“Digital natives have a significant degree of visual literacy” (Brumberger, 2011, p. 19). It goes without saying that our society is driven by technology. If the new iPad comes out, everyone has got to have it. Kids don’t read books in their rooms any more. If they read at all, it will be on a tablet or a computer. If they aren’t reading, they are playing video games or using some other form of technology. One this is certain about all the technological devices out there. They rely on visual literacy for success. Even as I type this blog, I look at the top of the screen and I need to know what certain symbols mean in order to create an effective composition. With technology, often something is moving on the screen, which induces those who use technology to be more visually literate.
So why is visual literacy important?
The article, “Visual Literacy and the Digital Native: AN Examination of the Millennial Learner,” published in April 2011, explains that the students in college during its publication were considered digital natives. I disagree with this statement. In 2011, I was an undergraduate who would fit the authors category. I do not see myself as a digital native. I was not born with technology in my home. I remember that I was seven years old when my family purchased our first desktop computer. I think the generation that most of us will be teaching if you are teaching high school is the generation that has never not known technology.
Every aspect of techonlogy pertains to visual literacy. The mouse moving across the screen, the symbols for various programs or functions, and the use of sight to understand what is being done on a screen are all aspects of visual literacy. It is important to understand that technology is what students are exposed to for most of their time outside of your classroom. If we excuse technology out of our classroom, we are missing out on a vital tool for learning that students are already familiar with.
How Could I Use Teachnology in My Classroom?
The possibilities are essentially endless. I will list some of the teachnology tools I have experienced in this classroom and elaborate on how I would use them.
– I would love to make timelines a collaborative tool. I think it would be a good way to have students review for the SOL. For instance, I would put students into small groups and have them outline specific units of study. Then, they would present it to the class. I would devise a way to print out each timeline as well so the students could have a paper copy to study from.
– Online jeopardy games are another great way to review for the SOL. In the weeks preceeding the test date, I would create jeopardy game for each unit and use it as a closing/review activity for the end of class. Jeopardy could also be made into a group project for remembering what a class presented about. For instance, a group was asked to study famous African Americans and then present about five to the class. The group could then have a jeopardy game where they quiz their classmates to see what they remember.
– I love Google Maps for a geography class. As a teacher, I would create a map for most regions we would study. I think the maps allows for a great chance to connect the importance of culture with geography by marking important cultural sites. Google Maps is also an easy collaborative tool as long as the map is public for edit. I would have students create maps for certain areas of study. For instance, if we were study the geography of europe, one group could study important rivers and stories that pertain to the rivers. They could mark the rivers and write about the stories with the placemarkers.
– Comic Life is a great tool for students to create their own historical comic books. I would have students pick a specific event that happened during the Civil War and make a short comic book about it to present to the class. I would organize all the submissions in chronological order and then present it as one, large collaborative comic.
– I like the idea of the sticky notes page. I think the page could function very well as a place for feedback on a lesson or topic. I could also ask my students for suggestions on how to teach the next lesson or unit. The sticky notes page would allow students to have a personal stake in their learning. For instance, they could post articles, youtube videos, or websites they find relevant to what we are learning and essentially develop lesson plans alongside the teacher.
– I would love for my students to blog. I would prefer them to write short, concise blogs a couple times a week. With the blogs, I would give them a prompt to respond to that would encourage them to develop critical thinking skills. I wouldn’t want them writing long blogs because I don’t want them to hate blogging. I think blogging is a good alternative to writing because students will forget their homework or they don’t have printer ink or paper, the excuses could be endless.
– I like the idea of Wikipages for collaborative projects. Ultimately, there wouldn’t be time for such an involved project until after the SOL’s, but I like the idea of the students doing something productive instead of watching videos until school is out.
– I like twitter because I feel that people and students are more apt to respond to a short 140 character statement rather then a long blog. I think the conversation on twitter can be useful as long as it is guided in the right direction. In my classroom, I would use twitter for my students to keep up with what is happening in class and posting assignments. Twitter could also provide a way to connect to professionals that could help with collaborative assignments such as a group creating a Wikipage about the Spoils system during the Jacksonian Era.
– Some students have difficulty presenting in front of their classmates. I like digital storytelling for this aspect. I would have students work in small groups to tell stories connected to the Cold War era. Many of their parents would have been alive and we could compare stories from older generations to younger generations about how each viewed the Russians. By doing so, the students can learn about the emotional tensions during the Cold War and not only repeat the facts about the time period.
Brumberger, E. (2011). Visual Literacy and the Digital Native: An Examination of the Millennial Learner. Journal Of Visual Literacy, 30(1), 19-47.