Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Writing in the 21st Century. A Report from the National Council of Teachers of English.

Yancey, Kathleen Blake. (2009). Writing in the 21st Century. A Report from the National Council of Teachers of English. Urbana, IL. National Council of Teachers of English. Retrieved April 7, 2010, from http://www.ncte.org

Summary: Through a thoughtful look at writing throughout history and a glimpse at what might be, Yancey discusses the opportunities that we as teachers have at developing the art of writing for the future. She narrows the focus down to three challenges/opportunities: “developing new methods of composing, designing new curriculum supporting those models, and creating new pedagogies enacting that curriculum.”(8) She recognizes that students write now more as a means to “participate” via an “extracurricular social co-apprenticeship” using the web, chat rooms, social networking sites, etc… and are therefore coming to us with a greater knowledge of how to compose, organize, and write with an audience in mind. Her hope is that this energy for writing can be channeled for more serious types of writing.(6) As literacy teachers, we can include more writing for the public- the most important audience. We can recognize that students no longer work in isolation, when they can go online and help each other through difficult readings, publish their work to the outside world, receive feedback from the general public, and come out with stronger understandings than before. It is our task to also teach students to “sift thoughtfully through increasing amounts of information” on the internet, and to be able to “distinguish between rich resources and the online collection of surface facts, misinformation, and inexcusable lies that masquerade as the truth.” (8) Yancey is hoping that as teachers of English, we will go forth to “research and articulate new composition.” (1)

Evaluation/ Reflection: There is no doubt that writing is changing in front of our eyes. Students text faster than they talk, IM instead of call, and Facebook rather than email. (See, Facebook is now a noun and a verb!) Their writing is also more public than ever before. We do need to channel that energy to promote the art of writing, foster the love of written communication, and teach them to express themselves in an articulate way. I think that we have a great opportunity to capture their attention and create a generation of writers in a way that was never possible before. I was also struck by the notion that we, as literacy teachers, do have another very important task that I hadn’t really considered before; we have to teach students how to look and think critically at information they get from the web.

Text Sources:

Lenhart, Amanda, Susan Arafeh, Aaron Smith, And Alexandra MacGill. “Writing, Technology, and Teens.” Pew Internet and American Life Project Report. 28 Apr. 2008. 12 Jan. 2009, http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/247/report_display.asp.

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