Lesson 2.3: How can digital writing support standards for 21st century learners?


Return to Kim Kather's Portfolio Page | Kim Kather's Mini-Course | Unit 2: Overview

<<<Previous Lesson (2.2) ||| Next Lesson (2.4)>>>



  • To identify correlations between 21st century skills and digital writing.

Activate Prior Knowledge

Abubble2.png What skills are unique to 21st century learners? How do you think digital writing projects help students develop these skills?


According to the NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment, "As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the 21st century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies."

Consider the goals of the framework I have highlighted below. Think about your own students, instructional units, and curriculum as you read through the questions.

* How would you answer each one for your own school and classroom? *

Screen Shot 2020-11-19 at 7.41.27 PM.png

Screen Shot 2020-11-19 at 7.37.05 PM.png


A majority of the texts students will interact with in the world will be on the Internet, and it is likely that interaction with web technologies will be a significant component of almost every profession. We do a disservice to our students when we refuse to embrace relevant changes in society and how those changes impact literacy.

As ELA teachers in particular, it can be difficult to let go of the notion that our students must be able to write text-based papers, essays, stories, arguments, and research reports. While I am not proposing that writing assignments like these no longer have value, I am asserting that it's time to enhance our traditional literacy instruction with new media skills. The literacies that are valued and relevant in the world today-that will be crucial to our students' success in the future-are ever-changing and different from when we were in school and maybe even from when we started teaching.


This quote from Elizabeth Thoman and Tessa Jolls explains it perfectly:

“The convergence of media and technology in a global culture is changing the way we learn about the world and challenging the very foundations of education. No longer is it enough to be able to read the printed word; children, youth, and adults, too, need the ability to both critically interpret the powerful images of a multimedia culture and express themselves in multiple media forms." (Media Literacy: A National Priority for a Changing World)

And way back in 1982, a UNESCO report stated:

“We must prepare young people for living in a world of powerful images, words and sounds.”

The research has been clear for decades, and it indicates that our educational practices have not yet shifted dynamically enough. So how will you teach your students to critically interpret the "powerful images of a multimedia culture" and "express themselves in multiple media forms"? I hope you are seeing the potential of digital writing projects to engage students in these essential 21st century skills.

Deepen Your Understanding


Now that you have completed lesson 3, revisit your understanding of the learning target. Consider what new understandings you now have, and develop your initial understandings based on the lesson materials.

What are the essential skills for 21st century learners? How can digital writing projects help students develop these skills?

References and Resources

Thoman, E., & Jolls, T. (2004). Media literacy—A national priority for a changing world. American Behavioral Scientist, 48(1), 18-29.

                                  Start Lesson (2.4)>>>