My thanks again to Anna Smith for inviting me to host the last #literacies chat of 2012 focused on digital writing and the common core standards: “Broadening the Scope: Teaching Multiple Literacies in an Era of Common Core Standards.” Before reading much further in my reflections, you might be interested in catching up on the archived chat here. (Also, for kicks, I created a PDF of the full chat, too. 42 pages!) As shared beforehand, the chat was focused on a few main ideas:
While scholars of literacy studies push the envelope and explore ideas such as multi-modality, digital writing, and critical literacy, our colleagues in K-12 classrooms continue to face a number of challenges. Most notably, countless elementary, middle, and high schools are now preparing for the Common Core State Standards as well as the PARCC/SBAC assessments that will be implemented in the 2014-15 school year. What will these changes bring to an already narrow vision of literacy proffered by a years of NCLB-style “reforms?”
Throughout the chat, there were some “big questions” to consider, although none of them fit conveniently in 140 characters, so I am posting them again here:
- In this era of corporate education reform, where “educational technology” and “networked learning” are often euphemisms for standardized curriculum packages that can be sold and delivered online, how do we help students and colleagues maintain a broader vision of literacy?
- Given the reality of these new standards, how might we leverage the demand in the CCSS to “Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently” to teach multiple literacies?
- With the large variety of organizations that are touting plans for education reform, with whom can we ally our efforts? With which constituencies do we need to collaborate with as we try to broaden the vision of literacy — and the technologies needed to enable those broader visions — while still maintaining our core beliefs about literacy learning?
So, here I highlight a few of the more compelling interactions throughout the hour-long conversation, and also provide a list of the many links that my colleagues and I shared throughout (NOTE: because I am trying to keep similar threads together, these are not necessarily in precise order!).
Part 1: Broader Visions
A number of related questions and concerns came in this early part of the chat:
- Kristen H.Turner @MrsT73199 ~ @hickstro Does the #ccss push us far enough in thinking about #literacies?
- Ryan Rish @ryanrish ~ Thinking of ways we can position teachers as agents who interpret #CCSS;; rather than have that done for them by state/district. #literacies
- Darren Crovitz @dcrovitz ~ what will be the influence of lurking testing regime on teachers’ willingness to experiment with tech, multimodalities, etc? #literacies
- anna smith @writerswriting ~ @hickstro Though I don’t think it is necessary to interpret #CCSS as limiting in regards to the ways #literacies are approached. Discuss 🙂
- Matthew Hall @mhall78 ~ I’m wondering about the push for career & college ready. It seems like there is a narrow definition of career implied #literacies
And a nice summary/transition/call to action:
- Ryan Rish @ryanrish ~ @MrsT73199 a big step is to stop saying “CCSS says…” and start saying “I say…” when it comes to planning. #literacies
Part 2: Leveraging the CCSS
Here, I pushed the conversation into thinking about practical action. What is it that we can do, immediately, to support multiple literacies and digital writing? Anna and Emily had an interesting interchange here:
- Emily Pendergrass @Dr_Pendergrass ~ @writerswriting @hickstro broad interpretation it is then, right. #literacies. Risky for teachers.
- anna smith @writerswriting ~ @Dr_Pendergrass What do you see as risky in having interpretative space in terms of #literacies and the #ccss?
- Emily Pendergrass @Dr_Pendergrass ~ @ryanrish @amystorn fear of being different, fear of being fired, fear of taking risks, #literacies #tomanytooname
Also, a separate but related thread on how the tests are going to be constructed was summed up by Judy:
- JudyArzt @JudyArzt ~ @MrsT73199 I assume the same;; it’ll be hard to test for multimodal #literacies, and test-makers are not ready #literacies
And, Darren and Matthew were talking about implications of non-fiction reading and writing:
- Darren Crovitz @dcrovitz ~ Re: nonfiction issue, David Coleman seems to think we’re getting all anxious over a misinterpretation bit.ly/RFtAK9 #literacies
- Matthew Hall @mhall78 ~ I do think David Coleman thinks nonfiction writing is more important. I’ve heard him say it. What does that mean for MM? #literacies
I then introduced the idea of “how might we leverage the demand in the CCSS to “Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing #literacies”
- anna smith @writerswriting ~ In my work, I have found admins respond to concrete answers, but it doesn’t really matter what those answers are.Let’s use that! #literacies
- Sean Connors @profconnors ~ The question the students I’m following are taking up this quarter: How do medium and format shape an author’s message? #literacies
- Darren Crovitz @dcrovitz ~ @profconnors and digital composing phenomena are gaining more legitimacy vs traditional avenues…gradually #literacies
- Ryan Rish @ryanrish ~ @writerswriting @hickstro Agreed. Locating the counter narrative…#NWP, literacy practices framework, etc. #literacies
- Ryan Rish @ryanrish ~ I do think that the concern with disciplinary literacies is a promising departure from focus on universal reading/writing skills #literacies
- Heather Rocco @heatherrocco ~ @hickstro Digital writing gives students access to a wider audience. Allows them to produce more authentic pieces. #literacies
- Melissa Techman @mtechman ~ @writerswriting @hickstro I’m leveraging by mixing ages, using quadblogging - 4th and 5th interview 1st and K students for blog #literacies
There was another interesting side-thread that developed here, too, about “fake” digital writing:
- Kristen H.Turner @MrsT73199 ~ @heatherrocco @hickstro But only if they truly engage with a real audience. Is “fake” digital writing good enough? #literacies
- When prompted to describe “fake” digital writing, Kristen replied: @8rinaldi @heatherrocco @hickstro Writing so protected it doesn’t have an audience? Inauthentic? Translation of trad to tech? #literacies
- And, Heather replied: Using tech to process & develop writing should be a closed audience. Publishing should seek a wider audience when possible. #literacies
- And Emily offered this: @MrsT73199 @heatherrocco @hickstro nope. No fake digital writing, please. Old school if not writing outside self and teacher. #literacies
Part 3: New Constituencies
Here, I began by asking “#literacies With the large variety of organizations that are touting plans for education reform, with whom can we ally our efforts?”
- anna smith @writerswriting ~ @hickstro Good question. Is anyone working with or know anything about @NCLE? #literacies
- Heather Rocco @heatherrocco ~ @writerswriting @NCLE is a developing resource w/ great potential. I think we rely on @ncte and @CELeadership to support. #literacies
- JudyArzt @JudyArzt ~ @heatherrocco @writerswriting @NCLE @ncte @CELeadership Are you receiving the NCLE Briefs via email or other means? #literacies
- Troy Hicks @hickstro ~ Who else? What about local literacy groups? Libraries? Adult tutoring organizations? Who else do we need to work with on #literacies ?
- Ryan Rish @ryanrish ~ @hickstro we need to pull administrators and department of ed into these convos;; can’t just be teachers/teacher ed #literacies
- Heather Rocco @heatherrocco ~ ? @hickstro Definitely parents. Maybe #literacies should join with #ptchat for a discussion. @joemazza #literacies
- Darren Crovitz @dcrovitz~ @hickstro major media organizations with an ed interest? #literacies
- Sean Connors @profconnors ~ Meaningful PD strikes me as important tool. More than sitting teachers down at computers and introducing “cool” programs. #literacies
- JudyArzt @JudyArzt ~ @hickstro The issues are immense, changing, and complex--we need extended conversations, resources, etc #literacies
Last: Links and Such
- Links from Troy
- Additional Links
I think that Sean summed up my feelings about starting on my iPhone and having to switch over to the computer:
- Sean Connors @profconnors ~ Okay, had to jump on my computer. Tweeting on a cell phone in a twitter chat is definitely not one of my #literacies.
Indeed! I think it points to the fact that the tools we use are definitely a component of the literacies we are able to enact.
I offer a brief reflection here, both on the content and the process of the conversation. First, with the topic for this evening, I am reminded that there are other like-minded English educators and English teachers around the country, all thinking critically and creatively about how to introduce digital literacies into an already crowded curriculum. Also, I am reminded of the fact that “what’s measured is what’s treasured,” and that we all need to become keenly aware of how the CCSS will be assessed with the PARCC and SBAC tests.
Second, in terms of the process, I really enjoyed this conversation and I appreciate the ways that Twitter chats can actually help us focus on a particular topic and generate a variety of ideas in a short period of time. More than just random tweets or back-channeling, this kind of focused conversation gives many smart people the chance to “tweet aloud,” akin to the “think aloud,” and we are able to digress slightly from time to time in the conversation, generating even more useful ideas and links. As the host, I wanted to honor the time and topic, so I kept moving things along at regular intervals, but the conversation was rich and reviewing it this morning has been valuable for me as I wrap up this semester and plan for my methods class again in the spring.
Thanks again, Anna and everyone, for an invigorating conversation. After the day we had in Michigan last Thursday I needed that healthy dose of collegiality and a reminder that we are still moving forward with worthwhile literacy reforms.
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