### A Response to Lankshear & Knobel, New Literacies, Chapter 1

The teachers were all dreading the professional development session. It was to be two-and-a-half hours of how to implement the Common Core Curriculum in our technical high school. "I guess we're supposed to all become Language Arts Teachers now" was a common refrain in our grumblings. It turned out to be one of the best PD's we've ever had.

The consultants had a well-thought-out and comprehensive framework about literacy. The idea was that the word "text," as used in the Common Core Standards, could be quite broadly interpreted. It didn't mean just written text. As a physics teacher I already considered "text" to include graphs, charts, diagrams, and equations. But these consultants had done their homework. For an example they described a possible outing to a work site by one of our technical programs, carpentry. The task would be to inspect a damaged deck, create an estimate for repair or replacement, and consult with the homeowner. Each of these three tasks involved skills that could be considered literacy. The damaged deck was a "text" that could be "read" through inspection. The "text" was then interpreted through the means of creating the estimate, which itself was another text. Finally, the interaction with the customer, determining his needs and budget and presenting an appropriate proposal, was all interpretation of another text.

"Wow, I hadn't really thought of it that way" became a new refrain. The anxiety around implementing the Common Core Curriculum was replaced with a certain excitement around utilizing this new idea about literacy.

The first chapter of

*New Literacies*was basically a summary of how the concept of literacy has changed over the decades. I was afraid that it would be a dry run-through, but Lankshear and Knobel steered through the details with a steady eye on their destination - their own interpretation of "new literacy." I was surprised by how much of the summary I recognized. I guess I've been around for a while! But I had never connected all the dots in quite the way that Lankshear and Knobel had. By the time the summary had gotten to "The radical 'multiplicity' of literacy" (p. 21) the memory of that professional development session had popped into my head and I knew I would have to write about it.

What aspects of the radical multiplicity of literacy are appealing to you? Or frightening or confusing? And which have relevance to your practices as an educator, and one with a specialized disciplinary grounding? These are types of questions I hope we can unpack this term, using storytelling as a medium for exploration and expression.

ReplyDeleteHi Remi, thanks for reading. Great questions, and I'll keep them in mind. As far as relevance to my practice, I did address this in an older post about legibility, which I now realize is another way of speaking about literacy. Link here: http://billcalhounteacher.blogspot.com/2014/12/legibility-and-pseudoteaching_30.html

DeleteAs an outsider to teaching, I have only heard superficial criticisms and approvals of the Common Core curriculum, so thank you for a bit of insight into this subject. I have not done my due diligence to research the topic. But because of some of the rabble I only peripherally heard, I was surprised that Common Core made room for such literacy.

ReplyDeleteWilliam,

ReplyDeleteI too was afraid of the concept of "more time on text" until my principal explained that when I give my students mathematical questions including equations, graphs, etc (like you mentioned) I am providing my students with more time on text.

You are right - even though I am a math teacher I am still teaching literacy. In the book they even discuss how literacy is any transaction between the heads of two people basically. Can you interpret and analyze information and then do something with it for the better.

I really enjoyed your blog post. Excited to read more!

William,

ReplyDeleteI too was afraid of the concept of "more time on text" until my principal explained that when I give my students mathematical questions including equations, graphs, etc (like you mentioned) I am providing my students with more time on text.

You are right - even though I am a math teacher I am still teaching literacy. In the book they even discuss how literacy is any transaction between the heads of two people basically. Can you interpret and analyze information and then do something with it for the better.

I really enjoyed your blog post. Excited to read more!

William,

ReplyDeleteI too was afraid of the concept of "more time on text" until my principal explained that when I give my students mathematical questions including equations, graphs, etc (like you mentioned) I am providing my students with more time on text.

You are right - even though I am a math teacher I am still teaching literacy. In the book they even discuss how literacy is any transaction between the heads of two people basically. Can you interpret and analyze information and then do something with it for the better.

I really enjoyed your blog post. Excited to read more!

Hi There,

ReplyDeleteI enjoyed reading your blog post about the chapter, it was refreshing to hear you connect the chapter to common core. I teach third grade and this coming year I will only be teaching reading and writing (we are departmentalizing). So I am quite literally only teaching 'literacy' but I need to remember how to tie in all the new literacies and not just the same old text books...I better get planning!