This week we were asked to read Lankshear and Knobel (2007) Ch1 in addition to a piece of interest-driven scholarship. As my focus is teaching, specifically teaching groups of diverse learners, and because the required reading focused on new literacies and mind-sets in the digital age I landed on the following article Communicating with the World: Connecting the Language Classroom to a Global Audience Using Web 2.0 Tools. Both articles challenged me to tho rethink my ideas surrounding language, social media, traditional schooling, and technology as a platform for connections.
When I began reading Lankshear & Knobel’s (2007) I wasn’t sure how it would connect to my life as an educator, but I quickly realized so much of their discussion was related to my profession, and to everyday life. For example, their discussion surrounding primary and secondary Discourses immediately made me reflect on how important understanding my students as a whole person (getting to know their family, their communities, their cultures) can help inform my instruction. Better understanding their primary Discourse can in turn help me understand how they interact with our school/classroom culture, and what their varying needs are as students. It is also a great reminder to activate student’s background knowledge for every lesson. I’m always amazed by what my students know, and what I assume they do not.
Lankshear & Knobel (2007) idea of new literacies and the mindset that embraces the idea of the internet being a place of collaboration, relationships, and sharing of information complements the ideas expressed by Lori Langer de Ramirez, Ed.D., in her article Communicating with the World. She starts by sharing a story of a class who blogged their poetry for a high school Spanish class and were thrilled when a published poet from Peru, a native speaker of Spanish, commented on a students work. This connection and feedback was not surprisingly highly valued by the students and helped to make the work matter more. Both articles made me think twice about the possibilities for technology in the classroom, even at the elementary level. The idea of creating and sharing work over the internet is such an important idea for students, and more schools need to give teachers the ability to take on such project-based learning with the help of technology. I think anything we can do to make our lessons more meaningful to students is amazing, and from a teachers perspective I think it also makes lessons more fun to teach!
As for questions…I can’t help but wonder how parents, fellow educators, and administrators would respond to some of these ideas of embracing Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. There are always privacy concerns which make me think twice about the students ability to collaborate online. There is also the issue of access. Many of my students do not have access to computers at home and our own classroom access is severely limited. I wonder if all of these ideas are just introducing more inequities into our school systems. However, I do believe if the access is there, introducing new literacies in the classroom can benefit all involved-making lessons more interesting, engaging, meaningful, and fun.