I'm still working my way through the first week of the K12Online Conference 2008.
Today I'd like to discuss a Proving It session, “Using Online Argument Role-Play to Foster Learning to Argue and Arguing to Learn in a High School Composition Class” by Richard Beach. Professor Beach's presentation which I have listened to several times is an audio presentation only. He discusses the research he conducted with Elizabeth Boeser, a high school English teacher. They discover that the use of blogs and a ning allow students a more meaningful experience that is similar to normal conversations. These conversations become more collaborative and students learn strategies which can be used in persuasive arguments with many audiences.
I found that the written script for the audio presentation was valuable. (I'm more of a visual learner.) His script makes use of italics to highlight his points and findings. The script also gives more specific information about the resources and the location of the evidence (blogs) he is discussing.
Professor Beach's presentor's page is also great. He shares all the various links for the students' work including blogs, digital maps, and rubrics as well as online resources for teaching persuasive/argumentative writing. There is one really cool project that allowed students to research, discuss, and comment to the PTSA about a list of books in the school's library and taught in English classes. Administrators had received "complaints" about the questionable content and educational merit of the books. What a great way to deal with the issue of censorship!
Professor Beach is also the author or co-author of Teaching Writing through Blogs, Wikis, and Other Digital Tools (Christopher Gordon, November, 2008), Teachingmedialiteracy.com: A Web-based Guide to Links and Activities, and Teaching Literature to Adolescents
I think that any teacher, not just English teachers, working with students on persuasive writing and speaking would learn a lot about the advantages of using Web 2.0 tools to enhance student learning by listening and exploring Professor Beach's resources and links.