Reflection Log

Digital Literacies

What is Digital Literacy? Sept 8th

Digital literacy is a complex topic. To be literate in today's age requires a whole different skill set than 100 years ago. As we move farther and farther away from traditional printed texts to a melee of digital formats our students' ability to navigate this sea of information becomes a must in order to survive. Not only do our students require the ability to read, write and deal with digital formats, they must also possess the mindset or thinking involved to find relevant information, communicate their thinking and express themselves using digital tools.


After our discussion on Thursday, I used the app, Tweetroot to create a word cloud of the most repeated words or phrases associated with the #digitalliteracy. I think this word cloud sums up some of the topics we talked about and brings others into question.

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What is digital literacy? Sept. 8th

During tonight's class I was reminded of one of my favorite educational leaders and his thoughts on digital literacy. On the web page embedded below are many of Dr. Allan Luke's talks curated by the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat. In particular, his talk about digital culture reminds me of today's class. I likehow he questions the impact on our assessment practices in the future and how we will need to be prepared for a whole new generation of learners. We are at a crux of our teaching careers; the time for us hope that digital literacies will be covered by the "computer teacher" is over. We ALL must adapt, model and teach to these new literacies now.

Digital Literacies - how the wristwatch changed it all Sept . 8th

Part of the readings for today's class talked about how the wristwatch changed our culture. This made me think...what is the wrist watch of today's time? Undeniably, for me, it would have to be my iPhone. It has revolutionized the way I think, the way I act and the person who I am becoming. I would be lost without it. Just in conversation the other day, I was discussing how I rarely use my iPhone as a phone, but as a "communication device. I tweet, I text, I post to facebook, I make movies, I create collages. My phone is but an extension of me....
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Multiliteracies - Sept 15th

If we are to understand digital literacy, then we also must understand the other literacies associated with it. As we were discussing and defining all the different literacy types in today's class....I immediately thought...Keep calm. There's a literacy for that!


While my graphic is a little tongue in cheek, my first initial thoughts were that perhaps some are going overboard when labelling "literacies" rather than focusing on the primary skill sets involved to be successfully literate in today's world. As our DL text suggests, "Rather than simply adding media or digital literacy to the curriculum menu or hiving off information and communication technology into a separate school subject, we need a much broader reconceptualization of what we mean by literacy in a world that is increasingly dominated by electronic media."


However, with this being said, the very nature of our language, and the way we use it has changed and continues to change. The New London Group states that new forms of communication media are re-shaping the way we use language everyday. This change is coming so rapidly, that there..."cannot be one set of standards or skills that constitute the ends of literacy learning, however taught".


In our schools, we are faced daily with the need to make texts quickly accessible and understandable for all of our students, regardless of their language or skill set. Effective communication, or citizenship for that matter, requires us to communicate in multiple ways. Communication has become multilingual and multimodal in order to support our students' understanding and expression of knowledge. Language is constantly being re-made in order to work and achieve various cultural purposes.


Can there be one literacy to rule them all? Perhaps not, but they all need to work together to achieve the same goal - helping our students be able to understand, find, be critical of, and communicate information successfully in their working, public and private lives. No longer are our students passive receivers of information, rather, they are active constructors of information and the language used to convey it. Students have the opportunity now, more than ever to be active agents of social change.


How can we harness our students' talents and help them become agents for positive social change? I believe the possibilities are endless - if we encourage it, they will construct it... and watch it....and then remix it.

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Further Graphic Novel Reflections....Sept. 22nd



I've been been reflecting further about my thoughts on graphic novels. I see the reluctance of using graphic novels as two fold: one, there is reluctance in seeing them as "real" reading material. Second, if they are deemed as "real" reading material we often use them solely to support our learners with special needs, rather than seeing their value to support all of our learners. I think our school fits in the second category - while most of our teachers accept the use of graphic novels, they tend to promote their use mainly with our ESL and special education population. If one of our "level four" readers chose to read a graphic novel for a novel study, I'm sure they would be encouraged to pick another book. This is especially disturbing in this age where our students are exposed daily to mutimodal literacies. As many of our readings suggest, the successful interpretation of these literacies will become crucial to our students continued success in the work place.

We were adopted by Chapters last year .... almost $4000 was donated to the school library. Most of that money was spent building our collection of manga and anime. There is nothing better as a teacher librarian to see your students get excited about reading, and excited about new books in the library learning commons. And it was not only my students with special needs who were excited ...it was ALL of them.

I also have to wonder where this reluctance to using graphic novels stems from. Is it because it is something that we were not exposed to growing up? I think for myself, especially, this is the case. Graphic novels are foreign to me because I was not exposed to them as a student. I am often uncomfortable reading graphic novels, because I can find the text to be overwhelming (the pictures and the text to decipher at once).

However, a change in my mind set is needed. I accepted a long time ago that the way I was taught won't be the way I teach because it simply does not meet the needs of my learners. And while I'm open to using graphic novels, I must also practice what I preach to my students - build my reading capacity and read texts to stretch my comfort level. If it was easy to read ....well, I wouldn't be learning anything, would I?

This discussion also makes me think of what I like to call "hybrid" texts. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and Big Nate pop to mind. While I wouldn't think of them as graphic novels, they aren't what I would think as traditional novels either, but a mix of both. Will we see reading move more and more in this direction as visual literacy becomes more and more important to student success?

Just some things I have been thinking about. Sometimes it takes me a few days...weeks to fully process information.

Popular Culture - That's Literacy? Sept 22nd

Chapter 6 in UD focuses primarily on how Norway is adapting digital literacies and tools as curricular expectations. Really, this comes as no surprise and certainly many expectations in the Ontario curriculum address the need to use technology as a means to explore and communicate learning. Long ago, the New Zealand government deemed digital literacy just import as traditional literacy and numeracy.


It is an undeniable truth: the way in which students use digital literacy has a profound effect on their development - especially their communicative competence and critical thinking skills (Soby, 2003, page 8). Digital tools allow us both to be creative and destructive in the formation of our identities - as we are reflected in what we say and what we do online. Certainly, the way we continue to interact in digital environments has a direct impact on how we interact in society - digital or not.


Therefore, it is a mandatory step that all schools must take - in order how to model the use of these tools to create positive change. While our students are "digital natives" this doesn't mean they know how to APPLY and USE the digital tools in an educational context. Direction and guidance is still needed to maximize the the power of these tools can have upon our students creative thinking processes that can allow them to be agents of positive change.


The main fact, however remains that digital media and technology itself are not being used to their full potential (see info graphic below - taken from Michael Fullan's "A Rich Seam"). This is a problem that teachers are facing world wide. In fact, much of this chapter reminds me of Micheal Fullan's "A Rich Seam" which I will link below in which he calls for a pedagogical reform in the way we teach and learn.


While change is occurring, is it fast enough? Are the haves and have nots in this century going to be those with digital literacy skills and those without? Are all schools created equal in this regard? With not only access to the technology, but the teachers with the skills and leadership to facilitate this change? Have we really upped the ante in literacy instruction? Where do we go next? Where does the responsibility lie in our teachers? With our government? How will they be made accountable? Will an EQAO test to assess our students' digital literacy skills be next?

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Digital Literacy and Online Social Networking - Oct. 2nd

Please review my thinking on the readings by reviewing the poppet below: http://popplet.com/app/#/2117284
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Trajectories of Remixing - Oct 9th

I tried something new for this one. As I was reading, I started creating a mind map by hand. The end result is like a scrapbook of sorts - where I organized and categorized my thoughts as I went along. I hope you can read it....
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My Remix Photoshop example...

One of the concepts talked about so far is how digital literacies and the texts we create are relational in matter. This photo shopped image was created for a staff member as a gift on the last day of the Secret Santa exchange where I revealed my identity. Now, I'm sure I am not following copy right by modifying this image...something that we as teachers need to be constantly cognizant about with the students we teach - and for that matter for our children at home!

Digital Literacy and the Law - Oct. 16th

Piracy it's a crime
As a culture, I think we really need to review what technically counts as "piracy" and what is done in the name of fair dealing. Amateur vs. commercial use?


I think that there is a distinct difference between downloading movies for personal use vs. taking clips from them to make something new.


How can we make reform happen? How can we encourage our student's creativity but yet follow guidelines that clearly don't work in an educational setting?

Rick Mercer Rant Copyright

Steven Harper is looking at changing the copyright laws in Canada. However, one must question his underlying motives in doing so. Is this one case where copyright is a good thing? I believe in this instance, using footage like this for political gain is wrong - this is not fair dealing. From an educational standpoint - it's a great use to determine bias and point of view but on the other hand is using content purposely to slander people something we want to promote in schools? Are we developing good digital citizens this way? Where does the balance lie?

RMR: The Front Page - Oct. 14, 2014

eLiterature and Digital Poetics - Oct. 23rd.

Please see my glogster for my questions and summary on this topic: http://mulcaster.edu.glogster.com/mulcaster-presentation/

E-literature cont....

I've been thinking about how I can use the visual narrative in our social studies class...I've drafted up a sample that I'd like the students to try as a group. I've really tried to incorporate and thinking about different levels of assessment....from a multitude of curricular aspects.

I don't even know if I really need to get my students to write out their answers? Is the graphic organizer enough?

I also think we are going to need to co-construct criteria of what the final product should look like? How many slides? How long each narration should be? How much text to include? How will we know that we have been successful?

As a group I think I will start this process, then have the students do this in pairs - using formative assessment as feedback.

Finally, I want the students to explore the points of view (parents, students, government and their own POV) in a culminating assignment. I think by that point, they should have enough practice.

I know I will have access to the ipads if I sign them out now. Time? Bah...I'd rather cover one expectation really well than cover three with little attention to detail. I think this will be much more meaningful and authentic for the students as they are really going to connect with the text.

I made an imovie trying to explain what I am trying to do....I hope you understand it!

Residential Schools Task

Digital Literacies: New Models of Assessment - Oct. 30th

Our students no longer live in a world of static text. I witness that every day not only in my own children, but also with my students at school. Students increasingly are reliant on modes of images, colours, music and interactive manipulative to learn and understand.


Why then, are monolingual forms of assessment still dominant in our schools? What are we not getting? If we truly understand the needs of 21st century learning, and if we understand the need for differentiation - and realize students are working at different modes of Gardner's intelligence model - how can we reach adequate assessments of our student learning with standardized tests?


When will the government realize that current standardized tests are not an accurate means of assessing student knowledge? It is merely a snapshot of what they can do on a certain day and does not value the learning and growth that happened before. And how is it fair that a child on an IEP for grade 3 expectations writes the grade 6 test? How are we setting our students up for success?


The way in which students see the world must be the way in which they are assessed. Multimodality of assessment is required and it is where our students will succeed in showing us what they know.

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Portfolios as an multimodal assessment option

Electonic portfolios are one way to assess the knowledge, strengths and identify next steps for improvement.

Our Peel colleague, Jim Cash, did a presentation at #bit14 on e-portfolios which can be accessed by clicking on the link below.

A reflection on assessment and a previous rubric

To assess the project I mentioned above in Week 7 - I am going to have some serious work to do.


I think as a class, we need to co-construct success criteria for each aspect of the project. What will a successful essay look like? What content will it need to have? What will this content look like? What elements will impact the viewer emotionally? How can the use of visuals, text and music do this effectively?


From there, we will need to construct a rubric together.

This is going to take a lot of time, but I think will be worth it in the end.

If it doesn't kill me in the meantime.....


I went back and reviewed some of the rubrics I had created in past years. I used Jing (a screen casting application) to record my thinking.


Please excuse the mistakes in my grammar....it has been a long day.



Gaming and Literacy: Nov 6th

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Video games and gaming are changing what it means to be literate in today's society. Gaming involves a different sort of reading and writing and communicating that most learning tasks at school can not even compete with.


Give a student a game to explore and you will hear them communicate knowledge and use language and vocabulary you didn't know they had. This is the case with student in our MakerClub at school - watch the video below.

Minecraft Valleys Makerspace
Video games are stories not currently being utilized to their maximum effectiveness in our classrooms. I went to a session on Minecraft at #bit14 where a grade 7 teacher used Minecraft to have students re-tell some of the events that happened during the War of 1812! You can access her presentation by clicking on the link below.


In addition, Scratch is another wonderful resource for storytelling in our classrooms. Nick, in our MakerClub, built this virtual story on Scratch on his own. I would have never have thought to do that. How can we bring this back to our class?

Many literary practices don't even happen within the game, but later. Many of the students at our school have their own You Tube channels where they create tutorials for other people on how to get through different levels - what a wonderful and rich task! How can we bring this learning back into the classroom? I have many ideas - use gaming as a platform for procedural writing, for creating memes to develop purpose and audience - use virtual creation games to explore and simulate concepts in geography and social studies.. Really the possibilities are endless.


In addition - we are not limited to Minecraft, although I know this seems to be the biggest craze right now. For my portfolio project on Makerspaces, I did find other options.


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Clearly the affordances for gaming in our educational system are many. However, what concerns me in the gaming world is identity formation. On one hand, it is great for students to be who they would like to be in a game and accomplish things and have the confidence that they wouldn't normally have in a face to face classroom.


However, are there cases where the line between real life and their virtual counterparts blur? Are we causing identify confusion?


And yes, gaming in different worlds can help students understand different cultural models. But are these models what we want our children to learn? Let's consider the role of women in gaming. Are women considered real "gamers?" How about how women are portrayed in video games? Is this what we want to be teaching our children to believe? Are we perpetuating the myth that only boys can game, code and be computer game developers? And that girls, for the most part are only scantily clad counterparts? How must gaming change?

Online Cultures and Intercultural Communication - Nov 13th

I think one of the biggest take away from today's readings was that we can now build communities like never before. Through the use of social media, we can reach out, connect and solve problems not only with in our own local physical communities, but also on a global scale.


Immediately I am reminded of a video I saw on YouTube. Brazilian teens wanted to learn how to speak English in authentic contexts. These teens were connected with a retirement community in the US where they videoconferenced with seniors, talking with each other practicing their English skills and learning about American culture (and vice versa I would assume!). It gets me every time.

CNA - Speaking Exchange

How we use these social media platforms, is also very interesting, as each one has it own particular set discourses it adheres to. I myself, use two particular social media platforms in totally different ways.


Facebook is what I use to connect to friends and family - it is here that I will post information about myself, how our family is doing, family photos and the like. In this space, I can be who I am.


I am also on Twitter - and I use mainly as a professional platform. I do not regularly post information about our family (except when we went to MakerFaire!), but use it instead to connect with other educational colleagues and to gather resources.

Regarding cultures of use and media technology - I believe there is a great opportunity to teach our students how to communicate in certain discourses of social media in appropriate ways. This is something school boards are dealing with on a constant basis - and students and teachers alike need to be reminded of appropriate voice for appropriate contexts.


Below you will find a video I created for our school that outlines the ideologies of using social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to help heal, rather than hurt.

Online Voice
Emoji's are also changing the way we communicate in almost every form of writing. I myself, often use emoticons when writing to express myself.


I was having a discussion with a colleague on Twitter about the use of emoji's and how they are becoming a language of their own - and how we could apply this as a writing task for our students at school.


I wonder how this task would work if I assigned it to my grade six students - I think it would require a lot of critical thinking!

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Researching Issues in Digital Literacy - Nov 20th

Digital technology is radically changing the way we collect, process, produce and share information.


How researching has changed in a digital world has a HUGE impact on my role as a teacher librarian and how our teachers work together to guide the inquiry processes of our students.


Digital resources, come to think about it - also have an impact on our library budget. Do I buy hard copies of texts that are out of date as soon as they are published? Is there still value in reading a "book"? I believe so, if it is the right book at the right level to meet the needs of our students.


Still, is our money better spent purchasing access to online resources that never go out of date? That can offer our students the multimodalities they've become accustomed to and need? Do these types of resources better suit the needs of our students?


I will admit, I spend less money now on non-fiction physical texts and more money on online database subscriptions that the students will use for research. I still purchase specialty books the students are interested in - World Book of Records, Sports, etc. However, the amount of money I spend on fiction texts has remained unchanged.


Another problem is that most students do not know how to research effectively. Students rarely go to the shelves anymore and make a direct bee line for Google. We are trying as much as we can to get students to use other sources rather than Google to search for information.


As I'm only in the role half time this year - digital technologies also play a role in how we teach our students how to collect information. Using a "flipped library" model, I am able to create tutorials showing students how to access the online databases accessible to them. They can view these tutorials anytime, anywhere.

Coral Reef Research
Computer prompts in our library learning commons....
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How our students process and produce texts has radically changed too. No longer is the producing of knowledge an individual activity, but a collaborative and shared one. Google Drive and Office 365 - as well tools like Poppet and Padlet that have collaborative features are game changers in the way that we teach and learn. Our mindsets concerning education and learning are changing.
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The way our students interpret and analyse information using digital tools (like wordle, infographics, survey money,etc) should lead to students seeing information in new ways. Digital tools should surprise students in their learning, make discoveries and the prompt the generation of even of MORE questions.
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Web 3.0. Is it good? Is it bad? Will we eventually be swayed by the power of suggestion and be ruled by what the computer generates it "good" for us? Or will it save us valuable time? Will this even be an issue if we effectively teach our students the skills on they need in order to be critical? Won't our digital tools help us to do just this? An answer....just prompts more questions?
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Interesting video I found related to this topic...
Q&A Session - Using Digital Tools in the Classroom and in Research