21st Century Literacies

Monday, May 31, 2010

Reflection: “21st Century Literacies” by the National Council of Teachers of English (2007)

I completely agree that teachers need to modify their teaching to prepare students for a world with an increasing about of technology. However, this article points out that while technology is important, basic written and spoken communication skills, work ethic, critical thinking, and the ability to collaborate with others are also skills that students will need as they enter the workforce. Because I teach at the elementary level, I am less concerned with the workforce connection, and more concerned with the fact that my students will experience the rest of their school careers in a way that is different than their parents, and possibly their siblings.

I am immediately drawn to the fact that this article supports incorporating technology into the classroom, because I believe that students need to be taught how to appropriately and effectively use available technology. I would love to use new kinds of technology in my classroom. I am especially drawn to the idea of e-portfolios – although, I don’t know much about how to organize/establish/create them for my students. I think that e-portfolios could be very interesting for students to use throughout their school careers because the portfolio would truly show student growth, while also encouraging the use of technology and reflection. I also like the idea of having a class website that could be used for a variety of purposes.

I think one of the most important pieces of integrating technology into the classroom is in teaching students how to use different technology effectively. For example, students need to realize that just because something is on the internet, it isn’t necessarily true. The article even recommends giving students strategies for evaluating the quality of internet information. I think this is especially true at the elementary level. Equally important is teaching students how to use digital information without plagiarizing! My 5th graders are expert plagiarizers, so this hit home with me right away! While “copy” and “paste” are great tools, we need to teach students how to avoid using them to “write” papers. In addition to that, we need to show students how to cite their sources appropriately, since even paraphrasing the source can be considered plagiarism.

One key piece to making this work is professional development opportunities for teachers. Even technology-inclined teachers sometimes struggle to incorporate technology into the classroom, so it is important for corporations to provide help at all levels of technology knowledge.


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