Can an old dog learn new tricks?

How I view myself in the classroom

Image result for one room school house teacher

The reality of my classroom

This week’s ED 7710 readings really impacted my belief system as a teacher.  In my self-view, I am a progressive teacher who shows students the importance of an age-old skill set required for success in today’s world and I incorporate a lot of technology to keep these lessons engaging.  It turns out I have been doing it all wrong.  I should have been using the technology to teach the new skills that are being created on a daily basis and filtering out the age-old skills that have actually become very out of date.  A perfect example is pre-reading.  I spend a significant amount of class teaching students how to peruse a text upon initial contact.  Pre-reading multimodal information is a whole other beast.  You cannot check the index, table of contents and flip through the text to understand the format.  There is no title page to assess the multimodal’s validity.  New forms of literacy can be curated by 100’s if not 1,000’s of author’s (think Wikipedia) and comment options makes them interactive.
Manderino’s 2012 article entitled Reading Digitally Like a Historian showed me the error of my ways.  He accurately states Social Studies classes focus on skills like reading and using primary sources as evidence.  He then posits that a movie will be shown to depict a time period, with no instruction on how to use film as evidence or check it’s validity.  I am terribly guilty of this.  I have done nothing to “teach critical consumption of digital texts” (Manderino 2012).  I expect my students to understand the content of the film and give no thought to the extra burden I have placed on them by expecting them to construct knowledge from this untaught source format.  Kuiper & Volman discuss this burden in Chapter 9 of the New Literacies Handbook titled The Web as a Source of Information for Students in K-12 Education. Hypertext how-to’s are just as important as primary source processing in modern society.  Thankfully, I am now aware of the error of my ways and can change!  The next step is to identify “Where Do We Go Now? as Lawless & Schrader did in Ch 10 of the New Literacies Handbook.  This article gave me the background I need to understand the variety of navigation and navigator types I will come across in my classroom.  Luckily, I just finished developing a Google Search lesson for COMM 7712 and I will  now redouble my efforts on developing lessons that teach the real reading comprehension skills (not age-old skills) students need to be successful today!  First up, how to use hypertext!

This old dog is learning some new tricks.


4 thoughts on “Can an old dog learn new tricks?

  1. You may think you were doing it all wrong, but being able to see where you can grow and change shows what a dedicated teacher you are. That alone means you are doing a lot of things right. Now, the real challenge is getting the rest of your colleagues to “see the light” and change their ways as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Keely. This is one of those posts you’ll come back to in a couple of months and be able to re-write again. Please don’t feel like any of this is completely right, or completely wrong. There is (or at least should be) balance in how we view literacy.

    I agree with Mike Manderino that there is no “table of contents”, or index to the Internet. We also can’t skim through and find the bold words on the Internet. But, I think we can follow a lot of the good guidance we’ve received from other forms of literacy instruction. And…as you indicate…we need to empower our students to make sense of when to do what.

    Liked by 1 person

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