Sunday, August 17, 2014

Teaching and the New Literacies

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In order for teachers to effectively and authentically integrate new and digital literacies in the classroom, teachers must have the knowledge of the skills students need to successfully use the new literacies.  Teachers must also have knowledge of the technology, pedagogy, and the subject content.   They should assess student skills and use their student’s background knowledge to leverage learning. Teachers must remain up-to-date in technology.  Finally, teachers should be reflective of their experiences and practices of integrating the new literacies in their teaching to improve their teaching.

Reading and writing online is very different from reading textbooks and traditional classroom writing.  The organization, format, and characteristics of the Internet and other ICT tools have changed the way students read and write when doing so online.  As identified in the article Navigating the Cs of Change by J. Gregory McVerry, Lisa Zawilinski and W. Ian O'Byrne, these new literacies require students to develop such skills as creativity, communication, comprehension, critical thinking, and collaboration.  The new literacies are social in nature and emphasize collaboration and discussion.   
As presented by Mishra and Koehler in the article Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge, a teacher’s knowledge and skill in the application of technology, pedagogy, and content, as defined in the TPACK model, are required to effectively integrate technology in teaching.  In order to develop the student skills required by the new and digital literacies, teachers must employ the concepts of TPACK.  They need knowledge of the ICTs used in the new literacies, have a clear understanding of what they want to teach, and must utilize teaching methods that are conducive to both.
Students are using technology outside the classroom and developing skills.  As presented in The Handbook of Research in New Literacies - Chapter 9, The Web as a Source of Information for Students in K-12 Education by ELS Kuiper and Monique Volman, teachers should have an understanding of their student’s technology skill set.  Teachers can build upon the skills students already have in order to leverage learning. When creating lessons, teachers can take into consideration their student’s background knowledge to make learning activities meaningful, authentic, and relevant to the student.  This will also leverage learning by motivating students to learn.  

Teachers should hold the disposition that continuous professional development is essential to becoming a good teacher.  Technology changes so rapidly that it requires teachers, who want to effectively integrate the new literacies in their classrooms, to be in touch and connected to information about the changes and innovations in technology.  By participating in good professional development, joining communities of practice, and establishing personal learning networks, teachers can empower themselves and learn about innovations that affect their teaching. As William Richardson states about teachers, “If your school system hasn’t changed a year from now, I get it...but if you haven’t changed a year from now, you’re a failure.”   It is essential that teachers continue to learn and to develop their craft.

Reflection is a good process for teachers to use in order to improve their teaching practices. Reflection is especially useful when implementing new practices.  In order to effectively integrate the new and digital literacies, teachers should be
flexible and motivated to adapt lessons in response to their personal reflections.  

The convenience and availability of the Internet has revolutionized how people are getting information and communicating.   Obtaining the skills associated with the new literacies will help students learn how to find, read, process, and communicate using the Internet.  Students who develop and master these skills will be prepared for their  future.

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