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Critical Literacy and Technology
Transcript of Critical Literacy and Technology
What is Critical Literacy?
A podcast can be audio and/or video format. Often referred to as Internet Broadcasting, programs, and episodes, that one can download and listen to.
Critical literacy can be defined as one's ability to critically evaluate and analyze various texts in a way that allows them a deep understanding of the social world in which they live.
Critical literacy inspires students to take action about various social issues and injustices!
Readers who are critically literate are able to question a text and the author's purpose or hidden agenda.
Take a second to
think about how
these words reflect
the definition of
The Tomato Trials!
Chapter 6: The Tomato Trials
What starts off as a yearly planting project with a teacher and her students, turns into an unexpected learning experience for everyone. They learned how to critically analyze their surroundings, how to redesign a text, how to deal with gender equity, how ads reach and effect consumers, and how to research claims, just to name a few concepts.
Let the Tomato Trials Begin!!
Before beginning the annual planting project in Vivian's classroom, her students decided to do some research on how to best grow tomatoes. After interviewing people who have grown tomatoes in the past and completing some research, her students decided they had three options to work with. They decided they would plant some tomatoes from seeds, they would transport partially grown tomato plates from pots, and would use a product called the Topsy Turvy.
After watching a commercial about the pros and cons of the Topsy Turvey, a few things caught the kids attention.
Not all it's cracked up to be!
The students learned that the product was not all it claimed to be. The students studied the clip and decided the purpose of the ad was to imply that men and women were not capable of doing the same work. The students were also disappointed that the commercial did not share all the cons of the product. They learned that advertising does not always demonstrate all aspects of the product, rather just the pros that will sell the product to the consumer.
A free internet source used to show frequently used words in a text.
Try making your own!
In Chapter 7, Vasquez discussed how photography can be a powerful tool for teaching critical literacy.
Students understood that texts are socially constructed materials that can be analyzed and created from different perspectives
Students used the cameras to express their identity and cultural differences
Photographs allow us a glimpse into each other's lives, and if we consider a text from someone else's point of view, we ultimately develop a shared understanding and appreciation for one another.
Getting students to see different perspectives through a new 'lens' is 'critical'!
What can we take from Laura's lesson and how did she promote critical literacy?
We leave you with a final...call to action
If we want our students to be critically literate, and to act as agents in bringing about change, in the name of justice and equality, then we too, must take the lead by providing them with the resources and the skills to do so!
In this blogging activity, students listened to Eva Kor, one of the famous Mengele twins who suffered from medical experiments at Auschwitz. She explains her reasons for forgiving the doctors who conducted medical experiments on her, along with all of the Nazis involved in the Holocaust.
Students were instructed to decide whether or not they felt that Eva was right to forgive the Nazis, and why it is important to forgive people for their actions. It is important to note that students had previously read many texts about the Holocaust. After responding to the prompt, the students engaged in an online dialogue. Students debated their opinions among their classmates, and were prompted to think critically about the moral and ethical issues surrounding the Holocaust.
I have used Edmodo in the classroom as a way to promote critical literacy. Although Edmodo was not mentioned in the reading, it is an exceptional technological tool used to engage students in a discussion about critical issues in society.
Here is one student's answer to the question. As you are examining the blog post, think about how Olivia's response demonstrates her critical literacy skills, and how technology served as an important aid in promoting the development of these 21st century skills. Note: Other students responded to this blog post.
After this activity many students wanted to write to Eva, and convince her to continue to share her powerful message.
"Edmodo makes me think hard. I like to hear what my classmates have to say, especially about stuff we care about like the Holocaust. I want to learn about it to make sure it never happens again." -student from my class
In this project, students were asked to take pictures that represented themselves, their family, and their culture. They were encouraged to think about what purpose they had for taking the photo, how they would communicate that, and what their message would be. The teacher first engaged the students in a discussion about her own photographs and how they represented her personal perspective.
The Photo Project:
Children encounter various images throughout each day, and so it is important that we as teachers provide them with the critical literacy skills they will need to navigate such texts.
Discussion about identities builds community in the classroom.
Everyone's voice is heard.
"Images provide fodder for powerful conversations." (Vasquez, 89)
Students are engaged! "The anticipation had built to a crescendo." (Vasquez, 85)
Bridges the gap between student's home lives and school.
According to Freire and Macedo (1987) when we read the world we simultaneously read the world. Thus, students learn that the world is socially constructed, and that texts are not objective through their participation in the photo project.
Also, students all had the chance to express themselves, share their perspectives, and reflect upon other's interpretations of the world. Although one of the main goals of the project was to photograph 'fairness,' students actually got to "live the experience of fairness."
Carol's second grade class was part of a large elementary school located in a metropolitan area. Children attending this school were from the United States, Saudi Arabia, India, Columbia, El Salvador, and Kenya. Some students in Carol's class received free or reduced lunch, and two families where considered homeless.
Carol's class became interested in creating a podcast when they saw her listening to an episode called Critical Literacy in Practice.
They decided to create their own podcast, and focused it on various ways that they could help to change inequities in their school and beyond.
The students decided on 100% kids as the title of their podcast because the topics and issues addressed would come from their inquiry questions about the world around them.
Why 100% Kids
Sabrina, a student in Carol's class, brought up the issue of her family not being able to speak English, and suggested the show be in Spanish.
This brought on a discussion about other families who did not speak English. Children decided that all languages needed to be respected in their show.
Many children offered to translate the podcast into their native languages, but this proved to be challenging. Many students could speak their native language, but could not read or write in it.
The students were not able to include all language, but they were able to make it accessible to the Spanish community of the school.
Sabrina was considered a homeless student in Carol's class. She struggled in reading writing and math, and was labeled at-risk. Sabrina shows a lot of pride in her first language.
Participating in the podcast created spaces for students to see the world of the classroom differently, encouraging them to position themselves differently among their classmates.
By the end of the school year Sabrina missed the grade level benchmark by only a few points.
With all the new hype on technology, students are using the internet for many reasons, including doing classroom research. To help students better understand the material they are reading and to determine if its a worth while source, a new tool called the critical web reader will be given to students. It requires them to write down answers to various questions about the text they are using, a helpful tool for students to continue developing critical literacy skills.
Critically Reading the Web
Providing an organized visual of frequently used words in a text can help students to deconstruct the author's purpose and the desired message of the text.
Suggestions for classroom use:
-Showing students a Wordle as a pre-reading activity would provide them with the opportunity to discuss the author's purpose before having read the text. Breaking apart the words an author uses prior to reading can help to focus students' attention, by demonstrating how critical readers pay attention to words as they are reading.
-Using a Wordle as an after reading activity can be beneficial for student's as well. Selecting students attention to frequently used words breaks up the text in a way that allows the students a more simplified and focused way to figure out an author's purpose.