Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Are You Driving the New Model?

The National Council of Teachers of English has an updated Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment that is a clarion call to English educators to embrace and develop skills in digital technology and media. Adroitly the NCTE points out that language changes as the way we communicate changes, and indeed to be a literate person in the coming century requires a new and plastic skill set.

Blurring? Yes. Whereas in medieval times one was literate who could read and write, tomorrow (if not today) one is literate who can read, evaluate, communicate, create messages, develop meaning, and build relationships in myriad, complex, and ever-changing technologically based means.

The NCTE's framework point to such literacy skills as that will allow a 21st Century readers and writers to :

• Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
• Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
• Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
• Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
• Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts
• Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

The charge for English teachers comes in dozens of questions under each of the above elements. Such questions as:
  • Do students use technology as a tool for communication, research, and creation of new works
  • Do students work in groups to create new sources that can’t be created or solved by individuals?

  • Do students solve real problems and share results with real audiences?

  • Do students create new ideas using knowledge gained?

  • Do students evaluate multimedia sources for the effects of visuals, sounds, hyperlinks, and other features on the text’s meaning or emotional impact?

  • Do students practice the safe and legal use of technology?

I say these amount to a charge for English teachers, because the lessons that these questions point are still emerging and yet becoming germane to language arts study. What percentage of our curriculum and assessment is answering these questions in the affirmative? Surely, we always have held such lofty goals at times and perhaps those "creative" or "dramatic" or "soulful" among us have from time to time veered off the straight and narrow essay assignment track("why don't you submit that poem to a magazine" and "cite your sources" and "how about creating a collage on theme").

Today is a new day, and tomorrow newer still. Technology as a way to read, create, publish, and communicate is tuning-up the English classroom into an all-terrain vehicle--sans brakes! As teachers we must learn much that's new if are students are to learn from us. The NCTE's framework serves as a good table of contents for this new-fangled buggy's user's manual.


Image credit: ahisgett. "All Terrain Buggies." 22 Aug. 2007 Flickr. 2 Dec. 2008 <http://www.flickr.com/photos/hisgett/1203532051/>. Courtesy of the photographer under Creative Commons License: BY.


Kristin Hokanson said...

I know you posted about the new Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Education, but did you see NCTE's statement of endorsement of the it? These great curriculum materials from Temple's Media Education Lab are great ways to drive this new model...I wanted to also share a wiki that can help teachers to ask some of these questions and come up with ideas.

ceyo said...

Yes, I agree. Thanks, Kristin, for the additional direct links to the materials mentioned in the previous post for If Bees Are Few readers. After a couple years of asking colleagues for these, I'm glad to see a critical mass of experts offering these clear guides to tech in English ed and copyright. That wiki link Kristin mentions is http://copyrightconfusion.wikispaces.com. And while you're surfing, check out Kristin's blog, too.