What Is Literacy?

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literacy dictionaryIn my last post I was examining what David Warlick has to say about integrating technology into the classroom in his book Redefining Literacy 2.0 and I quoted him as saying, “Educators should seek to integrate literacy, rather than integrate technology.”  So what does David mean when he uses the term literacy?  Well, his entire book is devoted to what he believes literacy looks like right now, but he boils it down to its simplest form by saying this: “Literacy comprises those skills involved in using information to accomplish goals.”  He also says “that perhaps the best thing we can be teaching our students today is how to teach themselves (how to learn what they need to know, to do what they need to do),” and “that the literacy habits we want them to develop are actually learning literacies.” 

Well, I must say, this is exactly what we school library media specialists have been doing for years!  Our speciality is categorizing, storing, searching, evaluating, synthesizing, organizing, and communicating information, whether online or in print!  And our primary goal is to equip students to do it, too!  From the American Association of School Librarians web page entitled Information Literacy:

AASL provides leadership for the development of dynamic, student-centered school library media programs. These programs help ensure that students master the information literacy skills needed to be discerning consumers and creative producers of information and ideas.

And how ironic that in a time when the world of Internet information is more bewildering to users than ever, when Google (see this NY Times article) and Wikipedia (see this Wikipedia article) are some of the most commonly used (and often least effective) research sources, and when President Obama himself proclaims that “teachers are the single most important resource to a child’s learning,” school librarians are being cut from many schools due to budget concerns.  Continue reading

Don’t Integrate Technology Into the Classroom

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Surprised by the sentiment expressed in the title of today’s post?   So was I when I read it in David Warlick’s book Redefining Literacy 2.0.  (See the accompanying wiki here.)  Since I became my school’s Technology Coach earlier this year, I’ve been concerned that we aren’t doing enough to equip teachers to successfully integrate technology into their classrooms.  So I picked up David’s book at the SCASL Conference last week, and here’s what he says in the introduction:

There is one call to education reform that will not be used in this book, a mantra that attendees to technology and media conferences often hear, that we should be integrating technology into our libraries and classrooms.  It is an idea that is not without its usefulness.  Integrating technology is a simple and inclusive way to describe the modernizing of our schools.  However integrating technology misses the point that technology has no special place in re-examining the pedagogy of teaching and learning.  It is merely a tool – the pencil and paper of our time.

So what should we be doing?  Read on: Continue reading

May You Live In Interesting Times

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  screen technology

There’s no doubt that there are interesting things going on in education right now with regard to technology!  I think we will all agree that we can’t equip our students with 21st Century Learning Skills without incorporating technology into our teaching.  Serving as both the Library Media Specialist and the Technology Coach for my school, it’s my job to look at the issue of integrating technology into the classroom from four different perspectives:

1. What are “best practices” when it comes to using technology in instruction and with students?  What strategies will enable us to be more effective users of technology?  How can we make time for training, collaboration, and integration in an already crowded school day?

2. What are the technology literacy, media literacy, and information literacy standards that we should be addressing for each grade level?  How do our content standards mesh with these literacy standards?

3. What tools are affordable and available in my school and my district?  How much tech support can I manage at the building level?  How much tech support is available at the district level?

4. How can I ensure teacher and administrator buy-in for technology integration projects?  How can I involve more stakeholders in the planning and implementation process?  How can I be an agent for change in my school and my district?

I’m struggling with the answers to all of these questions, particularly the last one.  That’s why I’ll be participating in a free webinar on April 5, 2010 at the TL Virtual Cafe.  The webinar is titled What it Means to Be a Change Agent in Educational Technology, and will feature Ben Hazzard and Rodd Lucier. 

Rodd Lucier I’m familiar with, since I’ve been following his blog (The Clever Sheep) and listening to his podcast (Teacher 2.0) for the past year and a half.  I’ve never heard of Ben Hazzard until now, but even a cursory glance at his website tells me that he’s someone to watch. 

You’ve probably heard the title of this post referred to as “the Chinese curse,” but you may not realize that it’s supposedly the first in a trio of curses.  The other two curses in the series are, “May you come to the attention of those in authority,” and “May you find what you are looking for.”  One can only hope….


Photo Attribution: “Screen Technology”