The National Council of Teachers of English published an article by Sunshine Sullivan, associate professor of education at Houghton, in the January edition of its English Journal. Sullivan’s inclusion in the periodical is her first publication as lead author.
The article, titled “Teachers First: Hands-On Professional Development with Digital Writing,” documents a recent professional development workshop that Sullivan hosted with her co-author, Tim Clarke, senior program manager for professional development at Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES. Rural teachers from the surrounding Western New York region were able to choose to attend this and other workshops part of a developing community of practice that is focused on broadening their teaching repertoires to include the necessary digital literacy teaching strategies and tools to continue to meet the diverse needs of their students.
“I grew up in a rural area similar to where I live in Belfast, NY (8 miles south of Houghton College),” remarks Sullivan. “Nearly 20 years ago, as I entered college, I realized that while I did not have access to all that my friends from bigger schools accessed with ease, my teachers knew me and worked hard to meet my needs… [Now] I have the privilege of watching these teachers who often feel isolated and unsupported to try new things and connect with each other as they develop pieces they can actually use in their classroom.”
Sullivan and Clarke led workshop participants through an exercise intended to highlight connections between technology and writing that can be used to complement traditional methods of teaching English. Using iPads and iMovie software, they worked in small groups to plan and produce film trailers for novels, units of study, and concepts that they cover in their classrooms. “I realized today that I don’t let my students follow their writing rhythm. I waste so much time trying to keep everyone on the same page and it never works,” said one participant.
 Sullivan, S.R. & Clarke, T. (2017). Teachers first: Hands-on PD with digital writing. English Journal, 106(3).