WordPlace: An Online Writing Space for Resilient Youth

Session Description
We rarely marvel at connecting online in 2020. Clicking a “like” buttons is easy. How do we create spaces for more meaningful connection? This presentation describes an approach using off-the-shelf web tools and student-centered design for personal sharing between grade 10-12 students deemed at risk of not graduating. Wordplace (https://wordplace.ca) was developed for connecting three urban schools in a mid-sized Canadian city.

Students in Prairie South School Division’s three graduation support programs enrolled in a common course. Previously, students met curricular outcomes and fostered a sense of belonging by corresponding with postcards. The stories shared were private and the process was often cumbersome for teachers. Tracking was challenging and the flow untimely. By publishing online, barriers were removed for students sharing stories, thus changing the nature of their writing. Student voices became visible.

Student safety, autonomy, and a sense of belonging were at the forefront of the project. Students, who had no experience found unanticipated delight in using a shared site. WordPlace created a dialogue about writing. In the first two months, the site generated hundreds of student-to-student comments.

Contributing to WordPlace fosters different levels of resilience for its participants. As major curricular linked themes like the Resiliency Project emerged, WordPlace became a way for students to learn about themselves.

Alan Levine
Alan Levine, CogDogBlog
Alan Levine explores the potential of new technologies for education. He hoisted a web server on the Maricopa Community Colleges network in 1993 and has not left the web since. Levine has brought innovative ideas to his work with the New Media Consortium and the University of Mary Washington, and now is an independent consultant (http://cog.dog). Since 2003 Alan has shared his ideas and discoveries at CogDogBlog.com and is often making noise on twitter via @cogdog. Alan works from home in Mortlach, Saskatchewan where his current interests include digital storytelling, photography, bending WordPress to his whims, and randomly dipping into and sharing from the infinite river of the internet. He has presented and keynoted at TCC several times since 2004. Note: He’s happily married to his co-presenter, Cori Saas.
Cori Saas
Cori Saas, Prairie South School Division, Canada
Cori Saas strives to support all students, especially resilient high school youth. Attending to stories of experience was the focus of her thesis research and is how she understands the world. Ms. Saas works as a Graduation Coach for Prairie South School Division, in Saskatchewan. Much of her work is as Student Advocate, working alongside students to fill their own pillars of belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. She also teaches first-year pre-service teachers at the University of Regina. Cori is a mom, a daughter, an adventurer, and a storyteller. She shares her thoughts at coyotechalk.com. Cori lives, teaches, and learns on Treaty 4 land. She is happily married to her co-presenter.
Session Type
Plenary Session
All Audiences

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Posted in Plenary Session.


  1. Dear Cori and Alan,
    Congratulations on your wonderful union and inspiration to us all!

    My heart went out to y ou and your fellow educators who face the loss of our young students. Your work is important and helps everyone feel connected.

    Alan has long regaled us with visions of the future from the perspective of Harry Mudd, and as a Trekkie, I cannot resist adding a blessing from one of my heroes.

    Live long and prosper! *chuckles*

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