I recently co-facilitated a 3 day workshop on Teaching Reading and Writing in the Content Areas. Having a background in elementary with my strongest areas in science and math, I wondered how much I personally would be able to bring to this workshop. Anyone can learn a PowerPoint, but making the learning come alive is what really makes a workshop worth attending.
Luckily, my co-presenter had a strong background in secondary literacy and was able to take the lead on the content. Where I came in was with my knowledge of technology and Web 2.0 that make literacy and writing so much more engaging and collaborative. The result was a wonderful meshing of content and skills….traditional, research-based methods with exciting methods of communicating.
We started off simple: when Dana showed different strategies for activating background knowledge, I demonstrated Inspiration, Bubbl.us, and BrainPOP. In addition, every URL and handout was already uploaded to their wiki, showing the power of using quick, easy tools to make access easier. (No longer do we have to make a long list of things to email to people; we simply upload it to the wiki instantaneously.) They used the wiki throughout the workshop, uploading their own examples of Concept Definition Maps and Semantic Feature Analyses.
Perhaps the greatest moment for me in the workshop was on the second day, when we talked about Teaching Writing in the Content Areas. I showed them Digital Storytelling and how powerful movies can be to motivate students to write. We watched as they explored MovieMaker, many for the first time, and created their own short movies.
The final day was my favorite. They took all that they had learned and began building their own tools to use in the classroom. Most created a classroom blog and it was incredibly exciting listening to them talk about how they planned to use the blog for literacy in their content areas. It was exciting hearing them troubleshoot with each other and show how to do something new with the interface of the blog. Some went on to create wikis to help facilitate collaboration and to provide access to documents and Web sites for their students.
There was so much learning going on: my learning of secondary literacy strategies, Dana’s learning about technology tools, and the participants learning how to put all of this together in order to improve their instruction. It was adult learning at its best.