Sunday, April 15, 2007

A new literacy...

I am a reader. I love books, especially young adult and adult fiction. I know how to read a book. I know how to look at the cover, to read the inside flap, to find out about the author, to make predictions and connections as I'm reading. I know how to read from left to right and down the page. Reading books is a two dimensional experience. I'm pretty fast and I usually remember a lot of what I read.

Reading Online is a whole different animal, a "three dimensional animal" (Warlick, page 22). The more I do it the more I learn how, but it requires attention and practice. In a Web 2.0 world, it is just as important to teach kids to read and navigate information Online as it is to teach them on paper.

Just reading this blog takes a different kind of attention and approach. There is a lot on this page, pictures, videos, and links. As you are reading this blog there are opportunities to go elsewhere, to read and reference more than just what is on this page. That is the beauty of Online literacy, but also the challenge. It is easy to get lost, to wander off to explore a link and then lose the train of thought where you began.

I myself am just learning how to do this. So far this is what works for me: I first look over the whole page, reading headings, looking at pictures and reading links. I then read the article that interests me from start to finish. After I have read it through once, I start exploring the links on the page. This works for me, but I have had to figure this out for myself.

As teachers, we need to be able to support and help our students to do this as well. I think this is an essential skill for students to have. Students are constantly interacting with Online information. We need to give them the tools and skills to do so in an effective and efficient manor. And, this needs to happen inside the classroom, not just in the lab. This is not a "technology" lesson, but a reading lesson that involves technology. Check out this interesting Website: 21st Century Literacies, Tool for Reading the World You will find a lot of resources on how to teach these skills.

What do you think? Are you addressing this type of literacy in your classroom? If so, how are you doing it? If not, what kind of support do you need to start bringing this into your "reading" lessons? Do you agree that it is important?

Works Cited: Warlick, David F. Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century. Linworth Publishing, Inc. 2004.
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