Teaching students digital literacy is extremely important to me. My desire is to teach middle years students, more specifically grade seven students; which will most likely mean teaching all of the core subjects. For the purpose of my post, I will focus on my main teaching area, which is English Language Arts.
Now… I can only imagine your curiosity as to what my point is in this write up. Allow me to take you through the six main goals of the NCTE Framework and explain to you how digital literacy can be incorporated into a middle years program. Do you know what the best part is? We can educate grade seven students on digital literacy AND meet ELA curriculum outcomes simultaneously!
So… please let go of your doubts and fears about teaching digital literacy in your classroom, and follow along as I explore some great possibilities!
NCTE Framework Goal 1: “Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology”
Possible Activity: Have students explore a variety of technological tools during ELA activities. This should be ongoing throughout the school year. For example, SweetSearch could be used as a tool for reading during an assignment that requires literature on a specific topic related to news.
How it helps develop digital literacy: The more familiar we are with technology, and more specifically literary sources, the easier it will be to decipher fake news.
Curriculum Outcome: CR7.1
“View, listen to, read, comprehend, and respond to a variety of texts that address identity (e.g., Thinking for Oneself), social responsibility (e.g., Participating and Giving Our Personal Best), and efficacy (e.g., Doing Our Part for Planet Earth).”
NCTE Framework Goal 2: “Build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships with others so to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought”
Possible Activity: Bring in guest speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures, languages, and social positions to tell the students stories. Follow up by allowing students to ask questions and engage in conversation with each speaker before allowing time for the students to research similar stories, backgrounds, etc. using technology. These activities could be pulled together in a lesson on biases, and why all perspectives matter. The kids could use an online media bias chart, or something similar, to identify biases in literary works together.
How it helps develop digital literacy: EdCan network states that if we “Teach students to identify bias using tools like a media bias chart, which provides a starting point for them to understand that all sources come from a particular perspective,” we will “help students identify fake news and become critical readers of the world around them.”
“Listen critically to understand and analyze oral information and ideas from a wide range of texts (e.g., complex instructions, oral explanations and reports, opinions or viewpoints, messages presented in the media).”
NCTE Framework Goal 3: “Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes”
Possible Activity: Create a multimedia presentation, as a class, that is well-informed and ready to share outside of the classroom. Be sure that the presentation addresses a topic of concern and uses critical thinking to construct a reasonable solution for said concern.
How it helps develop digital literacy: Again, practicing online research will help develop digital literacy. This would also be a good segway into a lesson on the importance of sharing carefully on social media. This will be worth sharing and is a great example of the type of content students should strive for on their social media accounts.
NCTE Framework Goal 4: “Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information”
Possible Activity: Have students gather information from several different sources, before compiling it into a written piece of their own.
How it helps develop digital literacy: Students can practice “reading laterally, which involves cross-referencing a variety of websites rather than digging further into the website at hand.”
NCTE Framework Goal 5: “Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts”
Possible Activity: Have students use the factitious quiz to practice their own digital literacy.
How it helps develop digital literacy: The more we practice digital literacy and critical thinking, the more instinctive it becomes.
NCTE Framework Goal 6: “Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments”
Guiding question: “Do students create products that are both informative and ethical?”
Possible Activity: Have students analyze online resources that support a topic of their choice. Encourage students to pick a topic that they are passionate about. Provide time for students to compile their research, as well as their own ideas, into an oral presentation for the class.
How it helps develop digital literacy: The students will practice using digital literacy skills to gain insight on a topic that is important to them (be sure that it is also a topic that is ethical before they begin research).
Let’s all do our part to promote digital literacy in the classroom, in order to help our students stay well informed and ready to share quality ideas!
What are your thoughts and ideas on teaching digital literacy in grade seven? Let me know!