National Writing Project

NCTE’s Writing Now Explores Teaching Writing in the 21st Century

Date: December 19, 2008

Summary: Technological advances, changing workplace demands, and cultural shifts have made writing more important than ever, so teachers need to help students meet the challenges of writing effectively for many purposes, according to Writing Now, a policy research brief by NCTE.


NCTE's newest policy research brief, Writing Now, explores what writing means in the twenty-first century.

Through the exploration of changes in literacy learning and teaching being pushed by new communication technologies and digital media, both NCTE and NWP have been exploring the impact on writing and writing teachers' classrooms.

Present-day readers and writers, according to NCTE's Definition of 21st Century Literacies , need to

  1. develop proficiency with the tools of technology
  2. build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  3. design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  4. manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  5. create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts
  6. attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.

Within this larger framework of literacy learning, writing can now be understood as holistic, authentic, and varied.

Writing Now (PDF) supports thinking about writing through sharing key terms, exploring myths about school-based writing, outlining these understandings of what is needed to support writing today, and offering research-based recommendations for instruction and assessment.

Excerpt from Writing Now

The twenty-first century demands that literate people possess a wide range of writing skills and varying approaches to writing tasks. Writers need to understand and respond to many different rhetorical situations, addressing multiple audiences for a variety of purposes. Research shows how teachers can adjust their approaches to teaching and assessing writing in order to prepare students to meet real world writing challenges.

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