Multimodal Teaching Writing

The Digital Writing Workshop

Curators notes:

An inside view of Joel Malley's digital writing workshop, "Writing in a Digital Age" is a rich example of how a teacher both creates digital writing himself and invites his students to create digital writing, too. What I appreciate most about Joel's work is the way that he talks about writers and the writing process. He begins by arguing that, "Even though my class has gone digital, writing still forms the foundation of all the things we do... Storytelling is the basis for everything." He talks about how students write extensively, from planning to digging into their topics, from reflecting to responding to others. He talks about "composing in multiple modes" and how he has students engaged in the workshop approach. Students turn poems into films, create personal narratives, and make research-based documentary films. These are all important writing tasks—ones that have traditionally been a part of writing curriculum—made richer through collaboration and publication. Once when I shared Joel's film with an audience of teachers, an immediate critique I heard went something like this: "Yes, but he has upper-level kids, all the equipment he could ever need, and the flexibility to do this in his multimedia production class." While this appears to be true, I think that Joel's approach transcends these criticisms. He takes the approach of a digital writing workshop—one where student choice, inquiry, and response matter—and infuses it in all that he does, whether on screen or on paper. With digital writing, whether you have one-to-one or only one in your classroom, it is the attention to the process, to revision that matters. Joel doesn't teach English. He doesn't teach technology. He teaches digital writers. And that's what makes all the difference.

This video captures the process of digital project creation in my English classroom. My students blog on our social network, create films, podcasts, and other digital media, and ultimately share their final projects during end-of-project screenings.

This post is part of the Teaching in the Digital Writing Workshop collection.