Civic Engagement Insights from the Harry Potter Alliance | NWP Digital Is

From fandom to activism.

From story to “cultural acupuncture”.

The Harry Potter Alliance is propelled by the passion of individuals to unite and create movements for social justice. It is Connected Learning.


Digital Literacy Team Homework…1

Okay, so who’s bright idea was this anyway? Okay, I’ve always wanted a personal learning network on campus where I could share some digital literacy ideas. Now, I have one, but of course, that means more work…more enjoyable work.

First, we were asked to pick our top 10 sites. This was difficult so here are some of mine in no particular order. They would change if asked again at this moment. 

Sorry…see doc.

Then, we were asked to find an article and app supporting iPads in the classroom. See my Scoop It: iPad=iLearn.

The app I chose was Toontastic. It allows users to drag, drop, animate, and narrate stories. The awesome part of it is that the story is developed using the Plot Diagram. Great for composing narratives.

Then we were charged with discussing possible publishing platforms to share our work. Of course, I chose Posterous. Just see here for help getting started with Posterous.

Reflecting on my NWP work thus far…

I was asked to talk with the North Star Summer Institute 2011 folks about how to continue to be active in this fantastic, life-changing organization. It got me thinking about all of the incredible growth opportunities NWP has afforded me. So here is an overview of my journey with NWP.

I started with the Bluebonnet Writing Project at UTA with Dr. Jeannine Hirtle as the site’s director in 2005. I became co-director and as that site was always very engaged with technology, I developed a High-Tech Young Authors’ Camp. We used blogger for our Authors’ Workshop, created digital movies, and so many other great activities. It was a huge success. So much so, I facilitated this camp in the summers of 2006 and 2007.


There were numerous opportunities to grow both as a teacher and as a teacher leader. I attended a New Site Development meeting in California. I co-facilitated the SUmmer Institute for a few years. One of the highlights was attending Tech Matters in 2007. That was a great place to meet NWP Digital Literacy Leaders like Paul Oh, Paul Allison, Peter Kittle, Kevin Hodgson, and many others. It was at that event that I realized how innovative and cutting edge NWP work was and still is today. I am often awestruck by my NWP colleagues and their contributions to education.

Unfortunately, the Bluebonnet NWP site folded in 2007. At that time, I was siteless…until North Star of Texas Writing Project adopted me! I cannot thank Dr. Carol Wickstrom and Dr. Leslie Patterson enough for making me feel so welcome! What a joy to be involved!!

With North Star, I became very active in the Professional Development piece. I attended the PD Advanced Institute last year and had the amazing experience of being one of the facilitators for Dallas ISD’s Summer Writing Institute.Dr. Wickstrom and I attended a PD Institute in Austin last summer to gain some more insight into PD. I helped to plan this summer’s offerings of Read…Think…Write…, NSTWP’s STAAR Workshop. I plan on facilitating this workshop in Keller this fall.

I am all about web presence so I begged my husband, Cobe, to help us develop our current NSTWP website

I attended the CMWI Advanced Institute this year, and I am very pleased that my campus will be able to participate in this significant research this school year.

Most recently, after attending the Annual Meeting 2010, I became quasi-obsessed with gaming in the classroom. I helped write a Tech Minigrant application for a Gaming Inquiry Group here at North Star. 

In March, I attended and presented at the Urban Sites Network Conference. Amazing!! Ernest Morrell has become a hero to me.

Along the way, I attended NWP Annual Meetings in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, and Orlando. I have presented 3 times at either NWP or NCTE due to NWP work.

North Star offers so many opportunities to stay connected: Book clubs, inquiry groups, advocacy, leadership retreats, etc. I love seeing the other North Stars whenever possible!

Now, I am dedicated to figuring out this gaming piece and facilitating work with my campus’ incoming freshman in August. I am also super excited to work more on NWP Connect as well as Digital Is, and I cannot wait to meet and work with more NWP colleagues in Seattle in July for the Digital Is Resource Development Retreat.

I have been so lucky to find NWP. It’s my duty to myself and to my students to continue this work. All I can say is you get out of NWP what you put in, and I feel that as much as I have invested in NWP, NWP has returned at least 100 times over.


MacArthur Grant Will Expand National Writing Project’s Digital Media Program – National Writing Project

MacArthur Grant Will Expand National Writing Project’s Digital Media Program

For Immediate Release

Press contact

Berkeley, CA, February 18, 2010 – The National Writing Project (NWP) announced today that it will receive an $800,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to expand the “Digital Is” program, NWP’s nationwide initiative to create and disseminate new classroom practices that use digital media to teach young people how to write. With this grant, MacArthur Foundation’s support for “Digital Is” will total $1.1 million.

The focus of the two-year grant will be on developing and disseminating resources and professional development opportunities for teachers, building processes and rubrics for assessing multimodal student work, and collaborating with other organizations working to support young people in using new digital technologies. Established in 2008, “Digital Is” enables local writing project sites across the country to conduct workshops and develop resources for teachers in all 50 states.

“Interest in using technology in the classroom has taken off,” said Sharon J. Washington, executive director of the National Writing Project. “Teachers are eager to learn how to integrate these new technologies into their teaching. The demand from educators for new and innovative resources and learning opportunities has increased dramatically. We are honored that the MacArthur Foundation is supporting our efforts to engage educators in this exciting area.”

Since the early 1990s, NWP teacher-leaders have been at the forefront of exploring the implications of new digital tools for the teaching of writing. Through “Digital Is,” the NWP aims to create a hub for a broad range of teacher communities to access resources and knowledge for the growing field of digital writing.

“Writing in its many forms is the signature means of communication in the 21st century,” Dr. Washington continued. “The NWP envisions a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world.”

The more than 200 sites that make up the NWP network are hosted by universities and colleges across the country. In addition to developing a leadership cadre of local teachers through invitational summer institutes, NWP sites design and deliver customized professional development programs for local schools, districts, and higher education institutions.

The National Writing Project is the most significant coordinated effort to improve writing in America. NWP sites, located on more than 200 university and college campuses, serve more than 135,000 participants annually. NWP continues to add new sites each year, with the goal of placing the writing project within reach of every teacher in America. Through its professional development model, NWP develops the leadership, programs, and research needed for teachers to help students become successful writers and learners. For more information, visit

The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. MacArthur’s $50-million digital media and learning initiative seeks to gain a better understanding of how digital technologies are changing how young people learn, play, socialize, exercise judgment, and engage in civic life. More information is available at or

Yes, this is old news to some, but for my own sanity, this is a place where I can keep track of important documents, articles, sites, etc. for my work.

NWP is incredibly important to me, to my teaching. It feels amazing to be part of a network that is a pioneer in 21st Century Literacies, while relying on one of our richest resources: teachers.