Because of current technologies, the definition of literacy has evolved in the last twenty years. While reflecting on your own schooling, discuss how previous definitions of literacy helped shape your teachers’ instruction. Knowing these new literacies, how should your teaching differ from how you were taught? In addition, students are coming with a familiarity of technology literacy. How should teachers adapt their instruction to meet the needs of these new learners?
I am a product of the phonics era. Reading was strictly decoding, and writing followed strict rules. Literacy was about memorization. Most instruction was geared to the single class, with the day being divided into time reserved for each single and specific discipline. During reading, teachers would pull small groups to ‘decode’ print. By middle school, we all read the same book, at the same time (many of which I didn’t read, thank you cliff notes) and used the same defined structure to write essays about assigned topics.
Literacy today could be defined using the prefix multi-. My students are multi-cultural, multi-sensory, multi-challenged, multi-literate with multiple intelligences. With the multi-faceted, multi-mannered 21st century students in my class, I attempt to teach to the varied levels of ability, a.k.a. Differentiated Instruction. I attempt to deliver this instruction through cross-curricular themes. It is a lot of work. Exhausted, I often contemplate the effectiveness of instruction against the pace of technology (Richardson, 2009). Why can’t little Jonny write a simple sentence, yet create an entire blog on Legos? Do isolated strategies taught through reading and writing workshops provide adequate skills to communicate in the 21st century? With all the technology today, is there not an easier, more efficient way?
Furthermore, I found Ian Jukes definition of kids in the 21st century as DFL - Digital First Language (Jukes, 2009) ironic as I was attaining my initial teaching license when the concern was ESL. Knowing this, and knowing the philosophies of ESL, it looks like teachers will need to be the ones in the DSL –Digital Second Language (Jukes, 2009) classes. We will be the ones learning to assimilate into the culture of technology – and that culture is at a constant state of evolution. If we can begin to see knowledge as evolutionary, we as teachers can then adapt our instruction. Because of technology literacy, students come to class already knowing the information (Shrum & Levin, 2009), and if they don’t, they know where to get it. Why waste our time on making them memorize it? What they don’t know, is what to do with all this information. For me, using the LoTi Scale will be a start to inform my decisions as we (collaboration will become fundamental) design new units of study to address the needs of 21st century learners.
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Schrum, L. M., & Levin, B. B. (2009). Leading 21st-Century Schools: Harnessing Technology for Engagement and Achievement. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Jukes, I. (2009, April 13 ) Understanding the Digital Generation. InfoSavvyGroup.com. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecFizWZgIiA.
I also wrote about this prompt, so I thought rather than creating a whole other section, I would respond in here...hope that's ok...if not I can revise my process for next time .
Although I consider myself to be fairly young (only 25,) the world has changed greatly and evolved since I was in school. Just the other day my dad was talking about how much he tried to avoid getting a car phone years ago, and yet now he is never without his Blackberry. The same goes for me; I got my first cell phone when I was a sophomore in high school, and its sole purpose was to call my parents to come pick me up when I got home from away field hockey games; I did not text, there were no games, and certainly no internet. Now we carry around mini computers. When I was in school we wrote on chalkboards. With chalk. We used erasers, and we all had those teachers who constantly had chalk down their sides. I remember in third grade my teacher had just gotten this fascinating new machine (it looked like a mini sanding belt) that’s only purpose was to clean the erasers; we all fought to be the one to use it. Now we use interactive boards in our classrooms. The world has completely evolved in such a short time, and rather than slowing down, it only shows signs of more change at a faster rate; what was progressive today will be passé and replaced tomorrow.
In their book, Schrum and Levin (2009), discuss the uncertainty of our changing world and what the future would bring, but they also emphasis the need to engage students and prepare them for today to the best of our abilities. “We know life will be very different for our students in the next 10, 20, and 30 years, given the pace of change in a technologically driven world,” but we have the responsibility to “help them live successfully and thrive in the 21st century” (Schrum & Levin, 2009). This means changing the way we think about and teach literacy. Literacy no longer means learning your letters, learning to read, handwriting, writing, learning to spell and reading books. As Schrum and Levin tell us, “being literate in the 21st century requires more than knowing how to read, write, and compute” (2009). Literacy now needs to include such things as “including visual literacy, multimedia literacy, and cultural literacy” (Schrum and Levin, 2009). Students must be taught to be (at the very least) proficient in technologies, social interactions on a broad and international scale and interacting with a rapidly changing world. We need students to be adaptable, open-minded and competent consumers of a technology driven world. Thus, we must TEACH them these things. We are bombarded with the media on a daily basis, and if we are then so are our students; we need to teach them media literacy so that they become informed and conscientious consumers of media. This means integrating technologies into the classroom beyond the simple things like Power Point and SMART Boards. We must make them technology and media literate and savvy. They must be consumers and creators. This means, the internet with its research and far reaching communication tools; this means television and print ads; this means politics and environmental awareness; this means many, ever changing tools and outlets and gadgets. But first, we must be literate in these things. As part of being and informed teacher and citizen, we must work on our professional development to become literate in all senses of our changing world, and must constantly be “taking risks” and challenging ourselves to meet and understand these changes for our students (Schrum and Levin, 2009).
Lynne M. Schrum;Barbara B. (Barry) Levin. Leading 21st-Century Schools: Harnessing Technology for Engagement and Achievement (2009)
I like how you said teachers should take the DSL classes; isn't that what we're all doing here (trying not to get left behind our students)? It's true that students already come to class knowing how to retrieve information, so what teachers now need to focus on is how to determine credible sources and make sense of the plethora of knowledge out there. And I see your point that there are some things that we now longer need to teach. A great teacher I had in high school allowed us to program graphing calculators to solve anything we could program ourselves because, as he stated it, "any time you're ever going to need this knowledge, a calculator isn't going to be that far out of reach anyway".
LeEtta, I found Juke's point that there are Digital as a First Language and Digital as a Second Language (Juke, 2009) interesting as well. I took a course about Bilingual/Bicultural Education; I have only have a handful of knowledge about bilingual education in a classroom. I understand Juke's point that technology comes with its own vocabulary and language, and I wonder: 1. Would some of these bilingual education strategies still apply when learning the digital language, and 2. Would those methods apply if the tables are turned (the students teaching the teacers)? I can see a lot of collaboration and various presentation of material (ie. written directions, one-on-one instruction, diagrams, how-to videos...). But what differences will there be in teaching this specific language and Digital Age culture in the classroom?
Another random, but interesting thought that I have connecting BBE and DSL is that even if there are ESL students in your class, the teacher can still be a DSL student considering the wide and global scope of technology. The Digital Age is almost everywhere; a student's lack of fluency in English is indicative of his/her fluency in technology navigation. It's as if technology is a common language among the "millenials" or "Generation Z," generations described by Schrum & Levin (p. 33-34).
I would like to see if some ESL/BBE strategies and theories do apply to in teaching technology to any generation. We will probably see that study soon in an upcoming education journal. Although, I think that true immersion is still the quickest way to learn a second language, and in the case of technology, being immersed isn't as scary because when we are overwhelmed with it, we can pull the plug. Secondly, I'm also intrigued how universal technology can be and is quickly becoming. Even though I can't see what education will be like in 5 or 10 years (Richardson, 2010), I am excited to view it as a universal language to break down barriers in educational policies and theories.
I would definately benefit from the DSL class, as I will benefit from this class and hopefully the others in this program. I think I (and others my age) fall into a group that was given technology at a critical age (I received my own computer with internet when I was 16). I was still young enough to be pretty adventurous and flexible in thinking and learning and was old enough to take care of the machine I was given. However, I was left to my own devices. I had no parents watching me but also no one guiding me. My parents couldn't really help me if they tried, they were learning at the same time I was but at a much slower rate. I can recall the excitement of learning how to do various things but also remember snooping around in places that I shouldn't with friends who did not have access at home. There definately needs to be integration of not only tech usage skills but the skills to navigate successfully and responsibly.
I must have been introduced to the computer age slightly before you. My father, who was a civil engineer, often scoffed at the idea of 'computers' becoming a household necessity. I remember his converstions with coleuges about the inaccuracies of the CAD (Computer Aided Design) programs and how his tools and expertise still out performed that of the computer. He didn't make friends with the CAD operators when he hung this picture on his door at work:
I finally convinced him to get a computer, and I quickly learned, he had no desire to learn. So, there the computer sat. I often wonder what he would think of my classroom. I have a projector and mimeo and a white board where I have the world at my fingertips. I am so overwhelmed with everything I have to learn about integrating tech into my plans and lessons. Were just 15 years ago there was a choice to use the computer or not in the workplace, now it is a necessity. I MUST have the desire to learn, and quickly!
It is very intimidating, especially at the rate new technology comes out onto the market. Its like wildfire and it feels hard to keep up. I am considered to be of the age of technology and I still get lost.
Honestly, I feel like you will have the desire and motivation to use it and implement it if you are well acquainted with specific programs and websites that really engage classrooms. Just like content, if the teacher is not excited about what he or she is teaching, the students are not likely to be engaged.
I find it helpful to look up interactive lesson plans and get ideas from other more experienced educators. I am sure you have plenty of resources and I am probably preaching to the choir, but rest assured, we are all in this together and it will prove a wonderous world once we master each new piece of technology.
Keeping my head up