Vaporizing Classroom Walls: The Writing Workshop Goes Electric

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Kurt shows Donna his poem, which begins, "My hand, writing words into pictures . . . ." She responds, "I find it hard to write feelings that expose me to the reader. It is something that I am really working on in my own writing. I wish I could be as open as you are being." Donna talks to Kurt about how she understands his poem, and he replies, "Thank you for your comments on my poem. You are the only one that I have shared it with."

The usual peer writing conference? Not exactly. Kurt and Donna had never seen each other. Kurt was a seventh grader in Kris Fischer's English class and Donna was an adult in Bruce Robbins' university English methods class in another community. Like the others in their classes, Kurt and Donna were sharing weekly writing and responses via computer network." For Kurt and his classmates, having a writing partner on the computer meant getting more personal attention and help than is possible for Ms. Fischer to give by herself. For Donna and her classmates, having a computer writing partner meant getting to know adolescents better and learning how to help them develop as writers.

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