Saturday, January 29, 2011

Working out Literacy

This past week, I have been thinking a lot about how I define literacy. I always thought I knew what it was, but to craft a definition is a different story. However, I have decided to approach it through the lens of what IS literacy. As I was reading Shirley Brice Heath’s article “Literacy and Social Practice” the prior definition of literacy really resonated to how I DO NOT view literacy: “literacy practices at formal institutions, such as schools and workplaces, related to—and often clashed with—those fostered within homes and local communities” (102). Before literacy was studied, how did teachers involve students in the readings, writings, etc. if personal application was not taken into consideration?

Literacy, to me, needs to apply to a student’s lifestyle. They should not be doing work in school that has nothing to do with their life outside of the school’s four walls. Even when the ninth graders read Romeo and Juliet, there needs to be a real life type of connection. So, this past semester, I had my ninth grade students complete a Facebook profile for one of the characters of their choosing. This forced them to REALLY understand the character and look at the character through a modern-day perspective. Literacy should be about connecting the work to the student’s life. Even though I am still crafting my definition of literacy, I know what is involved in my definition. It is just a matter of taking my ideas and putting it on a piece of paper…where it actually makes sense.

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