Defining what it means to be literate, other than the ability to read and write.May 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 3 Comments
Post written by Brad Hartstein
As a very pragmatic person I struggle with the idea of Content Literacy. In my field, Technology Education there is an organization of Technology Education teachers nationally (ITEEA) that has been striving to define what it means to be Technologically Literate. In their definition when a student leaves secondary school they should understand and be able to select a multitude of tools and options in a technological world based on effects and optimization characteristics. This is a very broad scope and definition. As Technology Teachers it is our job to prepare our student with the ability to select and use ever changing technologies. Too often in our field Teachers and Administrators assume that this means job preparation. To be clear Job preparation in any form is a vocational education and decidedly not Technology Education.
Professor Woodward, the founder Technology Education (Then Manual Arts) defined the subject as “A social study on the effect of technology on society for all students’ general education” (Woodward, 1889).
So the idea of Technology Literacy is not one of the ability to use every tool, because that would not be an education for all students. The ability to problem solve and understand the uses and selection of tools and resources will make a person Literate in Technology.
With this definition in mind how can I make my students Literate in the subject as well as the literature? In the Literature for this course, “Teaching Content Area Literacy” by Lane W. Clarke and Kevin D. Besnoy, the authors make it clear that we need to predispose our students to the content and then provide guidance through the readings to strive for that highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy; Synthesize. The nature of Technology Education is one that demands a product, a synthesized creative final piece. It is crucial then that as an educator I provide ample understandings for my students to meet this end. With thick and heavy content readings this becomes a seemingly impossible task.
I have a question for you. As Technology changes so must my curriculums, how can I keep up with accurate and well versed documentation at the proper level when my governing body, New York State Regents Board of Education, does not clearly define what the “proximity band 11” is for technological manuscripts in its ELA standards. It clearly states what types of non-fiction and fiction pieces are reasonable by grade level. How is this defined and how then does it translate to literature of a different sort?