State of Change

February 1, 2008 at 12:06 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 11 Comments
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Literacy is in a constant state of change.  Go to the K12 Online Conference site and watch the presentation by Clarence Fisher  entitled “Globally Literate”.  After watching, read through the discussion comments.  Respond to the following either directly on the K12 blog site (preferred) or here.

  • What is your reaction to this view of literacy?
  • What connections are you making to your content area?
  • How are your experiences meshing together? (class discussions, assignments, Educon, reading blogs, etc.?)


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  1. Here is the message I left on the K12 blog site in case you want to see it here too.

    “Clarence, you present viewpoint of literacy very clearly and makes some excellent points. I really enjoyed how the beginning of the presentation dealt with the history of literacy and the ever changing mediums that are used to express ideas.
    I tried to summarize your thoughts using a few key points and the list I came up with was evaluation, comprehension, production and interaction. Being a future biology and chemistry teacher these points stood out to me. First, especially in dealing with science there is a lot of material out there and a lot of it is junk. I want my students to be able to analyze and evaluate whether or not something is valid, reliable and pertinent. The next point, comprehension, seems obvious but is sometimes overlooked. Just because I as a teacher understand and can apply a text doesn’t mean that my students will do so as easily. Production and interaction I believe go somewhat hand in hand. Being able to produce something that is a response to something that has been experienced by the students is one of the best ways of interaction. There are many different ways to produce literature and the more students learn the better equipped they will be for the future. The rest of interaction deals with not only what occurs after the student reads, but also what he or she does during reading. Students need to interact with the text by highlighting, outlining, study guides, etc.
    Learning to use this new technology and accept the new definition of literacy is something that I have recently been dealing with as a student. My class has been exposed to blogging, wikis, and numerous other literary technologies. Just last weekend we participated, via ustream, during a presentation that our professor gave at Educon. Technology is rapidly changing literacy and if we as educators don’t keep up we will be surpassed by students.

  2. Just trying to get these darn hyperlinks to work.

    history of literacy

  3. I commented on the k12 page. It says it is “awaiting moderation.” Anyone know what that means? Can you guys actually see the comment I posted or should I paste it here too?

  4. I cannot see the message you posted Tracy. I’m only seeing 2006 posts.

  5. Hmm… it looks like people might have to post here because that website isn’t approving new blog posts. All the other comments do look kind of dated. Anyways, I’ll post my comment up here tomorrow (Its saved on another computer) Thanks Laurie! See you all friday!

  6. I also could not get this to post on the website.. so I will just post here!!

    I agree with Ted when he says he enjoyed the beginning of the presentation. I liked how he reviewed the history of literacy and how writing was saved. He talked about scrolls, and also about the changes in the way books are written. I also agree with Ted’s key points: evaluation, comprehension, production and interaction. I do think it is our jobs as teachers to make sure these steps are happening in our class.
    Through evaluation, the student has to be able to see the reading’s relevance. During this step, I think the teachers can also activate prior knowledge, which is a key pre reading strategy. Ted also make a good point about comprehension. Everything we give our students, we will understand. And thats not the important aspect. Whats important is that our students can understand what they are reading, or else they are wasting their time. We have to make sure we are giving them reading that is at their level!
    Through production and interaction, the students can actually learn even more! While the students are working with one another, they might get new information from the reading that they didnt catch themselves before. These last steps, too me, are the most important! We can give our students all the reading in the world, but if they cant understand it and use the information again, then its really useless.
    All in all, I really enjoyed the presentation. I liked the visuals that went along with it. They really grabbed my attention, which proves that having visuals with literacy really does work!

  7. Here is something similar to what I posted on the K12 site… the original got deleted… grr.

    Clarence, thank you for taking the time to put together this presentation. Everything you discussed is so very true and it is important that educators are all aware of the ever-changing idea of literacy. Throughout my college and graduate education, it has become clear to me that literacy is not what it used to be. (In fact, a lot of things are not what they used to be)

    One thing that really hit me was your idea of ‘text.’ When I hear the word text, I think of words on paper. From your presentation, and discussions in my graduate Literacy class, I can really see that literacy and technology are becoming increasingly intertwined with each other. It is important to see that ‘text’ really does include print, photos, videos, music, animations, spreadsheets, graphs, etc. As technology continues to advance, new forms of text come into play. Our students are required to sort through and comprehend much more text than students in the 20th century.

    Once teachers come to the complete realization that their students are facing such an overwhelming amount of information, both in and out of the classroom, we can truly begin to educate them. Our goal is to help our students become functional and productive members of society. Like you said, “We need our students to be creative and innovative.” How will this happen if we do not teach them to be?!

    In our middle schools, “core” classes are English, Social Studies, Math and Science. Part of me can’t help but wonder when schools will step back and see something like “information literacy” as a “core” subject. Because, again, things are not what they used to be. I really think, at an early age, our students should have a class that teaches them how to read/interact with the internet. They need to be able to evaluate text for currency, validity, and reliability and then respond appropriately.

    Until this becomes a reality, we, as teachers, need to continue to incorporate these skills into our own classrooms. Yes… even me… a math teacher…. needs to incorporate literacy into my classroom. On a daily basis, I encourage my students to interact with math. You don’t just read a problem or story and get an answer. Students need to question what they are reading, and pull appropriate strategies to help them comprehend the situation- whatever it may be. The same is true with other subjects, and with just leisurely surfing the internet. We need to make sure our students leave us with a full tool box of strategies that will lead them through the vast information they will encounter in the “real world.”

  8. I also agree with Ted and Caitlin that the format of the presentation was enjoyable. The history of literacy definitely put into perspective how literacy has and always will be changing. Similiar to what Tracy said, I was glad other types of texts were discussed in addition to words on a page. In the classrooms I have been in, I have seen the extremes. At one school students struggled with reading words in text format and at the other students were fine with words but had difficulty reading graphs. Even though they understood the words on the graph they could not interpret what the graph was conveying.

    I agree with many of Clarence’s views on literacy. Literacy, and texts, are definitely changing. Students need to access, comprehend, evaluate, produce, and interact with, information. Finding legitimate sources and evaluating their reliability as well as communicating ideas are extremely important. I really liked how he described production literacy as students finding a “representation that fits the purpose, content, and needs of the audience/community”. That follows similiarly with an article we read in assessment about Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. He claims that each lesson does not need to be taught 9 (or 11) different ways, but rather students should be assessed in a way that highlights their abilities. Students should be able to choice how they want to share their knowledge and how they will be assessed. In my classroom, I would love to let students express their understanding in any way they feel is appropriate. I am not sure how to exactly accomplish this… though I really think it would be great. If any students were like me, I would want some guidance, so if anyone has any ideas of how to implement creativity and different assessments, I would love some suggestions.

    The one part of his skills surprised me. Students need to comprehend the information that they are reading, watching, listening to, etc. but Clarence seemed to focus on the comprehension of the information on the page. Depending on the internet access in an area, I would imagine by high school (perhaps not middle school) that students would be well versed in reading multi-modal text and being able to skim a webpage and find the information they want. With facebook and myspace and youtube, I think students have a much better comprehension of navigating a webpage then many teachers because of that “underground apprenticeship” Clarence mentioned. It is our job to keep up and learn how to comprehend everything ourselves.

    These ideas definitely echo what we have learned in this course. Literacy is not just reading and writing anymore. Literacy is evolving and we need to evolve with it in order to prepare ourselves for teaching and our students for living. His last point on interaction is exactly what I have gotten out of our ustream experience, blogs, and google reader. So, thanks.

  9. Laurie- I think it is definitely important to keep multiple intelligences in mind when it comes to your classroom. They come into play during both lessons and during assessments. We read a couple articles about MI in assessment, so I am not sure which one I am about to reference, but here goes:

    One article said it is impossible to teach every lesson to every students learning style. You can’t come up with 24 different ways to teach (or assess) the same thing just because your students all have different learning styles. Instead, it is important to consider the best medium for the topic you are teaching. Maybe one topic is better taught using visuals where another is best suited for auditory or kinesthetic.

    Again, that does not mean you can’t give your students choices every now and then. For assessments you can come up with a list of different options and allow them to pick. Maybe they make a poster, or brochure, or write a paper/presentation. You don’t need 50 options, but every now and then you can give them choices.

    I think the RAFT that we talked about briefly in class saturday is a nice way to start giving your students choices. They could write a letter, or a poem or song. It seems like a good way to allow your students to be creative without putting a huge burden on yourself as a teacher.

    Hope that helps a little!

  10. I found the opening of the article enjoyable. Mr. Fisher shows that throughout history man has found ways to keep information and record data. He also shows that it changes over time as man becomes more creative in the ways he records and saves information.

    As with all things, literacy is always changing. Life is always changing and man struggles to stay with these changes. With literacy it is incumbent upon the teacher to stay abreast of these changes.

    Mr. Fisher refers to literacy as having four components, evaluation, comprehension, production and interaction. We as teachers must evaluate and comprehend the material we feel is relevant to our students. Looking back through history, we can see how literacy and education have changed. Teachers have to be ready to adapt and change in order to keep up with modern thinking. They must have a passion for what they are doing and their students need to grasp and feel this passion.

    Production and interaction are also points that Mr. Fisher says are important for literacy. I believe that many of todays students have the ability and talent to create. We need to nurture and reinforce that creative spirit. Interaction with their fellow peers will enhance this creativity. It will also enhace self-esteem and break down barriers.

    Technology allows students many avenues to express themselves. We as teachers must know how to use the technology ourselves and motivate our students to use it. Most likly they will know the technology better than us. They must be guided and challenged to produce material that is interesting, grammatically correct and completed.

    Technology can aid our different content areas because it opens new worlds to gain and share information. Use of blogs and wikis allow students and teachers to interact with each other without being in the same location.

    From my own perspective , I can see how student interaction is important. I have learned many things from my classmates because they are willing to share ideas and help with things I am not sure about.

    I believe litearcuy will improve because there will always be visionaries wjo are willing to think oputside the bopx to be innovative. I woould like to think that with all this technology , teachers will not lose sight of the basic fundamental needs off the student in order that they can fuctionin a 21st society.

  11. The speaker talks about how literacy is changing. But my question is; is literacy changing or just the text? Yes, the text is changing rapidly but is literacy itself changing? The speaker brings up the point that all literacy involves comprehension, production, and interaction. I don’t see our methods of comprehension changing just because the text now appears electronically and has interactive features. We may have to develop and add a few new skills to guide students through e-text with hyperlinks, video, etc. But the comprehension skills stay the same. Production is changing through blogs, wikis, etc. But is the literacy skill of coding a coherent message any different? I asked the same question about interaction. Because text now has video and sound and instantaneous links for making connections, are readers no longer interacting? Again, the literacy element is still present, just in a different form. In fact, I can see hyperlinks functioning in the exact manner as our thought bubbles in our think-alouds.

    I don’t know if I can fully answer my initial question of whether or not literacy is actually changing. At the moment, I would say literacy is not changing, or changing slowly. Its the format of the text within literacy that is changing. Our literacy strategies don’t need to be scrapped or changed completely, just modified to fit the new text. Adapt textbook analysis to include websites. Textbooks and websites both have graphs, charts, pictures, etc. But on a website teh pictures are video, and the charts are hyperlinked. In my mind, it isn’t much different.

    The speaker brings up the validity and authenticity of online text. This is an area where perhaps more literacy skills need to be developed. With sites such as The Onion making up fake news stories about content knowledge, students need to be able to filter good information from the bad. But critical analysis was important with printed text, before online resources, so maybe its not a new skill after all. The speaker comments that its about finding not searching, however, he defines finding as simply finding multimedia resources, not evaluating what is found.

    The speaker definitly touched upon the ideas we have discussed in class. He brings up an excellent point about students needing to build a network of people who challenge their thoughts. Ideas we worked with in class are excellent for this. The blogs, wikis, Ning, all these give students a chance to evaluate each others’ thoughts and become a community of learners. They also teach the valuable skill of providing productive feedback.

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