Teen Content Creators: Can We Please Ask Them to Do More Than Take Notes and Write Single Paragraphs?

According to the  Pew Internet and American Life Project Teen Content Creators report, the most common form of writing in school is taking notes in class.   Don’t get me wrong–taking notes is a valuable skill to support learning, but it bothers me that this is the dominant form of writing on a daily basis for teens.  If you look at slide eight in the presentation, other forms of writing are identified, including essays, shorter forms of writing, lab reports, creative writing, multimedia, journal writing, notes/letters to others, computer programs, and music/lyrics.

For the last five months, I have been thinking much more about an emphasis on content creation in my library.  In reflecting on the implications  of this report (I encourage you to look at the full report/presentation), these are my initial question:

  • how we can as librarians help support and expand the possibilities for  the traditional forms of writing teens are required to create in school?
  • What kinds of experiences can we provide for them through collaborative projects with teachers as well as independently driven, library initiated learning experiences to nurture, legitimize, and publish other forms of writing?
  • How can we apply the findings of this report to our instructional design in our library programs and our collaboration efforts with classroom teachers?
  • How do these findings inform my efforts to take an inquiry stance on information literacy and to posit transliteracy an essential literacy?

While I feel I have made some forward strides in applying these ideas to my work with my Media 21 project, I know I will be thinking more deeply about these questions and ways to better support and more actively publish multiple and varied forms of content creation from students.

You can view all the reports and research related to teens from the Pew Internet and American Life Project by visiting this portal.  Video and program information from The Power of Youth Voice:  What Kids Learn When They Create With Digital Media, the forum where this report and other related research were shared on November 18, 2009, can be found by visiting this site.

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