Tool Belt 1.0

No matter what new tool a carpenter may have at his disposal, he still must master the skills needed to build a house. Those tools may change the way he does his job but he still must learn the basic skills of carpentry.


Learning in the 21st century is no different. Our students must learn many of the same skills they had to learn prior to the digital age.


No matter the tool, our students must master how to write. But wait, isn’t this a site that supports technology? Yes. While our students must master skills that were taught with pen and paper, if we are to reach our students in 2009 we must update our tool belt.

Writing is essential to a students success. But we are now in an connected world and how we teach our student to write is just as important as what we teach our students to write. I read Kathleen Blake Yancey’s “Writing in the 21st Century” and it only validates this fact. She states that,

“we are writing to share, yes; to encourage dialogue, perhaps; but mostly, I think, to participate”

Today, social media plays a vital role in developing these ideas. Whether you like it or not, how we write is shifting. The media as well as our students are interacting and writing online. As more and more people live in an connected world, the way they communicate is evolving. Pew Research Center states that “1 in 5 online adults 18 to 24 have … used Twitter“. If we ignore that fact and try to teach in an unconnected world our students will lose interest.


Yancy goes on to say,

“21st century writing marks a new era in literacy, a period we might call the Age of Composition, a period where composers become composer not through direct and formal instruction alone (if at all), but rather through what we might call an extra curricular social co-apprenticeship.”

Writing has never been more important but we must recognize this cultural shift. Educators must develop a new tool belt that supports the interaction and connectivity that our students now thrive upon. Our students text, comment, and tweet. Our job is to use the tools that they are familiar with to create an environment that develops the literacy skills Yancy mentions while building upon our students’ communal interactions via social media.


In our connected world where everyone is just a click away, social media tools like Twitter, Blogs and Facebook will be essential in order to develop the writing skills our students need while keeping it relevant.


Photo Credit: Robyn00

Follow David Bill on Twitter @dcinc66 or on his blog

David Bill

Design Strategist at db