As I head back to the classroom for the first time in while I know I will definitely go back as a different, more literate teacher. No, not just a literate teacher, a transliterate teacher. A teacher who uses the multiple literacies she possesses in a way that not only supports children’s learning but when used in conjunction with each other provide more to her students than would be possible using the literacies in isolation. My goal is to provide a transliterate education to my students because as Ipri (2010) states, “transliteracy is concerned with what it means to be literate in the 21st century.” (p. 532)
That is not to say I wasn’t literate in the first place, only that my literacies were not defined and labeled as such.
My journey to understanding and refining my literacies began with the introduction of Koehler and Mishra’s work on Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK). While I had been advocating the program of studies be a teacher’s first frame of reference, I occasionally succumbed to the hype of new technologies ‘about to revolutionize education’. I admit at times I jumped on the bandwagon to use new technologies I became aware of, trying to make the curriculum fit to it rather than the other way around. Being exposed to the TPACK model refocused my thinking on how to best go about planning lessons for students and made me realize that “[t]he key to successful teaching is not simply achieving competence in the individual areas, but teaching at the intersection of each part of the framework” (Wetzel & Marshall, 2011, p. 74).
Our work around visible thinking and how important it is for teachers to “[foster] thinking and [make] it visible in multiple ways” (Ritchhart & Perkins, 2008, p. 60), caused me to further, investigate thinking routines and critical thinking on my own. Sharing these ideas with other teachers has enabled me to see how engaged children can be when using these routines to demonstrate their understanding.
Examining educational technology has made me realize the necessity of being “[willing] and [able] to critically examine new tools in terms of their implications for standards-based teaching and learning in the classroom.” (Mishra & Koehler, in print, p. 5) I also realize that professional development “approaches must address how to help teachers develop a “deep understanding” of the concepts and skills that are not limited to specific instances of technology. For example, training teachers to use specific software packages not only makes their knowledge too specific to be applied broadly, but it also becomes quickly outdated.” (ibid, p.4) While keeping abreast of what is happening with technology and web based tools is part of our professional growth, it is important to know what outcomes you are trying to achieve as this will help you imagine the possibilities through a practical filter.
Another valuable filter I discovered to guide the work of teachers and students was the lens of digital citizenship. The title alone of Jason Ohler’s 2011 article Digital Citizenship Means Character Education for the Digital Age really struck me. Somehow our students (and often ourselves) haven’t come to the conclusion that if it matters in real life it matters online as well. Becoming familiar with Ribble et al’s (2004) nine elements of digital citizenship has already had a significant effect on my work with teachers and students of all ages.
I am now more mindful of how all literacies play an important role in the education and development of our students. My refined understanding of teaching and learning in a digital age, my own growth in tool literacy as well as my in-depth study of data literacy has enabled me to see how I can foster deeper understanding of content through the purposeful inclusion of multiple literacies. I am really looking forward to implementing all of the learning from this year and know that I will provide a richer, student-centered learning experience that allows for and encourages the use of all literacies.
Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy. College & Research Libraries News, 71(10), 532-567. Retrieved from: http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=afh&AN=55321486&site=ehost-live
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (in press). Not “what” but “how”: Becoming design-wise about educational technology. To appear in Zhao, Y. (Ed.). What do teachers need to know. Educational Technology Publications.
Ohler, J. (2011). Digital Citizenship Means Character Education for the Digital Age. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 48(1), 2527. Retrieved from: http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http:/ /search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&d b=eric&AN=EJ966494&site=ehost-live
Ribble, M., Bailey, G., & Ross, T. (2004). Digital citizenship: Addressing appropriate technology behavior. Learning & Leading with Technology,32(1), 6.
Ritchhart, R. & Perkins, D. (2008). Making thinking visible. Educational Leadership, 65(5), 57-61.
Wetzel, K. & Marshall, S. (2011). TPACK goes to sixth grade: lessons from a middle school teacher in a high-technology-access classroom. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education 28(2), 73-81.