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New Literacies

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 In the past there has been a sole focus on traditional methods of print in the cars room, however with the technology so rapidly evolving new conceptions of reading and wringing have emerge. Because the internet was so rapidly adopted over so many places, teachers must confront this new type of literary. While most schools today have internet access the average student in the U.S. spend about twelve minutes a week at the computer. This is hardly enough time for students to learn the new literacies that the internet brings.

            While there are problems and challenges with trying to bring new literacies into the classroom, the teacher can over come these challenges if they realize the importance of these new literacies and embrace the changes that come with it. This article, "Literacy Instruction with Digital and Media Technologies" by Diane Barone, and Todd E. Wright, focuses one teacher that has successfully intergraded technology into his classroom. Todd Wright is a teacher at Fernely Elementary, in Nevada. In his classroom students are issued their own personal laptops. The laptops are used by students throughout the day. Students up load files to be used for the day, do constrictive bell work activates, use instant messaging to discuss with partner, sequence events of a story, blog about books that they are reading, participate in Internet-based center activist all during the first part of the day. The students use the internet respond to an interactive writing prompt, which they save electorally into a folder for later visitation. Students download their home from the classroom server for the night.

            Fernley Elementary School's goal is that 80% of instruction would be supported with technology in the fourth and fifth grades. The school started by investing n a computer lab, and moved to having several classrooms with one-to-one laptops. Todd says that brining technology to the classroom has been a source of creativity and enthusiasm. Apple as worked with Todd to provide professional development for all of Fernely Elementary. Students at Fernely have become so proficient with new literacy because the school carefully scaffolds new literacies for all students. New literacy instruction begins in kindergarten.

            The question on everyone's mind of course, is if this new technology increases student leaning. A lot of the new literacy skills not those that are assessed on standared test so it is hare to measure the additional knowledge that the students might have gained. Since 2002 Fernley has made adequate yearly progress every year.

All in all Todd's class room exemplify integrating new literacies into the classroom. We know from our reading and class lecture that it is really important to teach student use of new literacies that come with technology. Solely using paper and pencil is highly impractical for preparing students for the world we live in to day. Even though students are not assessed on the skills that new literacies bring, it is still important to teach them. A good literacy teacher can certainly prepare students for standardized test using these new literacies. 

Fostering an Appreciation for Nonfiction

   Many elementary age students, as well as secondary and college students, dread the thought of having to read text that is nonfiction.  I know that I personally hate reading about dry dates, facts and statistics.  For many, myself included, this may be due to the fact that I was never introduced to nonfiction reading in a cooperative and inviting way.  However, a third grade teacher in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, recently conducted her own small study to see if she could foster a love for nonfiction texts in her third graders through the use of literature circles.  This teacher understood that literature circles provide optimal environments for students to share what they find interesting in the books that they read; however, literature circles often involve the use of fiction texts and students are often more enamored by fictional literature.  So to begin with, this teacher suggests that a classroom have two goals for students: to feel ownership and to take responsibility his or her learning.  Both of these goals may be accomplished through the use of literature circles.

   to being with, the literature circles discussed in this article, "Bridging the Gap Between Fiction and Nonfiction in the Literature Circle Setting," consisted of no more than five students; in fact, it was found that four students in each circle created the best results.  In each literature circle, there were six roles for both fictional and nonfictional texts, however, the roles differed depending on the type.  For fictional texts, the roles included Artful Artist, Word Wizard, Discussion Leader, Dramatic Reenactor, Story Elements Correspondent, and Personal connector.  Literature circles that used nonfictional texts also had the roles of Personal Connector, Word Wizard, and Discussion Leader, yet Fantastic FAct Finder, Timeline Traveler, and Vital Statistics Collector were add to the list.

   To begin the use of literature circles, fictional texts would be a good place to start.  By using fictional texts, the students can focus more on becoming effective with the literature circle discussions and such before having to worry about to much.  After about two months of modeling and using literature circles with fictional texts, it may be time to introduce nonfictional texts.  It is suggested in the article that biographies be used to bridge the gap between fiction and nonfiction because they contain elements of both reading categories.  Once students are seen collaboratively constructing meaning for what they read through use of prior knowledge, information from the text, making logical interpretations of what they read, creating subtopics, and building on others' comments, it may be time to introduce more diverse nonfictional texts.  When students can accurately read, respond, react, construct meaning, and discuss these diverse nonfictional texts, it is clear that they are responding to the texts in an aesthetic and efferent way.

   However, if students are struggling to do all of this, the choosing fiction and nonfiction companion books may be helpful.  This will support students understanding of the general nonfictional concept before the nitty gritty details are introduced.  Often times, by organizing literature circles in this way, students will be found cruising through the fiction books so that they can get to the nonfiction companion books.

   Even though many benefits from literature circles have been discussed above, I would also like to mention a  few more.  Literature circles provide the skills needed to discuss topics and problem solve across all curriculum areas.  They improve students' willingness to listen to not only their peers, but other as well, and to value the ideas of others.  Literature circles truly put students in charge of their own learning and gain a sense of empowerment in their lives.

   All in all, literature circles give readers an opportunity to become literate, become critical thinkers, and create their own destination in the reading process.  Students learn best when given the opportunity to engage with new ideas and make them their own.  Learning best occurs when interactions of the individual and others are present and social support is present.  Literature circles are meant to provide all of these components for students to increase their attitude towards reading and reading skills.  Perhaps if literature circles were used in introducing more nonfictional texts to reader, an interest in reading and discussing nonfictional texts and topics would develop in more and more students.  After all, readers will encounter information and nonfictional texts for the rest of their lives, so they should be given the opportunity to learn to enjoy and appreciate this type text.


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Images of Reading and the Reader by Frank Serafini, is an article that talks about the importance of showing children what reading is and what good readers do.  This article is not so much about parents and teachers showing students how to be good readers but literature showing children who to be good readers.  He investigated children's books that depicted reading and analysis what the book was showing through the hidden curriculum.  Although these books were excellent books, showing the fun things that could be accomplished by reading, they never depicted children talking about the text.  They showed that reading took time and practice and that if one stuck at it one would get it.  But they never showed children having classroom discussions about the text.  This was a problem that Frank Sefafini saw in children's literature about reading.    

I thought these were very interesting findings.  I had never thought about this before, but it is an excellent thing to look at.  What else are children getting from the books they read and that we read to them?   We have talked and read a lot about modeling in this class, showing children how to be good readers and showing them that we are also good readers.  This article goes one step further then just those around children but also challenging the texts to be modeling good readers.  Not that there are not texts that model good readers, but more text that model good readers in a sociocultural perspective.  More texts that are showing children who share what they know and discuss topics with others around them.  We have also talked and read a lot about the importance of collaboration in classrooms, that most children learn better if they are able to talk about their findings with others.  The shred and collaboration aspect of learning is crucial for student learning and should be modeled by what they read.

I never realized how many books there were on just showing children what a complicated process reading was.  This is very important to keep motivation of the child going so that the she or he does not get discouraged when learning to read.  However if there were even more books on this topic and more books that stressed the sociocultural aspect of reading that would be wonderful as well. 


Critical Literacy Practices

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In the article "Democracy's Young Heroes: An Instructional Model of Critical Literacy Practices," Vincent Ciardiello states that the main goal of literacy practices is to get the reader to see the underlying and multiple meanings in text. He suggests five practices to help the reader obtain this; these include looking at text from multiple perspectives, finding your authentic voice, recognition of social barriers, finding your identity, and listening to and responding to the "call of service." The purpose of teaching these practices is to help students become caring citizens which will stimulate "critical conversation." This type of conversation with peers and others during the school day keeps readers engaged in the lesson, and gets them thinking about the text by allowing them to hear what others think about it. While Ciardiello relates his literacy practices to social issues, I think they could be applied to any learning situation in reading. It is important for readers to look at text from multiple perspectives in all contexts, not just social, as well as finding the underlying meaning. I do think that teaching these practices to students from a social context is good though; the author used historical text about segregation and it got students to analyze how the people of that time might have felt or thought, leading them to their own sense of self-identity. I think this self-identification makes the reading meaningful for students, which is always very important.

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