Connected Learning Teaching Writing

Digital Peer Conferring


Teacher consultant Jennifer Woolven writes about the ways she developed an online writing community with her students that they could get excited about using and have a feeling of ownership while expressing themselves creativity. Originally published on July 23, 2011

I teach in an urban school in Austin, Texas. The last six years have been a struggle with out-of-touch standardized testing and forced transformations (and consequently administration and faculty purging) that are never quite given enough time to take hold. Our latest incarnation is that of a New Tech Network school, by virtue of our name, we must be a technologically cutting-edge school, and digital literacy is one of our core values. Our students have one-to-one computer to student access, with each classroom equipped with a set of net-books and a technology station that includes a computer, projector, document camera, and sound system.

Despite access to a robust online course management system, there is something sterile and disconnected about this private space that was created to increase organization and productivity. I wanted an online community that my students would get excited about using, that they would lead to a felling of ownership. A space to express creativity, but also to take a deeper more critical look at our work and writing together through dialogue and discussion. I chose the social network, Ning because students were able to personalize their own space, and it allows for blogging, discussions, and adding media.

In this video students share their thoughts and opinions about using the Ning to discuss their writing.