Muddling through the blogosphere

BAWP: Scaffolding for Success – One digital story at a time


I first learned of the Bay Area Writing Project when my daughter was in 2nd grade at Rooftop Elementary School in San Francisco. At a PTA meeting, teachers enthusiastically shared how a summer institute across the bay had completely changed the way they would be delivering writing curriculum to their students.

And I remember my daughter coming home with her writer’s notebook and talking about “sloppy copy” and “author’s chair” and, just, well, wanting to talk about her writing.

We moved the following year out of the Bay Area and up to the Sierra foothills, where I eventually fell into a teaching job at my daughter’s school – and where I learned about the Area 3 Writing Project, the Sacramento region’s counterpart to the BAWP. I had the good fortune in 1995 to attend the A3WP Summer Institute.  Like the Rooftop teachers, I began the next school year with a commitment to bring out the writer in every student.

It’s easy to make commitments like the above when you know you can count on the support of the amazing Writing Project network.  For example, checkout what I found this morning while browsing the National Writing Project website: Literacy, ELL, and Digital Storytelling: 21st Century Learning in Action. I’ve had the pleasure of attending Clifford Lee’s Digital Stoytelling session live during an NWP conference. But now, thanks to a collaborative effort between the BAWP, NWP, and the Pearson Foundation, Cliff’s wonderful immigration project is online.  This video is but one of the many resources posted to the site, providing the scaffolding for teachers thinking about structuring an immigration project – or any kind of documentary project.

What a gift to have 24/7 access to best practices for digital storytelling from teachers like Clifford Lee and his colleague Yumi Matsui!


  1. You have been fortunate to be in good writing projects. I loved my summer institute; since then, eh, not so much. The group is controlled by English teachers who prefer English teaching.

  2. Hi Delaine,

    As I listen again to Cliff Lee’s and Yumi Matsui’s multimodal, multimedia approach to teaching a humanities class, I’m thinking about your comment and realizing the importance of having teachers from all the disciplines participating and contributing to a Writing Project’s local community.

    When that type of cross-pollination happens, as is the case with BAWP and A3WP,then transformative kinds of teaching happen back at school sites.

    I’m thinking of Sheldon High School in my school district. There are a number of English teachers (absolutely outstanding English teachers)at Sheldon who are also A3WP TCs. Over the years, they’ve encouraged good teachers from other departments to apply to the SI. In my job as a district tech integration specialist, I love it when I get calls for help from Sheldon. It’s an invitation to listen in on best practices any which way I turn.

    From the biology teacher who takes the time to teach her students how to write in science, to the history teacher who builds his units on writing, to the drama teacher who does amazing things with story, I see the importance of attracting teachers beyond the English department.

    Of course, writing across the curriculum is a natural with the elementary teachers who join the Writing Project, but, understandably (and unfortunately), not every secondary non-English teacher feels the need to teach writing – as opposed to just assigning writing. I recently had a conversation with a Writing Project director from a site in another state who talked about the challenges of attracting teachers from across the secondary disciplines, so I know that challenge exists.

    I can’t help thinking that new technologies could help address this issue. In California, for instance, thanks to our K12HSN (High Speed Network), all UC and CSU sites can connect via videoconferencing, which opens so many possibilities for sharing co-expertise.

    I am proposing a one-week A3WP summer tech institute on teaching inquiry in a digital age. Using videoconferencing, I hope to connect with the Northern California Writing Project, a site that leads the way in taking inquiry learning out to school sites, to begin a process and discussion that would include “real time” input from experts, such as Jane Krauss, Suzie Boss,and/orJudith Rodby, on problem-based learning across the curriculum and grade levels.

    I follow your blog and know that with your expertise in teaching marketing, yearbook, etc., combined with your interest in technology, you have much to contribute to your site…Just giving you a little push to stay connected;-)

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