Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Does It Mean to Be Literate in the 21st Century

Before watching the video embedded in this post, ask yourself, "What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century." Write down your answer somewhere if you think you will forget it after watching the video. Then watch the video, and ask yourself the question again. So what are your thoughts on what it means to be literate in the 21st century? The producers of the video, educators, stepped into teachers' classrooms and asked this question and video-recorded the responses. What did you think of the responses you heard in the video? How do you think students in the elementary, middle, and high school grades would react to the video? What do you think would be their definition of literacy? What literacy skills do you think it is important to teach?


Danielle N. said...

Before watching the video, I asked myself the question and to me, being literate in the 21st century meant to be able to effectively read, write, speak, and listen as well as collaborate and communicate with others both in person and by using technology. It means knowing enough and being savvy enough with tech tools to use them comfortably and successfully for your purpose.

After viewing the video, my definition has expanded. One teacher discussed literacy as reading and understanding the world around us, a broad definition but an interesting one to consider with all the possible implications of the idea. Others mentjoned the importance of visual media literacy, reading and understanding signs and symbols, which I had not considered. Social and emotional literacy were also brought up and were other thoughts that were not included in my original definition, although they are necessary ingredients for successful and productive collaboration with others. Given that our expectations for students using and being proficient with different types of technology are now higher than ever before (as they should be) I am glad to see that technology has been incorporated into the Common Core under both reading and writing.

One question I had was, what is critical literacy? One of the teachers mentioned it and I would like to know what that means. I am guessing it has to do with being critical consumers of the vast amount of information available to us at any given moment and being discerning enough to research and seek out high quality resources.

Mary Beth Cadieux said...

I think literacy is still being able to read, interact and connect with text in the 21st Century. However, I think the ways in which we read and interact with text have changed drastically. Therefore the ways in which literacy is experienced definitely is different in the 21st Century, mostly because of an increase of technology and globalization. Students not can communicate through blogging, tweeting, and through utilizing tools such as Youtube and Edmodo. I think a lot of the "literacies" mentioned are what I am familiar with as multiple intelligences. (And regardless of the word play of "reading" a situation, person, etc, I still think literacy refers to reading some type of text.) This is not to say that MI and technology are less important or relevant for preparing our students, but I believe this is related to the vehicals in which literacy is taught, rather than literacy itself. Additionally, It is important that our students are able to thrive socially and emotionally as colaboration is so important to thriving in a work force. This is taught through a classroom culture as well as heterogeneous and homogeneous groping.

On another note, I did love how critical literacy was mentioned. I had not thought about this previously, but it is so important for our students to be able to evaluate the material they are reading. This skill can help them develop informed opinions and to realize bias.

Christina N said...

Before watching the video, when I asked myself what being literate in the 21st century meant to me, I stated that it meant a student is knowledgeable in reading and writing in different sources like a newspaper, the web, a blog, etc. Students need to be able to, as Danielle said, read, write, speak, and listen to effectively communicate or follow through on a purpose.
After watching the video, many teachers made some excellent points that I had not thought of. I really liked the point made by the administrator, that literacy also includes students being able to read people, read relationships and connect to people. To do this, I think there needs to be a strong balance between technology and real human connections.
Other points that I found valuable in the video were that teachers are becoming a "guide on the side" and another teacher described it as a " partnership in learning". We need to realize that students know much more than we do at times, and classrooms should be more of a collaboration.
A question that arises from this discussion is whether a teacher can be effective if they do not know how to use different technologies?

The Torg said...

Okay, my answer to start with:

To be 21st century literate means to be a savvy negotiator of digital spaces. Next, I'd probably start to list features of being savvy.

Now I'll watch the video.


Felicia's Blog said...

Prior to watching the video, I defined literacy as being able to read and write effectively. This also means one can comprehend the information they absorb either through reading or observing something. I also considered key terms like being able to explain, demonstrate and interpret.

I agreed with many of the various definitions. Although I realized that I didn’t specifically include technology, I do feel that in this 21 st century, being able to interpret a video or comprehend articles one may find online, extends to technology.

One aspect I did not consider was literacy being connected to social interactions. It is important for individuals to be able to read people helps when trying to develop relationships interact in society.

I also agree with Christina N. It seems there is this constant discussion of experienced teachers being unfamiliar with or afraid of technology, so it is possible that this aspect of literacy is not being taught.

Brianna said...

Before watching the video, I thought that the idea of literacy has to change with technology, but when I was going through school, literacy meant that you could read, write and communicate. With pen and paper that it. In the span of 15+years since I was sitting in my fifth grade classroom, handwriting has taken a back seat,classrooms have ipads for reading and to communicate means that you need internet access and an understanding of email, blogging and social media sites. The point that I took from the video is that these students will need this new type of literacy to be successful in the future. Students need to learn new tools and meanings, text message terminology and about digital footprints. I understand that we need to prepare students for the 21st century which includes a heavy focus on technology, but I firmly believe that we should do his by using these tools to teach the broader foundations that haven't changed since I was in fifth grade- how to talk to people, how to understand text and how to engage in learning.

Rachel Cocola said...

This video brings up a topic that I am particularly interested in. I think that it is not just being "literate". There is so much more to education. It involves multiple literacies not just reading and writing. We absolutely must expand this to include technology. Students must understand how to use websites, blogs and the infinite resources that are available to them. The comment that I really liked in the video was that kids need to be able to read in the world. This means that they need to be able to fill out job applications and read directions in addition to understanding that academic language. I think literacy is a concept that is not singular and it will always expand to add new skills and in this century, it happens to include technological advances. I look forward to letting my students educate me and to use technology in my classroom.

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