Thursday, February 12, 2009

The New Literacies and Dr Leu

Dr Donald Leu, here at the invitation of the BCLCIRA from the eastern US, had lots to say about ways to integrate the new literacies into English and Language Arts classrooms. Thanks, Meredyth, for the invitation to teacher-librarians who were delighted to find their central leadership and professional development roles in this field acknowledged as significant. Dr Leu is our newest hero.

We learned that reading on the internet is not the same as reading a book and often students who struggle to read print are often more successful at reading online. The internet is a defining technology for reading and literacy; it requires students to learn new literacies and it requires teaching.

Ireland teaches technology integration to prepare a technology-proficient workforce and is now manufacturing most of the world's software. In Finland, all teachers have five week paid release time for professional development to learn about technology in teaching and learning. In Mexico, every home and school has internet access in order that its citizens are prepared for the 21st century. In Japan, every household will have internet sixteen times faster than in the US at a cost of $22 per month. Yet we in Canada and the US have no measures of internet reading and writing, despite evidence that technology has a positive impact on students' literacy abilities. This inaction puts our students at risk.

The internet requires additional reading comprehension skills. Our weakest offline readers are often strong online; they may be slow at reading but the short units of text are more manageable. Often the passages link to more short passages, images, and hypertext definitions. Students need to refine their locating skills. Search engines require inferencing skills and skills for critical evaluation. We need to teach healthy skepticism. We need to broaden students' search repertoires from "the dot/com strategy" and "click/click" to help them assess information for its reliabilities.

Dr Leu offers 10 easy steps to use the internet to change the field of reading instruction --

1. learn from exceptional online teachers; steal good ideas from the pioneers
2. view online videos about new literacies
3. use Starful
4. use Read/Write/Think
5. use Internet Workshop
6. use ePals
7. use reading comprehension strategies including locating, evaluating information
8. help the last become first; make struggling students the experts
9. explore the potential of Wikipedia
10. use internet reciprocal teaching

A really worthwhile evening.

Related Reading, sent by Alan Z, from New York Times, February 16, 2006"

In Web Age, Library Job Gets Update
By Mokoto Rich

"Even as more school librarians teach digital skills, they often becomethe first casualties of budget crunches ...."

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