The Digital Writing Workshop: Questions, Quotes, and Ideas

The Digital Writing Workshop, by Troy Hicks, is all about implementing technology into a writing classroom. The what, why, and how are all answered in this book that bases its principles on the writing workshop method. I encourage you to read the book if you get a chance, but if not, here are some highlights of the questions this book poses, the most important quotes (for me), and ideas to try inspired by the author.


  • “How do you help students create good responses to one another’s texts so that writers feel both honored to have shared their work and as if they are getting substantive feedback…?” (pp. 133)
  • “What are you passionate about and how do these interests fit with our big questions?” (pp. 21)
  • “How many digital stories do I need to create before I feel competent enough to lead my students in the process?” (pp. 74)
  • “Do they [your students] call instant messaging, text messaging, and blogging “writing”? (pp.129)
  • “What are we assessing exactly? The number of slides? Fonts? Colors used?” (pp. 104)
  • “What elements of genre or principles of good writing are common across all texts, print and digital?” (pp.131)
  • “How, then, might we enhance the types of talk that writers do by incorporating digital writing tools into our pedagogy?” (pp. 37)
  • “How does writing with a computer change or challenge your notion of what a text is?” (pp.131)


  • “digital response allows you tine to pause and reflect on each student’s needs.” (pp. 36)
  • “writers often talk in order to rehearse the language and content that will go into what they write, and conversation often provides an impetus or occasion for writing.” (pp. 36)
  • “we may see them [students] as digital natives, yet they may not have the skills and abilities to create and critique all the kinds of digital media that they consume.” (pp. 129)
  • “emphasis can be contrasted to a writing workshop where the focus is very much on writers rather than on the process that leads to finished pieces.” (pp. 7)
  • “One mindset approaches the contemporary world as being much the same now as it has been in the past, only a bit more “technologized”… The other mindset sees the world as having changed very significantly from how it was, necessitating a different approach from the one used in the past…” (pp.9)
  • “a final portfolio is just as much a formative assessment of the writer as it is a summative assessment of the writing itself.”(pp. 106)


  • Really Simple Syndication (RSS) lets you subscribe to different content you want to see (from different websites, wikis, blogs, etc.) and lets you see all of the content on one updated page. (This is similar to following different news/personal/music pages on Facebook, and having updates from those pages all on your news feed.)
    • I haven’t has the time to learn to create one, but I have explored RSS feeds that other people have created. Simply type “[subject] RSS feed” into a search engine, and you end up with webpages that have links to multiple RSS feeds based on sub-subjects or links to an RSS feed itself. For example, I searched for “Educator RSS feed” and the first page to pop-up is  
      • On this page is a list of topics that deal with education. Click on the topic, and you end up on the RSS feed for that topic. On the feed directory I clicked on the “Florida” feed and ended up here: This RSS feed lists news articles based on current events dealing with Education/Teaching in Florida, and is updated automatically so you can have the current Florida news immediately all on one page.
    • RSS feeds are a great way to keep students reading other blogs and websites based on their interests
  • Digital Portfolios (blogfolios)- Students keep all of their best work archived on one blog and can assess it year after year to add to, change, and assess their work in the future. For a simple ‘blogfolio’, create a separate blog, and use each page to display one example/work. On the front page can be a brief summary of the person who created the blogfolio, and links to each page with a short description of the work.
  • Peer response: Bless, Address, or Press. For students that are shy about how people will comment on their blog or other online media, they can ask for a specific type of feedback. (For example, at the end of the blog the author can write, “Please bless the work”)
    • Bless- Feedback will be positive and highlight the best parts of the work.
    • Address- Feedback will address specific questions that the creator poses about the work.
    • Press- Feedback for someone who is willing to accept any critiques.

For more resources from the author, check out his website made for the book:

What are some questions, quotes, or ideas you’ve found about using technology in the classroom? Share your resources and thoughts below!




4 thoughts on “The Digital Writing Workshop: Questions, Quotes, and Ideas

  1. I really like the quote, “a final portfolio is just as much a formative assessment of the writer as it is a summative assessment of the writing itself.”(pp. 106) I think that this is very true and it’s something that I would consider using in my classroom. I have seen it done before and it’s very effective for the students so they can see how they have and/or haven’t progressed through the school year.


  2. Thank you JP for the extensive inside look into Troy Hicks’ book. You pulled a variety of excellent points. I enjoyed reading about how to incorporate RSS for students to also include blogging and potentially reading and writing with these mediums. I believe as future teachers, we can connect student interests and relevancy to all assignments and coursework. If not, then what are our future students really working towards?

    I also enjoyed reading further on blogfolios due to their accessibility and publishing aspects. Looking back on college work and implemented software, I only wish course assignments could have and presently be requested to store in this modern technological way.

    In regards to Peer Response from the book, I am hesitant on allowing the writer to only specify the type of criteria they desire. How will these writers grow if they only receive the positive parts of their writing, as opposed to the areas that could be furthered developed upon. I did not read the book and may need more information to fully understand this topic. I can understand for regular feedback on a social blog for students to request specific feedback. I believe overall, an effective solution for students to potentially refrain from specifying requests from blog readers would be to educate all students on how to effectively and critically respond to other writers in a respectful and appropriate manner; thus, instilling this student expectation for all academic work and real-world relevancy.

    Thank you for your post!



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