by Kevin Hodgson
You’d think I’d be content in the spaces I already inhabit.
I blog. I tweet. I upload videos. I facilitate and participate in a a few writing communities, and have contributed regularly to a graphic novel review site, a digital learning space, and others. I find myself anchored in a series of educational MOOCs lately, too. And I’m on Google Plus (but not Facebook, for reasons I won’t get into here beyond a single word: privacy).
So, why am I here and what am I up to in this MiddleWeb blogging space that I am calling Working Draft? There’s a simple reason (I was asked, kindly, by someone I respect, to contribute my voice) and a complicated reason (I want to make stronger connections to my upper elementary and middle school colleagues).
This space is called Working Draft because inquiry into learning and writing and composing is constantly changing in this digital age, and nothing is ever really final, right? We are always in the midst of change. That includes our students’ lives, too.
The title captures a lot of how I see the world, moving to refine ideas through the cycle of reflective writing and informed practice. It seems to me that flexibility is a key component to being a learner today.
But, hey, let me introduce myself.
My name is Kevin Hodgson, although I use the nickname “dogtrax” in a lot of the spaces I listed above. I have been teaching sixth grade in a suburban school district in Western Massachusetts, USA, for 10 years now, after spending the first 10 years of my professional life as a newspaper journalist. I made the leap to education just as the bottom was falling out of the news business. I can’t say that I was prescient. It was just time to do something more meaningful in my life.
It helped that I had spent some five years as an educational reporter, going into classrooms on a regular basis and chatting with inspirational teachers. That work, plus an internal feeling that I could connect with kids, led me into education. Now, reporters come into my classroom, asking me and my students questions about what we are doing. Talk about full circle.
Writing to learn
In the first year of my teaching career, I connected with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, part of the National Writing Project, and that changed everything about how I saw my role as a teacher. I learned more from my work with NWP than I did in any of my university education courses. Coming as I did from a world of writing, the emphasis on “writing to learn” resonated with me, as did the early push to not just seek to understand that technology was changing the way we write and communicate, but also to put those discoveries into practice in the classrooms.
Thanks to NWP, I was blogging with my sixth graders before most people knew what a blog was.
My aim for Working Draft is to share out some of what I am doing with my students around writing and technology and digital media, and maybe offer up some insights and questions about how learning is shifting. I won’t promise to have all the answers (see, Working Draft). I will promise to try to avoid the bluster of a know-it-all blogger, though.
I hope to spark conversations, and maybe some collaborations with this MiddleWeb blog. I hope to bring the perspective of an upper elementary teacher into the middle school conversations. Please, do comment. Do critique. Do share your experiences and expertise. Become part of the movement afoot to have teachers talking with each other, helping each other, and bringing some of our best practices to the forefront.
I hope to learn from you. Thanks for being here with me.