21st Century Literacy
At my school we have a Tutorial program where students are scheduled to attend tutorial as a place for homework assistance. Because it is a scheduled class, attendance is mandatory for those that sign up. The coming year will find tutorial becoming quite a bit more structured with a focus on literacy. We recently had a meeting where our special education teachers were outlining the program to those of us who will be working in the tutorial room. Needless to say, what they had outlined was traditional literacy. The reason for the renewed push for literacy is due mostly to the fact that the math curriculum has been completely overhauled to include inquiry and problem based learning. Without a firm ability to read, decipher information and apply concepts, students will struggle with this new math. So, I understand the rationale for the new structure and can see its value to students. However, because of what I have learned in this class, I suggested that we also include digital literacy in the mix. I was specifically referring to the skills needed to search the internet, read information, interpret and judge whether information was legitimate or not. To me, these are very important skills needed for all classes. Everyone agreed, thankfully, and it will be added to the tutorial curriculum.
Afterwards, I read through the National Council of Teacher of English report (2009) called Writing between the Lines-And Everywhere Else. They explain how the research they have done shows how the writing that students do outside of school is very different than the writing that they do in school. This polarity is a huge problem, in my opinion. The report goes on to outline three aspects of 21st century literacy: (1) The ability to find information and judge its accuracy; (2) The skill to read and understand many diverse types of print and online text; (3) The capability to innovate and use knowledge creatively. This information supported my push to include digital literacy in the tutorial classrooms. As a non-English teacher it is tough to be a leader in this regard. What I try to do in my classes is promote the three skills outlined above. In fact, I have already been doing this for years with the science projects that I assign! Unfortunately, this has not always been seen as a useful form of literacy. I wonder what the best way is to provide leadership within a school setting? How can teachers work together to move literacy in the 21st century even though some resistance exists?
National Council of Teachers of English (2009). Writing between the lines and everywhere else. Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Press/WritingbetweentheLinesFinal.pdf