So here is the money quote from “Turn Teen Texting Toward Better Writing” from the Christian Science Monitor last week:

Our student bloggers and digital writers of all backgrounds are part of a journaling culture which America has not seen since the great age of diarists during the Transcendental movement, when Thoreau and Emerson recorded their daily lives for eventual public consumption. Failure to harness that potential energy would prove a terrible misstep at this junction in American education.

The author of the essay, Justin Reich, a Ph.D. student at Harvard, makes the case in a pretty interesting way, weaving in research, classroom observations and personal experience in a way that I find pretty compelling. Especially because he seems to really understand the “connective” or network aspect of the writing process.

Or, we can embrace the writing that students do every day, help them learn to use their social networking tools to create learning networks, and ultimately show them how the best elements of their informal communication can lead them to success in their formal writing.

I agree that that is the choice. No one is denying that much of what students (and adults for that matter) are writing wouldn’t be worthy of publishing under traditional standards. But the fact that kids are writing and publishing in a variety of texts, traditional or not, is, I think, a wonderful reality, one that if we know how to leverage it gives us great opportunities to help kids get better at all types of writing.