Paul Barnwell: Kentucky Collaborations

May 14th, 2014 | By | Category: BLTN Teachers, Bringing it Back, Issue, Spring 2014


-by Paul Barnwell
English and Digital Media Teacher
Fern Creek Traditional High School, Louisville, KY
M.A. 2013, funded by the C. E. and S. Foundation

Attending the Bread Loaf School of English and participating in BLTN is a pedagogical journey not likely to be forgotten.  In this journal last year, I wrote about why a person should attend Bread Loaf and join BLTN. Honing writing skills, collaborating with dynamic educators, and positively impacting students topped the list.

I graduated from BLSE in Oxford last summer, but I’m still connected to BLTN—and intend to remain connected—as long as I’m an educator. The Bread Loaf/BLTN impact continues to shape me even after graduation.

Honing Writing Skills

Since Oxford, I’ve had a productive year writing personally and professionally.  I blog about culture, technology, and education at Mindful Stew. I also write for Center for Teaching Quality at Bluegrass Dispatches and guest blog for Bread Loaf work has fueled my passion for sharing ideas. It’s no coincidence that my professional writing began shortly after my first Bread Loaf summer in Asheville in 2007. The intensive writing instruction, collaboration, and feedback proved to be the catalyst for me to go public with my writing.

Collaborating with Dynamic Educators…and Students

Fern Creek High School in Louisville has been humming with BLTN energized activity even though my teaching schedule this year doesn’t officially include co-teaching or collaboration with fellow BLTN member Brent Peters and honorary member Joe Franzen. We still meet regularly to devise opportunities to connect students more deeply to learning focused on critical thinking, community, and real-world applications.

 I assist my two colleagues with the Food Literacy /Navajo Kentuckians project with consistent digital and social media support. For example, Mr. Peters and students Irvin and Courtney  recently returned from presenting at the National Indian Health Board’s National Tribal Public Health Summit in Billings, Montana. I worked with Irvin to digitize his presentation by using screenshot technology to post to the Navajo Kentuckians blog. Courtney has drafted a post, which I’m helping her format for the blog. The Navajo Nation and Fern Creek partnership remains strong due to collaboration with Bread Loafers in Kentucky and beyond.

Positively Impacting Students

All members of the original Navajo Kentuckians cohort from last year, who traveled to the Navajo Nation in February 2013, are college bound. This is a testament to the individual students, the power of the Navajo Kentuckians project, and the support of BLTN. My initial experience in Dixie Goswami’s Emerging Digital Literacies course has continued to encourage curriculum designed for authentic and engaging student learning experiences. This year marked my first offering of a Digital and Social Media Literacies course at Fern Creek.

 The spirit of Bread Loaf is tempting me to return to the Vermont mountains this year, but for the first time in seven years, I won’t be enrolled in classes. The meaningful work, however, will continue in myriad ways, and I look forward to connecting with current and former BLTN members as I continue my path as a public school educator.

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