What I believe writing instruction is in a digital world.
March 15, 2018
My belief about writing is that it is one of the skills that students learn in school and never stop developing throughout their life, academics and careers. With that said, being a good writer can get you far in life and without that literacy skill one is bound to struggle. Unlike many math skills that people create memes about, writing is useful to everyday life from writing a post in only 145 characters on Twitter to applying for a job. People in today’s society employ their writing skills for a variety of different purposes. In some cases, this makes writing one of the most important skills we can teach to students, which is possibly why so many teachers struggle with this. According to a recent Pew Internet and American Life survey, “88% of parents with a high school degree or less say that writing is more important in today’s world, compared with 80% of parents with at least some college experience”.
As an elementary school teacher, I struggle with writing instruction and engaging my students in the writing process. My students are barely learning to read and when I start to ask for independent writing, panic sets in. Because reading and writing are so interconnected, students who are good readers have an easier time than those who are struggling to read. Let’s face it, there are plenty of first graders who aren’t all the way ready to make that leap which leads to frustrations for the teacher and the student.
Writing instruction is hard and I would expect that it always has been, I make this assumption because writing instruction has not evolved at the pace as society has. Traditionally, teachers model exemplary writing for our students with which makes the bar hard to meet for many students. Today, common core state standards focus around three genres; narratives, informative and argumentative. I do believe these genres are important but I do believe the elements of these genres can be explored through digital media.
As a teacher who recently graduated college in the last five years, I have a problem with the perspective that teachers are “digital immigrants” and our students are “digital natives”. Personally, I have had access to a computer since I was in Elementary school and although I am not a “digital native” I have been present through the evolution of technology which doesn’t exactly make me an “immigrant” either. The point that I am trying to make is that not all teachers are resistant to the media literacy movement. I believe that this lens of instruction opens doors in the classroom to better meet the needs of your students. Additionally, I believe that the elements of digital writing; website design, audio, presentations and video are just as important as the traditional elements. In some cases, one might say they are more beneficial in today’s society. With that said I believe it is the job of teachers to facilitate this kind of learning and enter the classroom without any assumptions about what technology skills students have. Not every student is going to have the same experiences and knowledge base. The only way to meet the digital literacy instructional needs of your classroom is to conduct a needs assessment of your classes experiences and skills when it comes to technology. The teacher will not always be the expert when it comes to the latest digital fad or platform but a teacher who wants their students to be successful academically and in life will continue to learn and create an environment for learning that values the expertise of the students in regard to technology. The writing process should be collaborative between student-student, teacher-student, student-web/online platforms. If you are a teacher who is ready to dive into digital writing instruction I have included a link that has great ideas for crafting digital writing pieces. Check it out!