Student Success in Savannah

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I spent the weekend in wonderful Savannah, Georgia, at the Student Success in Writing Conference. The wonderful event led me to conversations with teachers from high schools, two-year colleges, and four-year colleges.

I got to meet Bits guest bloggers Kim Haimes-Korn and Jeanne Bohannon, who presented on “Transcending Tech-Tools: Engaging Students through Critical Digital Pedagogies.” Jeanne shared a video animation project that focused on “A Day in the Life” stories that developed students’ critical thinking skills by requiring them to consider another point of view, and Kim talked about an assignment that asks students to use digital timeline tools to publish literacy narratives. I’m hopeful that they will share more details in a future post.

Sarah Domet and Margaret Sullivan discussed “Practical Approaches to Multimodal Composition.” Their themed blog assignment transforms their first-year writing course into a semester-long writing and research project that students publish on blogs or websites. I loved their historicization web essay, which asked students to trace the development of their topic from past to current events. Their student examples showed students deeply engaged with their research. Students read and engage with one another’s blogs, culminating in bloggy awards at the end of the semester for categories like best overall blog and best home page. I’m not quite sure how to fit the activities into my own classes right now, but I’m certainly working on it.

I regret that I missed Natalie James’s presentation on “Teaching Tumblr: Blogging towards Critical Discourse,” but I had a nice conversation with her between sessions. Her presentation focused on the ways that “Tumblr can give students tools for practicing critical discourse in a relevant and engaging online environment.” I cannot wait to find her materials in the conference’s Digital Commons archive.

My own presentation focused on “Ten Ways to Use Digital Tools in the Writing Classroom.” I shared a collection of assignments and activities that I have used in the writing classroom to engage students. Some of the ideas I have already talked about in Bits posts, like my Pinterest Assignments and my Digital Identity Mapping Activity, but you will find some new ideas and student examples in the presentation resources as well.

Overall, I had a grand time in Savannah. The conference is a perfect size, allowing you to connect with colleagues and meet new collaborators, and because of the focus on practical writing strategies, I left every session with a list of ideas for my own classes. I recommend that you check out the Call for Proposals for the 2016 Conference, and submit your proposal beginning June 15. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll have a grand time too.

About the Author
Traci Gardner, known as "tengrrl" on most networks, writes lesson plans, classroom resources, and professional development materials for English language arts and college composition teachers. She is the author of Designing Writing Assignments, a contributing editor to the NCTE INBOX Blog, and the editor of Engaging Media-Savvy Students Topical Resource Kit.