National Writing Project

‘Writing in the Digital Age’ and Former Poet Laureate Headline National Writing Project Annual Meeting

For Immediate Release


PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 18, 2009 - More than twelve hundred teachers from across the country have gathered here for four days to discuss and showcase successful classroom strategies that meet head-on one of the greatest challenges of our digital world: teaching young people growing up in the digital age to become good writers. At the National Writing Project (NWP) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, teachers-leaders from NWP's 200 local sites are participating in a wide variety of sessions and workshops, with topics ranging from writing for college to building local site leadership, from teaching English language learners to using local data to improve practices and learning. The conference's highlights, however, are sessions on writing in the digital age, as well as a reading by Billy Collins, the former two-time Poet Laureate of the United States.

NWP executive director Sharon J. Washington said, "The 2009 Annual Meeting brings together an extraordinary group of teachers--from every corner of the country--who are passionate not only about teaching writing the traditional way, but also about learning to use digital media tools in the classroom. With this week's Digital Is conference, the Power of Youth Voice forum, and numerous workshops, we'll learn how to capitalize on young people's passion for instantaneous electronic communication in order to develop the strong writing skills that are needed more than ever in a modern world."

Highlights of the four-day conference include

  • NWP's Digital Is... all-day participatory conference provides site leaders and teacher-consultants participating in the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation-funded Digital Media and Learning Initiative an opportunity to share best practices and discuss learning environments that support effective digital writing and learning. It explores how digital media tools involve language, games, social interaction, and self-directed education that can be used to learn how to write and think.
  • At The Power of Youth Voice: What Kids Learn When They Create with Digital Media, a public forum at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia-area educators, parents, researchers, students, and community members discuss the potential of learning through digital media tools. Digital media experts and educators present examples of how digital media is used to create powerful learning experiences for young people in and outside the classroom. Participating from NWP is Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, director of National Programs and Site Development.
  • Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins--who "reads in a voice that leavens gravitas with a hint of mischief," The New York Times wrote--has made it one of his missions to bring good contemporary poetry that is accessible and pleasurable to young people. Collins, currently a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, speaks at the General Session.
  • The Philadelphia Writing Marathon, hosted by the Philadelphia Writing Project, provides opportunities to experience the City of Brotherly Love as a writer.
  • An all-day strand of writing workshops will be conducted at the Annual Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) by National Writing Project teacher-leaders.

NWP's Annual Meeting runs from Wed., Nov. 18, through Sat., Nov. 21, and is held in conjunction with the NCTE Annual Convention.

About the National Writing Project
The National Writing Project is the most significant coordinated effort to improve writing in America. NWP sites, located on more than 200 university and college campuses, serve more than 135,000 participants annually. NWP continues to add new sites each year, with the goal of placing the writing project within reach of every teacher in America. Through its professional development model, NWP develops the leadership, programs, and research needed for teachers to help students become successful writers and learners. For more information, visit

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