What Does It Mean To Be Literate In Today’s World?

When I think of the word ‘literacy’, the first thing that comes to mind is the ability to read and write in order to communicate with others and interpret the world around you.  Upon further thought, the idea of literacy moves farther, encompassing a wide array of other aspects.  If literacy is the ability to understand and interpret our world, it needs to extend beyond simple text and include a variety of tools and competencies.  To be fully literate, one would need to take basic reading and writing skills and apply them in different situations and for different purposes.

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 As educators, we address many types of literacies with the students in our classes.  Through curriculum, we teach reading and writing (the traditional definition of literacy), but also mathematical literacy, visual literacy, and emotional literacy, just to name a few.  Through my time in EC&I 832, I have come to the realization, that if we aren’t teaching our students to be digitally literate and media literate as well, we are doing them a disservice.

In the article ‘Defining digital literacy – What do young people need to know about digital media?’ David Buckingham states that, “digital literacy is much more than a functional matter of learning how to use a computer and a keyboard, or how to do online searches . . . they also need to be able to evaluate and use information critically if they are to transform it into knowledge”  This leads into the notion of media literacy which Common Sense Media defines as “the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending.”

How do we teach these skills?  By teaching our students to be critical about what they are reading online and to ask questions about what they are viewing.  By having them first recognize the amount of information they are being presented with and then working with them to deconstruct the messages that they are receiving: to ask questions about their purpose, credibility, and authenticity.

More information about media literacy can be found on the Google Slide show that I created for my content catalyst assignment which can be found here, as well as by watching the following YouTube video about Media Literacy.

By working together to teach our students a variety of literacy skills, we can give them the tools that they need to be successful citizens of both the real and the digital world.

 

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