National Writing Project

Teachers Headline Capitol Hill Event on Digital Media & Writing

National Writing Project and the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center Host Briefing on Classroom Technologies

For Immediate Release


WASHINGTON, D.C., September 30, 2010 — On Capitol Hill today, three teachers recognized for their innovative use of classroom technology shared their perspectives on the tremendous benefits of using digital media tools to teach writing. Sponsored by the National Writing Project (NWP) and the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, the briefing included two teachers featured in Teachers Are the Center of Education: Writing, Learning and Leading in the Digital Age, a report released this summer by the two organizations and Phi Delta Kappa International (PDKI).

The briefing was moderated by Juan Williams, journalist and renowned author.

"Day in and day out, teachers are demonstrating just how central they are to education reform," said Sharon J. Washington, executive director of NWP. "Across the country, teachers are effectively making changes in their classrooms. They are embracing the opportunities to use an array of digital tools for teaching writing across subject areas to help all young learners become writers and creators of content."

College Board President Gaston Caperton said, "It's critically important that students are equipped with strong writing skills for academic success, as well as better prepared for the ever-changing digital tools and techniques in today's workplace. By leveraging technology in the classroom, teachers have created an environment where students embrace both writing and technology and incorporate them into real-world practice."

Writing, Learning and Leading in the Digital Age is the second in an ongoing series, Teachers Are the Center of Education. 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 in preparing students for success in the 21st century. The report also examines the obstacles teachers face in implementing classroom technology and the professional development opportunities available to them — at organizations like NWP — to learn how to use effective digital tools and strategies for the teaching of writing.

During the briefing, the teachers highlighted how the use of such Web 2.0 tools as blogs, podcasts, wikis and comic-creation software has heightened students' engagement and enhanced their writing and thinking skills — in all grade levels and across all subjects. Robert Rivera-Amezola, a fourth-grade teacher from Frances E. Willard Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pa., said digital tools like podcasts motivate his English language learners to extend their new language skills as they tackle complex subjects. "Podcasts give English language learners a nonthreatening way to practice English and to share their work with new audiences," he said.

Joel Malley's classroom at Cheektowaga Central High School, Cheektowaga, N.Y., is not your traditional classroom. Using a ceiling-suspended television and sixteen 24-inch Apple computers, the English language arts teacher's students combine text, music, voice, animation and video to compose essays, poems and term papers, as well as produce short films.

"We are preparing kids for a different world — a world where they need to know how to tell compelling stories," said Malley. "And the types of stories that are compelling these days are not just print stories. When kids make a video about something, they know it a lot better than if they were writing a research paper — they are more engaged, they are more motivated and they also try harder."

Jennifer Woollven, an English language arts teacher at Eastside Memorial Green Tech High School in Austin, Texas, has her students use new digital tools to manage their projects online, and to research and write digital stories and public service announcements on social issues, among other things.

"We're providing students with skills they will need in the future, like being able to collaborate with others, solve problems and communicate," said Woollven. "We have to realize that things are changing and that students are going to have different sorts of jobs."

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.

For more information, please visit the National Commission on Writing and College Board Advocacy & Policy Center. To download the report, please visit: Teachers Are the Center of Education: Writing, Learning and Leading in the Digital Age.

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 NWP can also be reached through Facebook ( and Twitter (

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:

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