My Grade one class has been writing letters back and forth with their Grade 7/8 partners at the middle school over the course of the year. What impressed me was that with each letter, the quality of their writing was their personal best up to that point in time. “In fact, in looking at all this composing, we might say that one of the biggest changes is the role of audience: writers are everywhere, yes, but so too are audiences,…” (Yancey, 2009, p. 5). Having an authentic audience was essential to the writing.
One of the grade one outcomes is for students to be able to develop printing skills. So where does technology fit in? “Thus, in evaluating what it takes to teach 21st century literacies, NCTE poll respondents tended to look beyond technology applications and see that success is found in better connecting classroom work to real-world situations that students will encounter across a lifetime.” (NCTE, 2009, p.1). As I struggle to teach the broad spectrum of literacies my student need, I am comforted by the fact that it is about all the ways we communicate, not just the digital aspects. “And at best, we can begin to make real progress toward changing the school writing experience to better prepare students for a future that is sure to include ever-more complex tools and purposes for writing.” (NCTE, 2009, p.4). At the grade one level, using a pencil can be complex!
”What everyone seems to agree upon, however, is that the ability to communicate clearly and understand complex messages is more important than ever to students’ future success.” (NCTE, 2009, p.1). My students contributed to a community blog set up by the town of Canmore as a forum for citizens to contribute their ideas for converting the old pool space. An example of a comment posted by my grade one class is from group #4:
“I think the gym would be a good idea because the little kids and the Grandma’s and Grandpa’s could watch the babies upstairs and the big kids (and the teenagers too) could do the foam pit. But I don’t think the movie theatre would be a good idea because it is not healthy. I think maybe there could be a small trampoline. There should be a baby gym and exercise room for Grandma’s and Grandpa’s.” (2013).
As I read and think about writing in the 21st century and reflect on what my students are learning in Grade One, I am conscious of the fact that the definition of writing is changing. Jason Ohler says “value reading and writing now more than ever.” (2009, para. 13). The essential takeaway for me is the quality of the message that is being passed on.
Group #4, (2013 April 12). Engage Canmore. Retrieved from http://www.engagecanmore.ca/consolidated-proposal-gymnastics-based-multi-use/#comments
National Council of Teachers of English (2009). Writing between the lines and everywhere else. Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Press/WritingbetweentheLinesFinal.pdf
Ohler, J. (2009) Orchestrating the media collage. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar09/vol66/num06/Orchestrating-the-Media-Collage.aspx
Yancey, K. (2009). A call to support 21st century writing. Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Press/Yancey_final.pdf