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Teaching Writing with Technology

410 Stevenson
Every other Saturday, 9:00 am to 2:50 pm

Jim Kalmbach
Spring 2008
421H Stevenson

Class website:
Class blog:

Office Hours: MW 11-12 and by appointment. I assume we will set up appointments as needed after class.


There has never been a time when issues of technology and materiality did not impact the teaching of writing. Writing is a form of technology and all writing instruction engages those technologies whether they are wax tblets, typewriters and liquid paper, or iphones and facebook. The goal of this class is to explore impact of current writing technologies on how you teach composition and creative writing in high schools and middle schools. The class focuses on your experiences as teachers. The readings and projects that we do will grow out of and (hopefully) complement those experiences.

(Click on an image to order a text from Amazon.)

Gee, James. (2004). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Website: James Gee

I often call this book a magnificent failure because people often become so infatuated with the gaming dimension of the book, that they do not look at the theory of learning that Gee enacts through his experiences with video games. As a result, I use this book with caution, but you can't think about teaching without talking about how people learn.


Selfe, Cynthia. (2007). Multimodal Composition: Resources for Teachers. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Website: Cindy Selfe

A collection of articles with a hand CD of info


Selfe, Richard. (2004). Sustainable Computer Environments: Cultures Of Support In English Studies And Language Arts. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Website: Dickie Selfe

Cindy and Dickie's 2008 Christmas Video.

Every teacher who has taken this class had access to a computer classroom, we need to think critically about the nature and organizations of those rooms.


Sidler, Michelle, Morris, Richard, & Smith, Elizabeth Overman. (Eds.). (2008). Computers in the Composition Classroom: A Critical Sourcebook. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin.

Websites: Michelle Sidler, Elizabeth Overman Smith

A collection of classic articles in the field.

Class Blog
I have a set up a group blog for this class which you will use to respond to each of the reading assignments. I want to reflective reflective responses the engage the ideas in the books and relate those ideas to your own experiences with teaching. I would also like you to comment on other people's responses since we only meet every other week and responding to each other can provide a valuable connect. I should have the blog set up so that you will get an email whenever someone comments on one of your posts.

Leading Discussion of Reading
For each of the above reading, two or three people will act as discussion coordinators. Your jobs will be to generate lists of open-ended questions and/or activities that will focus our discussion. In addition, for each the reading, everyone in the class will post a reflective response to the reading on our class blogging site.

Teaching with Technology Demonstrations
Over the next five class periods, three people each demonstration of a classroom activity that you have done or would like to do using technology. You will each have about 30 minutes. I am assuming most of you are familiar with these demonstrations from the writing project and other classes. An effective demonstration does not lecture, but involves the class in a hands on activity and gives them a handout we can take home and use.

In addition to readings, you will do probably four smaller projects. I have picked two project st: a teaching with technology autobiography, and an analysis of a computer classroom, the others will be based on your background, interests and your goals for the class. I attending the writing project demo day last fall and was deeply impressed with the projects many of you have done already so I am going to be challenged to find new ideas.

Final Project
I want everyone to do some sort of sustained final project involving any aspect of using technology to teach writing. The project can be scholarly (several people have written technology-related papers), administrative (an external or internal proposal) or developing technology-related materials or syllabi for a class (most common). I am open to any sort of a project; my one requirement is that the project advances your academic career in some clear way. You will present your project during our last class. The project will include a reflective essay on what you did and why you did it. More details as the class progresses.

Life Gets in the Way Policy
I recognize that all of you are busy people with many other commitments. I therefore have a Saturday class, "life gets in the way" policy. When the demands of work and family get to be too much, you can miss any one class this semester without feeling guilty. Of course, you still have to do the reading, write the response, do the project, etc. so it isn't really that great of offer, but still: no guilt. I realize that circumstances may be such that you have to miss more than one class; however, I will make you feel guilty as heck about doing so.

A Note on Grading
Your grade in the class will be based on the quality of your participation, on completing the various class activities, and your final project. Nothing you do in the class will have a letter grade attached to it. This is not a political statement, but a personal one: I just hate to grade things. I will, however, try to provide as much evaluative feedback as I can during the semester, and if you are ever feelings nervous about how you are doing, please stay after class and I will be happy to discuss your work with you.

Saturday Schedule
Here is how we will organize a typical Saturday:

We have a big class and lots to do so expect to be in the class until 2:50 most Saturdays.

You should know that I am a very improvisational teacher, and my plans usually change over the course of a semester in response to student work. So my one policy is please be flexible; I promise that I will be.



Teaching with Technology circa 1932.

Separated at birth?


Teaching with Technology circa 2002.