Posts Tagged ‘ differentiation ’

Reading vs Literacy

The Written Word

Vicki Davis from Cool Cat Teacher Blog recently wrote about some of the challenges that learners have when starting to read. Her story outlines the research available to help people learn how to read, and the success she has had with these strategies.

I hope to extend her message in two ways: 1) to broaden the definition of ‘literacy’ and 2) emphasize the need to try different approaches.

‘Literate’ vs ‘Can read’:

The ability to read is essential, and without the development of written communication, we wouldn’t have mp3 players. However, I prefer the following definition from AECT.ORG:

“literate: one’s ability to extract information from coded messages and to express ideas, feelings, and thoughts through them in accepted ways.”

We must be able to understand others, and communicate to others in the most effective ways possible. It’s not enough be able to read and write.

The innovations in free media allow reading to be part of a much more effective suite of tools to communicate. Students should be encouraged to explore the vast libraries of free audiobooks and podcasts as a way to learn. They must be practiced in using images and video to convey meaning to others.

It’s exciting to have so many ways to get students excited about learning without needing to rely on the written word. This opens the doors to many more students with various strengths and weaknesses.

Different approaches to help students learn:

Different Sizes

Vicki Davis highlights the effective reading strategies that are also effective teaching strategies.

As the global community of educators continues to freely share ideas and high quality resources for educating others, we are finally starting to have the ability to say to students “If the size and shape of the learning I’m giving you doesn’t fit you, I have many more in the back room (internet) that will also work.”

We are in an age where a student could learn from any teacher around the world. A teacher doesn’t need to possess the skills to create¬†fresh approaches from scratch.

We are starting to become guides to our students, and helping navigate the masses of approaches that are possible. Shelley Wright is implementing the flipped classroom, and many of her students prefer listening to learn, so why not find something to help them? We can present our students with existing approaches that will best fit their specific set of strengths and challenges. We can help students become literate in their own way, in their own unique style.

150 activities and counting…

I just checked the site, and we now have 150 activities! That’s not as traditional as 100 or 500, but it’s a point to celebrate anyway.

As excited as I am to have such a growing library of activities to pull from as I start school here in Northern Virginia, the biggest satisfaction will be when a struggling first year teacher has one central place to go to find activities that get students excited about science. As we open the doors and get the support from many other talented teachers, we’ll have a REAL tool to help reach many learning styles and ability levels. We can finally bring together the efforts of many people, in a way that we can actually implement in the classroom!

Best wishes as you get ready for school,