While using “critical literacy skills in a digital world” may seem like just another new skill for students to master, it’s important for teachers and students to remember that they already perform similar critical literacy functions when they review non-electronic media, such as books, newspaper articles, reports, etc.
As teachers of any subject, but esp. of ESL, I believe we need to use the known to teach the unknown. I present this challenge (being critically digitally literate) to my students in terms of we are building upon their practices of evaluating the “person, purpose, and period (of time)” when researching/reading non-electronic media. I use this same mantra whether they are searching the Web, watching interviews from TV/YouTube, or listening to CD recordings.
In enabling our students and ourselves to be critically literate in the Web 2.0 world, our challenge is three-fold:
- realizing that we have the expertise to construct pedagogically sound instruction
- realizing that the skills students need to be electronically literate are often already used in a slightly different form/different media
- realizing that we can apply our own understandings/uses of digital media as an important step in the process of aligning Web 2.0 tools to our curricular goals.
Just finished viewing my listening, speaking, reading students’ debate on whether plastic surgery benefits outweigh the risks. I recorded the debate on a flip camera and saved the files on my ePortfolio using Evernote. Recording oral presentations helps me in ways similar to my ELLs listening to recordings; in that I play and replay as often as I need to until I’m confident I have found the items I was looking for.
I evaluated my students on a 3-point scale on the following items: clarity of argument, opening and closing statements, delivery, organization and research (planning), following debate rules, and time.
Apart from the fact that my students were totally invested, and did a great job in debating each other in front of an audience, the best part was an aspect that is often the “icing on the cake” for this type of pre-academic exercise. While watching my students’ debates, I began to notice how often they were using signpost language to signal agreement, disagreement, and sequence of points, in addition to topic-specific academic vocabulary.
The content vocabulary was great, but not unusual for this high proficiency level. The class had spent a lot of time preparing for the debate. They had researched the issue on the Internet, listened to interviews about plastic surgery, and conducted in-person surveys of other community college students’ opinions about plastic surgery and the perceived benefits of being physically attractive. I had also given them explicit instruction on signpost language, but their exposure to this was not as extensive as it was to the content of the debate. My reasons for focusing more on content than on form was to improve my students’ background knowledge in the subject, and therefore improve their fluency.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how often they were using the signpost language so necessary for debates to work both for the opposing team, but also for the audience who are evaluating them. My students were saying things like, “for these reasons,” “in addition,” “to the extent that,” and “this is why I believe…”
Wonderful job! I’ll post the video soon.
Creating a digital story has reminded me about how to craft a written story, in that the story should have a central theme and move in an arc from beginning, middle, and end. In addition, the processes involved of brainstorming, writing the script, editing it down to fit within the allotted time, and then the rounds of editing to line up with voiceover and music was reminiscent of the process approach to writing we currently teach in our ESL program.
I’m currently in a position to “sell” new media tech to my department and am coming up against push back that social media and new media can’t be used for academic purposes. However, my experience in creating a digital story has definite parallels, and I hope to use my experience to make a case for using CALL in our program.
I think I’m a good story teller, and a good editor, so whittling the story down wasn’t difficult for me. However, the tediousness of aligning voiceovers with photos almost drove me crazy. I estimate I’d spent more than 10 hours creating a 3 minute digital story. With practice, and I aim to make another movie, I know this creation time will reduce; however the time it takes to create a digital story does make me hesitate using a digital story with my speaking and listening class, in that I consider myself a near digital native, but it still took me a long time to make the movie. Given our 15 week semesters, I feel that creating a digital story as well as covering content might be unachievable.
In terms of skills, apart from the obvious tech skills learned through this process, I’ve learned that content is truly media independent, and that making our instruction equally media independent is the challenge we face as educators. The same crafting and refining processes occur whether you’re writing on paper or telling an oral story through digital media.
What makes a good digital story?
– Story arc and common thread
– Takes advantages of medium
– Timing of elements: transitions, voice, audio, photos
– Knowledge of audience
What a great class today!
To prepare for their debate on plastic surgery, students discussed and wrote interview questions aimed to gauge respondents’ opinions on the benefits of physical attractiveness and plastic surgery.
The students recorded their in-person interviews on their iPhones and Blackberries. My hope is by incorporating recreational activities such as using mobile devices as video/audio recorders, i will engage students in the process of data collection and research as prep for a debate. My hope is that both they and I will achieve the following:
1. higher buy-in rates by students
2. more in-depth level of research
3. higher rates of fluency in spoken English
4. more vigorous debates
Today they listened to and collated small-group then whole-group data, looked for trends, which spurred their Internet search. Students busily sent each other news links related to their position as we finished up the class.
Awesome job, guys!