Teach 21st Century Writing Skills with “Cool Cat Teacher,” Vicki Davis
Vicki A. Davis is one of the world’s foremost connected educators. As she likes to say, she will help you “teach with better results, lead with a positive impact and live with greater purpose.”
A number of writers on 21st century teaching, including Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat and Don Tapscott in Grown Up Digital, mention Vicki as an example.
Her two books: Reinventing Writing and Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, empower teachers to connect their students to technology and to the world. Her blog, The Cool Cat Teacher, is consistently among the top 50 blogs in education worldwide. In 2013, Mashable named her one of “Twitter’s Top 10 Rockstar teachers.” She has created more than 20 global collaborative projects connecting students from more than 20 countries.
Vicki hosts the popular Internet radio show of best practices for busy teachers “Every Classroom Matters” on the BAM Radio network. Her articles appear in Edutopia, the Washington Post, the Atlantic and more. She is a Google Certified Teacher and Discovery S.T.A.R. Educator.
On February 26 at 9pm UTC, Vicki will deliver a free webinar on WizIQ entitled, Reiventing Writing: Empowering Students with Collaborative Writing Tools. This webinar is part of the Featured Teachers series, hosted by Fluency MC. To sign up, click here.
In an interview with WizIQ, Vicki discusses her pioneering approach to collaborative writing and her tremendous success as an inspiration to teachers worldwide.
What inspired you to take up the challenge of reinventing writing for students?
When I started collaborating globally in 2006 using wikis, I realized something had fundamentally changed about writing. I went through a “Writing Across the Curriculum” course in 2008 but the book had nothing about the unique forms of writing I was using. So, I took all of the electronic methods of writing and started creating my own methodologies applying what we know about teaching great writing. Reinventing Writing was born because writing has been reinvented and we need to help our students know how to write collaboratively. It isn’t just about 21st century skills but 21st century connections and how to make them.
How has the journey been so far?
Since 2006, my students have connected with thousands of others around the world. They have written with peers and even masters and doctoral students in college! The one thing I’ve discovered is that collaborative writing when done well is more than what one person could write alone. The biggest struggle is that most don’t know how to do this. Academia is so used to “I write this part, you write that” that it doesn’t really know how to collaboratively write. Collaborative writing is a fantastic way to engage students in writing and in experiences with one another.
In what respects has student performance improved using collaborative writing tools?
If students are just writing for a teacher’s wastebasket, it is a waste. Research shows that writing improves with a genuine audience. It also improves with peer review and revision. Collaborative writing tools help us level up in all of these ways and we can build writing communities where students love to write!
You are renowned for your dedication to empowering teachers in the digital world. What drives you to keep going?
I feel called to my students but also to encourage educators. Teachers have a noble calling but many have forgotten how important they are. My philosophy of innovation is “innovate like a turtle”. When you have a habit to improve a little bit every single day, you can go on a fantastic journey of learning and progress! Educators who care, share. We need to share and encourage one another because we have a difficult high-burnout profession. I want to be one more teacher helping others be fantastic. I find it empowering when other teachers write and teach during the day and I want to do it too!
What advice do you have for those who would like to be better “connected teachers”?
I think that 21st century teachers are connectors. It is a big part of what we do. As I shared in my first book Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, the first step in global collaboration is to CONNECT YOURSELF. So, I’d start with being intentional about what you read. I read my feedly at least 15 minutes, 3 times per week. It is how I learn and move forward. That adds up. I check Twitter every afternoon for 10-15 minutes as I respond and engage. Small habits of connection make a big difference. Some use Facebook. Some use Twitter. Others read sites like my blog or Edutopia. The question is: “How are you connecting?” How are you moving forward? Are you taking a tiny step forward every day? If so, it is enough!