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LITERACY SPECIAL INTEREST Journal of the LITERACY SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP OF ISTE International Society for Technology in Education Inaugural Issue – Summer 2013 V1 N1


Rights and Permissions Submitting writers assure the journal that the works they provide for inclusion are their own and present no infringements on any rights associated with them. Submitting writers assure that these works are original and the property of the submitter (unless otherwise specified) and their submission represents no violation of copyright or trademark or other variety of intellectual property rights, anywhere. Submitting writers retain rights to their work, other than for inclusion in this journal, for which they receive no compensation. All parties interested in reprinting or republishing these works, in whole or in part, should contact the submitting writer directly. The journal will not be responsible for rights issues or considerations associated with the works that appear in it, which are the sole responsibility of the submitting writers. The sole purpose of the journal is to promote the professional knowledge of educators, is free of any commercial considerations, and does not seek to promote any products or services offered anywhere for profit or other consideration. Submissions Those interested in submitting articles for inclusion in this journal should first submit a summary to: literacyspecialinterest@gmail.com, putting the words “Journal Article Summary� in the subject field of the email. On receiving feedback from the journal, prospective submitters may complete and submit a full manuscript.


LITERACY SPECIAL INTEREST Journal of the LITERACY SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP OF ISTE International Society for Technology in Education Inaugural Issue – Summer 2013 V1 N1

Table of Contents 

Animation as a Catalyst for Making Global Connections By Michele L. Haiken, Ed.D. Page 6

Remixing History: New York Historical Society Student Videographers Use Digital Still Photography and iMovie to Reframe History Dr. Rose Reissman Page 11

Teaching Literacy to Emerging Readers and Writers Through Blog Comments By Kathy Cassidy Page 18

Redefining Reading and the Role of the Teacher-Librarian in the Age of Online Text By Alanna King - University of Alberta Page 23

Virtual vocabulary and digital literacies: Opportunities for responsive, adaptive, and relevant connections By Sandra Schamroth Abrams, Ph.D. - St. John’s University Page 29


Welcome to the inaugural issue of Literacy Special Interest, the Journal of SIG LIT, ISTE’s special interest group for Literacy. It is the intention of the SIG to publish this journal quarterly. Encouragingly, after distributing online a single call for submissions, the body of articles presented in this first issue was received in the face of our first, very tight deadline. Equally encouraging, numerous colleagues already have promised articles for the 2nd issue to be released in the fall of 2013, as well. Those interested in submitting for this upcoming issue or for the spring issue, please see the Submissions paragraph elsewhere in this issue. Little has impacted literacy and the way it is taught and learned more than the many varieties of communications technologies that have emerged over the past few decades. And while the presence of technology is no longer a novelty in classrooms, its full blown use as the prime support for literacy learning is still a phenomenon that has yet to fully materialize. Likewise, its full promise has yet to be fully perceived and understood. This journal will serve as a platform where literacy educators with a particular interest in the uses and impact of technology can fill in those gaps, sharing important perceptions and information about the evolving state of literacy learning and technology’s role in it. Literacy has long been a theme running through the activities of ISTE, the most impactful organization dedicated to the use of technology in education. However, with technology playing an increasingly important role in all aspects of education, and with communications in its many, many forms the prime role of technology, there is need for a dedicated lens through which to focus on the important pairing of technology and literacy instruction. It is the mission of our special interest group to provide such focus, And this journal is intended as an important facet of that lens. Mark Gura Editorial Coordinator Journal Editorial Committee Mark Gura Michele Haiken B. J. Neary 4

Please also look for the special interest group’s podcast, also titled Literacy Special Interest The podcast and show notes are available at http://literacyspecialinterest.blogspot.com and at ISTE Casts the trusted voice in EdTech http://iste.libsyn.com/ 

Special Episode: Professor Garfield, a Rich Source of Powerful, FREE Instructional Resources - OR - How to “Garfieldize” Your Classroom! Featuring an interview with Madelyn Ferris, who, on behalf of the Professor Garfield Foundation, introduces the wonderful Professor Garfield online resource for teachers and learners. http://literacyspecialinterest.blogspot.com/2013/06/special-episode-professorgarfield-rich.html

Episode #5: Classroom Blogging… For Real... Finally! Featuring an in-depth interview with Jeff Piontek, author of Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts, Oh My! Electronic Media in the Classroom http://literacyspecialinterest.blogspot.com/2012/11/episode-5-classroom-bloggingfor-real_2056.html

Episode #4: The Drama of Literacy Learning Featuring an interview with Scholastic author Mack Lewis http://literacyspecialinterest.blogspot.com/2012/05/featuring-host-mark-gurasinterview.html

Episode #3: Every Kid Should Write and Publish! Featuring an interview with education author and speaker, Bernard Percy http://literacyspecialinterest.blogspot.com/2012/04/episode-3-every-kid-shouldwrite-and.html

Episode #2: “Author Study for the Connected Classroom” Featuring an exclusive interview with T.A. Barron, author of The Lost Years of Merlin. http://literacyspecialinterest.blogspot.com/2012/02/literacy-special-interest-episode2.html

Episode #1… “A Keeping Quilt for Literacy Education” Featuring an exclusive interview with author, Patricia Polacco http://literacyspecialinterest.blogspot.com/2011/11/episode-1-notes-literacyspecial.html


Animation as a Catalyst for Making Global Connections By Michele L. Haiken, Ed.D.

Global collaboration is an innovative teaching tool that helps prepare students to become active participants in our global community. Global collaborative projects tap into many of the existing and emerging skills and literacies required of teachers and students: listening, reading, writing, speaking, problem solving, creating, and using technology to practice digital citizenship (NETS).

In fact, collaboration is included throughout the

Common Core Learning Standards. It states in both the K-5 and 6-12 standards for speaking and listening, “Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.” (CCLS, 2010) Global collaborative projects help to meet these standards. Many global collaborative projects currently exist that teachers can apply and participate in such as Flat Classroom Project, iEarn, and Classroom2.0. Teachers can also create their own global collaboration projects. Global partnerships are about making connections with other teachers and schools to benefit all students’ learning. These partnerships can be made through Twitter, blogs, conferences, and or even with teachers around your school district. At this fall’s Edscape Conference (http://edscapeconference.com), I connected with the educational coordinator from the Japan Society in New York City to establish a partnership between students at a school in Japan and my middle school students in Rye, New York. The global collaborative project benefits my seventh and eighth grade media literacy elective. During the semester course, I use Disney animated films to teach critical theories of 6

gender, race, class, and age. To broaden the unit, I add Japanese anime so students can understand how anime can be a window into other cultures around the world. Japanese anime becomes an exciting catalyst to spark conversation and global awareness among my students in New York and the students in Japan. The goal of this project is to expand my students’ world views of different cultures through media literacy and more specifically, anime. Communicating Prior to participating in the global project with the students from Japan, I spend a week setting up the project with my students. I teach netiquette and responsible digital citizenship. Teachers cannot assume that students know how to work together collaboratively in the classroom, let alone online. When working with students around the world, one must take into consideration language barriers and cultural differences as well. Teachers need to support students throughout a global project to help to facilitate successful collaboration and communication. To help initiate a discussion about working with others, I give my students different scenarios with “sticky” small group situations, and I ask them to brainstorm positive responses. For example, one scenario includes a small group with one student who acts as a dictator and completes all the work while other group members take a backseat to the project. Another scenario is about miscommunication among group members. In the third scenario one group member’s contributions are inaccurate, but the other group members do not want to hurt the student’s feelings and the work is wrong. My own students resolve these small group situations and create positive alternatives.


Students know that when working with others, they need to be considerate of others, but they don’t know what respectful and cooperative work looks like or sounds like. It is necessary to model for students positive communication for successful collaboration, offer guidelines, and even provide specific communication starters for students. In Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels’ Comprehension and Collaboration (Heinemann, 2009), there is a thorough list of communication starters to help students articulate respect and tolerance including, “I am glad that you brought that up. I would have never thought of that” and “I agree with what you are saying.” Collaborating There are three elements to the media literacy global collaborative project. First, students participate in an introductory assignment where, individually or with a partner, they create a written blog post or digital video about themselves and the community where they live. Students share these videos and blog posts online using the Japan Society’s secure social networking site, “Going Global.” This introductory “handshake” allows students to introduce themselves to the global participants and share information about their own cultural interests. Students have the option of taking pictures of their community to include in their post to provide a visual perspective on the community where they live. This assignment not only helps students to see the commonalities and differences among all the participants, but it also initiates inquiry and interest among students. After the initial handshake, students view two Disney animated films and two Japanese animes. This year students view the recent Disney princess film; Tangled (2010) and Brave (2012). Then students view My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Spirited Away (2001), both by Hayao Miyazaki, who has been called the Walt Disney of Japanese anime. Each student is assigned a 8

critical theory to research and write a collaborative report on a Wiki. Students then apply the critical theory to the films and include the analysis on the Wiki page. As an example, students collaboratively critique how gender is represented in both the Disney films and Japanese anime. In addition to the collaborative piece with the students in Japan, I have my students collaborate with another member of our class and create a video segment discussing their critical theory applied to the Disney princess films. We link all the videos together to create a “Choose Your Own Adventure” video montage on YouTube. YouTube has a feature that allows teachers to insert a hyperlink into the video uploaded using the spotlight annotation tool. Students write their own scripts based on their research and analysis, and then we spend four class periods recording the videos. As a final step, I upload the videos to YouTube and link the videos together. The project has multiple layers. Each component of the project is scaffold for the diverse range of student abilities. With each element of the project, I present my students with models, checklists, and assessment rubrics so they know the project’s expectations. Culminating Creating a successful global collaborative project requires much planning. Clear goals and outcomes with all participants must be communicated. A successful project is interactive, engaging, and revolves around real questions and problems. Whether participating in an already existing global project or creating your own, global projects allow students to utilize multiple skills relevant to succeeding inside and outside of the classroom.


Michele L. Haiken, Ed.D. is a middle school English teacher at Rye Middle School and an adjunct professor at Manhattanville College. She is enthusiastic about integrating technology into the classroom to promote critical thinking and learning. You can read more about the projects she and her students are involved in on her blog http://theteachingfactor.com. Contact her at michele@theteachingfactor.com


Remixing History: New York Historical Society Student Videographers Use Digital Still Photography and iMovie to Reframe History By Dr. Rose Reissman Digitally Authoring a Documentary to Address Common Core ELA and SS/History literacy Standards This is not your standard, in person visit to a local history museum or even a digital experience accomplished through an audio guide at an exhibition hall. At https://www.nyhistory.org/exhibitions/harlem-vergara, the visitor is immersed in a dynamic, image driven, past/present documentary look at three neighborhoods of NYC. Guided by image dissolves and inspired by the photographic technique of Camilo Jose Vergara, 4 high school students served as a film writing, editing, directing, and shooting cohort to create a multi-sensory, personalized montage of neighborhood visual changes, as seen over time. These changes, conveyed through student selected neighborhood-specific paintings and artifacts from the New York Historical Society collections, use multimedia tools (e.g. digital photography, iMovie, etc. ) as the vehicles for applying and modeling UDL (Universal Design for Learning) and CCSS (Common Core State Standards) strategies for teaching US history. Such tools and approaches that employ them can make history visually and tactically real for a broad spectrum of student learners, including visual learners, musical, ESL, Newcomer and special needs learners. Dissolving images can easily support student “framing� descriptions, arguments, and comparison writing papers, which require inquiry-driven, observation, and reflection based on notes taken during observations. Additionally, unlike a print passage, the images in documentary work produced this way can always be rewound, enlarged, and/or captioned for review or closer observation and reflection. As part of the educational program at the museum, the fall 2012 Sunday Scholars project (a weekend program for already engaged high school students who wanted to develop a multimedia project using museum 11

collections and NYC itself as resources) was inspired by an exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, displaying photographs by Camilo José Vergara, a contemporary photographer. Vergara’s photographs were exhibited in two cycles: Harlem: The People and Harlem: The Place. As a photographer, Vergara envisioned his images as visual witnesses to neighborhood social, economic, technological and cultural changes that have occurred over the past four decades Vergara’s photographic approach to documenting change over time was deemed by Chelsea Fortini, Program Coordinator, and Dylan Depice, to be a perfect one on which to base student-as-historian scholarly investigations.. The high school scholars involved were also able to take advantage of the Museum & Library collection at NYHS in order to trace the history of a neighborhood of interest that they personally selected back to the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The broader CCSS ELA and History/SS literacy applications of this approach include: Students used reading, in terms of analysis of Vergara’s style (craft/genre), to apply photography as a tool for documentation. They studied his work as a visual text for details, central ideas, information, and photographic purpose, while also using the more conventional historian tool of primary source research. They were able to pull both elements together to integrate their knowledge and ideas through creating a documentary film to tell the stories of change in four NYC neighborhoods that have a rich history. Visual, ESL, Newcomer, and Special needs students, as well as those who are just captivated by digital photography, can identify: online, in print, or at a museum, a photographer like Walker Evans, Bernice Abbot, Richard Avedon, Annie Liebowitz, Diane Arbus, Edward Weston, Matthew Brady, Ansel Adams, or even a working contemporary sports, Hollywood, or combat photographer. Next, they can “read” that photographer’s visual documents for details, purpose, ideas, style, genre, and theme. They can read secondary print or view other documentary/film, artifact or sound archives of the time period for research to develop a documentary argument for their own “reframing” /”remixing” of history research or commentary. While not every student may have easy in-person access to a museum like the New York Historical Society, through websites and the Images, text items, and links they find there, all students can practice being actual product


producing historians, as opposed to simply commenting on what printed and produced historians have done. How to use digital photography and film making as a historicity, literacy, and student curatorial tool Dylan Depice, museum educator, suggests that students be “trained” realistically in the observation habits of CCSS reading and writing-aligned documenters and historians by deep review, collaborative discussion among the team or class, and note taking from the discussion to serve as the background narration of the visual history commentary. While the classroom may not have primary source documents and a NYHS-level collection to choose from, students can compare charts and graphs (plus their academic descriptive language) to photography and film as methods of conveying information. They can discuss with reference to the standards the "reading", in terms of academic domain specific vocabulary for each. Among the domain vocabulary terms these students noted were: Low angles, lines, framing, time lapse photography, artist statement, and portfolio. Reframing this Project for the ELA/SS Classroom and Beyond Dylan Depice, the museum educator, notes that he sees this project as an introduction to career vistas possible for students as Historians, Artists, Journalists, Filmmakers, and Curators.” Really, I just wanted them to think of themselves as storytellers. We explored specific storytelling techniques in photography and film, how and why curators integrate media, and Journalism ethics. For example, we studied how to use visual framing techniques such as leading lines to direct a viewer's attention or low angles to suggest a powerful subject. Most important, I made the Sunday Scholars the director and author/auteur centers of the program. Their observations and ideas drove our conversations and activities. From the Museum Perspective Dr. Sharon Dunn, a distinguished public school educator, serves as the Vice President for Education. She has brought her Blueprint for arts and literacy integration into the ongoing educational mission of NYHS so the CCSS in History/SS and ELA connections are explicit and seamless. Chelsea Frosini, Coordinator of Secondary and Post-Secondary Programs and Mia Niagawieki, Director of Education collaborate to make certain that NYHS programs teach 13

our students using object and art-based inquiry. And that they have ample museum visit and after visit reading and writing reflections, argumentation, and thesis formation options. The Scholars explored Vergara’s Artist Statement.-a genuine written word analogue to his visual collection. Students viewed his portfolio with a critical lens paying special attention to technical and creative choices he made to get his particular message across, within the definition of aspects of a text that reveal the author’s purpose. The Scholars therefore received a brief training in Research Methods at NYHS to be able to conduct most of their primary source research for their projects using the Museum collections. They were also able to discuss the various layers of primary sources, paying close attention to the particular perspective of each source and using them accordingly for their projects. Tips for Adaptation and Implementation Dylan DePice, Museum Educator: “One of the reasons this project was so much fun was because each of the Sunday Scholars brought their own personality to the table. I encouraged them to choose their topics based on their own curiosity and to tell their stories using whichever techniques they found most effective and fun. Unsurprisingly, this meant that we ended up with a variety of topics and storytelling styles: Vlad (the documentarian) explored Wall Street's significance by focusing on three quintessentially American institutions and their bold buildings, juxtaposing pictures from the past and present one after the other; Caitlin (the researcher) used archival images, documents, paintings, artifacts, and her own photography to take us on a more chronologically linear tour of the city via Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed in particular; Noa (the photographer) spent the most time in the neighborhood she chose, the Lower East Side, shooting and unsurprisingly ended up with the largest set of original photographs to select from (reflecting the technique of a professional photographer); and Josie (the investigator) chose the most subterranean topic, Seneca Village, and framed her story not only as a comparison between the past and the present but-by juxtaposing a mostly forgotten African American community with a prominent monument of an epic American hero, Columbus--as an explicit commentary on the preservation and accessibility of New York City History. In other words, the unique interests and skills of each Sunday Scholar made for a collaborative environment that led to extremely strong individual projects. 14

Mia Nagawiecki, Director of Education: “It is the mission of the Education Division of the New-York Historical Society to provide resources and opportunities that bring New York and American history to life. That means creating digital resources that have a life far beyond the run of an exhibition or the walls of our institution. We draw on the expertise of our high school students (as well as teachers and our own staff) to come up with new, exciting ways to engage the public with our world-class collections. If you give them the ‘stuff’ of history, they can do the work of historians--but they do it in a language and a medium that speaks to them and, consequently, their peers. Educators and teens can access our digital resources from anywhere in the world so long as they have an internet connection. Large swaths of the Historical Society's collections have been digitized and made easily accessible on our website: nyhistory.org. Since joining the Historical Society in 2010, Sharon Dunn, Vice President for Education, has prioritized expanding NYHS's reach throughout New York City and beyond through outreach programming and digital learning initiatives. On our Education page, we have compiled a library of curriculum resources and online exhibitions that feature digital resources such as images, films, timelines, interactives, and more. Our hope is that these resources will ease the process of bringing high-quality primary sources into the classroom and inspire educators and students to create innovative digital projects that bring history to life.” From the Student Perspective One of the students, Vlad, wrote of the project: In a comprehensive six week program I and a group of three other students learned “Chronicling History Through Photography and Documentary Film” The objective of the project was to research and capture original photography to (create) a short documentary film that tells a story of how a particular community or element of society has changed…


… we were first introduced to the different elements of storytelling through visual effects and images. Following the introduction, we each picked a location which would be highlighted in our projects... … we went out to those locations [mine being Wall Street] keeping in mind the different elements of photography to take the photos for the project. These photos were based on images from the past that are in the museum’s collection. The particular structures on Wall Street that I chose were Trinity Church, The Stock Exchange, and Federal Hall. After taking the re-photography photos on location, we headed back to the Museum as a team to arrange our slide show and narrate it… …It is important to have more than just reading and writing when learning History or any subject, the difference maker for me was the hands on learning where we put the techniques we learned in the Museum classroom to the test on the streets of New York City. Conclusion In the study of American or World History there is never a single defining text or story. Even literary criticism of a poet’s documented life, say, Sylvia Plath, is open to many critical points of published biographic perspective. Have your students study master photographers’ key period works as if they were visual books using Common Core ELA and Social Studies multiple strands of literacy. Then, have them work collaboratively to comprehend and author their own director’s cut on a time period (of a neighborhood, author’s life , book setting, or non-fiction/informational text to access them right now to the ongoing next level of lifelong, visual, and CCSS storytelling and story building literacy. In the process of documentary filming, they are asserting and creating their own authorial responses to history and literature as a tech-rich, dynamic story that in turn can narrate, persuade, and argue peers to ongoing study of history and literature. Action!!


Resources The Library of Congress American Memory http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/browse This site can easily be used for any ELA literature class as well or for nonfiction study since it has a literature category plus books can be aligned to the art, photos, maps, and documents by searching its chronological and topic index. American Museum of Photography www.photographymuseum.com D’Acquisto, Linda. (2006). Learning on Display. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Frey, Nancy and Douglas Fisher. (2008). Teaching Visual Literacy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Moline, Steve. (2011). second edition. I see what you mean. Stenhouse. Walling, Donovan. (2005). Visual Knowing-Connecting Art and Ideas Across the Curriculum. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.


Teaching Literacy to Emerging Readers and Writers Through Blog Comments By Kathy Cassidy In my primary classroom, every child has a personal blog where he or she shares examples of their learning with the world. The blogging process -- the reading, writing and commenting about the work of others -- has become a critical component of my literacy instruction as well as my effort to assure that my young students are "connected from the start." Blogging with Emerging Readers Receiving comments is a thrill for any blogger, no matter their age. I can think of many special moments in my classroom when my six-year-old students were all seated on the floor in front of our interactive whiteboard and together we read aloud a comment that inspired not just the child who received it, but all of us. We were elated when Aaron received a comment from his grandparents who lived in a distant city and when a comment came from Eric’s brother who was away at university. Dozens of times we have been excited to get comments from aunties and uncles who took the time to respond to something one of my students had written. And when we get comments from children or classrooms in another country, there is often a collective gasp of delight. As a teacher, I am constantly on the lookout for ways to make learning deep, authentic and meaningful. Comments are an excellent way to bring meaningful text into the classroom for reading experiences. When a parent comments on their child’s blog and talks about the improvements they are seeing in their child’s writing, that is meaningful text. When students from far away comment on a project we've written about on our classroom blog, that is meaningful text. When one of the children in my room comments “you r my bstfrnd” on their classmate’s blog, that is meaningful text (even if that same comment was made to three other students on the same day!).


An anchor chart my class made together to help us remember how to make a good comment on someone else's blog. Whole Group Reading in a Connected World Whole group reading is an important, research-based part of literacy in most primary classrooms, and mine is no different. In my classroom sits a large, painted wooden box specially made for me by my ever-supportive husband. This box houses all of the poems and stories that I have purchased or carefully printed on chart paper over many years of teaching. It used to be that when a new group of pre-readers arrived in my classroom each fall, I would pull out poems that were appropriate and that I thought would match the interests of that particular class of students. I hung these poems on a chart stand and we would “read� them aloud together as I (or one of the 19

students) pointed to the words. Reading comments (and other online text such as tweets and blog posts) has almost completely replaced those chart-paper texts. My students are learning the same literacy concepts, but the text is so much more meaningful and authentic because it is written specifically for them or for one of their classmates. Several times a thoughtful teacher (and someone I do not know) has taken the time to comment on the blogs of every one of my students. What a powerful motivation this has been for them. I am grateful to every parent, sibling, former student, relative and stranger who has given some of their time to comment on one of my six-year-old’s blogs. Comments are the lifeblood of blogs, and getting them is important to students and to the learning process that blogs represent. To a child, they are a sign of validation and an indication that he has an audience for what he writes. Authentic Experiences for Emerging Writers Learning to write comments is also an important part of literacy in my classroom. We start by talking about the comments we have received, how they made us feel, and what was good about them. We want to be able to mimic the best of other people’s comments to us. Almost always, my students want to start by saying “I like your blog.” To help students stay on track and encourage them to think beyond this kind of over-used phrase, we make an anchor chart to help us remember our discussion. Although this chart is made up by and with my grade one students, it does not look very different from school year to school year. The ingredients of good commenting don't change much, and they can be useful to commenters of just about any age. For my pre- and emerging writers, these four steps seem to work best. Besides teaching them to comment, these guidelines reinforce other concepts my students are just learning. 1. Say something nice. What specifically did you like about the post? What made you smile? 2. Make a connection. What did it remind you of? Does it make you think of something you know or have done? Something you saw in a book or on a 20

video? Understanding and making connections is a skill five- and six-yearolds are just beginning to learn. 3. Ask a question. What do you wonder? What did the writer not include that you wish had been in the article or blog post? Understanding the difference between something you tell and something you ask is difficult for most six-year-olds. Including a question in the commenting process helps them to learn what a question is and how to think about someone’s ideas beyond their own. 4. Re-read your comment. This is a vital skill for writers and commenters of any age. Each year, as the students realize how often they needed to change something we had written to make it better, we find ourselves adding this step at the end of our chart. Becoming independent writers We follow this 4-step pattern pretty closely, commenting together for months as they learn the literacy skills necessary to comment on their own. The first independent student comments are often written from home. I make a big deal about these comments, and as with every other comment we receive, we read them aloud together. After one or two students have written comments, the others want to do it as well. In grade one, we are usually near the end of our year when I will officially ask all of the students to choose the blog of a classmate and try to make a comment. At first, I ask them to show me the comment before they click “submit,” but when they have shown me that they can do this independently, I let them begin to comment on any of the blogs of their classmates without my prior review. When they are comfortable doing this, I let them begin to comment on the blogs of other classrooms that we have included in the blogroll of our classroom blog. I can be sure that if there was ever anything inappropriate (there never has been), the teachers we are linked with would contact me. For students whose spelling skills are still developing, I stay close by and if necessary will write an editor’s note in brackets after their comment, in the same way I do with their blog postings. 21

Do they all immediately follow the pattern that we have practiced together? No. It is a long journey. Typical independent comments usually look like this.

When you are an emerging writer, learning to comment does take a long time, but learning to read and to write anything takes a long time. To me, the result—a student who is writing authentic text and beginning to understand how to interact appropriately with others in a social media situation—is worth the long journey. Happily, the students are steadily improving their literacy skills at the same time. Kathy Cassidy (@kathycassidy) is a primary grades teacher in Moose Jaw, SK, Canada and author of Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades (Powerful Learning Press, 2013). Since 2005, she has been integrating various technologies into her teaching practice to help connect her classroom to the world. Kathy is a recipient of ISTE's Kay L. Bitter Award for outstanding technology leadership in the primary grades. She blogs at Primary Preoccupation and the group blog Voices from the Learning Revolution.


Redefining Reading and the Role of the Teacher-Librarian in the Age of Online Text By Alanna King University of Alberta Every day as a teacher-librarian I try to match resources to students and students to resources. In the stacks it’s often quite easy to rely on Dewey and the alphabet for locating material. But when it comes to finding and reading online, the students get bogged down. Often I teach a whole class how to access material online for their assignments, and watch them struggle with the nuances of web material. Even when we open up a Learning Management System (LMS) that directs them to specific hypertext links, they have trouble navigating toolbars and columns. Fundamentally, the issue comes down to reading skills. As David Warlick (2009) said “Educators should seek to integrate literacy, rather than integrate technology ... Computers and the Internet will be an essential part of teaching and learning because they are the tools of contemporary literacy” (p. xiii). As a teacher-librarian, I set out in this paper to discover what progress, if any, has been made in implementing strategies for teaching reading online. What I discovered is the complexity of interpreting online text is much greater than I anticipated. Ranjana Das (2011) explains that the very nature of online text has blurred the previously predictable line between authors, readers, users and producers (p. 346). Being an online student myself, I am often reading while authoring, using while curating my library. The complexity of reading online has implications for all of us in the education system. Reading skills and the online text As a secondary school teacher, my experiences of teaching reading have always been about remediating what should have already been learned. The same is true for teaching reading online. While secondary readers want to have predictable structures to rely on, they also want enough novelty enticed and challenged students. The very nature of reading online brings into play many new variables, which include conventions, structure, and legibility. According to Doug Achterman (2010) there are four interrelated factors that have changed the nature of literacy: a. The ubiquity of the internet 23

b. The nature of the internet itself allows for the continuous change of literacy technologies themselves c. Such technologies change the form and functions of earlier literacies since they carry within them new potentials for literacy d. The way we make and create meaning with text is in constant evolution. (p. 79) There has been some educator concern about keeping up with technology. Rather than using this excuse to avoid adapting to the new nature of literacy, it is better that we become more adaptable. Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson (2011) say that the [digitization of text] impacts information organization, selection, evaluation and creation. Preparing students for these challenges is an important task for teachers. One of the ways to do this is to expose them to reading in multiple dimensions. Just as we have adapted teaching to suit the diversity of learners, so must we teach to the multitude of dimensions in which meaning can be made. Reading in multiple dimensions In describing the complexity of reading in hypertext environments, David Warlick (2002) said “This 3-D arrangement adds value to the message you are trying to deliver in that it points to supporting documents, and related documents can point to yours. Its depth and richness can also lead to unrelated content that deflects us from our goals” (p. 22). What we’ve learned by experience in the last decade is that this same depth and richness can be overwhelming to readers, and may make learning through the internet near impossible for some students. We cannot assume that the same set of offline reading skills will develop online reading skills. In fact, very little research has been done that highlights the attributes of successful online reading comprehension (Coiro, 2011, p. 353). Livingstone (2012) warns that while exposure to online reading generally improves school achievement, it is true, too, that “already high-achieving children get more from gaining internet access than do low-achieving children” (p. 15). Recent research indicates that online reading’s complexity has even more variables than originally thought. In agreeing to participate with a text, the reader enters into a contract where meaning lies “in a relationship of mutuality and transactions between the text and reader, technology and user” (Das, 2011, p. 347). The heterogeneity of these variables: text with reader, technology with user, take the job of teaching reading using online 24

text to a remarkable degree of difficulty. The students we teach right now cannot be summed up with a catch phrase like “digital native” (Prensky, 2005). In fact, painting all readers with the same brush may have set our work in education back ten years. If we had come to view the problem of implementing digital fluency through many lenses in the first place, we would be at a better point from which to help further along each variable. What we used to call ‘Reading’ can now mean a kind of active act of interpretation of a text that can physically alter form and shape (Das, 2011, p. 346). One example of this new act of interpretation is using audio. In my library, our recent implementation of audiobooks has challenged the idea of reading, and many teachers question the validity of the experience over print text reading. Now students are taking advantage of the database feature that reads the text to the user. Likewise, access to information presented in so many dynamic ways brings additional hurdles. Berger (2007) describes the process of reading online as constructing understanding of online material from nonlinear hypertext, while evaluating the quality and validity of information. Students are also struggling to maintain focus while abiding by the rules of cyberspace (p. 117). School focus on online reading comprehension Schools need to develop a comprehensive continuum for online reading. Livingstone (2012) summarized her research saying that students were using ICT [information and communication technologies] better for presentation purposes than numeracy, and the use of specific software was being taught rather than transferable skills (p. 14). With a reading continuum should come a clear and shared conceptual vocabulary to analyze learning processes along with new modes of assessment so as to permit media (or digital) literacies a place within the established curriculum, preferably without turning soft skills into a new and burdensome set of targets. (Livingstone, 2012, p. 19) Direct support from teachers is imperative as inconsistencies continue to be found in the experience of independent online learning. In addition to the four variables of user, reader, content and technology, a fifth factor was discovered to bring about inconsistent results when learning moved from school to home, where provisions of technology and parent expertise were variable (Livingstone, 2012, p. 16). Teacher-librarians can provide a face-toface and online bridge between home and school to minimize these inconsistencies.


Teacher-librarians as change agents When teaching processes of inquiry, teacher-librarians should also include reading strategies which may, as Dobler (2007) suggests, include drawing on previous experiences, prior knowledge and summarizing key ideas (p. 96). Lawless, Schrader, and Mayall (2007) found that students who were given content-specific background-building information prior to their Internet reading activity actually performed more complex navigational tasks in search of information than did a control group (p. 298). Ideally this background knowledge would come in a variety of modes including print text, audio-visual formats, and online text. Teacher-librarians can use these findings related to the complexities of online reading to advocate for both online and print resources and assessments. With the advent of anytime/anywhere learning, teacherlibrarian support is essential when the child dictates their own readiness, outside of the scheduled classroom. Teacher-librarians can assist by proposing situations that emphasize online process over outcomes and flexible modes of discovery over subject-specific knowledge (Livingstone, 2012, pp. 17-18). Studies show that a blended learning class environment, partially online and partially face-to-face, is more successful than either strategy on its own (Livingstone, 2012, p. 12). Similarly, having access to these resources everywhere, through implementations like online teacher content spaces and wireless internet connections, would be beneficial. An answer to developing rich online content will inevitably involve professional learning in the areas of using learning management systems for communication and collaboration. The teacher-librarian can facilitate the management of these environments, and lead staff to more confidently implement these goals. Students can also help build the content and gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of hypertext environments through creation of a collaborative online space, such as a wiki. The wiki is a rich environment where students can learn about reading 3-D text, but more importantly they can learn to construct it. Making collaborative choices of organization, hyperlinking, tagging and content will give students deep insight into how online spaces are designed. The teacher-librarian is in a unique place to maintain a continuum of reading comprehension to help students and staff as they develop digital fluency. Doug Achterman (2010) says:


technology has fundamentally changed the definition of literacy, and school librarians are among those at a school site best positioned to lead explorations and help school communities consider the ramifications of that change, as well as to develop educational approaches that effectively exploit technologies and build new literacy skills. (p. 79) Giving students the confidence to adapt in new learning situations online is more important than content (Dobler, 2007, p. 95). Livingstone (2012) advises that teachers ensure that student interactions with online environments reflect new literacies, and aren’t just online ways to perpetuate 20th century skills (p. 16). Achterman (2010) also advocates that teacher-librarians need to recognize that “in some respects, teachers may be less literate than their students� (p. 81). Instead of seeing this as an insurmountable problem, there is another unique opportunity that a teacherlibrarian can play to build whole school consistency. While teacher-librarians are seeking instructional strategies to enable their students, they can also seek support for their own development in digital fluency (Dobler, 2007, p. 97). Achterman (2010) says the challenge for the school librarian as a literacy leader is twofold: 1. to help the school community understand the need to expand our traditional notions of literacy to include new literacies; and 2. to lead, through study, communication, staff development, curricular planning, and collaboration with classroom teachers, the exploration of new literacies, examining current research and trying promising strategies that may lead to best practice. (p.81) Leading through example can help to bring the entire school community to develop digital fluency. As the internet continues to morph, teacher-librarians can help in a number of ways. However, the most important moment of impact is before the reader engages with the text at all: giving background knowledge in content areas before the pursuit of deeper material. The challenge is no longer to get comfortable with technology but to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Knowing that each user and reader will come to each text on a variety of technology devices, with a multitude of further elements affecting each variable, means that teacher-librarians will have to get better at troubleshooting. The role of the teacher-librarian to facilitate the relationship between text and user has become more imperative than ever to the literacy of our students. 27

Lawless, Schrader, and Mayall (2007) say: New learning environments, such as that provided by the Internet, may very well require new approaches for capturing and examining the processes and artifacts of reading. Indeed, the possibilities are endless, but the potential for improving instructional practice and learning success is infinite. (p. 301) With the emergence of Web 3.0 tools, reading will certainly change again. Whether technology will continue to be used as a tool or the implications of online literacy will fundamentally change pedagogy, the teacher-librarian will remain an essential part of this process. References Achterman, D. (2010). Literacy leadership and the school library. In S. Coatney (Ed.), The many faces of school library leadership (pp. 6784). Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited. Berger, P. (2007). Literacy and learning in a digital world. In S. HughesHassell & V. H. Harada, School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 111-127). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Coiro, J. (2011). Talking about reading as thinking: Modeling the hidden complexities of online reading comprehension. Theory Into Practice, 50(2), 107-115. Coiro, J. (2011). Predicting reading comprehension on the internet: Contributions of offline reading skills, online reading skills and prior knowledge. Journal of Literacy Research, 43(4), 352-392. doi:10.1177/1086296X11421979 Das, R. (2011). Converging perspectives in audience studies and digital literacies: Youthful interpretations of an online genre. European Journal of Communication, 26(4), 343-360. Dobler, E. (2007). Reading the web: The merging of literacy and technology. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. H. Harada, School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 93-110). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2011). Nurturing a new breed of reader: Five realworld issues. Teacher Librarian, 39(1), 56-63. Lawless, K. A., Schrader, P. G., & Mayall, H. J. (2007). Acquisition of information online: Knowledge, navigation and learning outcomes. Journal of Literacy Research, 39(3), 289-306. Livingstone, S. (2012). Critical reflections on the benefits of ICT in education. Oxford Review of Education, 38(1), 9-24. 28

Prensky, M. (2005/2006). Listen to the natives. Educational Leadership, 63(4), 8-13. Reading. (2009). In K. Fontichiaro (Ed.), 21st-century learning in school libraries (pp. 89-116). Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited. Warlick, D. F. (2009). Redefining literacy 2.0. Columbus, OH: Linworth Books.


Virtual vocabulary and digital literacies: Opportunities for responsive, adaptive, and relevant connections By Sandra Schamroth Abrams, Ph.D. St. John’s University

Abstract Presenting data from a study of nine adolescents’ online vocabulary learning, this article explores the technology-literacy connection and the role of adaptive tools in student-driven learning experiences. In addition to addressing the differences between online and traditional vocabulary resources, this article highlights the positive shift in students’ independent learning and feelings of competence, as well as their recognition of relevant practices as they encountered virtual vocabulary sites and game-based approaches. Overall, multimodal, adaptive features have important implications for student learning inside and outside the classroom.

Overview Blended Learning. Flipped Classrooms. These are two terms that recently have surfaced as teachers contemplate ways to transform classroom practice in light of new technologies that can support individualized educational experiences. In many ways, students can be designers of their own learning because adaptive technologies—those that adjust according to student progress—provide immediate feedback and modified content according to student performance. In terms of vocabulary instruction, such adaptability suggests that the technology-literacy connection creates new opportunities for differentiated word learning. This article focuses on nine adolescents’ use of online vocabulary resources and their learning with adaptive tools, and, ultimately, it considers what such technology can mean for teachers and the classroom.


Learning Online: Shifts in Thinking and Doing The pervasiveness of the Internet and mobile devices has radically changed the way we access information. According to the 2013 Pew study (Madden, Lenhart, Duggan, Cortesi, & Gasser, 2013), in the United States “about three in four (74%) teens ages 12-17 say they access the internet on cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices at least occasionally,” and “one in four teens are ‘cell-mostly’ internet users” (p.2). Though the researchers acknowledge the socio-economic divide, they also explain that “those who fall into lower socioeconomic groups are just as likely and in some cases more likely than those living in higher income and more highly educated households to use their cell phone as a primary point of access” (p.2). In other words, when we address the technology-literacy connection, there are far-reaching implications because most teens are, indeed, connected to the Internet in one way or another. In terms of practice, what we are seeing is the confluence of established understandings of learning—1) that literacy extends beyond print (Street, 1995, 2010) to include multimodal forms of meaning making (Kress, 2010; Rowsell, 2013), and 2) that students’ online and offline practices beyond the classroom should be valued (Alvermann, 2010; Davies, 2010). With these realizations, we can better understand how students learn and how we can improve instruction. As a result, we are beginning to see a paradigmatic shift—one that is based on multisourced information and collaboration (Levy, 2011; Levy & Schrire, 2012), inherent aspects of a connectivist (Siemens, 2012) approach. As students go online, search information, and interact with others, typically they do so at their own pace and time, and, thus, learning becomes an independent, student-driven experience. The large question, ‘What does such learning look like?’ continues to be unpacked as researchers examine students’ interactions with virtual worlds, videogames, and out-of-school literacies (cf. Abrams, Gerber, & Burgess, 2012; Curwood, Magnifico, & Lammers, 2013; Lankshear & Knobel, 2011; Merchant, Gillen, Marsh & Davies, 2013; Ochsner & Martin, 2013). This study contributes to the discussion by narrowing the lens and considering how students use online vocabulary resources when they’re not in school. Classroom implications stem from the study’s findings.


Learning Vocabulary Online: The Study This article focuses on data from a five-month qualitative study of nine diverse New York City public and private school eleventh graders who attended five, 75-minute after-school vocabulary support sessions at a neighboring university. During the after-school sessions, students used a variety of online resources, including a number of vocabulary-based websites (including, but not limited to, dictionary.com, wikipedia.com, google.com) and the Vocabulary.com Challenge, a game-like approach to learning word connotations and denotations. Complementing students’ online experiences, face-to-face tutoring included graduate students working with adolescents, using ETS SAT vocabulary, sentence completions, and reading comprehension passages as a springboard for discussion and analysis. The participants’ first session included an initial observation of their use of online vocabulary resources (e.g., what they were accustomed to doing prior to the vocabulary support sessions). This enabled us to gauge how, if at all, their vocabulary searches and online behavior changed over time. Additional data sources included individual and group interviews, observation of adolescents’ online inquiry and vocabulary self-selection, adolescent think alouds, pre- and posttests of students’ vocabulary knowledge and their associated feelings about learning vocabulary, surveys, field notes, weekly emailed self-reported vocabulary experiences (both online and offline), and Vocabulary.com Challenge game statistics. When patterns in the data emerged, they informed participant interviews, enabling adolescents to clarify, confirm and/or challenge initial findings. Online Vocabulary Resources: Some Affordances and Realizations Unlike their traditional counterparts, vocabulary-related websites typically feature accessible language and multimodal representations of language (e.g., students can hear words, view etymologies and associated images, and read contextualized definitions), attributes known to support vocabulary acquisition (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002; Marzano, 2004). Likewise, online definitions are not bound by the same space limitations as paper-based dictionaries, which often limit reader understanding of contextualized language (Marzano, 2004). In other words, multimodal adaptive technologies present new ways for students to understand word meanings and usage; some sites present words in multiple contexts, enabling students to understand the nuances of language particularly when words are presented across texts and genres, such as news reports, classical literature, and non-fiction source material. Further, the inclusion of auditory and visual components working in concert can help support students’ vocabulary acquisition. 32

As seventeen-year-old Kendra (all names are pseudonyms) noted, there are “definitions that I can understand,” and Abigale found that multiple definitions enabled her “to expand my variation of the word's meaning.” Thus, it comes as no surprise that student survey responses overwhelmingly indicated that three salient features of online vocabulary websites included variety, repetition, and relevance. Though it’s common knowledge that not all websites are created equal, what’s important is that there are options, and games, such as the Vocabulary.com Challenge (aka ‘The Challenge’), offer students a chance to learn via adaptive technology, repetition, and application. Mariyah explained that The Challenge “allowed me to memorize my words and see how they are used in a sentence.” Among the sites she visited during and beyond the sessions, Abigale recalled how “I have learned how to use the online thesaurus and…I have learned that Vocabulary.com is a very useful tool for helping me study vocabulary words, and that I can continue to use it to improve my vocabulary (even if it's just to make my sentences sound smarter).” Features of the site that supported Abigale’s independent learning included personalized word lists and game-based interaction that ultimately translated into an individualized learning experience that was tailored specifically to Abilgale’s performance. As a result, we see how adaptive technologies can support independent learning and also help students to recognize the application of their learning beyond test scores (e.g., “even if it’s just to make my sentences sound smarter”). The participants were able to learn on their own—both inside and outside the classroom—and posttests indicated a positive shift in the students’ feelings of wordlearning independence. Further, students reported an increase in enjoyment and competence when it came to learning vocabulary; participant responses to the preand posttest question, “I look to learn new words on my own,” reveal a positive shift and an increase in students’ interest in independent learning. Likewise, graduate student observations suggested that the students “were excited to add new words to their Challenge and were able to apply those skills successfully to the sentence completion questions they had.” Because online technologies support selfdirected learning, students became designers of their own education as they added vocabulary words to online lists, played interactive games, and ultimately applied what they learned in meaningful ways. What this Means for the Classroom Given that websites and adaptive technologies (such as interactive games) support student-centered and independent learning, we need to consider how, if at all, these technologies can be used in the classroom to support literacy learning. Teachers might decide that online vocabulary games should be played outside the 33

classroom as a way to support vocabulary acquisition, but others might consider how such games can be used independently or collaboratively in class. During the support sessions, participants worked together to solve game-based questions, and their accomplishments and struggles not only fueled their interest in learning vocabulary, but also served as formative assessments of their progress and understanding. Game achievements, badges and statistics provided immediate feedback for students, and the recurrence of ‘unmastered’ words gave students a chance to learn words in a number of contexts. When we think about what this means for the classroom, we can see how programs can adopt game-like principles and provide analyses that support real-time feedback. Programs, such as The Challenge, offer virtual reward badges, and students (and their teachers) can keep track of their performance through sitesupported short- and long-term analytics and statistics. In this way, students can develop a meta-awareness of their learning, and teachers can see where their students are experiencing difficulty. Essentially, there are opportunities for students, their classmates, and their teachers to work together, using technology to support responsive and adaptive instruction both in and out of the classroom. There is an important connection between technology, teaching, and learning vocabulary, and, as technologies continue to change at a rapid pace, we must always think about ways the online experience can ignite and nurture meaningful, nuanced learning. We need to be mindful that students can and often do engage in such learning online and outside school. Encouraging students’ use of online resources and remaining open to and flexible with a connectivist approach, educators can give students the leeway to learn with the assistance of technologies that support independent, adaptive, and relevant learning. The confluence of multimodal, textual experiences, coupled with adaptive technology and textual inquiry, can impact student self-directed vocabulary learning that extends beyond dictionary definitions and classroom walls. References Abrams, S.S., Gerber, H.R., & Burgess, M. (2012). Digital worlds and shifting borders: Popular culture, perception, and pedagogy (pp. 90-105). In B. Williams & A. Zenger (Eds.), New Media Literacies and Participatory Popular Culture Across Borders. Routledge. Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York: Guilford. 34

Curwood, J.S., Magnifico, A.M., & Lammers, J.C. (2013). Writing in the wild: Writers’ motivation in fan-based affinity spaces. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacies, 56(8), 677-685. Davies, J. (2010). A space for play: Crossing boundaries and learning online. In V. Carrington and M. Robinson (Eds.) Digital Literacies and Classroom Practices (pp. 27-42). London: SAGE. Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. New York: Routledge. Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2011). New literacies: Everyday practices and social learning. Berkshire, England: McGraw Hill Open University Press. Levy, D. (2011). Lessons Learned from Participating in a Connectivist Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) Proceedings of the Chais conference on instructional technologies research 2011: Learning in the technological era. http://www.openu.ac.il/research_center/chais2011/download/f-levyd-94_eng.pdf Levy, D. & Schrire, S. (2012). The case of a massive online open course (MOOC) at a college of education. NMC Summer Conference. http://www.slideshare.net/damom7/the-case-of-a-massive-online-open-coursemooc-at-a-college-of-education Madden, M., Lenhart, A., Duggan, M., Cortesi, S., & Gasser, U. (2013). Teens and technology 2013. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2013/PIP_TeensandTechnolog y2013.pdf. Marzano, R.J. (2004). Building background knowledge for academic achievement: Research on what works in schools. Alexandria: ASCD.

Merchant, G., Gillen, J., March, J., Davies, J. (2013). Virtual literacies: Interactive spaces for children and young people. New York: Routledge. Ochsner, A., & Martin, C. (2013). Learning and cultural participation in Mass Effect and Elder Scrolls affinity spaces (pp. 97-106). In W. Kaminski and M. Lorber (eds.). Gamebased Learning: Clash of Realities 2012. Kopäd Verlag. Siemens, G. (2012). MOOCs: Open online courses as lever for change in higher education. Educause NGLC. http://www.slideshare.net/gsiemens/moocs-educause


LITERACY SPECIAL INTEREST Journal of the LITERACY SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP OF ISTE International Society for Technology in Education Inaugural Issue – Summer 2013 V1 N1


Profile for Literacy Special Interest

Literacy special interest journal v1 n1  

Literacy Special Interest: Journal of the Literacy Special Interest Group of ISTE

Literacy special interest journal v1 n1  

Literacy Special Interest: Journal of the Literacy Special Interest Group of ISTE