Category Archives: karen mensing

How do you see “literacy”?

I have showed this awesome video from Karen Mensing’s class last year, with her students sharing their own “Twitter Tutorial”. Check it out below:

If you think that this might be a little bit above your ability, it is fine since they have a tutorial for beginners as well :)

Now some people would say, “Why would you need to teach young elementary students how to use Twitter?”

But do you see this as simply “Twitter”, or do you see this as teaching literacy?  I see it as part of the latter.

In a post that I wrote in 2015,  this is what I had found on the concept of “literacy”:

So what is literacy? The “traditional definition” is the ability to read and write, but you will see that definition is a little different according to some sources.  The definition of literacy has changed over time, and there are many different perspectives on the topic.  In this article on the “Definitions of Literacy”, the author shares some differing perspectives that go beyond simply “reading and writing:

“…we acknowledge that the word literacy itself has come to mean competence, knowledge and skills (Dubin). Take, for example, common expressions such as ‘computer literacy,’ “civic literacy,’ ‘health literacy,’ and a score of other usages in which literacy stands for know-how and awareness of the first word in the expression.” Dubin and Kuhlman (1992)

Or this thinking from Langer in 1991:

“It is the culturally appropriate way of thinking, not the act of reading or writing, that is most important in the development of literacy. Literacy thinking manifests itself in different ways in oral and written language in different societies, and educators need to understand these ways of thinking if they are to build bridges and facilitate transitions among ways of thinking.”

(Read the entire article…there is lot to think about in what is shared on the “definitions” of literacy.)

If you think literacy is only about “reading and writing”, then Twitter might seem insignificant.  But if we see Twitter, and the ability to not only read and write, but to communicate and leverage this medium as literacy, it might seem more important.  What I am not saying is that you need to go teach Twitter to your students right now.  Not at all. What I am saying is that if you simply dismiss things as creating with different types of media, or using social media to connect with others as “tech” or “insignificant”, you might be holding your students back in sharing their wisdom from the world with a simpler view of what literacy can truly be.