This has been my first year as a Teacher Consultant (TC) for the University of Illinois Writing Project (UIWP), where I have been tasked with coordinating and supporting our digital literacy projects. Each year of the UIWP’s Summer Institute (SI) brings a new collection of digital media that UIWP SI participants/”fellows” produce themselves. Through a series of tasks involving blogging, social media and video tools, fellows will develop skills that may level their skills with their students or give these teachers something new to challenge their students’ digital literacies with. (You never quite know how your technical prowess matches up to kids’ these days.)
As we close out this year’s SI, I hope I can leave our fellows thinking: “Well, where do I go from here in teaching digital literacies to my students?” Of course, our regular blogging and video productions have yielded great products for the fellows themselves. But these skills are lost in our school system unless they are cultivated and taught to our students, who will enter into one of the most information-abundant times in recorded history. Just bec
In bringing these tools back to the classroom, there are bigger concerns for students who are not fully-developed, contributing citizens (like our fellows are). Students do not know the appropriateness of publishing unfinished work; they may not know what to expect as feedback; they may not have the language to participate online quite yet; etc.; etc.. In addition to teaching the tools, teachers should also be extending their lesson plans to involve teaching the important relationship of the individual to a broader community. To accompany any digital literacy lesson, teachers should also be preparing digital citizenship lessons.
And, so, in closing out my tech duties for the UIWP SI, I hope to pass on one last resource for teachers: CommonSenseMedia.org (or on Twitter @CommonSense). Their professional development resources are great, but their Digital Literacy and Citizenship Classroom Curriculum is second to none that I have seen (or even tried to conceive myself). Common Sense goes well beyond what NCTE bloggers have even recently posted. Folks at Common Sense have gone to great lengths to develop a scope and sequence that considers the full development of a student from K-12. “Digital Citizenship and Web 2.0 Tools by Reshan Richards” is also a read for teachers to use to reflect on what types of activities would best cultivate the different types of digital citizens.
What’s great about my position at the UIWP is that I can watch teachers go from “Where did I save that file” to “How do I get this on my blog?” or “How do I break up this big chunk of text and make it more appealing?” Sure, as a TC I give up some of my own contributions during what has been some of the greatest self-directed professional development I have ever experienced. But knowing now that these UIWP fellows are equipped with the necessary skills to model what authentic digital tasks look like and then how these tools can be used to practice good digital citizenship is more reward than any one piece of writing could afford me. The challenge, then, is to them: How can you take these tools and skills to build the citizens of tomorrow? The nature of our jobs demands that we add to the cycle and not just see it out to the end.
“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” ~Carl Rogers