My first school engagement event of 2010 was back in Edinburgh City where I was asked to speak to the staff at Portobello High School about ICT, CfE and Literacy. I’ve always had strong links with Portobello as it was the school that I did my very first teaching placement when I was training to be a teacher.
The presentation was based on the one that I did at Drumond Community High School back in October.
I updated the talk to included a few extra slide and points that I thought I was important. These points included references to the eduTalk365 project (drip feed CPD at its best), the value of using real-time data to engage students (including @ukwarcabinet and Classpress.net) the importance of useing modern reserch techniques (eg: Google Alerts) to help children find information that has not yet been published.
The slides that I used from the presentation are embedded below:
Notes from the presentation and key points
It is important to remember that literacy (along with numeracy, health and wellbeing) are the responsibility for all within A Curriculum for Excellence. Further clarification and a definition is given in the Literacy and English Principles and Practice Cover Paper (2009).
"All practitioners in each sector, in each department and in all settings have a responsibility to develop, reinforce and extend the skills which are set out in the literacy experiences and outcomes.
Literacy is the set of skills which allows an individual to engage fully in society and in learning, through the different forms of language which society values and finds useful"
In order to allow these things to happen literacy has had to be re-defined for the 21st Century. The forms of language which society has valued and finds useful has changed through time.
Reflective and difficult questions for practitioners:
- Do 13 year old girls find Shakespeare useful?
- Do 11 year old boys find the works of Robert Burns useful?
- Do we value the work of Shakespeare and Robert Burns in our schools? – of course we do they are part of our heritage.
- Is sending a text message useful?
- Do we value the ability to send a text message?
- What makes a good text message?
- How do you pronounce a text message?
- Are comic useful?
- Should we value the use of comics in class?
- Are comics valuable for the Scottish economy?
- Is a comic without the words still literacy?
Definition of text:
"A text is the medium through which ideas, experiences, opinions and information can be communicated".
The definition of text refers to a wide variety of media that we use to communicate – it does not just mean books. Importantly listening and talking are included as forms of essential literacy.
Examples of text include:
- novels, short stories, plays, poems
- reference texts
- the spoken word
- charts, maps, graphs and timetables
- advertisements and promotional leaflets
- comics, newspapers and magazines
- CVs, letters and emails
- films, games and TV programmes
- labels, signs and posters
- recipes, manuals and instructions
- reports and reviews
- text messages, blogs and social networking sites
- web pages, catalogues and directories
When considering the above texts it may be useful to consider the distribution of skills that are required to survive in a 21st Century world. Which of the above example of text should all children come into contact with? Are any of the examples more important than others? How does financial and consumer literacy relate to the above list?
Understanding our students
As well as understanding what we mean by literacy it is also important to understand how young people and children have may be changing.
Recent research information commissioned by Channel 4 indicates that many young people today are very much digital. You can find out more information about this report here.
For schools I think that we need to ask ourselves three important questions:
- Do we know what skills the children in our care have?
- Do we know what access our students have to technology at home?
- Can we use a combination of the above to stretch, push and engage young people?
Engaging our students
I believe that in order for learning to take place we need to have good pedagogy and also interest or engagement from our students. I think that there is a difference between interest and engagement.
A teacher who is teaching a child who has a natural interest in a subject or who see’s the point of it (eg: it will help them get a job) is likely to find it easier to help that child learn compared to student who has no interest or does not see the point.
Unfortunately not all topics are interesting and not all children see the point of all talks. That’s where tasks need to be engaging in order to create powerful learning environments.
Most children find technology engaging and that is one of the reasons it is so valuable in the classroom.
All registered Scottish teachers should be able to use technology in innovative ways
‘Registered teachers skillfully adopt and deploy a wide variety of innovative resources, including ICT and, where appropriate, the outdoor environment’
Possible ways to use technology to engage our students
- Use their tools (eg: social networking spaces and computer games in the classroom)
- Offer choice of output (written, typed, poster, presentation, video, podcast etc…) the input (thiking, planning, note-taking, drafting, re-drafting, collaboration etc…) remains the same and the most important bit.
- Provide real audience for students work (Wikipedia, blogs with comments, school radio podcast, school TV station on YouTube etc…)
- Real-time news, events and global happenings are empowering for students (look at @ukwarcabinet and Classpress.net as example sof this)
- Be creative with on-line technology tools eg: Comic Brush, Pixton, Go Animate (This recent list of other free tools for teachers might be useful)
All teachers now have a responsibility for digital literacy. Most importantly:
‘To help me develop an informed view, I am exploring the techniques used to influence my opinion. I can recognise persuasion and assess the reliability of information and credibility and value of my resources.’
Golden rules for digital literacy:
1. Intenet Safety and Responsible Use – more information here
2. Don’t ban Wikipedia – teach them to use it - more information here
3. The Internet is only any good if you can find what your looking for, think about:
Books are not going away. They are a form of text but the nature of text is changing (see above).
We need new models of CPD to engage with a Curriculum for Excellence. If your interested in this have a look at my Drip Feed Vs Sheep Dip CPD post here. A great example of Drip Feed CPD is the EduTalk365 Project - 5 minutes of quality input a day, every day for a year.
The future of professional development is on-line, have a look at:
- CPD Find
- Curriculum for Excellence
- Consolarium: Games Based and Innovation in Education
- LTScotland on iTunesU (the ‘U’ is for University)
- Bill Boyd: the literacy advisor
I would welcome any feedback or comments on the above. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions (details top right) or leave a comment below.