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Literacy in Our Lives


What happens when high school freshmen discuss "reading," "text," and "identity" and are given Flip cameras to communicate to a methods class of pre-service English teachers what they see as their identities as readers and writers?

"Literacy in Our Lives" as an activity grew out of the "Motives for Reading" Unit in The Teachers' Strategy Guide: Reading in a Participatory Culture" (slated to be published in 2012), created by Henry Jenkins' MIT Project New Media Literacies team.  In 2008, I (and other teachers) piloted The Teachers Strategy Guide in the classroom.  I had lots of assistance from Indiana University Learning Sciences researcher, Dan Hickey and his team of graduate students as I taught the activity.  Michelle Honeyford, then a doctoral candidate in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education at Indiana University, wrote up a lesson plan for "Literacy in Our Lives," and I taught the activity several times in various settings.

In my freshmen American Studies New Tech classroom, I used the "Literary in Our Lives" activity for two purposes:  I wanted the project to build community among my students and their college student mentors in a quick and meaningful way, and I wanted all participants to reconsider how multiple literacies shape their lives and identities.  It was my hope that my students could further recognize that the strategies they used to interpret and understand the world outside of school might also be useful strategies for their reading of school-related texts.  And I wanted to give the Indiana University students who were assigned to my class as writing mentors some idea of the rich literacies students bring with them into the classroom. The activity accomplished these goals nicely.  What really surprised me, though, was how I've come to think differently about reading and writing.


Student intro_0001.wmv

Creative Commons Licence
<p>I have had my students create this videos twice. I am never surprised by their creativity and talent. They come up with some great ways to film their videos and to display their talents they don't often get to voice in the classroom.&nbsp;I think it helps to see that reading and writing are more than something they are forced to do in English classrooms. It also helps to open a dialogue between the student and the teacher giving them a common point to start the discussion about what true literacy is.</p>