Literacy in Information Age

Perceptions of New Literacies

Before reviewing the readings and videos regarding new literacies, I had an understanding of the importance of these literacies to our students' success. Students must be able to navigate an almost endless sea of information and choose appropriate and reliable sources. In order to be contributing citizens in our democratic society, they must be able to interact with various media and messages about which they must make informed judgements. This process must take place in order for citizens to fully participate in our democracy and cast votes!  I also learned in a second language reading course that reading on the Internet required different skills from reading print--skills that our schools must address. I also became aware of the "Big 6" when I viewed this video, which introduces the Big 6 strategy through a humorous pop culture presentation (Wachter, 2010). However, I considered the strategy something that was only used at a higher level, and did not yet see the potential for its use in elementary instruction. I am also encouraged that there are other methods of teaching information literacy, like the DISCOVER method, so that teachers have models to apply with which students will be able to interact and eventually utilize independently.  My only concern is how to successfully and appropriately integrate information literacy into my kindergarten ELL curriculum. This is my concern with many wonderful strategies and models that I encounter. I want to plant the seeds of information literacy in my students, but do not want to subject them to developmentally inappropriate instruction (they unfortunately are subjected to too much developmental inappropriateness in today's educational climate!) However, it is very important that instruction in new literacies begin in kindergarten (Barone & Wright, 2008).  Therefore, if I attempted a strategy like Big 6, it would have to be a modified version wherein the students and I undertook the steps together during a series of lessons.  This would help plant the seeds for later instruction in new literacies in which the students will work in groups and independently. Instruction in new literacies for my students should be integrated into our curriculum, supported with English language development strategies, and chunked into manageable pieces in order to foster the most appropriate learning experiences possible.

Lesson Ideas

1.  This lesson is for my kindergarten ELL students in the content area of health science, social studies (due to the discussion of needs and wants as related to nutrition,) as well as integrated reading and writing. As we discovered in this unit, students are inundated with media messages (many of them related to unhealthy and nonnutritive foods.) My students frequently mention that they have recently eaten McDonald's Happy Meals.  Therefore, during this lesson, we will explore healthy and unhealthy foods using age-appropriate websites. Students will use the Kagan round robin structure (with which they are familiar) to discuss which foods they eat from the healthy and then the unhealthy lists.  Then we will discuss the foods they eat as a whole group.  We will create a double bubble thinking map with healthy and unhealthy foods.  Then the students will draw a picture of healthy foods they like and write a sentence about it (using a frame provided to them.) I would also play several food commercials for them after the completion of this unit and ask if the foods are healthy or not. We could also create a video on flip cameras for the kindergarten displaying which foods we like are healthy and which foods are not.

2. This lesson is also for my kindergarten ELL students in the subjects of science, reading, and writing. We explore apples and pumpkins during two units in the fall. To integrate new literacies, we will use the internet to learn about different types of pumpkins and apples (we will compile pictures and information from various websites) as a whole group to further our learning. I will model searching for information on these websites. Then we will compare and contrast apples and pumpkins using Kidspiration. We will also publish a shared writing together using Word.  The visuals available to students via the websites and Kidspiration will serve as appropriate supports for my English learners.

3. This lesson is again meant for my kindergarten ELL learners in the subjects of social studies, reading, and writing. Each year we explore holidays around the world as part of our social studies curriculum. We normally turn each classroom into a different country and have our students create "passports" and "suitcases" to take with them on their travels. To integrate new literacies, we could devise a scavenger hunt website for the students (in the vein of a modified WebQuest.)  In each room, the students could view a different clue about the country/holiday they will visit next. The teacher will guide the students (and of course, engage in all-important modeling) in using the clue to search for the answer. The students would find this very engaging and we could vary the clues so that some answers are online and some answers must be found in the classroom itself using realia (this combination would be very appropriate for both five-year-olds and English learners.) Then students could use Kidspiration to draw a slideshow about what they learned about each country (this would be a collaborative effort, each slideshow being somewhat of a mural about each country/holiday.)

Barone, D & Wright, T. (2008). Literacy instruction with digital and media
      technologies. Retrieved November 6, 2010, from

Wachter, S. (Creator). Athenasbanquet (Poster). (2010). Librarians Do 
        Gaga. [Video]. Retrieved from