Building Online Communities for Youth


The four participants for this K12 Online Conference presentation, Paul Allison, Lee Baber, Susan Ettenheim and Chris Sloan host a blog, webcast, and podcast in the Worldbridges community. We also manage two thriving youth communities called Personal Learning Space and Youthvoices. Our own professional development webcast/podcast is called Teachers Teaching Teachers, Teachers Teaching Teachers at EdTechTalk. Below is a brief description of our work together:

Not long ago a colleague in the National Writing Project wrote to several teachers she is consulting with: “Just to let everyone know, the Wednesday evening Teachers Teaching Teachers sessions are amazing and definitely a fast track into some timely PD and community building!”

We hope this is true for a growing number of teachers. We like to think that it’s our perspectives as reglular classroom teachers that makes our webcast special. The main participants on the blog, podcast, and webcast are K-13 teachers who enjoy telling “new stories” about their classrooms. Our favorite question: “Can you tell us a story about that? Something that happened recently in your classroom?” Our motto: “Keep it real!”


Toward the beginning of 2006, a few of us in New York City began to meet via Skype. In the spring of 2006 we began webcasting with the help of Jeff Lebow and Dave Cormier of Worldbridges . Every Wednesday evening at 9:00 EST (Americas) we get together and talk about our teaching. These conversations are archived as a podcast on this blog. Together we are searching for the most effective practices in technology, studying research, and improving our knowledge of new media by using it oursleves. We have two purposes: developing teacher knowledge and leadership in our own schools and districts and putting this knowledge and leadership to work to improve student online reading and writing through the use of blogs, wikis, podcasts and webcasts.

Paul Allison] , [ Weblogs & Wikis & Feeds, Oh My!] ] has been been teaching ever since he graduated from [ Hunter College, CUNY] in 1983. After a few years in the desert (Utah), and a couple of years at the High School of Art and Design, NYC, he had a wonderful dozen years at University Heights Secondary School, Bronx, NY, where hPaule learned that doing school better didn’t have to be the same-old, with more effort. After that, Paul worked with English Language Learners at the International High School in Queens for three years.

After 9/11, there was a lot of talk about doing meaningful work. At the same time, Paul was finding himself being seduced by new forms of literacy on the Internet. An opportunity to become a “studio teacher” of technology at [ East Side Community High School, NYC] presented itself in the Summer of 2002, and Paul has been at ESCHS ever since.

Another community that Paul is a part of is the [ New York City Writing Project]. He was a participant in the NYCWP’s Summer Invitational in 1985, and he has worked for the NYCWP in various ways ever since. Currently, with Felicia George, Paul is the NYC Technology Liaison for the National Writing Project.<br /> _

Lee Baber -, is a professional musician, audio engineer, artist and certified art teacher and technology teacher. She has won numerous Innovative Grant Awards for technology in education as well as scholarships and awards for her watercolors and music. Lee Ann recently became a Certified Internet Webmaster in the state of Virginia and enjoys pushing the limit with all the newest multimedia, CMS and social networking technology. K12 Online Conference and VDOE Educational Technology Leadership Conference are just two of the groups for which she has presented sharing ideas and expertise. Currently, Lee is teaching Computer Technology (8th Gd) in Rockingham County School System and developing new open-source resources for her county and her team at Worldbridges .

Last year, Lee and [ Dave Cormier] started a middle school elgg project called [ Personal Learning Space] which included a student webcast called [ SpaceCast] with Barbara Dieu from Brazil and other participants. Now, since joining forces with Paul, Susan, Teb and Richard, the project has grown into a thriving student community with the addition of a high school elgg, [ Youth Voices] and a rich media [http://http// mapping project] . “Our group blog and weekly meeting provide me with inspiration from our members and guests, incredible direction for writing projects and lesson plans, and a place to reflect, grow, collaborate and connect with versatile and talented professionals.” Lee also manages Youthbridges, Musicbridges, NewMediaGuides ( ). Lee's Blog

Susan Ettenheim -] ] has always been involved with the sharing of information from her first work days as a page in the Children’s Room at the local public library to work at Friends Seminary in the Media Center and then in the Internet and cable television industry managing website development and community applications. After ten years of involvement with technology initiatives in Community School District 2 it was time to join the team.

Susan earned a BA cum laude from [ Mount Holyoke College] studying Art, Mathematics and Spanish Literature, a MA in Media Studies from the [ New School University] and a MS in Education at [ Bank Street College of Education] in a joint program with [ Parsons School of Design] . She exhibited paintings and prints in galleries throughout the country and received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Painting. Her work is included in collections at The Library of Congress and The Smithsonian Museum and as well as private collections.

Currently, Susan is having a lot of fun and finding great satisfaction teaching at [ Eleanor Roosevelt High School], M416 in New York City. Teb and Paul and the other teachers at the New York City Writing Project have been a great source of sharing and learning, a special precious time to get together and think through the adventures and experiences of the week. Her students challenge her and challenge themselves to push technology use to the next level, wherever that may take all of us.<br />

Chris Sloan - has been teaching secondary English and media at Judge Memorial in Salt Lake City, Utah since 1986. He currently teaches AP English Language and Composition, freshmen composition, Photography, and New Media. He advises the school newspaper, Internet TV, and student podcasts; he is also the webmaster for the school's web site, [ ] He was the technology liaison for the Utah Writing Project until 2006 and has conducted various workshops for both the UWP and the National Writing Project. From 1998-2005 he was the Utah state director for the Journalism Education Association.

In his spare time, he coaches youth sports, and enjoys photography and playing music with his friends. He has written articles that have appeared in publications like Sports Illustrated for Kids, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Journal of Reading, the Intermountain Catholic, the Utah English Journal, and Black Coffee magazine. He has also presented workshops for the Journalism Education Association, the Utah Writers and Photographers Clinic, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Utah Council of Teachers of English, and the International Reading Association. He has a B.A. from Carroll College in Helena, Montana and a M.Ed. from the University of Utah. As an undergraduate he also attended University-College in Galway, Ireland. He has been designated a Master Journalism Educator by the JEA, and also serves on their Certification Committee.