National Writing Project

Report Spotlights Revolutionary Use of Technology in Teaching Writing

Nine Teachers Profiled for Classroom Innovations and Obstacles Overcome

For Immediate Release


New York, June 10, 2010 – "If school is supposed to help us in the rest of the world, shouldn't school look like what's going on in the rest of the world?" asks 10th-grade teacher Paige Cole, one of nine classroom teachers profiled in Writing, Learning and Leading in the Digital Age (PDF), a College Board–National Writing Project (NWP)–Phi Delta Kappa International (PDKI) report released today on the state of technology resources in the classroom.

This report is the second in the ongoing Teachers Are the Center of Education series. A collaborative effort of the College Board's National Commission on Writing, NWP and PDKI, the report examines the critical role that teachers play in driving the use of technology in the classroom, and that technology plays in preparing students for success in the 21st century. The report also examines the obstacles teachers face in implementing classroom technology and the opportunities available to them—at organizations like the National Writing Project—to learn about and how to use effective digital tools and strategies for the teaching of writing.

College Board President Gaston Caperton said, "We must salute the innovative teaching practices of these profiled teachers and help amplify their voices. They proactively provide today's student with the digital tools necessary to succeed in college and beyond. However, if we are to meet the nation's goal of a 55 percent graduation rate by 2025, and the rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act, we must also better equip our schools and districts with the best resources for teaching and learning in the classroom."

Teachers were nominated by the College Board and NWP, and were selected for their commitment to excellence and for the diverse set of disciplines, locations, kinds of schools, and student populations they represent. In each case, a writer spent a day observing the teacher, and then interviewing him or her and recording their conversation.

Sharon J. Washington, executive director of the National Writing Project, said, "The experience of these nine teachers reminds us of the central role they play in true education reform. It's teachers who are the technology drivers, seeking out digital tools, learning them, testing them and finally implementing them successfully in their classrooms. With the benefit of professional development from organizations like the National Writing Project, these pioneers are preparing their students for the digital world."

The teachers featured in the report found that the use of such Web 2.0 tools as blogs, podcasts, wikis, and comics-creating software has heightened students' engagement and enhanced their writing and thinking skills—in all grade levels and across all subjects. Even as these teachers' students gain the skills to live and work in the 21st-century setting, too many times, the report found, their classrooms look like 20th-century models.

"We are preparing kids for a different world—a world where they need to know how to tell compelling stories. And the types of stories that are compelling these days are not just print stories," said Joel Malley, a English Language Arts teacher profiled within the report from Cheektowaga High School.

The report makes three recommendations to meet the challenges of teaching and learning in the digital age—at all levels of education—including:

  • Every student needs one-on-one access to computers and other mobile technology in classrooms.
  • Every teacher needs professional development in the effective use of digital tools for teaching and learning, including the use of digital tools to promote writing.
  • All schools and districts need a comprehensive information technology policy to ensure that the necessary infrastructure, technical support, and resources are available for teaching and learning.

The teachers profiled include:

  • Joel Malley, Cheektowaga High School, Cheektowaga, N.Y.
  • Katherine Suyeyasu, ASCEND School, Oakland, Calif.
  • Paul Epstein, Ruffner Elementary School, Charleston, W.Va.
  • Paige Cole, Apalachee High School, Winder, Ga.
  • Alejandro Sosa, World Journalism Preparatory, Queens, N.Y.
  • David Brown, John H. Webster Elementary School, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Erin Wilkey, F.L. Schlagle High School, Kansas City, Kan.
  • Alina Adonyi and Jennifer Woollven, Eastside Memorial Green Tech High School, Austin, Texas

For more information, please visit the National Commission on Writing and Teachers Are the Center of Education: Writing, Learning and Leading in the Digital Age.

The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center was established to help transform education in America. Guided by the College Board's principles of excellence and equity in education, the Center works to ensure that students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond. Critical connections between policy, research and real-world practice are made to develop innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges in education today. Drawing from the experience of the College Board's active membership, consisting of education professionals from more than 5,700 institutions, priorities include: College Preparation & Access, College Affordability & Financial Aid, and College Admission & Completion. For more information, visit:

The National Writing Project (NWP) is a nationwide network of educators working together to improve the teaching of writing in the nation's schools and in other settings. NWP provides high-quality professional development programs to teachers in a variety of disciplines and at all levels, from early childhood through university. Through its network of more than 200 university-based sites located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, 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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