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Welcome to the new
Writer's Corner ®
where a community
of writers young and
old meet to discuss
writing and share
their work.

In past years, young
writers met with the
author weekly in an
online workshop
from their home or
classroom to hone
their writing skills
by writing fantasy stories.

For security reasons,
adults and kid writers
always met in
separate groups and
writing spaces. Parents
and teachers supervised

For a decade, I
worked remotely
with teachers as a
residence developing
writing projects that
cut across several
modalities of
expression: writing,
art and music.

This multimedia and
multicultural approach
to writing combined
with the vast resources
of the web allows
teachers to effectively
teach writing across
the curriculum.

In the coming years,
the faster connect
speeds, video capabilities
and enhanced social
media tools will enrich
the learning experiences
for students and open up
new creative possibilities
to teachers who integrate
electronic writing spaces
|into the classroom.



Welcome to the New Writer's Corner® -- a community of writers, young and old, collaborating together, learning together, sharing and honing their writing skills together. My name is John Ost. I am a journalist, teacher and computer consultant. I have been teaching writing online to students in a global writing center since 1994. Click on my articles on the right sidebar and learn how collaborative writing online offers teachers and students a dynamic interactive setting for improving writing skills. Click on the "Publications" link on the top menu to read more of my stories and articles.

  • The Writer's Corner is a place where writers young and old can develop their writing skills.
  • Craft stories online and work collaboratively with other writers or mentors.
  • Once your story is polished, publish your work in the Writer's Corner® Writing Center and share it with the rest of the community.
  • Topical "Writing Corners" will be created and dedicated to specific genre or writing interests.
  • Check out the Writer's Corner® news feed and features corner for tips about improving your writing.


The Evolution of the Writer's Corner

It is funny, sometimes, how opportunity surfaces in the most unlikely moments and can completely change your life.

I was asked by Wired Magazine in the early 1990’s to write a story about this new technology called the Internet and how it was used in public schools. (We are talking about communication over 2400 baud modems back then! There was no DSL, cable or any type of public high-speed access at that time.

I began my story by interviewing Patti, a wonderful elementary education computer lab teacher in Maryland. She was also part of an international online educational organization called Kidlink -- thousands of students and teachers from across the globe planting the seeds of a global education community and using the Internet to foster an intensive multicultural learning experience together.

Each weekend, Patti hosted a global online text chat with students ages 8-15. In return for the interview, she asked me to meet online with her students and talk about the writing life of a freelance journalist. I accepted her offer.

That weekend, I met her online with students from the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East and South America. After a few minutes discussing my experiences as a writer, one of the students asked me if we could write something together online. I agreed and we started writing a story together. 

As we worked together collaboratively on this text chat, I realized that I could watch them think about the writing process as they engaged in the act of writing. The teacher side of me was captivated. A simple text chat could be transformed into a teaching space and writing space.

I was hooked and that was the beginning of more than a decade of teaching writing globally with kids online and teaching teachers how to integrate the web into their curriculum. We brought together children from the Middle East, North and South America and Europe to write, draw, and share experiences in their own styles and their own languages simultaneously with English during events like the Oklahoma bombings, the Bosnia War and September 11th. most importantly, they developed a strong global bond with their peers through their writing and other creative skills.

For me, It has been amazing how a young child's question can profoundly change your life. .

Writing in the 21st Century

A Vision for a
New Writing Center

The original cold fusion driven Kids Writing Center created in the mid-1990's was designed around the writing process. Students had a writing pod where they stores their stories. They essentially stepped through a series of menus that followed the writing process from brainstorming through story writing, editing and finally publishing. Students could collaborate and discuss works-in-progress in built-in text chat. While we tried to use multi modalities of expression -- art and music as well as the written word, there were real limits to what we could do beyond the written word. Click here to see a brief 2003 flash demo of the original writing center.

Two decades later, the technological landscape is changing significantly. The modem is being replaced by high-speed networks globally. The new writing center still needs to be built on the writing process metaphor and mastering writing is still the primary goal of the Corner.

But one thing we learned in our formative days was that multiple modalities of expression truly meant that you could teach writing to kids by tapping into methods of expression beyond the written word.

Storytelling is a universal language and needs to be expressed in different forms. When students with strong writing skills work but fewer artistic or music skills collaborated with students who with musical, singing and drawing ability while lacking some basic writing skills, creating the same story in each modality not enriched the story, it enhanced the creative and writing skills of each student.

So the new writing center needs to bring together people who have the talent to integrate a more powerful multimedia-centered web into its design that will open up exciting new learning experiences and creative opportunities for writers young and old.

These tools need to be integrated on top of the text-based chat model of the original Writer's Corner. Too often, new technologies replace older technologies instead of building upon the strengths of the older technologies. Good research always lead to an interesting story so the Internet tools are important.

But ultimately, our focus is on the written word. William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well (4th ed.) once wrote, good writing begins the the selection of one good word at a time, then one good sentence at a time and finally one good paragraph at a time. Ultimately, the Writers Corner will be about learning to write a good story .

Featured Stories About Teaching Writing Online

Corner News Flash

As many of you know, I had undergone open heart surgery and had my aortic heart valve replaced.

Less than three months after the surgery, I returned to work -- albeit part time. At the end of December 2014, it will be nine years since I underwent the surgery. I appreciate the second chance. I am more selective now about my time and how I spend it. I also work harder now to insure that I have used each day as wisely and compassionately as I can.

Shortly after the surgery, we rescued Pepper from a high-kill shelter in Arkansas. Since the day she arrived, Pepper and I have walked between 2 and 3 miles per day each and every day-- no matter how severe the weather in New England. It's great for the heart but even better for reconnecting with your neighbors and community. It is probably safe to say that our neigborhood is now truly Pepper's neighborhood and I am universally known as Pepper's dad (especially by the kids in the neighborhood!)

Having a second chance certainly shapes your perspective on life.

I want to thank Dr. Lawrence Cohn and the fantastic staff at Brigham and Women Hospital Cardiology Unit for all that they have done for me. I strongly urge everyone to consider supporting the ongoing research and care that Brigham and Women Hospital and other cardiac units throughout the country provide to their patients.