Muddling through the blogosphere

I Know Paul Allison


Yep, I know Paul Allison – and applaud his recent and well-deserved  Leader of the Year 2009 Award!

Paul has been a tech mentor and friend to me since I first met him at the National Writing Project’s 2004 Tech Matters Institute.  Tech & Learning was spot on in recognizing Paul’s creative efforts, starting with the on-going and ever-evolving Youth Voices Project:

With colleagues in New York City and across the country, Paul Allison developed a school-based social network for students called Youth Voices, in which students and their teachers share, distribute, and discuss digital work, images, audio, and video.

“Students seem to enjoy the opportunity to have authentic dialogue with peers,” says Allison. “Youth Voices gives students a place to develop a niche of followers, to become known through their work.”

I am quite sure a huge network of educators echo my pride in being able to say, “I know Paul Allison.”  And this probably won’t surprise you, but most of the ed tech ‘big wigs’ (the guys who get paid to present at local, state, and national technology conferences) frequently draw on Paul’s common sense, “keeping it real” approach to technology integration. Take, for instance, big wig Will Richardson. I bought a copy of his Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classroom a year after meeting Paul, while at a NECC conference. As I flipped through the chapters while waiting in line to pay for my copy and saw Paul Allison listed for several sections in the index, that might have been the first time I felt the need to boast aloud that I knew Paul. And my newest favorite read, Troy HicksThe Digital Writing Workshop, includes many references to Paul, including his Be a Blogger Matrix, a great resource for providing students with the scaffolding to become better digital writers.

It’s not just finding Paul’s name in books, either, that makes him so deserving of the Tech & Learning award. I remember a few years ago (before I knew how to send a Direct Message via Twitter) standing in front of a class of seniors at Florin High School and suddenly realizing I had a few questions about registering them in the Youth Voices project.  I’m pretty sure I impressed the heck out of both the students and their teacher by saying “I know Paul Allison,” pulling out my cell phone, and calling Paul for some just-in-time tech assistance.

When I think about my favorite technology tools (i.e., Edublogs, Wikispaces, Gcast, VoiceThreads) – and effective strategies for using them – it’s largely by knowing Paul and connecting with him face-to-face (I don’t get to do that too often), or by cell phone (I try not to do that too often), or by Skype (I do try to join the Teachers Teaching Teachers Wednesday evening sessions as often as possible) that I’ve learned powerful and multiple ways for taking students’ voices beyond the walls of the classroom.

One of the resources that I most often show teachers is the  video Paul made to show what collaborative writing in a classroom wiki is all about.  I love sharing this video with teachers who are new to Web 2.0 technologies because it really makes visible the process of digital composing.

A heartfelt congratulations on your award, Paul, and a huge thank you for your vision, your resources, and your amazing support and patience. Looking forward to many more opportunities to boast that “I know Paul Allison.”

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