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Research Writing Rewired

Research Writing Rewired
Lessons That Ground Students’ Digital Learning

Foreword by Peter Smagorinsky

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October 2015 | 264 pages | Corwin

Our students are online constantly, and yet research shows that only half of teachers say digital tools make writing instruction easier. Research Writing Rewired seeks to turn that statistic upside down. 

Or, rather, upside right: If we want to ready students for a globalized world, 100% of teachers ought to consider technology an asset to any kind of writing, assert authors Dawn Reed and Troy Hicks. But the “main wiring” still has to be the ELA standards and the essential questions at the heart of each content area. To that end, the authors show you how to use digital tools within a multi-week inquiry unit to increase students’ engagement as they write-to-learn and share knowledge. Their book a clear model for tech-rich research writing that will inform your own inquiry-driven units. Guiding components include:

  • An inquiry-based, technology-rich unit on identity and culture that provides learners with opportunities to engage with the very same issues that are written about and discussed by citizens of a global society

  • 28 model lessons and a framework including extensions, tech tips, and activities that blend print, image, apps, and video so students build multi-literacy skills day by day

  • Recurring use of best practices like formative assessment, close reading, think alouds and teaching key skills, including analyzing and synthesizing, annotating, checking credibility of sources, discussion, and writing about reading 

  • Dozens of lessons and activities built around students’ favorite technology tools and online destinations, including: Citelighter, Smore, ThingLink, Padlet, and Cazles, Animoto,, and getLoupe, Genius and Lit Genius, Now Comment, You Voices
  • QR codes that take you to video clips on a companion website, so you can see the teaching techniques and digital tools in action

It’s up to us to make the digital learning in school a lot more like the digital learning we all do in life. Research Writing Rewired shows us how to channel students’ passion for digital communication into meeting ELA goals. 

At-a-Glance Lesson Summaries
Foreword by Peter Smagorinsky
Preface: Reading, Writing, and Inquiry With Adolescents
Why “Rewire” Research Writing?

The Contents of This Book

Our Guiding Principles

Introduction: Framing Student Inquiry
Considering Our Goals

The Big Picture: Broad Curricular Considerations

Additional Curricular Components

Final Considerations

Chapter 1. Introducing Research, Inquiry, and Connected Learning
Preview Lesson: Thinking Through a Cultural Lens

Lessons for Week 1

Lesson 1. Exploring Digital Identities

Lesson 2. Cultural Conversations Online: Joining Youth Voices and Reading Collaboratively

Lesson 3. Beginning the Cultural Conversation

Lesson 4. Exploring Visual Culture Through Food Wrappers and Analyzing Visual Culture

Lesson 5. Introducing Ethnography and the Culture Collage Assignment

Reflections on Embracing Inquiry in the Connected Classroom

Chapter 2. Getting Started With Inquiry Work: Visual Literacy and Literature Circles
Lessons for Week 2

Lesson 6. Visual Literacy and Design

Lesson 7. Culture Collage Sharing

Lesson 8. Literature Circles

Lesson 9. Fashion and Image in American Culture

Lesson 10. Reading Images: Fact or Fiction?

Lesson 11. Personal Inquiry Reflections

Reflections on Mentor Texts for Analysis and Developing Inquiry Questions

Chapter 3. Laying the Groundwork for Research Writing: Developing Close Reading Skills and Organizing Digital Spaces
Lessons for Week 3

Lesson 12. Literature Circle Meeting 1: Engaging in Active Discussions

Lesson 13. Self-Assessment and Reflection

Lesson 14. Language in American Culture

Lesson 15. Literature Circle Meeting 2: Close Reading of Passages

Lesson 16. Questioning and Speculating

Reflections on Developing Close Reading Skills and Organizing Digital Spaces

Chapter 4. Embarking on the Inquiry-Based Research Essay: Collaboration, Citation, and Credibility
Key Features of the Inquiry-Based Research Essay Assignment

Lessons for Week 4

Lesson 17. Literature Circle Meeting 3: Intertextual Connections

Lesson 18. Researching Skills and Tips: Exploring Sources

Lesson 19. Researching (Online and in the Library Media Center)

Lesson 20. Writing and Researching Workshop

Reflections on the Research Process

Chapter 5. Writing Workshop and Media Projects: Responding, Revising, and Reflecting
Lessons for Week 5

Lesson 21. Literature Circle Meeting 4: Final Thoughts and Reflection

Lesson 22. Writing Workshop and Peer Response

Lesson 23. Media Work

Lesson 24. Cultural Questions and Media Literacy

Lesson 25. Workshop: Inquiry-Based Research Essay and Media Projects

Lesson 26. Reflection and Publication of the Inquiry-Based Research Essay

Lesson 27. Exploring Basic Copyright Issues: Copyright, Fair Use, Creative Commons, and the Public Domain

Lesson 28. Reflecting, Sharing, and Celebrating the Final Media Project

Reflections on the Writing Process

Chapter 6. Final Reflections and Conclusions
Assessment: A Flexible, Rhetorical Approach

Purposeful Technology Integration


References and Further Reading
About the Authors

Dawn M. Reed

Dawn Reed is an English teacher at Okemos High School in Okemos, Michigan and Co-Director of Red Cedar Writing Project at Michigan State University. She earned her MA in Rhetoric and Writing in Critical Studies in Literacy and Pedagogy from Michigan State University, and she continues to engage in teacher inquiry and research. Her research interests include the teaching of writing, digital literacy, and authentic writing opportunities, including writing for civic engagement. Through her work as a consultant with Red Cedar Writing Project, she is involved with supporting teacher professional development through work with schools and the... More About Author

Troy Wayne Hicks

Dr. Troy Hicks is an associate professor of English at Central Michigan University and focuses his work on the teaching of writing, literacy and technology, and teacher education and professional development. A former middle school teacher, he collaborates with K–12 colleagues and explores how they implement newer literacies in their classrooms. Hicks directs CMU’s Chippewa River Writing Project, a site of the National Writing Project, and he frequently conducts professional development workshops related to writing and technology. In March 2011, Hicks was honored with CMU's Provost's Award for junior faculty who demonstrate... More About Author

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