Tag Archives: readwritethink

Literacy in a Digital World: International Literacy Day 2017

Each year, International Literacy Day is celebrated across the world on September 8th. The theme for this year is “Literacy in a digital world”. The goal is to look at what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate “increasingly digitally-mediated societies”. International Literacy Day is a UNESCO global event.

In preparation for International Literacy Day, NCTE recommends the following resources to help you integrate technology in instruction in ways that are meaningful and authentic.

Kristen Turner and Troy Hicks, in Connected Reading: Teaching Adolescent Readers in a Digital World, offer practical tips by highlighting classroom practices that engage students in reading and thinking with both print and digital texts, thus encouraging reading instruction that reaches all students. Also read “No Longer a Luxury: Digital Literacy Can’t Wait” from English Journal.

In Adolescents and Digital Literacies: Learning Alongside Our Students, author Sara Kajder examines ways in which teachers and students co-construct new literacies through Web 2.0 technology-infused instructional practices. See more in the sample chapter.

View the #nctechat archive “Beyond the Screen: Multimedia in the Classroom“, guest hosted by the Studies in Literacies and Multimedia Assembly of NCTE.

Lesson Plans for Developing Digital Literacies presents a set of lessons designed to help you integrate a variety of digital applications into the courses and units you’re already teaching. Read the sample chapter, “What’s on the Other Side, When You Finally Cross the Digital Divide?

Check out these resources on Digital Learning from ReadWriteThink.org.

We encourage you to visit the UNESCO website to learn more about the organization’s theme for 2017, “Literacy in a Digital World“. How will you celebrate the day?

Ways to Celebrate the Eclipse!

On August 21, the Moon will block the Sun, as seen from North America and down through mid-South America. The Sun will be entirely blocked on a path that is about 60 miles wide. This path will go through parts of 14 states. 

When I was in grade school, I remember working with a few other students to build a pinhole camera out of  of cardboard. We stood with the sun at our back, while trying to look at the projected image on a second piece of cardboard. Here are some more modern ways to get students engaged with the eclipse.

Invite students to look at historical and primary sources about eclipses throughout history. Then compare that coverage with the news we see today. What is the same? What has changed? Student can record the similarities and differences as a Venn Diagram or in a Compare & Contrast Map.

All Summer in a Day” is a science fiction short story by Ray Bradbury that was first published in March 1954. The story is about a class of school children on Venus, which in this story, constantly has rainstorms and the Sun is only visible for one hour every seven years. Invite students to make connections from the short story to this current eclipse. If you would like to engage more with the text, check out this lesson plan from ReadWriteThink.org.

In this lesson plan from ReadWriteThink.org, students listen to and discuss poetry that pertains to the study of astronomy and write their own poems to enhance their learning of the subject. As a final project, students use the ReadWriteThink Printing Press to compose original poetry books about astronomy.

What makes a shadow? Do shadows change? These and many other questions provide the framework for students to explore their prior knowledge about shadows as fiction, informational texts, and poetry. In this lesson, language arts skills are linked to the learning of science in a literacy-based approach to the study of shadows.

Will you be able to watch the eclipse? What are you planning to do with your students?

Happy Birthday, Harry and J.K.!

It’s a double birthday! J.K. Rowling was born July 31, 1965, in Bristol, England. From the stories that Rowling tells about her composition of the Harry Potter book series, Harry was born on a train one day when she imagined the story. Harry’s official birthday as recorded in the novels, however, is July 31. Combine the celebration of both birthday!

The Harry Potter series is one of the most challenged series of books in the United States. The series is singled out because of its fantasy and magical elements. Young adult author Judy Blume, no stranger to challenges herself, wrote an article appearing on Censorship News OnlineIs Harry Potter Evil?, which outlines her reaction to the debate.

Have your students think about why people challenge the Harry Potter books and whether they agree or disagree with the arguments. For a more structured exploration, try A Case for Reading-Examining Challenged and Banned Books, which invites students to take on the roles of concerned citizens, public librarians, school librarians, and fans of Harry Potter and decide whether the books should be banned from the public library. Censorship in the Classroom: Understanding Controversial Issues leads students in researching the reasons several books are banned or challenged.

Please remember, if you face a censorship challenge yourself, you can receive help from NCTE.

Celebrate Mandela Day

In 2009, the United Nations declared July 18th “Mandela Day”, an international day of honor for former South African President Nelson Mandela. Also his birthday, Mandela Day invites everyone, particularly young people, to take action to promote peace and combat social injustice. According to the official Mandela Day website, Mandela Day “was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made [in 2008], for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that ‘it is in your hands now’.”

Familiarize students with Mandela’s life and legacy by reading aloud Kadir Nelson’s Coretta Scott King Honor book, Nelson Mandela. Share the illustrations and stop frequently for questions and discussion of Mandela’s early life, determination to change social conditions in apartheid-era South Africa, and eventual presidency. Fill in any gaps with resources from the biographical websites found here.

Then explain the purpose and mission of Mandela Day before inspiring students to brainstorm their call to social action by sharing this page from the Mandela Day website. There, students will see examples of service projects around the key themes of awareness building, food security, literacy and education, service and volunteerism, and shelter and infrastructure.

Finally, invite students, as a class or in small groups, to determine a project they can undertake to plan and publicize their contribution to a more just world.

How do you plan to recognize this day?

Reading, Writing, and Spelling

The National Spelling Bee Finals are held this week! Hundreds of student spelling champions, ranging from 9 to 15 years old, will travel to Washington, DC to compete in the National Spelling Bee.

Most students won’t win the National Spelling Bee, but most students can learn to spell. They need to see words in print through lots of reading and lots of writing, and they need strategic help from their teachers. The sixth standard of the NCTE/IRA Standards for the English Language Arts states that “students [should] apply [their] knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation)” in their speaking and writing.

In this article in Primary Voices, Sandra Wilde suggested the following:

The Speller’s Bill of Rights

  1. The right to express yourself in first-draft writing regardless of what words you do and don’t know how to spell.
  2. The right to do a lot of reading, which is probably the greatest single factor in spelling acquisition.
  3. The right to actively construct knowledge about the spelling system.
  4. The right to developmentally appropriate education in spelling.
  5. The right to learn that spelling does matter.
  6. The right to know about and have available a lot of ways to come up with spellings (including just knowing how to spell the word).
  7. The right to learn to proofread.
  8. The right to have spelling placed in its proper context as a small piece of the writing and language-learning process.
  9. The right to be valued as a human being regardless of your spelling.

Will you tune into the Spelling Bee?