Reflections on Literacy in the Information Age
Reflections on Literacy in the Information AgeBryan Di GregorioPrevious PerceptionsI used to think digital literacy and computer literacy were one and the samethat in order to be digitally literate you should know how to access records and information through online search engines using keywords. I thought that having this knowledge was extremely helpful, but not necessary because we still have access to libraries with trained professionals to aide us in our quest for information. In fact, there was a time in my youth when I felt that studying certain facts and other information was pointless because I could simply look it up on Google if I ever needed to know it. I also believed if the content (from media or the internet) was not relevant to the subject and topic in question then it had no usefulness in a lesson.Current PerceptionsAfter reviewing some videos on internet literacies I now see the value in teaching these literacies even if the content isnt related to the subject you are teaching. Teaching students how to analyze various media that are well known or popular to them allows students to look at something that sparks their interest in a whole new way. It also helps develop higher order thinking skills and increases their own proficiency in digital literacy. Being digitally literate in todays world can be a valuable assetit builds on current schemas that students will be able to recollect when they leave grade school and move on to college and/or careers.Current Perceptions (cont.)I would still like to know how this could be seamlessly integrated into a curriculum that currently pressures teachers into teaching to high stakes, end-of-year exams. There is certainly value in digital literacies, but lessons that incorporate various media may depend on adequate resources and timewhich could inevitably deter teachers from teaching digital literacies except in rare circumstances. I have had professors and also attended workshops that taught the use of different internet literacies. I found what I learned to be incredibly helpful especially with research projects and creating my own lesson plans that use technology.Lesson Plan Ex: 111-12th gradeU.S. HistoryStudent Product: Students are to find and analyze an article that discusses a variety of topics on the American Civil War including the effects Reconstruction had on the South; what advantages and disadvantages did both sides have; what were the main causes of the war? Along with analysis of the article, students are to provide annotations that detail the process of their search, the validity of source(s), expected knowledge level of reader, purpose of the source, credentials of the authorLesson Plan Ex: 1 (cont.)Lesson Overview: The lesson will cover 2-3 class periods if on regular schedule and 1-2 periods on block scheduletime is dependent on how much progress is made. I will start by discussing the search process and outlining different tools on the web (ex: Eric) and in the school and public libraries. We will pick an example topic and attempt to find the sources together in class and/or in the library to show the students the step by step procedure on how to access and utilize these tools. I will instruct the class on proper analysis procedure (not simply summarizing) and provide some questions to ask oneself during the process which will also aide the task of producing the descriptive annotations.Lesson Plan Ex: 210-11th gradeWorld HistoryStudent Product: Students will watch a video discussing an authors reasons for why Europeans conquered many different native North and South American peoples, tribes, and civilizations (Guns, Germs, & Steel). During the video, students will be required to answer some basic content related questions. Afterwards, they will get together in small groups and answer some critical thinking questions regarding the videos author/host, use of imagery (verbal or visual), purpose of the video, and what emotions did the video incite. For homework students will be asked to recall a program they have watched (non-fictional) and answer similar questions regarding its use of imagery or lack thereof, its purpose, and what emotions did it expect to incite in its audienceLesson Plan Ex: 2 (cont.)Lesson Overview: I will start with a mini-lecture discussing the background of the author/host of the video, some common perceptions of the video in the historical community, and reviewing historical details of the events that pertains to the video. After the video and group discussion we will have whole-class discussion about the video. I will then ask students to go home and watch a program (via Youtube or broadcast tv) that is non-fictional and something they would normally watch otherwise and answer the same set of critical thinking questions.Lesson Plan Ex: 310-12th gradeEconomicsStudent Product: Students, in groups of 4, will create a spreadsheet consisting of all their data and percentages according to career salary and living cost information (for Memphis area) which they will find on the web by using fiscal responsibility strategies previously discussed. They will then graph in pie chart form, the percentages of each individual living cost. They then will read and answer the questions from their Think Sheet by analyzing their data.Spreadsheet Example (click here) Think Sheet (click here)
Lesson Plan Ex: 3 (cont.)Lesson Overview: I will start with a review of fiscal responsibility and potential strategies. Students, in groups of 4, will pick a career from a box at random and using this information they will find and locate appropriate salary information on the web. They will also be required to find information regarding living costs (ex: how much will rent or mortgage costs be using mortgage calc, how much will they spend on food, clothing, entertainment, etc.) For all of this information, we will go through an example step by step together. I will also facilitate the process as students are searching for information themselves. Some information, such as average annual tax percentages, average mortgage rates, etc. will already be provided by me to give students a head start. This lesson will cover 3-4 class periods depending on length of periods.