Students today blog, download music and videos using YouTube or other sites, but I wonder how good are today’s students at interpreting the words and images they encounter in our increasingly tech-driven world? Can they communicate in multimedia formats what they are learning in the classroom? Literacy is ever changing and we as educators have to keep up. We live in a time when the very nature of information is changing: in what it looks like, what we use to view it, where and how we find it, what we can do with it, and how we communicate it. If this information is changing, then our sense of what it means to be literate must also change. Out with the old and in with the new sort of speak.
Since many of our schools in which we work have adapted to our new curriculum in Common Core, I feel like we have logically focused on technology and integrating technology to create opportunities for students to gain important technical skills. If we can establish an expanded sense of what it means to be literate in this new digital world, then we may achieve more progress, in terms of better preparing children for the 21st century, by integrating contemporary literacy, instead of integrating technology. But then again, I think that technology and literacy go hand in hand. So as a teacher, want to be able to integrate them both into what it is that I’m teaching.
Some of us were taught to read information that was available in classrooms, libraries, and in our homes. But how things have changed since I was in school, he Internet and many different software applications constitute the library for today’s students. And the information from these sources grows exponentially from week to week. How can we keep up with it all? I think that a way to manage it could be that the students and their teachers learn how to use an evolving array of search tools and strategies to get valuable information from a global electronic library. Many students have a wealth of information on what’s new out there, so if you involve them in the process it could be a really fun learning opportunity for you and your students.
One of my personal goals for this school year is to be more involved with our school media specialists. I had a great conversation with her about literacy and with the way things are moving what should our students be able to do with literacy in its many form? She gave me a slew of things that our students should be able to do in this digital age. A few things that she told me was that our kids should be able to find information within the vast global digital library that is relevant to what they are researching, they should understand and be able to explain what they find regardless of its format meaning text, images, audio, video, etc. and they should also be able to evaluate the information and determine its meaning. I told her that this was interesting so I asked her what about your students with special needs. She told me that every student should be able to access the information and that students with special needs may need a little modification but they will also be able to meet the same goals. I totally agreed with her.