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Welcome to the new
Writer's Corner ®
where a community
of writers young and
old meet to discuss
writing and share
their work.

In past years, young
writers met with the
author weekly in an
online workshop
from their home or
classroom to hone
their writing skills
by writing fantasy stories.

For security reasons,
adults and kid writers
always met in
separate groups and
writing spaces. Parents
and teachers supervised

For a decade, I
worked remotely
with teachers as a
residence developing
writing projects that
cut across several
modalities of
expression: writing,
art and music.

This multimedia and
multicultural approach
to writing combined
with the vast resources
of the web allows
teachers to effectively
teach writing across
the curriculum.

In the coming years,
the faster connect
speeds, video capabilities
and enhanced social
media tools will enrich
the learning experiences
for students and open up
new creative possibilities
to teachers who integrate
electronic writing spaces
|into the classroom.



Why Write Online?

Pencil, papyrus and notepad have served authors and students very well for a very long time. So, why write online? Because writing online offers the teacher and student a different and often more intense medium for learning and writing. There are many advantages to this medium.

When two (or more) students login to a writing space – something as simple as a chat area – two minds meet without an intermediary. A teacher monitoring the chat has no need to write notes on a blackboard while a student is ‘talking' to his or her classmates in the chat room because every comment written by a student is preserved in a log file. The same can be said for small discussion groups online. All comments are accurately recorded in a log file for students and teachers to read later.

A chat room is a very democratic teaching zone because no student can shout down another's response. The computer determines which words were typed first (a nanosecond earlier) and prints those words on the screen first.

Students can learn about writing in many ways while in the chat room. The teacher can work on writing structure with one student while others watch him/her instructing that student. Roles can then reverse as the teacher pulls the observing students into the interaction by inviting them to write about and contribute to the piece the first student is working on.

Far too often in the traditional classroom, teachers must teach the writing process verbally, through discussion, instead of by actually writing with their students. But when everyone is online, the teacher not only watches the writing and thinking process unfold; he/she takes part in the writing process directly– watching, instructing and writing to individual students or groups of students as they engage in the act of writing.

Writing online facilitates collaborative work. In a traditional classroom of 25 students and five collaborative groups, how often can you, the teacher, truly monitor the progress of your five groups directly? Even if you had the luxury of four teacher aides, you would be dependent upon them to execute your lesson plan and would not be giving students one-on-one instruction. And how often do you actually ask students and teachers to give you a detailed report of what transpired during a collaborative session?

If you conduct collaborative sessions in a lab on an Intranet in your school – with computers linked together as a local area network by a server inside your school – each collaborative session can be logged. You can then review everything that was said by you, your students and any other teachers or aides taking part in the process. That way you will always have accurate material at the ready from which you can continue mentoring your students.

You can use transcripts from the logging sessions to monitor the success of the day's teaching plan.

You can draw upon the transcript to work more closely with the aides in your room.

Together with colleagues, you can review teaching strategies and styles more accurately and more clearly assess how well you achieved the day's learning goals and how you might want to modify teaching strategies for particular children.

With support, you will learn these steps and master the art of teaching inside an electronic writing space.

Excerpted from Ost, John and Barbara Schulz, Scribes Online, Learning in an Electronic Writing Space, Beaumont Publishing Ltd., 1999, pg. 14.

Featured Stories About Teaching Writing Online

Corner News Flash

As many of you know, I had undergone open heart surgery and had my aortic heart valve replaced.

Less than three months after the surgery, I returned to work -- albeit part time. At the end of December 2014, it will be nine years since I underwent the surgery. I appreciate the second chance. I am more selective now about my time and how I spend it. I also work harder now to insure that I have used each day as wisely and compassionately as I can.

Shortly after the surgery, we rescued Pepper from a high-kill shelter in Arkansas. Since the day she arrived, Pepper and I have walked between 2 and 3 miles per day each and every day-- no matter how severe the weather in New England. It's great for the heart but even better for reconnecting with your neighbors and community. It is probably safe to say that our neigborhood is now truly Pepper's neighborhood and I am universally known as Pepper's dad (especially by the kids in the neighborhood!)

Having a second chance certainly shapes your perspective on life.

I want to thank Dr. Lawrence Cohn and the fantastic staff at Brigham and Women Hospital Cardiology Unit for all that they have done for me. I strongly urge everyone to consider supporting the ongoing research and care that Brigham and Women Hospital and other cardiac units throughout the country provide to their patients.