Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Bookbinders: Fusing Technology, Image, and Literature: In My Works as an Elementary School Media Specialist, I Have Found That the More Fully I Integrate Literature, Visual Literacy, Technology, and Creative Problem Solving, the More Engaged My Students Become in Learning

Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Bookbinders: Fusing Technology, Image, and Literature: In My Works as an Elementary School Media Specialist, I Have Found That the More Fully I Integrate Literature, Visual Literacy, Technology, and Creative Problem Solving, the More Engaged My Students Become in Learning

Article excerpt

AS any 10-year-old can tell you, it's not just about the book anymore. Today's litany of literacies--the "new" literacy--requires us to move beyond the printed page and to interpret meaning from the images and icons that are infused into every facet of our culture. And it includes reading these images, icons, and print from literature, computer monitors, television screens, and personal devices.

Children take this in effortlessly. After all, the Internet, Game Boy, and cable TV have been around all of their lives. But it becomes our challenge as teachers to help them decode and make informed choices about all of the information that streams their way. They are receiving and internalizing it, but can they interpret it? Can they form judgments about it? And can they master the skills involved well enough to use it to communicate effectively? We want our students to be conversant in all forms of literacy--to become not only educated recipients, but empowered communicators.

For educators, this means recognizing all forms of literacy, embracing them as relevant, and, finally, creating meaningful classroom experiences that integrate printed, visual, and technological literacies within disciplines and subjects.

Sounds daunting, doesn't it? But it really just requires adopting a broader and more creative view of literacy and finding ways to incorporate that into what you already do each day in your classroom. In today's world, being a teacher also means being a learner. Determine what your students need to know, and then look for ways to fuse those concepts and skills together. Share a spirit of adventure with your class, and be willing to learn alongside them from time to time. Don't be afraid to jump in.

FUSE THE CONCEPTS

In my work as an elementary school media specialist, I have found that the more fully I integrate literature, visual literacy, technology, and creative problem-solving, the more engaged my students become in learning. The evidence of this learning is more personal, relevant, and expressive. They learn to master processes, produce many outcomes, set standards for their own work, communicate in a variety of forms, and collaborate and coach one another.

Sound good? It is! That's the way we learn and solve problems in real life--not in isolated tasks, but in effective components of information and solution. As teachers, we use many resources and skills, along with a range of processes and tools to develop units of study for our pupils. We collaborate, experiment, revise, and evaluate. We look for ways to reach the auditory learner, the kinesthetic learner, and the visual learner. It becomes second nature to us, so we may not always fully analyze our means and methods. That's because we are applying real learning to a real job for a real purpose. And that's the ultimate goal of teaching--to lead our students toward a level of mastery that allows them to understand and apply literacies and tools for effective communication and, ultimately, to link that learning to real life.

A FEW IDEAS

Following are four elementary-level projects that use technology as the mortar of interdisciplinary and interliteracy learning. Some of the technology applications are as simple as scanning an image or clicking a digital camera. Primary level projects also include concrete tasks, such as manipulating tools or arranging objects, because I believe that kinesthetic tasks are vital to neurological development in young children. Intermediate level projects center on literature circles and are more sophisticated. These projects require software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements to create and manipulate visual and printed information. All four of these projects spring from works of literature that are common to most school media centers. They follow a framework that includes introducing a work of literature, learning a technology process, providing reading and working time, self-evaluation, and group discussion of outcomes The communication skills garnered by the students build on each other from project to project and year to year. …

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