Week 7 Reading Response

This week I will be responding to the following chapter and article:

I really enjoyed this week’s reading as it continued to expand the definition of literacy as well as provide real-world application in the classroom. The focus of the article surrounded the use of digital stories, and what they mean in the grand scheme of things. The chapter followed a student (Simon) who was having difficulty focusing and producing in his literacy class. Simon would quickly become frustrated and disconnected with his work when it came to reading and writing. The teacher was fortunate enough to have the help of an assistant teacher who worked specifically with Simon. They set out to create material that would be accessible and engaging for Simon. Following a digital storytelling course that they teacher had taken; she chose to employ this strategy with Simon. Simon became very engaged in this method of storytelling. It allowed him the opportunity to express his creativity. The reasons for Simon’s (as well as the teachers’) success are discussed throughout the chapter.

The chapter discusses the importance of moving from a strict definition of “literacy” to a more open definition that utilizes a multimodal approach. Literacy is not just reading and writing, it involves the transmission of a message and evokes a response that can be achieved through several different mediums. For example, instead of Simon simply writing the story, the teachers allowed him to create a digital story to express his thoughts. Simon used photo and video editing software in order to tell his stories about dinosaurs and skateboarders. By having mediums such as photos, music, and video at his disposal, Simon was able to effectively tell his story.

At first I was concerned with this approach, because I initially believed that the teachers were replacing writing altogether. But, as I read on I understood that they were using digital storytelling as an access point for Simon to engage writing (as well as reading). For example, Simon saw the need for creating (and writing) a script for the narration of his stories. While it was not discussed in the chapter, I can assume that the teachers used this opportunity to help teach the relevant writing/reading standards.

As I was reading this chapter I saw the possible implications for differentiation through digital storytelling (as well as other methods discussed throughout this course). These could be potentially helpful for English language learners as well as students with special needs. This chapter put into perspective what the priorities of the classroom should be. The emphasis should be on whether or not the student has learned as opposed to how the student demonstrates that learning. If Simon’s teachers had remained persistent in getting him to express himself solely through writing, they would not have been able to see how great of a story teller he is; and, more importantly, Simon would not have been able to see it.

For the supplemental reading I wanted to find information further discussing differentiation. I found an article from an organization called LearnNC which is associated with University of North Carolina School of Education. The article discusses the importance of differentiation for a diverse classroom, and acknowledges the frustrations and difficulties that can arise from creating accessible content. The article lays out a framework (as well as provide other resources) to effectively differentiate content via technology. I look forward to using this resource moving forward.

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