What does Writing mean in the 21st century?

Writing two computers

“We want to develop the students’ writing skills.”

I’ve heard versions of that statement many times. The more I hear it, the more I realize that we have not defined writing.

Are we talking about their communication skills through writing?
Are we talking about their handwriting?
Are we talking about literary writing? (Compare these two works of literature.)
Does writing include visuals and sounds?
Does writing mean expressing ideas or correct punctuation? (Text messaging?)
Is writing an individual or a team effort?
What do we want the students to be able to write? A resume? A comparison of two cars? An analysis of a poem? A 20 page term paper? A sonnet? A business plan?
Are there types of writing that students need to do to graduate but will never use again?
Will they write using a word processor as people outside of school do? Or will they be denied the usual tools of writing in the business world?
Who will peer edit it- someone in the class, district, state, or another country?
How will we assess student writing? By using a state writing rubric in which the ideas only count as much as appropriate vocabulary?
What type of writing do students do outside of school?
What type of writing will they be expected to do once they get a job?

Before we can figure out how technology can help students to develop their writing skill, we need to define what we mean by writing. Have you and your team defined it? Does your definition prepare them for the past or their future? What does your definition look like in your classroom?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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3 Responses to “What does Writing mean in the 21st century?”


  1. 1 Mrs. Durff April 7, 2007 at 1:17 am

    Absolutely writing (as parents often define it) and composition (as educators often define it) are two entirely different animals. Writing often impedes composition. If I could just get administrators and parents to see this.,…oh the places we could go………….

  2. 2 Amita April 7, 2007 at 9:18 am

    A wonderful and impressive blog. We obeserved that you have published the feed in this blog. But there is no indication of the terms of use.

    Actually we want to put the feed in aggregated form in our network of websites, “www.chhattisgarhnews.info” is one of them. If interested, please guide us about the terms related to the feed published by you

  3. 3 hgtuttle April 8, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Mrs. Duff,
    Thanks. I agree that we, in educator, have not done a good job of explaining what “writing” means within and as you point out, without the school. The more we are on the “same page”, the more we can work together.
    H


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