Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Election and 21st Century Literacies

NCTE defines 21st Century Literacies as:
Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Twenty-first century readers and writers need to
  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology 
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally 
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes 
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information 
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts 
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments
On my Twitter feed, I have seen a couple of educators post about having their students or wanting to teach a lesson with their students on watching the different news feeds (including digital and social media) to compare perspectives.  No matter your politics, I think it would be a great assignment.  And it would address the following literacies: develop proficiency with the tools of technology; manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information; create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts.

The question now is what should the assignment be for students to demonstrate their learning?  Should it be a class discussion, a project such as creating a website to deliver the news of the presidential election, or a piece of writing such as a blog, or some combination of all three, or something altogether different?  

I know this post is a little late in prompting a creative lesson around the election. However, there are plenty of other events that occur throughout the year that could prompt this type of lesson design addressing 21st century literacies.  The bottom line is that whether you are an English teacher, Government teacher or a teacher of another subject, I encourage you to think about how to get students to think critically (Ten Takeaway Tips for Teaching Critical Thinking)  about who is saying what, who do you believe and why, and what is the evidence.  The final piece to this type of assignment is deciding, or allowing students to decide, in what medium will the students present their learning.

What are your thoughts?  Did anybody do a lesson addressing 21st century literacies around the election, or have an ongoing assignment about Hurricane Sandy, or another current issue?  How is it going?



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