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Crafting Digital Writing: Composing Texts Across Media and Genres


Hicks, Troy. Crafting Digital Writing: Composing Texts Across Media and Genres. Heinemann, 2013.


As teachers, we must be equipped to talk about the craft of writing whether in digital spaces or with pen and paper. If the title of the book stirs any apprehension, those feelings are actually fairly quickly put to rest, as the overarching components to teaching writing across different digital media is the same as any other book about the teaching of writing: use and study good mentor texts, and teach the writer first (then the technology). The first chapters serve as a step into these familiar spaces, and then add some nuance to the study of craft among digital texts. These include specific elements of author’s craft and genre study to consider that will look and sound familiar, along with specific elements to study related to visual literacy, design, audio, video, and presentations.

Subsequent chapters are broken down into crafting different digital writing experiences including web texts, presentations, audio texts, video, texts, and social media. Each chapter begins with viewing or listening to professional mentor texts in the various modes, followed by what the writing process looks like for each one. All chapters provide actual student examples of the texts, how they were crafted, and what makes them unique in modes and media, as opposed to just doing something digitally that could be done with paper and pencil.

Each chapter also provides curriculum connections related to standards and genres for writing. While it is made clear that the tech tips and tools examined in each chapter are not the focus or purpose of the book, they may be helpful to educators who want to learn more about the tech side of things.

Classroom Application

Hicks provides a simple heuristic to use when thinking of why we write in different ways that he calls MAPS: mode, media, audience, purpose, situation. This, too, is not new in the teaching of writing, digital or otherwise-- it is just opening the range of writing experiences for students today. The opening chapters of the book break down the study of digital texts into small, manageable terms that we are familiar with when it comes to the teaching of writing, and the examples for genre study, elements of craft in digital texts, and connections to standards make for a much easier step into the specific nuances of the planning and writing that must go into creating good presentations, videos, audio, and other web texts.