--Story and Photos by Cyndi Dwyer
During the summer of 2007, we conducted an invitational technology and writing institute (the NeWP Tech Institute). This workshop was marketed exclusively to past participants in the Nebraska Writing Project Summer Institutes, with the idea that these participants would already share some basic commitments to writing instruction enabling the group to focus attention on technologies that might enhance writing instruction in the classroom.
Facilitators for this institute were Cyndi Dwyer (Southwest High School, Lincoln), June Griffin (Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln), Debbie Minter (Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln) and Dwight Thiemann (Maxey Elementary School, Lincoln). We had 10 participants enrolled in the project. It ran for three weeks in June, with the group meeting together from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM and participants working individually or collaboratively in the afternoons of those weeks.
The work of the institute included guided exploration of the following software and technologies: NeWP Interactive Forums, iLife software (iPhoto, iTunes, iMovie), Podcasting (Garage Band software), Inspiration/Kidspiration, ComicLife, Wikis & Blogs, Social Networking Spaces and Social Bookmarking, Powerpoint, ePortfolios in the Schools, and Moodle (a free, open source course management software). Much of this exploration was guided by members of the facilitation team, but some was guided by guest presenters including Dan Schmit (University of Nebraska, Lincoln), Evan Trofholz (Eastside Middle School, Omaha); Paul Clark, Bob Goeman and Mark Carnevalo (all of University of Nebraska, Omaha).
Participants were required to produce and share several kinds of work over the course of the institute including: a 3-5 minute digital story, a Technology & Writing Inquiry Project (TWIP) geared toward a particular classroom practice or project, responses to required readings on a number if applications/technologies including Web 2.0, powerpoint, and wikis & blogs. Participants used the interactive forums to post responses to their colleagues' digital stories and TWIPs, as well as to prompt conversations on topics relevant to the group's work. In addition, individual participants shared readings that they found useful, some from the NeWP library made available to the group, others from individual participants' personal libraries.
During the final week of the NeWP Tech Institute, the participants hosted a Technology Fair, inviting participants of the NeWP Six-Week Invitational Institute to visit, guiding that group through the production of a short podcast and then sharing their TWIPs with the visitors.