, Delia talks about the value of creating relationships in her role as an instructional coach and fostering continued relationships in our CRWP circle. Delia’s passage on the value of time toward reflection is one that resonates with anyone who has worked to improve his or her craft:
In order to think deeply about anything, there needs to be time.Time to ponder.Time to test out their thinking.Time to listen and watch their teacher think deeply.Time to write and represent their thinking so that they can stretch their minds and makeconnections to big ideas.Thinking, writing, and reflecting cannot happen in a one-and-done assignment…
Read — or re-read — Delia’s post today to feel re-energized about the work we do as writers and as teachers of writing.
Jeremy Hyler’s post from July 2014 came on the heels of the publication of Create, Compose and Connect with Troy Hicks. In this second post in a series on flipping the English classroom, Jeremy focuses on grammar instruction and how teachers might engage students through the use of video grammar lessons and his classroom wikispace. Jeremy works through his thinking about the flipping model in this post and offers what he sees as the pros and cons of this approach.
For any teacher who has ever considered flipping instruction or who wants to find new and engaging approaches for the teaching of grammar, Jeremy’s entire series on flipped learning is one to read.
In the fall of 2015, the first 4T (Teachers Teaching Teachers about Technology) Conference on Digital Writing aired. The Chippewa River Writing Project was well-represented at the online conference. CRWP Director Troy Hicks was a keynote speaker and Co-Director Jeremy Hyler was a featured speaker. Teacher consultants Jill Runstrom and Janet Neyer served as moderators. The conference was free and focused on practical ways to engage students in authentic digital writing from storytelling to video creation to online book discussions. Though the 4T Digital Writing Conference has passed, teachers can still view the archived webinars for free at the 4TDW Conference Archives. This May, the 4T Virtual Conference will return, and teacher consultants Sharon Murchie and Janet Neyer will be featured speakers on research in the secondary classroom.
As teachers we seek validation for the work we do with students and connectedness is our pathway toward that validation. Andy Schoenborn, outgoing President of the Michigan Council of Teachers of English and a 2010 CRWP Summer Institute participant, reflects in this post about his professional journey as an English teacher. Of our professional growth, Andy says,
As teachers, we search for opportunities to better ourselves and those around us…We spend time reflecting on our past practices as we hone our craft. We seek out and engage in authentic conversations during summer workshops, social media backchannels, and summer reading for both pleasure and purpose. Our motivation is our hope for the future – our students. We know that, as we grow in our learning, our students will grow with us.
That is certainly our mission as professionals and organizations like the CRWP and MCTE, as well as their national parent organizations, the NWP and NCTE, enrich our lives. Thank you, Andy, for reminding us in this post of the power of connection and collaboration.
The second in Sharon Murchie’s series about close reading rounds out our top five posts. In this post, Sharon examines how the experts define close reading. At the time of its posting, Nicholas Tampio, political science professor at Fordham University and one of the experts cited in Sharon’s piece, took an interest in the article and responded in the comments. At the heart of Sharon’s post is her conviction “…that context and the reader’s response are critical parts of interpretation and analysis, and that these lenses are both necessary and integral within the Common Core.” Sharon’s series questions our notions of close and critical reading with an eye toward clarifying our goals for students within the walls of our classroom and beyond it in reading the world around them.
The CRWP Teachers as Writers Blog is off to a great start in these first two years, and we look forward to publishing more pieces from our TCs. If you are interested in writing for our blog, check out our submission guidelines and email us. We want to help you be a published blogger. We would also love to hear what your favorite posts from the CRWP Blog have been. Comment below to keep the conversation going.