Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Worth Listening To...

On Monday I delivered a presentation for our Board about the high school's growth towards becoming a 21st Century Learning institution.  To help define the conversation I turned to the National Council of Teachers of English definition of what it means to be literate in the 21st Century.  I have always found NCTE's benchmarks statements to be a strong guide for preparing students.

It was perfect timing that I was working on the presentation and also came across Andy Carvin's interview on the Brian Lehrer show.  Andy Carvin is NPR's senior product manager for online communities, and author now of Distant Witness: Social Media, the Arab Spring and a Journalism Revolution.  In the interview Mr. Carvin discusses the role of Twitter in reporting and about his experience using social media to follow developments during the Arab Spring.

While listening to the interview I kept thinking about the NCTE benchmarks and in particular the following outcomes:
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information 
There is an important intersection between the Carvin interview and what we do in schools.  I think the intersection involves the expanding definition of literacy and the implications this has on instruction, planning, and assessment. In the spirit that all of us are in essence backpack journalists,  are our students capable of being a reliable source of information?  As the Arab Spring and other developments have shown, the traditional model of media dissemination has been radically altered by something as convenient as an iPhone. Our ability to help students leverage available tools, build evolving social networks and design and share information with others is ensuring that students are literate.