Slice of Life...Why Digital Writing?

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life.  Visit their blog to read other slices.

After school let out, I decided to ask my students about their experience as digital writers.  This past year, I felt like I had reached new heights with my young writers.  They were not only writing, they were making decisions that only digital writers make.  The best part, they could articulate the reasoning behind those digital moves.  The best, best part?  Every single one of my students was engaged.  Every single student had success.  Writing digitally gave my students opportunities that traditional writing did not.  They connected with others outside of our classroom walls.  While we've always written for authentic purposes and audiences, when my students shared their writing publicly, their world opened up and they felt the thrill of connecting with others who were interested in reading their writing.  In the same way, they shared their messages in a variety of ways:  blogging, google docs, website creation, presentations, etc.  It got to the point that they could decide which tool was going to help them best express themselves.

I finally had a chance to sit down and read their responses to the Google form I sent out.  I only heard from 8 out of 21 kids, but what they had to say made me happy that we had a digital writing workshop.

What stands out to me?

  • the importance of choice
  • being able to share with a wider audience besides the teacher
  • variety of ways to express creativity (not only the digital tools available, but also the ability to insert images, links and video)
  • ability to work collaboratively via Google Docs (they boy who will be typing a lot of stories this summer is working on a story with another student - both of whom would say that before last school year, writing was their least favorite thing to do)
  • level of engagement

Working alongside my young writers in a digital writing workshop has only strengthened my beliefs.

  • Having conversations around mentor texts is always important in both traditional and digital writing.
  • Kids are smart and make smart moves when we give them support and choice (I already knew that...I just had to stress it).
  • It's not about the tools, it's about the meaning.  It's important to help young writers understand the purpose of different digital tools and how those tools can help them get their meaning across to others.
  • Authentic purpose and audience is key to successful writing.
  • Time for exploring, processing, and creating is essential.

As the new school year draws nearer, I'm a little saddened that I won't have my own classroom.  I'm counting on teachers inviting me into their rooms to continue this work, because there's still so much I want to do.


  1. What a great experience your kids had! I love that they recognized what would be the most effective tool to use. I'm sure you will get lots of invitations into classes. I know I'd take advantage of you (if I was still teaching).

  2. Thank you for sharing your kids' thought about this wonderful writing experience, Julie. This was exactly how my kids felt too - it was such a rich year of writing and sharing, so worth going all out for. Now, the lucky teachers in your district will get to learn from your experience.

  3. I love the wise and thoughtful responses from your students! Digital Writing is amazing and my students loved it this past year too! I'm curious about the websites they made. What platform did you use? What did they do? Awesome post!! Thanks!

  4. This is what I call authentic research. Isn't it great when you see your beliefs about writing come to fruition? It is about the meaning. Students make meaning the same way we do, by writing with purpose and connecting to others. Thanks for sharing.

  5. There is so much in this that makes my heart sing. Choice- so critical to creating voice for writers. Writing going beyond the classroom walls and broadening the concept of audience. Reflection, from both students and yourself. The true voices of student writers. As Margaret notes in her response, this was such an authentic learning experience. There is so much to recommend here.

  6. Thank you for sharing your students' words with us. You are encouraging me to think about ways we can do more authentic writing in high school. CyberPD is helping. Your words: "It's not about the tools, it's about the meaning. It's important to help young writers understand the purpose of different digital tools and how those tools can help them get their meaning across to others," is for everyone, not just those who work with young students.


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