A Group Writing Project: Letting Students Struggle in Class

I don't know if you've ever been to "The Edge." If you haven't, you should go there and take a look around. It's a cool place, and there's a lot of cool stuff going on. One of the coolest things they do is their "annual question" series, where a bunch of interesting folks all write a bit about a common topic. These get collected an published every year, and the rest of us get to read them if we want to.

I've been jealous of this structure for as long as I've been aware of it. So last summer I decided to steal it, and use it for my own purpose, to get a bunch of interesting teachers to write on a common question, and see what those results look like.

8 months later, I know what they look like, because they're being published.

It wasn't too tough to get a bunch of interesting teachers to write about a common topic (that topic being the title of this post). I know a lot of interesting teachers, and I can use various web tools to get a project like this off the ground and through to the point that everyone contributes essays. But once we got there, I had run out of knowledge for how to approach anyone who might be able to publish something like this about doing so. Fortunately, one of the writers for the project had the idea to approach Valerie Strauss and The Answer Sheet about publishing them, and she agreed.

This week marks the publishing of the first essay in the collection, along with my introductory remarks, and the foreword of an invited first-reader. Other essays in the collection will be published on a weekly basis.

I've very much enjoyed working on this project, and I am really glad that it is finally at a place where it is getting put in places where folks other than the authors can read it. I hope you enjoy it, too, as you take a look over the coming weeks. In this age of tremendous angst in the field, and all of the other recent education-policy unpleasantness, it's great to give teachers a place to show who they really are, and what they really think about the job. So much of education policy seems to involve people who aren't teachers speaking for us. I think we are more than capable of speaking for ourselves.

And hopefully we can do it all again next year!

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