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The most commonly understood definition of literacy is "effective literacy is intrinsically purposeful, flexible and dynamic and involves the integrations of speaking, listening and critical thinking with reading and writing" (Dawkins, 1991).
I believe that the above definition is inadequate for today's society. The definition implies that literacy is only really about speaking, listening, reading and writing. My definition of literacy would be the ability to be able to interpret and evaluate different mediums of expression. For example, people in the 21st century have to be socially , technologically, visually, textually, and numerically literate.
The old definition of literacy would help you in an education/work environment but social literacy is a more important skill in world today. It helps students learn how to form relationships with other students and their world, and in the long run helps the student to interpret, adapt and develop the skills to act positively and responsibly and be successful in society. "The term social literacy was first used within the context of multicultural education in Australia in the 1980's" (Kalantzis & Cope 1983).
With the increase of computers, video games, TV's , information sources such as Skype, and social networking sites such as Facebook, the world has evolved into an information society. As the Curriculum Framework (1998, p 290) explains "Technology influences all aspects of people's daily lives'. Because information technology is so pervasive and critical in today's society everyone must be literate in its application and use, For example if you were illiterate in technology how do you think you would be able to function with everyone being encouraged to use online facilities for almost every activity we undertake today. People need to actively involve themself in the technological changes and expand their knowledge to be able to communicate.
Visual literacy is the reading and writing of visual texts, it is the ability to read a map, interpret symbols or draw a diagram. Again with the pervasiveness of technology today younger people are subject to much more visual stimuli than any time in the past therefore their literacy in visuals must be refined
Textual literacy is looking at any sort of resource, be it a book, an internet page, or even a picture and being able to understand it, put it in context and how what you see or read relates to what you are trying to study, accomplish. This could almost be regarded as the old definition of literacy but as I am arguing above this is just one aspect of literacy
Numerical literacy is the skill of being able to make sense of numbers and patterns. The Curriculum Framework (1998, p 179) states "Being numerate is about having the disposition and competence to use mathematics to
solve practical problems outside mathematics and as a tool for learning beyond the mathematics classroom." Being literate in numeracy will help solve problems and help make decisions. Numbers are in our everyday lives, you have to be numerically literate to count money, read the time, to determine everyday questions.
In summary I believe that much of the world's understandings and definitions are being redefined for applicability in the 21st century. Literacy is no exception. The old restrictive interpretation of literacy has now been blown apart in today's society and teachers must understand this and recognise the need for multi literacy competencies in their students.
Comparing Cambourne's Conditions to First Steps Effective Teaching Practices
As an upcoming teacher it is my goal to engaged and encourage students by increasing their knowledge in all areas of their learning. Dr. Brian Cambourne's research in 1970's how student acquire language. His research discovered that in order for the learner to be engaged and acquire new skills, they have to be presented with a set of conditions. First Steps Effective Teaching Practices agrees with Cambourne's theory of learning and illustrates ways of achieving the goal of effective teaching.
The table below how illustrates the connection between Cambournes Research and First steps. Cambournes theory is complementary to the First Steps Of Effective Teaching Practices. You can see that Cambounes theory is the big picture of what should be taught in a class and first steps in what you are trying to achieve in your lessons and classroom set up.
modelling and guiding
Both authors agree that modeling/demonstrating/ guiding is an important aspect of teaching. Cambourne suggests that it is important to demonstrate reading and writing for children by actions. Both agree that it is essential to include "think aloud statements" to continually verbalise how and what we are thinking as we teach. First Steps suggest that after all demonstrations it is important to then follow up with giving the child the opportunity to have a go while guiding them through the process. Cambourne also suggests that it is important to model behavior for children by demonstrating reading for pleasure, for information and for directions.
Familiarizing and Investigation
It is agreed by both authors that when introducing students to a new learning area or theme it is important to include a rich variety of the subject by providing books, videos, songs, excursions, incursions ect. to familiarize the student with the subject. Cambourne develops this further by suggesting that when flooding the students with the topic you are providing an interactive classroom instead of a teacher-directed classroom. First steps agree that when familiar students to a topic you are also activating their prior knowledge.
Sharing and Playing
Cambourne suggests demonstration is important for a student but it is only when the student is actively engaged that learning is increased. He also suggests that children feel a sense of empowerment when they are engaged in their learning. First steps agree that sharing an accomplishment is a supportive way to engage students. Both agree engagement/ sharing is a crucial part of learning. Playing according to First Steps is also an important aspect of learning, children feel more confident to try new things when playing and play gives then the understanding that things don't always go as planned.
Cambourne believes that teachers have a huge influence on how students perceive the learning process. It is important he believes to set realistic expectations and at the same time making the child aware that they are responsible for their own learning and creating a trusting environment for them do to so. First Steps focuses on 'applying' to develop independence, students are encouraged to work independently using a skill they have already achieved.
It is important Cambourne states to give children time and opportunity to develop skills both independently and with others. First steps support this by suggesting that it is important to allow children to practice new skills while making the child aware that with practice comes perfection.
Reflecting and Discussing
Both agree that response/reflecting/discussing plays a vital role in helping children to communicate and participate. Cambourne insists that response/feedback must be given in a trusting, non-threatening environment. When this is achieved children feel more confident in participating in class discussions. First Steps also supports this concept when focusing on reflecting they agree that it is important for students to reflect as it encourages them to evaluate and monitor their progress. Providing a caring and collaborative classroom also leads students to participate in discussions.
Simulating and Innovating
Camborne's condition approximation explains that children need to take risks and be encouraged to try new things. First Steps supports this condition through the use of simulating/innovating. It is important for children to re-create new texts or ideas by using their own experiences. Children need encouragement to look at situations from different perspectives.
Good Night, Me
Good Night, Me is a picture book written by Andrew Daddo and illustrated by Emma Quay. The book was published by Hachette Children's Books Australia in Australia and New Zealand in 2006. Good Night, Me is fantastic book about captivating the precious moment when a parent tucks their little child into bed at the end of the day. A baby orang utan had a long day jumping around from tree to tree and it is now time to go to bed so he can do it all again in the morning. Before going to bed however he has to say "good night, me" to every part of this body.
This book is a good piece of children's literacy. Wishart (2010) quotes Lukens, R. (1986) by saying "words are merely words, but real literature for any age is words chosen with skill and artistry to give the readers pleasure and to help them understand themselves and other". The book Good night, me is a great book to read out loud to lower primary school students. It will help the students widen their vocabulary, by helping them learn different parts of their body, for example in the book Daddo writes Keep breathing, chest, and Thanks for holding my legs together, knees. This is helping the children understand their bodies.
Saxby (1997) indicates that most book now provide realistic characters and advents and this is shown in Good Night, Me. Good Night, Me has only have two characters in the book, one being the child and the other being the mother. Having a young character in the book helps the child relate to the character and think of themselves as this person. It also relates to real life advents when the children have to go to bed, just like the organ utan. This is why the book is so popular for bed time stories.
The book also has eye capturing illustrates that will help the young reader that is unable to read the words still read the book through the pictures.
It is so important to have a captivating children's book, as it is the way the child will learn new situations, which will enhance their knowledge, creativity and help their literacy skills. As explained by Thibault (2009) a book should for young children should "help explain, to provide a conversation-starter, or to fill in the gaps in their own understanding so as to better address the situation at hand" . A book should have words that swing and pictures that grab the eye. There should be enough in it that is familiar, to offer comfort, and enough that is new, to spark interest and create a sense of adventure
Saxby, M. (1997), Books in the life of a child. South Melbourne: Macmillan. Pp 26 - 32 and pp 42 -44 .
Thibault, M. (2009). Children's literature promotes understanding. Learn NC, Retrieved August 21, 2011, from http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/635
Language diversity discussion
Main stream classrooms has students with literacy diversity, diversity represent the richness and uniqueness of human life. And therefore is something that should be valued. Having different cultures in the main stream classroom can be a challenge but can also is a resource. Teachers need to be aware that English is a second language to these student, and all cultures should be valued and show sensitivity to their home language. When teaching students with language diversity teachers have to instruct in different ways. This can be through the use of group work. It is shown in the video Talking Deadly group work can be done in two ways homogenous, this is where the teacher will put all the students from the same culture together, this will give the students the opportunity to analyse the concept easier by discussing the idea in their home language. However heterogeneous is also another great technique because the different students in the group can share their home culture exerenises and this will therefore expand the other student knowledge.
Teachers will also have to change their teaching style by getting by showing a larger amount of approximation to the students who speak the different language. Catering for Indigenous children will involve getting to know them and their community and incorporating their lifestyle into the classroom environment. Not only will this allow the indigenous children to feel as though they belong it also allows the non-indigenous children to learn a bit about the Aboriginal culture which I believe is extremely important. An way to get help in this is by hiring an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) education officer. They help understand words and concepts in their language.
Another issue is students from different cultures can have Conductive Hearing loss. As stated by the .................................."50-90% of Aboriginal children have hearing loss at any one point in time. Maori, Pacific Islanders, American Indians and the Inuit of Canada are other population groups that are known to have a high incidence of conductive hearing loss." Students that have conductive hearing loss has a large chance of suffering for educational and social difficulties such as, finding it hard to keep friends, speech and hearing delays and behavioural problems.
I must be aware that due to their cultural background Indigenous children will learn in different ways and therefore I must incorporate the mathematics learning style that suits them into my classroom in order for them to achieve success in literacy.
My perspective of language diversity was enrich with lots of important information about how I as an upcoming teacher can improve the learning environments of language diversity. I am know aware that there is always going to be a range of learning diversity in my classroom and it is my responsibility to cater for this diversity. I do not want students simply marking time by completing tasks from which there is no new learning for them. Similarly I do not want students struggling with tasks that are too difficult.
I believe that I need to create tasks in which the whole class can engage and which are easily adjusted so that they can be increased in complexity to extend understanding or simplified to scaffold student learning. I agree with Sullivan (2008) when he states: "One task, one class community, one mathematical concept and one sane teacher!"