Sunday, March 5, 2023

A Lesson in Writing Myths

The Hero's Journey is a free writing template from Read Write Think that I originally reviewed ten years ago. Like all of the RWT templates it was Flash-based. It has since been relaunched to run on HTML5 in any web browser. 

The Hero's Journey is an online writing activity produced by Read Write Think. The Hero's Journey is an interactive resource that teaches students about the key elements required in developing a myth about a heroic character. The lessons are rooted in stories like The Odyssey. After reading about the elements required in a good hero story students can create their own stories by using the template provided by Read Write Think. Completed stories must printed in order to be saved.

Applications for Education
Read Write Think recommends The Hero's Journey for students in grades 9 through 12 and provides lessons plans for those grades. I looked at the lesson plans and I think that they could be used with middle school students too.

Paper Notebooks Don't Have New Browser Windows

Last week I was a guest on the International Teacher Podcast (episode to be released soon). In the course of the conversation the topic of notebooks came up and I mentioned the collection of notebooks that I have on the shelves in my office. That conversation reminded me of a blog post that I wrote nearly nine years ago. The content of that post is copied below. 

Paper Doesn't Have a New Browser Window

One of the things that I mention in my keynote Leading Students In a Hyper-connected World is the need to teach students the value of occasionally disconnecting from the web to focus on the completion of a task. A few years ago I heard Chris Brogan sum this up nicely by saying "paper doesn't have a new browser window." In other words, doing something on paper creates a good obstacle to distracting yourself by checking Facebook, email, or doing some other non-essential task.

Chris made his comment in the context of planning and task management. I apply that comment to the process of brainstorming and or reflecting. Taking the time to read a book, to write some ideas on paper, or to simply go for a walk give out brains time to wonder and develop new-to-us ideas without the distraction of digital input. My best stretches of blogging always come after I have taken a couple of hours to brainstorm a week or more worth of blog post topics.

Don't get me wrong, I love some of the digital brainstorming and project management tools that we have available to us. There is a time for using those, but there is also a time for not using digital tools too. As our students grow up in a hyper-connected world, it is will be increasingly important to take the time to teach them when being connected might not be the best choice.

In Case You're Curious...

It has been a few years since I've written a post like this one. But since there has been a bit of an uptick in new followers lately, I think it's time to share a bit about myself so that you know who is actually writing what you see here on

16 Years!

I started blogging back in 2007. I initially did it to fulfill an assignment from a grant-funded program that my school was involved in. I found that blogging was fun. Eventually, I noticed people were reading what I was writing. 16 years later I'm still doing it. 

Social Studies, Computer Science, and More!

Over the last 20 years I've taught high school social studies, language arts, and computer science. In the extracurricular realm, I've been a middle school basketball coach and I've been an advisor for an outdoor adventure club. 

Professional Development

Today, I spend most of my working hours leading professional development workshops, teaching online PD courses, and researching the best ways to use educational technology in K-12 schools. From time-to-time I give keynotes at conferences. I've done that in almost every state in the United States, most Canadian provinces, and a handful of other places around the world. 

What Else?

I live in Maine with my little family. We have two daughters (ages five and six), a dog, a cat, and an old farmhouse that is constantly in need of maintenance. We enjoy skiing (I teach lessons on the weekend), riding bikes, and generally playing outside as much as possible when we're not baking cookies. 

Follow Me

Besides this blog I also maintain a weekly newsletter called the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter

My YouTube channel now has 45,000 subscribers. 

I occasionally write on Ed Tech Fitness. On it you'll find things like lessons from skiing and a review of non-alcoholic beer

I'm still on Twitter

I record my bike riding, skiing, and running on Strava

LinkedIn generally annoys me, but I'm on it

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