As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, two studies on writing have reached a similar conclusion: students are writing much more outside of class and are much more vested in what they're writing outside of class than they are in their academic writing.
I don't think there is a single teacher out there who participates or observes the power of technology that doesn't already inherently know this. I also don't think there is a teacher out there who has seen students pass notes, keep journals or heard an amazing (unassigned) poem who doesn't know this. My question is what are we going to DO about it?
The Stanford Study of Writing is very interesting - both for the content as well as how it has been made available on the web. Unlike traditional academic writing that comes to us in reams of paper (my own bias - sorry!) this site is chunked accordingly and full of hyperlinks and graphics. Very compelling graphics! Very, very compelling graphics!
I wonder what a similar study of American high schools might yield? Of middle schools? Of elementary schools?
The NCTE paper on Writing in the 21st Century recognizes the challenges and opportunities we face as "people write as never before:"
1. developing new models of writing
2. designing a new curriculum supporting those models
3. creating models for teaching that curriculum
I am the first to admit that I don't know where to begin with this - except to think about how my own writing has changed over the past few years, reflect on my success and my struggles and to begin to integrate that into my work with teachers. But that is me - outside of the classroom. I am wondering how teachers are beginning, how administrators are beginning, how students are beginning.
So - what are we going to do about it?