#Englishchat – 1/12/15


As more and more students bring mobile devices to school, we have more opportunities (and challenges) to teach reading and writing, speaking and listening. For next week’s #engchat conversation (1/12/15 at 7:00 PM EST), join co-authors Jeremy Hyler (@Jeremybballer) and Troy Hicks (@hicsktro) as they share some strategies from their book, Create, Compose, Connect! Reading, Writing and Learning with Digital Tools (Routledge/Eye on Education, 2014).


More importantly, we invite you to share your ideas about how best to engage students in authentic literacy activities with smartphones and tablets. Some questions we may pursue during the chat include:


  • What is your school’s policy for mobile technologies? If your school has a BYOD or 1:1 program, how did it begin? If not, what do you want to know in order to start one?
  • What are the literacy skills that mobile technology enable? How are you working with students to develop their skills as readers and writers, listeners and speakers?
  • What lesson ideas do you have for mobile tech — daily, weekly, or just once in awhile — what works for you and your students?

We look forward to creating, composing, and connecting with #engchat colleagues soon!


TL Handy Middle School PD


Yesterday I (Jeremy) had the pleasure of doing a PD session with the teachers from TL Handy Middle School in Bay City, Michigan. Yesterday we talked about summaries and why it is important for students to summarize. You can see the outline of their day on our Wikispace. Our day was spent using a process discussed in Jeff Wilhelm’s book he co-authored titled Get It Done called TDPP. We also discussed other ways students can summarize without writing a paragraph. Below is the general idea behind the TDPP process.

Summary paragraph coding for (TDPP):

– Introduce: Cite the (T)opic

– Describe: Key (D)etails that Support the Topic

– Explain: (P)attern of the details

– Draw conclusion: (P)oint made about the topic by the patterned details

I also shared with them how I use this process in my classroom in connection with the lessons and units that I shared Create, Compose, Connect  by Troy and me. For example, the travelogues my students write and with Article of the Week were mentioned in our book.

One of the more difficult tasks I have to do when I am delivering professional development is making it relevant for all content areas. As we all know as educators, there is more of an importance placed on reading and writing in every class, not just English classes. It is our job as English teachers to reach across the aisle and help out other content areas when it comes to reading and writing strategies.  In addition, though we grade our students on their ability to use transitions, spell correctly, and have correct sentence structure, other content area teachers may grade the writing their students do in their classrooms much differently.  For instance, they may grade more for content or the correct use of certain vocabulary terms. Stressing the importance of good writing skills in every classroom is very important for our students to become successful writers. On the other hand, we should have our content area teachers focus on the basic writing skills that our students need to continue to practice instead of transition, using the correct adjectives, etc.

It isn’t an easy task to grade student writing or to teach them how to write well, but if we as English teachers are willing to help out other content area teachers and work together with them to make our students more successful, the rewards will be great!

I enjoyed my time with the Handy Middle School Staff. The staff was was engaged and created some great lessons to take into their classrooms this year. I look forward to going back later in the school year. They are teachers who care and want to make their students better.

If you are interested in having myself and Troy come to your school for PD, please feel free to contact us on Twitter or through our blog.

Have a great year everyone!




I thought it would be great to share that the Institute on Digital Literacy Leadership Troy and I are going to be hosting this Summer on the Campus of Central Michigan University has just been reduced to $200.00. We are thrilled to let our readers know this institute is reduced due to our gracious host CMU. If you are interested in getting credits for a class, you can do that too. Below is a link to the flyer with all of the necessary information that you need. Please contact us if you have any questions!

Create, Compose, Connect


Gone Digital


No, the title of our post isn’t our phrase for going crazy! Though with the time of year we are currently at, a teacher could see how that would be easily achieved.

We wanted to let everyone know that you can now purchase our book digitally through the Amazon Kindle. I know both Troy and I have been asked about this, so it felt appropriate to let individuals know it is now available.

On another note, Jeremy will be presenting August 19th at the Stevenson Center located at Muskegon Community College. It is a one day conference titled “Learning at the Lakeshore“. Jeremy’s session will be on how he presents argument writing to his 8th graders. This session is based on Chapter 5 in Create, Connect, Compose.

There is a possibility of a 3 hour workshop being conducted by Jeremy (possibly Troy too) at the Zeeland Education and Teacher’s Academy August 11 & 12. More information will be made when available so keep  checking back.

As mentioned in our last post, if you are interested in doing a week long Digital learning institute around the book, join us on the campus of Central Michigan University July 20-25. It will be a great experience for all that attend. You can find out more information about the institute and where to sign-up here.

We are always happy to address any questions you may have from the book. If you want to ask about something, just let us know through the blog or by contacting us on Twitter. @hickstro and @jeremybballer.


Create, Compose, Connect! An Advanced Institute for Building Digital Literacy Leadership


(This Blog Post was originally posted by Troy Hicks at http://chippewariverwp.org)

Come join Troy and myself for a week long Institute July 20-25!

As opportunities for digital reading and writing continue to grow, teacher leaders must continue to develop their own digital literacy practices. We invite you to create, compose, and connect with us this summer!

During our week-long, intensive workshop, teacher leaders will be invited to participate in teaching demonstrations, writing activities, “digital literacy challenges,” and inquiry groups to investigate key questions related to digital literacy leadership.

In addition to providing teachers with a variety of ideas for the classroom, our goal is to help each participant develop his or her leadership capacity as it relates to leading professional development.

CRWP Digital Literacy Institute 2014 (PDF Version of Flyer)

Participants in this institute will:

  • Participate as learners in teaching demos provided by Troy Hicks and Jeremy Hyler
  • Read, discuss, and apply current research and theories related to digital learning to
  • classroom practice and school leadership
  • Engage in a variety of “digital literacy challenges” by collaborating with colleagues to
  • create pieces of digital writing
  • Develop plans for classroom implementation, curriculum, and assessment

The $500 registration fee includes:

  • Breakfast and lunch each day
  • A copy Hyler and Hicks’ book: Create, Compose, Connect!
  • All activities and materials for the week of July 20-25, 2014
  • A one-hour, post institute reflection with Jeremy or Troy via Skype or Google Hangout

Begin the registration process on our secure CMU site.

Housing and Transportation
The registration fee does not include housing or transportation costs. CMU is located in Mt. Pleasant Michigan, about 2.5 hours north of Detroit, and about an hour from both the Lansing and Midland airports. Typical rates for area hotels range from $80 to $150 per night. Also participants can opt to stay in an air-conditioned CMU dorm at the cost of approximately $150 for the week. More info on housing and transportation will be made available upon registering.

Graduate Credit
Up to 3 CMU graduate credits or SCECHs will be available at an additional cost (Info TBA)

Book and Conferences


Good Morning Everyone!  Well it is official! Create,Compose, Connect: Reading, Writing, and learning with Digital tools is available for purchase. You can find it on Amazon. You can also find it on Routledge’s website. If you want to know more about Troy and I you can visit here.



This weekend Troy and I have been presenting on our book at the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference and the Michigan Reading Association (MRA) Conference. We are showing participants a sneak peek into Chapter 5: Looking for Evidence, where we show a few lessons and tools I use in my classroom for argument writing. You can access the Prezi here. Keep checking back on the Prezi from time to time, as it is constantly being updated and tweaked. In addition, you can find it on our companion site for the book here.


You can also check out another short video clip where Jeremy talks about using cell phones in his classroom.


Please join us in conversation about our book and we hope to be updating the blog more as the book gets distributed.

Enjoy everyone!