Friday, July 18, 2014

Let's emphasize information acquisition across formats and platforms

In this more digital world, where people can ingest information through a variety of different media, reading is still emphasized in K-12 schools.  Educators want to create book readers; however, we should be helping students access and learn from information that is provided to them through videos, audio files, etc.  Not everyone will have reading - and by that I mean book reading - as their preferred information acquisition method.

2014 School Library Summit in Albany, NY
School Library Summit
At the 2014 School Library Summit in Albany, NY earlier this month, Dr. Donna DeSiato, superintendent of the East Syracuse Minoa Central School District, said that our schools are stuck in the industrial age.  Consider how we organize our classroom, our lessons, and our assessments.  When I look at how we are teaching reading, I see this too.  Rather than considering the variations in our students, in how they want to acquire information, we make them all do it the same way.  You must read books and you must enjoy it.

Prior to the Summit, I learned a new phrase, Accountable Independent Reading (AIR).
Accountable Independent Reading is based on the belief that most young people today do not read for pleasure enough and also need to work on the skills that sustained reading brings (focused attention, stamina, thoughtful analysis, and also personal satisfaction) that are skills that are needed across the academic curricula. The practice is firmly rooted in the new Common Core State Standards. (source)
Would it be interesting - and more realistic - if schools also spent time on helping students learn how to acquire information through other means?  Imagine learning how to read web pages and not just skim them?  How about learning through audio files and understanding what the listen for?

Which brings me to a definition that I found in the edTPA Library Specialist Assessment Handbook (9/2013) for library literacies (emphasis added).  Library literacies are:
The ability to read, listen to, view find, understand, synthesize, evaluate, and apply information gathering across formats and platforms, including, but not limited to, information literacy, digital literacy, media literacy, textual literacy, and visual literacy.
Would we be doing our students - and their future - a service by emphasizing all media more equally, and not just the hardcopy or digital book?   Would it be good if we did more than just gave lip service to the other formats and platforms?  I believe the answer is "yes" to both questions.  So then here is the challenge...let's actually make that change!  Yes, books are important...and so is every other format.  Let's use all of the formats and teach our students to do the same. 

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