Continuing the Digital Literacy Conversation

I was up early one morning this week  beginning to write the blog post below when I got a notification that Troy Hicks and Kristin Ziemke posted a response to Nancie Atwell's blog in our Facebook group Digital Literacy Workshop K-6.    I've had a few days to think about both articles and decide  how I wanted to continue with this blog post.  I have to agree with Troy and Kristen that the digital writing workshop in the upper elementary grades is so much more than using a computer as a word processor.  I've written many times about my fourth grade students making purposeful decisions about their digital compositions and articulating those decisions.  When using technology in thoughtful and authentic ways, our students are given one more avenue for both consuming and producing text.  In a true digital workshop, students have choice in how they read, respond, and write.  Sometimes they choose traditional tools, at other times they chose digital tools.  It depends on their purpose and comfort level.  In addition, the ability to receive feedback from others outside the classroom walls is powerful.  Connecting with others offers opportunities to share ideas, reflect, and consider new ideas.  While I do not have much experience in using technology with primary students, I am quickly learning in my new position as a literacy coach.  The teachers in my building are at the point that they want to incorporate digital reading and writing authentically into their workshops.  We are working together to envision and create opportunities for our youngest learners.

I am grateful to Troy and Kristin for sharing their thinking and for starting a conversation.  As educators, it is important that we consider diverse ideas and add our own voices.

Below you will find the blog post I began on Wednesday.  I hope that you will add your voice to the conversation by leaving a comment.

What We Learn About Writing and Writers from Blogging

People ask me if I miss being in the classroom.  Without a doubt, I do.  I miss reading about new ideas and trying them out in my room.  I miss the freedom and flexibility of arranging my schedule to accommodate trying out these ideas.  And I miss having 24 or so students that I know deeply as readers, writers, researchers, and mathematicians.

However, on the positive side, I get to work with lots of different people and kids at my school.  That means there are more opportunities for conversations about reading and writing and my favorite do we authentically weave digital reading and writing into our workshops.  It's an exciting time for me right now at Scioto Darby.  Teachers are looking for ways for their students to write for an audience that extends beyond their classroom walls.  I am surrounded by people who want to learn and are excited about the opportunities afforded by digital reading and writing.  These experiences and conversations give me time to reflect on what I know about reading and writing and help me refine my instruction.  I am continually learning through this whole process.

Most recently, I've been able to get into some first grade classrooms to get them started with blogging.  This week, I had the opportunity to visit Mrs. Shell's room.  As I always do when beginning a new type of writing, I share some mentor texts.  For that day's lesson, I shared this blog from 6 year-old Em.

Together, we wrote what we noticed and we came up with the following list:

  • Writers can blog about different things.
  • Writers write about what is interesting to them.
  • Writers choose a catchy title to grab their reader's attention.
  • The words tell a story.
  • The picture matches the words.
  • Writers can have a conversation through comments with their readers.
  • Writers can share their writing with people far away.
As you can see from this list, there is some deep thinking going on with these 6 year-olds.  I, for one, am excited to watch them and their teacher as they begin to use technology in other authentic ways within their day.

Thank you to Margaret Simon from Reflections on the Teche for hosting DigiLit Sunday.  Please visit her site to read other posts about this topic and other ways teachers are using technology in authentic ways.  


  1. Julie,
    I'm so excited to hear your first graders at your school are blogging. They have captured many things writers consider when writing a blog. I look forward to following their digital journey.


  2. I can't imagine leaving the classroom. I've had friends do it and there is always a period of thinking, "What was I thinking?" I'm glad you are finding your way and getting satisfying results.

    The important conversation continues. I had a new student this year. In 6th grade and he did not know where the apostrophe was on the keyboard. I did not think this happened anymore. He has caught on quickly and is quite a prolific blogger now. I love that you are starting these young ones with blogging. They learn so much through this process.

  3. How exciting that you are embracing your new role as literacy coach and are having this conversation with a larger circle of teachers and students. They're lucky to have you working with them! I started blogging with my 5th and 6th graders this year, and it's been wonderful. I'm thankful that my students and I have access to technology and can use it to increase our choice in how we read, write, and present. Thanks for keeping the conversation going!

  4. Thanks, Julie, for sharing this incredible example based on Em's blog post.

    I really appreciate the ways in which you are helping students understand both the technical aspects of blogging and, more importantly, all the implications for audience, purpose, and situation.

    What a smart way to help students study genre while also sharing their writing with the world.


  5. Even though I'm not in the classroom, I'm sharing SOL opportunities for students with teachers in our district. Now if we could just get our district to let us use a platform that reaches beyond our borders.

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