Young writers and technology

A study from Britain by The National Literacy Trust looked at young writers and technology. It’s worth a reading.

One of the findings that stuck with me — the idea (again) that writing outside of school is more meaningful to many young people than the writing we are doing in school. How engaged are they?

Young people are ambivalent about their enjoyment of writing. 45% of young people surveyed said that they enjoy writing. However, enjoyment of writing is related to the type of writing being done. When young people were asked to rate their enjoyment of writing for family/friends and their enjoyment of writing for school separately, some differences emerged. Young people enjoyed writing for family/friends more than they enjoyed writing for school, with over two-thirds of young people enjoying writing for family/friends and only half enjoying writing for schoolwork. Most young people agree that they enjoy writing more when they can choose the topic (79%).

You can access the whole report or just the executive summary.

It does seem that we should be doing more inquiry-based research around the questions of students, writing and technology. But how? And what questions do we ask? How do we move forward to review whether technological tools can improve writing? I need some guidance here, if you have any thoughts on the matter. (Because, our Western Massachusetts Writing Project site is considering a research endeavor on these very issues).

Here, the study’s objectives were: to explore how much young people enjoy writing, what type of writing they engage in, how good at writing they think they are, what they think about writing and what the role of technology is in young people’s writing. This is all fine, but it is subjective, isn’t it? It’s opinion of the students and perceptions, not real data.

Peace (in the question),

  1. Part of our Writer’s Workshop instruction is the “read aloud to the class” part. Your reflection today reminds me that there are pieces of student writing that are not meant for the “general delivery” audience. Since writing with the audience in mind is part of the process, I need to think about sharing this aspect a bit differently. I DO want them to read aloud and get the feedback, but now I can better understand that it isn’t necessary to share it every time and that students and their work can be respected in yet another way.

  2. I all my years in teaching writing with kids I always struggled to find real audiences for students to write. Audience makes all the difference for getting quality writing from kids. Technology ads such a new layer with social media and the ease of publishing to a real audience. I miss being in the trenches with kids and teaching and learning. I think we still have a lot to learn about how we use technology (including all the logistics) of using these 21st century tools in our classrooms. The shift in schools is not happening fast enough.

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