Deictic Days



New Literacy Demands Create a Moving Target for Teachers

Approaches for the Technological Age


The Internet is a powerful tool. It can open new worlds, build new relationships, and inspire creativity in students. Students can lose hours searching, without ever finding information that is relevant or factually sound. As Internet resources become more ubiquitous in society, our students’ success will become dependent on their ability to successfully search, navigate, and employ the Internet to fulfill a purpose

Technology is transforming the nature of literacy. A school’s literary culture was once defined between the parameters of paper, pencils and printed page. The definition of literacy has slowly evolved through the years but the transformations engendered by the digital age have greatly energized this advancement.  Because of technology, our definition of reading has changed to include websites, e-books, e-mail, discussion boards, chat rooms, instant messaging, and listservs. Since its meaning may ultimately depend on what society expects its literate citizens to do, we might define literacy as the skill sets necessary when using information to accomplish goals.  
This new particularization is based partly on the demands of the global economy. That all encompassing entity increasingly relies on information flow to solve problems. In response, today’s technically infused, horizontal workplace encourages decision making at all levels.  Consequently workers must be able to use the latest tech tools to identify problems, locate salutary information, critically evaluate the corrective data, synthesize the new findings into existing formulations to solve the quandary, and communicate the solution.

In order to prepare students for this demanding climate, they must learn to interact quickly and accurately with the Internet and the attending software.. However, the Internet  can be intimidating. Traditional literacy skills taught in schools do not properly prepare students for the types or quantity of resources available to them on the Internet. To progress through this brave new world, students  must use enhanced iterations of traditional literacy.  Specifically, the new literacy hones in on the following abilities and dispositions: identifying main ideas and key words, formulating focus questions (often in collaboration and in communication with others), comprehending search engine results and navigating the web to locate information. A subset of this last skill includes making inferences about the veracity and pertinence of the new information as well as the relevance of a discovered site.
They are also required to synthesize the findings (often embedded in hyperlinks or the topological features of graphics) into existing schemas.  This, in turn, often leads to the development of new perspectives. Finally, students must know how to use the Internet to disseminate these discoveries a wide audience

Importantly, these elevated iterations of literacy build on prescriptive literacy (good readers have always asked questions, determined important ideas and made inferences). Accordingly, the new literacy shares many skills common to foundational skills but with an increasing layer of complexity.  For instance, in its technical nuance, decoding for comprehension (constructing of meaning from a text) includes deciphering clues that indicate hyperlinked texts, graphics, meaning-bearing icons, animations, pictures, maps, charts and graphs that are not static. Hence the learner must master a novel array of cues.

Other reading skills must be enhanced as well. For instance, orthodox monitoring reveals awareness of a purpose for reading and when to skim, scan or read more carefully. Because of the sheer volume of text on the Internet, these abilities are crucial. Then too,  the Web has information several layers removed in hyperlinks or at other sites. In addition their path can be ever changing because information on the Internet is ever changing, with websites continually being updated, removed, or remodeled. Text on the Internet is not static whereas the text of a book remains the same each time the book is opened. 
Additionally, most of the text on the Internet is expository. Being able to read such text requires familiarity with its concepts, vocabulary, and organizational format. Expository text  found on the Internet is usually written as hypertext where highlighted elements within it, such as words or phrases, are linked to other texts. Each link can lead to a definition, additional information, or a video or audio example related to the original linked word or phrase. Students will have to negotiate all these hurdles as they continue to measure their own progress.

Like patent leather shoes, traditional knowledge reflects up as well.  Since search engines employ hierarchical categories of information, time-tested word sorts, those that emphasize the general concept as an umbrella for particular examples, are especially useful. So too are exercises that distinguish fact from fiction and author bias.
In conclusion, since today’s most successful learning climates are child-centered and collaborative. Since students are often ahead of teachers in technical know-how, the following strategies are important. Teachers must construct contexts for learning in which expert students support others. Effective learning experiences will be continually dependent on social learning strategies and the ability of the teacher to coordinate literacy learning opportunities among students who are new to the genre, with those whose literary skills need remediation, as well as with others who are masters of their own special technical domains. In addition, conventional skills such as phonemic awareness, word recognition, decoding knowledge, vocabulary knowledge, comprehension, inferential reasoning, spelling, response to literature, and the writing process should be practiced with print before moving on to the Web.

Lastly, the new nature of information is digital, networked, abundant, and without borders. Consequently, the growing diversity of language and culture within the global community has given rise to distinct perspectives. Understanding and becoming sensitized to these different backgrounds and cultures is key in learning how to learn from others. In this manner, collaboration and communicative interaction, so necessary for success in the new millennium’s educational and business arenas can be brought to fruition. 

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-Eagleton, M.

Here are some helpful sites that will help elementary school children become more technically literate

Wiggio (http://wiggio.com) is a free on line toolkit that makes it easy to work with and cooordinate groups.  It is simple to use and has intuitive interface that makes it easy for students, parents as well as teachers. Wiggio is a place to share and manage files, manage group calendars, poll your group, post links, set up conference calls (including voice, webcam, and shared whiteboard space. In addition, they can chat online, send text, voice and email messages.
Symbaloo (http://edu.symbaloo.com) Sharing the Web with students can be a challenge. Websites often have URLs that seem unending. Students can copy these incorrectly or might not understand all the symbols. Symbaloo was created with educators in mind. It lets you gather all of your favorite online tools and sites into a web mix about the topics you teach. Symbaloo web mixes can be published and shared with colleagues, students, and parents.

Weblist (http://weblist.me) Weblist lets you pull together and organize content on the web. Create a list of URLs centered on a theme and combine them into one easy-to- navigate URL weblist. The list can be saved as a bookmark or a homepage. Weblist is particularly useful for the primary elementary classroom because of its visual aspect.
The visual organization is perfect for younger students who may not be able to navigate links designated by text alone.

Answer Garden (http://answergarden.ch)
Answer Garden (http://answergarden.ch) Answer Garden can be used as an online answer collection tool or be embedded into a website, wiki, or blog. Question creation is fast and easy. Just enter the question and click “create”. There is no login or registration required. Students can post answers to questions by entering their own text answer or by clicking on, and submitting existing answers. Answers are represented as a word cloud. Twenty-five answers are visible per garden but as students submit the same answer as another student, that word will grow bigger. Answer Garden is a fun way for students to brainstorm, plan and work together.

Kerpoof (http://kerpoof.com) Kerpoof is a necessity in any elementary classroom. This free online creativity center lets students create their own pictures, drawings, storybooks, movies, and practice spelling.

Game for Science (http://www.gameforscience.ca) Game for Science is a virtual world for kids dedicated to getting them excited about science and technology.

Skype an Author Network (http://skypeanauthor.wetpaint.com) The Skype an Author Network provides k-12 teachers and librarians with a way to connect authors, books, and young readers through virtual visits.

Neo K12 (http://neok12.com) Neo K12 is a comprehensive collection of educational videos, lessons, and games for students in K-12

Stixy (http://stixy.com) Stixy is a virtual bulletin board. Users can add notes, photos, documents, and to-do items  to the Stixy bulletin board. After content has been added to a board, it can be shared with others of your choosing. Those that have been invited to the Stixy board can be given permission to add content, upload, or edit.

Glogster (http://edu.glogster.com) Glogster is a great creativity site.  The tag line is “poster yourself.” A ‘glog’ is basically an online poster web page. Students can combine text, pictures,
graphics, video, and audio to create an interactive online poster.

Wiglington & Wenks Virtual World (http://www.wiglingtonandwenks.com) In this virtual world, students are dropped into the middle of a story where they become world travelers to places around the real-world, meeting historical characters, playing brain games, building culture-inspired houses, exploring secret locations, and solving ancient mysteries. There
are 100 educational real world and imaginary places for students to visit from the past, present, and the future.
Secret Builders (http://secretbuilders.com/teachers.html) Secret builders is a virtual world for kids (age 8-12) that introduces them to fictional characters from history and literature.

Live Binders (http://livebinders.com) Live Binders is a website that allows you to view links like pages in a book instead of urls on a page. PDF and Word documents can also be combined with links in a binder. Live Binders are easy to share from the Live Binder website, on desktops, or embedded in a class blog, wiki, or website.
Live Binders can be used as online digital portfolios for students. Any Word or PDF document
that a student creates can be added to a binder along with any web content they create.

Museum Box (http://museumbox.e2bn.org/index) Museum Box is based on the work of Thomas Clarkson who collected items in a box to help him in his argument for the abolition of slavery. He collected items in a box to demonstrate to others the fine craftsmanship and abilities of the African culture. He used his box as a sort of traveling museum to aid him in his debate. .
The Museum Box website provides a place for students to collect information and arguments in a virtual museum box of their own.

Creaza (http://creaza.com)is a suite of web-based creativity tools. There are four tools in the Creaza toolbox that will help your students organize knowledge and tell stories in new creative ways.
Mindomo is the mind mapping tool. Students can use this tool to visually organize thoughts, ideas, links, and other information.
Cartoonist is a cartooning tool that students can use to create multimedia stories.
Cartoonist can be used to create comic strips or more personal digital narratives.
Movie Editor helps students produce their own movies based on Creaza’s thematic
universes, videos, images, and sound clips. Students can use the Movie Editor to edit a short film, create a news cast, a commercial, a film trailer, etc. Movie editor can import film clips, sound clips, and images to tell a story.
Audio Editor is the final tool in Creaza’s creative suite. Audio Editor is a tool that allows
your students to produce audio clips. Students can use Audio Editor to splice together their own newscasts, radio commercials, radio interlude, etc.

The National Archives Experience: Digital Vaults(http://www.digitalvaults.org/#/create/) The National Archives has put together an amazing site where students can create digital
content with primary resources. Students can search photographs, documents, and other records and collect them. Students can use collected items to create their own digital poster or to make a movie.

Shidonni (http://www2.shidonni.com) Shidonni is an intriguing web application for kids. Shidonni is an imaginary world that kids create. It provides a virtual universe where kids can create their
own imaginary world, play, and share games and interact with each other in a safe environment online. Kids can create their own animals or characters online and make them interactive. Their
characters actually move and interact with the kids (no programming required!). They can create a world for their character, feed their character, write stories starring their characters, and play
games using their character.

Ed.VoiceThread (http://ed.voicethread.com) is a secure collaborative network designed specifically for the k-12 school environment. Teachers and students can collaborate around almost any type of media including voice, text, webcam, and drawing commentary in a secure environment. Access is restricted to k-12 educators, students,
and administrators to ensure safe classroom collaboration.
Ed.VoiceThread is an accountable environment, which means that all users are
responsible for their content and behavior.

Shelfari (http://shelfari.com) Shelfari is a virtual bookshelf that you create to show off books that you have read and recommend. It is a Web 2.0 site that allows you to connect with students, other teachers, and parents.
Shelfari is a great way to discover new titles, discuss books, start an online book club, and show
others what you are reading. You can show off your Shelfari bookshelf on your blog, classroom
website, or other social networking site of choice.

Weebly (http://education.weebly.com) Weebly is a place for you and your students to create free websites and blogs.

Think Quest (http://thinkquest.org) Think Quest is a free online community for learning. Learning is social, Think Quest engages and inspires students by providing a wider (but protected) audience. It turns students into multimedia authors for their classmates and
allows them to think and learn together. This is more than a blog, students can hold
debates, brainstorming sessions, polls, and more.

Fotobabble (http://fotobabble.com) is an online creation tool that allows students to create and share talking photos. It is very easy to use. Just upload a photo, record your voice, and send or embed it.

Fakebook (http://classtools.net/fb/home/page) Fakebook allows teachers and students to create imaginary profile pages for study purposes. Use Fakebook to chart the plot of a book, the development of a character, a series of historical events, the debates and relationships between people, and so on!

http://bit.ly/GC6wH3 - podcast and screencast free software.



The Cisco Kid, a combination of the Lone Ranger, Robin Hood and Don Juan:

Masked Hero of Many Media

Books, comic books, silent films, talkies, radio, musical stage plays, television, newpaper strips, puzzles, clothing, photos, posters, badges, many food products, and the Internet.


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