[This is a guest post by Chad Sansing, who teaches humanities at a Virginia charter school and blogs about reforming classroom practice at Classroots.org. — @jbj
One of the most exciting initiatives of the National Writing Project (NWP) is called Digital Is: “a collection of resources, reflections, and stories about what it means to teach writing in our digital, interconnected world.”
Digital Is simultaneously facilitates and archives the work of educators who are expanding our notion of composition in the public schools. The website is also a rich resource for teaching digital rhetoric and composition at the college and university level. With sections on Art/Craft, Teach/Learn, Provocations, and Community, the site functions as an on-going endless-summer institute for the teaching of writing in the digital age. Users (teachers or students) can find curated collections, as well as individual resources, on topics ranging from crafting new texts to using digital tools for change to curating our online identities.
Digital Is expresses the ethos of the National Writing Project by bridging the work of K12 educators and university faculty concerned with rhetoric and composition in new media.
The NWP is one of our nation’s most successful partnerships between K12 schools and higher ed. At over 200 university-hosted sites nationwide, faculty site directors plan summer institutes and other events to work with over 10,000 teachers annually and thereby reach more than a million students each year. The goal of the National Writing Project is to facilitate teacher inquiry projects in writing instruction so that “the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation’s educators” is focused “on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning for all learners.”
ProfHacker readers regardless of discipline should delve into both the NWP and Digital Is. You’ll find a vibrant community of practitioners helping students to find their voices across media for authentic purposes and audiences.
Also take note that the NWP faces an uncertain future. On March 2nd, 2011, President Obama signed a continuing resolution to fund our federal government during its budget gridlock. With this resolution, Congress put an end to all federal earmarks, including the one that funded the NWP. While our country’s educators have rallied around a #blog4nwp campaign to save the project’s funding, the fate of the NWP remains unclear. What is certain is that the National Writing Project has contributed to public education in profound and cost-efficient ways for decades. It is producing better college-bound writers and promoting deeper connections between higher ed and the public schools. We are in danger of losing the NWP, its approximately 200 university-based writing centers, and the promise that Digital Is holds for transforming writing instruction in our public schools.
If you see value in Digital Is, please consider supporting the NWP. Our next continuing resolution expires on April 8th, 2011, so it’s crucial that leaders and lawmakers hear from concerned citizens in time to act on behalf of the National Writing Project.
Photo by Flickr user aerosol halos / Creative Commons licensed