Medium 9781935249801

Literacy 2.0: Reading and Writing in 21st Century Classrooms

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Students in the 21st century still need to develop traditional reading and writing skills, and they must also learn how to use technology for communicating and collaborating in new ways. This book offers specific teaching strategies for developing student literacy in using search engines efficiently, evaluating information found on websites, avoiding plagiarism, communicating with a wide audience, working collaboratively, and creating multimedia products.

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5 Chapters

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Chapter 1: Releasing Responsibility: A Framework for Teaching and Learning

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Moving from a 20th century goal of student compliance to a 21st century goal of student competence requires an instructional model designed to accomplish this. The thinking behind the gradual release of responsibility model is that teachers must plan to move from providing students extensive support to having them rely on peer support to expecting them to function with no support. Or as Duke and Pearson (2002) suggested, teachers have to move from assuming “all the responsibility for performing a task . . . to a situation in which the students assume all of the responsibility” (p. 211). Unfortunately, in too many classrooms, releasing responsibility is unplanned, it happens too suddenly, and it results in misunderstandings and failure. Consider the classroom in which students hear a lecture and are then expected to pass a test. Or the classroom in which students are told to read texts at home and come to class prepared to discuss them. Or the classroom in which students are assigned a problem set twenty minutes after the teacher has explained how to do the problems. In each of these cases, students are expected to perform independently but are not well prepared for the task.

 

Chapter 2: Finding Information: The Eternal Search

ePub

There is more information at our fingertips today than ever before. Remember doing a research project in high school? You had to physically go to the library and search the card catalog. Then you had to find the green books, Guides to Periodicals, to see where the journals you wanted were located (if your library had them). For example, Doug remembers an assignment from tenth grade related to World War I. The teacher wanted personal accounts of people who lived through the war, as well as factual information regarding the war. Doug went to the card catalog and looked up the subject “World War I.” There were several entries, and Doug hunted each of them down. Some were useful for his paper, but most were not. Doug used an ineffective search strategy that consumed a lot of time.

Sound familiar? While the tools students use today to search for information have changed, the strategies they use have not. As their teachers, we have to instruct them in conducting effective information searches. This chapter will focus on efforts to help students locate information. But literacy 2.0 requires more than an effective search strategy. Unlike the sources Doug would have found from the card catalog, the Internet provides students with unfiltered information. Spurious screeds sit alongside valid information. Accordingly, we also have to teach students how to evaluate the information they find. The gatekeepers of information from the past no longer exert their control over what students find, and this presents additional challenges for the 21st century teacher.

 

Chapter 3: Using Information: Making Responsible Choices

ePub

It has been said that “liberty is always unfinished business,” and nowhere is this truer than on the Internet. On the one hand, the largest number of people in human history have ready access to information. People across the world can read the works of Plato, St. Augustine, Confucius, Marx, Dickinson, Angelou, Gandhi . . . the possibilities are dizzying. Whether you agree or disagree with the ideas themselves, there exists the possibility that people can make judgments for themselves, without the layers of interpreters who can change the message. On the other hand, the largest number of people in human history have ready access to an audience. Hate groups, fundamentalists who preach violence, extremists who advocate for the dismantling of all social orders . . . the possibilities are dizzying. Without the layers of interpreters who can balance the message and question invalid claims, people are vulnerable to dangerous misinformation that hurts other people.

Now throw an impressionable and impetuous adolescent into the mix. She may lack the background knowledge she needs to temper those invalid claims, as well as the healthy skepticism needed to recognize and question unsupported claims. Heap on the naïveté of young people (who are pretty sure they invented everything anyway), and you’ve got a potential victim in the making.

 

Chapter 4: Creating Information: Production in Literacy 2.0

ePub

“What’s ‘New Literacies’? What was wrong with the old ones?” We overheard this comment at a reading conference not too long ago and couldn’t help but smile at the automatic assumption that new things always replace old things. While that may be true with some tools (after all, no one longs for an eight-track tape player), it is not true with functions. As we discussed in the introduction, the tools are going to continue to change with breathtaking speed. Even as we write this, we are fretting about our ability to keep current with technological developments. But we breathe a sigh of relief when we remind ourselves that the functions are timeless. The need to acquire, produce, and share information transcends the latest gadget or software.

Donald Leu and his colleagues acknowledge that new literacies (lowercase) can embrace a number of different areas, including informational literacy, discourse, reading comprehension, and learning strategies (Leu, O’Byrne, Zawilinski, McVerry, & Everett-Cacopardo, 2009). As they note, each of these new literacies (lowercase) draws from a variety of funds of knowledge that are informing our understanding as educators who are preparing learners in the 21st century. They offer four dimensions that collectively provide a working definition of New Literacies (uppercase):

 

Chapter 5: Sharing Information: The World Is Your Audience

ePub

One of the milestones in our transition to literacy 2.0 teaching came several years ago when a student asked if she could write her book review on Amazon.com rather than on paper. Amber, who had read Who Will Tell My Brother? (Carvell, 2002), wanted to share her thoughts about the book with other people who had read it. She really enjoyed the poetic format of the book and at the same time was angry about the mascot issue raised in the story. She wanted to know if this kind of thing happened in other places or if it was “just fiction.” She wanted to connect with other readers, and she understood that this relatively new service would allow her to do so. As she said, “Nobody else in class has read it, but somebody out there has, and I wanna talk with them.” Despite our concerns about this new venue, we encouraged her to post a comment about the book and promised that we would read her comment and discuss it with her. Were we scared to let her share her developing voice with the whole world? Yes. Did we understand her desire to do so? Of course. And did we learn something along the way? You bet.

 



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