• K-12 Online Conference 09

  • Edublog Awards 2009

    The File Cabinet was nominated for an Edublog Award this year. I am honored!

  • Game Classroom

  • Top 50 Educator Innovator Award

    Top 50 Education Innovator Award - Online Colleges
  • Discovery Educator Network
  • Diigo

    diigo education pioneer
  • The future is not some place we are going to but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination. John Schaar American Scholar and Professor
  • Shelfari: What am I reading?


The Great Literacy Debate

After a stimulating discussion this morning on Twitter with Ben Grey and Todd Williamson, I think I am ready to take my stab at the idea of 21st Century Literacy.

Literacy is the umbrella concept that encompasses a person’s ability to effectively communicate thoughts and discriminately acquire information through reading, writing and oral communication in academic and social settings.

The mediums by which we develop and practice literacy have and will continue to evolve, making the concept itself fluid. While the shape of the container may change, the properties of the substance do not. Whether you pour it into a textbook, a card catalog, an inkwell, a computer or an iphone, you can foster the development of a literate individual (and a big mess).

In 10 years of teaching, my practice has shifted dramatically. I am still teaching students to read, write and communicate, but my method of delivery has changed. My expectations for how I want to students to be able to demonstrate their abilities to read, write and communicate have also changed. The necessary skill sets have evolved. The underlying concepts of reading for purpose and with discretion and speaking/writing for a specific audience have  not.

Are students who leave our schools without specific technological skills “illiterate”? I don’t think so. Are they facing an uphill battle? I think they are.

P.S. Drop the 21st Century, please. It implies a timeline. Besides, the 21st century refers to what? a hundred years? In 2099, don’t you think they’ll be laughing at what we thought were the skills needed in the 21st century? Anyhoo…

While I haven’t directly referred to any particular site, these sites have all been influential in the development of my thoughts.

Another interesting take can be found at …


3 Responses

  1. A wonderful conversation about this topic is developing at http://21stcenturion.blogspot.com/2009/01/21st-century-questions.html#comment-form I would encourage you to check it out.

  2. I love the name of your blog.
    Keeping the kids first! How simple, lets hope all educators keep that in mind!
    Janice —New Zealand

  3. Thanks Janice. I think if we can do that, then we will all be just fine 🙂

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