Lesson 2.1: How can digital writing support national writing standards?


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  • To identify digital genres that align with CCLS standards for narrative, information, and argument writing.

Activate Prior Knowledge

What writing projects are you using to accomplish the standards now? How might you incorporate digital elements?


Take a moment to review the Common Core Anchor Standards for Writing (Text Types and Purposes):

Next, view each of the digital writing samples below, thinking about which writing standards they align with.


"Another gem from the National Film Board of Canada, Welcome to Pine Point is a digital storytelling example of how we explore and remember the past. It’s a multi-award winning story that combines film, writing and photographs. It was meant to be published as a book, but everyone agrees that the story is more powerful is digital form." - Simon Heyes (8 Million Stories)

Questions for Reflection:

  • Does this example fit most with narrative, information, or argument writing standards? Or is it a hybrid?
  • How has this author met the standards in non-traditional ways?
  • Which traditional writing skills are maintained, and what additional media skills are incorporated?


Sometimes as writing teachers we get stuck in a rut of thinking narrative, argument, and information writing always look a certain way. Or maybe we are just so used to teaching them in a particular way that students products continue to look similar year after year. Or perhaps we are following curriculum that dictates what students should produce in these genres, and we don't feel we have the time or freedom to veer away from that.

You may also teach narrative, argument, and information writing as three separate units throughout the school year. Genre-based study can be an effective approach to the development of strong writing skills. However, it's also important to recognize that many authentic forms of writing are actually hybrid- they combine elements of multiple genres. Digital writing often does this, and it adds multimedia elements to the mix.

As the pictured chart illustrates, the three main genres of writing can each be reinvented with different web-based media. With digital writing, students learn to "create texts that are very different from the linear, written, paper-based text that schools depend on" (Wilbur, 2010). And it isn't just about typing their work in docs rather than handwriting it.

Consider the definitions below:

Troy Hicks writes, “Having students produce only digitally convenient texts shortchanges their opportunities as digital writers.” We can think of it like writing an essay using word processing (which even I did in middle school) versus producing "a blog post that requires links to other content and images that will catch the reader's attention while also contributing to the overall meaning of the post" (Argument in the Real World, p. 11).

So I challenge you to consider new digital ways students can produce sophisticated and meaningful narrative, information, and argument writing!

Deepen Your Understanding

Now that you have completed lesson 1, revisit your understanding of the learning target. Consider what new understandings you now have, and develop your initial understandings based on the lesson materials.

How might you re-envision one or more of your current writing projects to incorporate digital elements? How might you move away from more traditional writing projects and still meet the standards in dynamic ways?

References and Resources

Hicks, T. (2013). Crafting digital writing: Composing texts across media and genres. Heinemann.

Turner, K. H., & Hicks, T. (2017). Argument in the real world: Teaching adolescents to read and write digital texts. Heinemann.

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