One of my main focuses for the school year is literacy. One of my main focuses every year is literacy, but I’m trying to step outside of the professional echo chamber that I think I’ve been a bit stuck in for a year or two and take a fresh new perspective. I kind of feel like I’m starting over as a teacher. And I am in a way, as I’m teaching grade seven again for the first time in almost twenty years. It’s where I started and the feeling of coming full circle is a constant in my mind.
Back to literacy. I enjoyed Will Richardson’s keynote at the CUEBC fall conference and wanted to hear more from him in person while I had the chance, so I attended his session on literacy later in the day. During his keynote he talked about how there were so many two word phrases with the word learning in them: mobile learning, e-learning, distance learning, etc., etc., etc. Will reminded us that it’s all ‘learning’. Do we need all those extra words?
He talked during his literacy session about the same sort of thing: digital literacy, visual literacy, information literacy. Isn’t it all just literacy?
So then what is literacy. Without looking it up, I’d say literacy is a person’s ability to understand and process information and to communicate. The dictionary I just looked in (written in 2006) defines literacy as “the ability to read and write”. My definition is an expanded version of that and I think it’s expanded because people like Will and experiences with students like those sitting in front of me have made it expand.
I want my students to be able to read and write. I also want them to be able to communicate through a multimedia slideshow. And look at a painting and tell you about the elements and principles of design. And be able to find a reliable, good source of information if they have a question they want to answer. And be able to critically read through information online. And, and, and, and, and…
I’m guessing that not only have I come full circle back to students in grade seven, which has prompted a reinvigoration in my practice including the literacy focus, but I’m thinking that being a teacher of students in today’s world, not to mention students in the Elementary Connected Classrooms project, is forcing me to shift my ideas and learn more about how I define literacy.
More to come…