Someone Please Stop My Feet from Dancing..

Room To GrowOn a tip from Dean Shareski’s daily links, I found this gem to work with from the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Executive Committee Meeting:

TOWARD A DEFINITION OF 21st-CENTURY LITERACIESAdopted by the NCTE Executive Committee February 15, 2008

Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and
communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As
society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has
increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the
twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide
range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These
literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in
virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in
the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life
possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups.
Twenty-first century readers and writers need to

• Develop proficiency with the tools of technology

• Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally

• Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes

• Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information

• Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts

• Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

The timeliness of this statement is not lost on me as I begin to craft my idea for what a 21st Century writing class should look like. “These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in
virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable.” How great is that?

Yet, somewhere within me there is the skeptic heart that tells me the same reaction I got when I proposed the idea of teaching visual literacy to our English Department will greet me with this new class as well. The same questions of time (there is not enough of it to add anything new), student apathy, and clinging to what was done in the past will be brought up.

I need the statistics and rationale to back up what this will be about. I need your success stories. How are you effectively teaching writing these days?

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Room to Grow,” from tlindenbaum’s photostream


3 thoughts on “Someone Please Stop My Feet from Dancing..

  1. Patrick,

    We teach writing (at our high school) in a mix of traditional and new literacies. Teachers are given free reign to experiment and use different mediums and media and the results are positive. While some teachers have their kids keep s blog of their reflections while writing a research paper, others still have them complete index cards when they go to the library. All focus on issues of varied sources, copyright, perspective and are assisted by our media specialist (who teaches and models for the kids on her SMART Board!)

    The key is academic freedom for teachers; focusing on the learning of students and not the methodology of teachers, and consulting and shared curricular decision making rather than a top down approach.


  2. Barry,

    I like this sentence: “focusing on the learning of students and not the methodology of teachers.”

    Which methods do the students prefer? If you looked at an analysis of the learning using a variety of methods, what would you see if you compared the teachers using one method v. teachers using another? What I am really asking is if there is a difference between what one group of students is receiving and what the other is receiving?

    We have such fluctuation in methodology within one department. I am trying to introduce options for teachers to teach things differently than they have always done. Some are gravitating, others see no point. It has me wondering whether or not students benefit more one way or the other. Most likely we’ll see maximum benefit in being exposed to both.

    Glad you’re back, by the way.

  3. As evidenced by the poll I gave to my students (which I believe you saw on my blog from a few weeks ago), they certainly prefer teachers who teaching using technology, but it is not a strong preference. Neutral to agree in most cases, but not strongly agree. I’m not sure if that is teen apathy or that fact that both new and traditional work for them.

    I think that most of our HS students will have between 4-6 English teachers by the time they graduate, (especially with our new 11th and 12th grade selectives). With that much variety, varied teaching styles can hit varied student learning styles.

    It goes back to a conversation you and I have had before. Itis not about how teacher’s teach; it is how student’s learn. I’m beginning to formulate an argument that it might be beneficial for students to be taught in traditional modes and then on their own apply this learning to their world to make sense, rather than having the teacher make the sense for them. (Still working on this idea.)


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