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    Use Monthly Quiz Activities to Practice and Evaluate Critical Reading

    By Carita Kiili and Eva Wennås Brante
     | Mar 24, 2017
    TILE-20170324_w300

    Discussions about fake news in a post-truth world and how to react to these challenging trends have become quite prevalent around the world. It is easy to share Professor Donald Leu’ s view that “schools are an important key to solving the challenge of fake news.”  And it is not only fake news that becomes important to negotiate; all types of online information in today’s world require critical and thoughtful readers. 

    At least two issues have become especially important as we increasingly encounter online texts. First, the earlier that we begin teaching critical evaluation skills, the more prepared our students will be. Second, given the difficulty in transferring learning effects from school tasks to other situations, we believe that students need regular practice to internalize the skills needed to be critical online readers.

    One idea that we believe has promise is designing short monthly quiz activities around critical evaluation skills. This practice can be used quite regularly, even with younger children, if the texts and topics selected are reasonably appropriate for a certain grade level. 

    Tips for creating quizzes and advantages of the practice

    To prepare your quizzes, choose four online texts on the same controversial topic (e.g., health effects from using cell phones) that differ in quality and purpose. Prepare questions for each text that address, for example, the following issues:

    • Authors’ expertise on the topic (e.g., level of education, amount of experience, current position or occupation; see question 1 in the example)
    • Purpose of the text (e.g., to persuade, to inform, to sell something, or to entertain)
    • Quality of evidence (e.g., based on research, the experience of one person, or one’s personal opinion)
    • A main point of the text (e.g., a question to assess important content)

    example-TILE-20170324You might also include questions that address why it is important to pay attention to a particular aspect of online source evaluation (see question 2 in the example). To spark ideas for your quizzes, you might explore some of the examples for teaching critical evaluation provided by the Stanford History Education Group or Teaching Channel.

    Next, it is time to select a tool to create your quizzes. If you are not yet familiar with online quiz tools, you can find multiple websites listing them (e.g., educatorstechnology.com).

    Once you have four quizzes (one about each text), run one quiz in the beginning of each month. Remember, the questions should be used as triggers to further discussion about the topic rather than simply considering each text in isolation. The reflections and additional questions allow teachers to access students’ reasoning and how it may develop over the course of the quizzes.

    At the end of the semester, hold a “final” on critical evaluation. The final gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of both content and critical evaluation skills learned during the process. At this point, questions should focus attention on comparing and contrasting the texts.  Because students usually get engaged with tasks that include elements of gamification, consider finding a colleague whose class will do the quizzes and compete for the title of Champions of Critical Reading.

    Teaching students to think critically is not easy, nor does it happen quickly, so, in that respect, these quiz activities are certainly not a quick fix. Still, they are one step toward developing critical habits of thinking and reflecting about the quality of online texts. We believe that repetition is essential, and these quiz activities help to regularly take advantage of quick opportunities to discuss the credibility of news or other information.  Happy quizzing, and we hope that your class wins the finals!

    CaritaKiili_w80Carita Kiili & Eva Wennås Brante are both postdoctoral fellows at the EvaWennåsBrante_w80Department of Education, University of Oslo, Norway.

    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association’s Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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    A Quick Guide to Good Digital Hygiene

    By Kip Glazer
     | Mar 22, 2017

    ThinkstockPhotos-87768937_x300Recently, my older son, who is studying Information Technology and Cyber Security in college, reminded me of a term: digital hygiene. He talked about how his professor used the term to describe the importance of using a password manager to keep online passwords safe. I, too, believe improving our digital hygiene is important, and I argue that teachers have a special role to play. I offer suggestions for helping students develop good digital hygiene practices.

    Give explicit instructions on composing a subject line and signature

    I recommended that teachers instruct their students to use a standardized subject line for sending e-mails. I would tell students that I wouldn't read an e-mail unless I know it was from them. By requiring a prearranged format, I could determine whether an e-mail was from one of my students. I typically asked them to add the class period, class title, full name, and purpose of their message in the subject line. For example, "Period 2, Senior English, John Doe: Absence/Missing Work" told me exactly what to expect when I opened the e-mail. This structure also helped students to think about the main point of the message and how to be succinct.

    I also encouraged students to add a signature and a privacy statement. I typically told them to add "This e-mail may contain confidential and privileged material for the sole use of the intended recipient(s). Any review, use, distribution, or disclosure by others is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient (or authorized to receive the e-mail, document, or information on behalf of the recipient), please contact the sender by reply e-mail and delete all copies of this message." By doing so, students learned that no e-mail communication is private, even with the added privacy statement.

    Provide tools to create strong, secure passwords

    On a high school campus, students sharing devices is common. I instructed students to create strong passwords and to never share them. I taught students to never use their pet's name, birthday, or address as their password. Instead, I recommended services like Secure Password Generator or LastPass to create secure, random passwords.

    Model how to update operating systems, virus protection programs, and browsers

    One of the biggest security issues comes from users not updating their digital systems, especially the browsers. I encouraged teachers to show students how to update browsers across all Internet-enabled devices and how to check whether they have the newest version of the browser. I also recommend a few free virus protection programs such as AVG and Avast.

    Use cloud services to share work rather than USB flash drives

    As a classroom teacher, I often asked my students to create digital presentations. Whether it was a slide presentation or a video, I always required them to share it using cloud services such as Google Drive or Dropbox. I did so to prevent introducing a virus to the school's network.

    Some students used online presentation tools such as Prezi or Google Slides. In such cases, I required students add me as one of their editors, which gave me a lot more options in terms of seeing who contributed and when.

    As we interact with one another more and more online, we need to practice good digital hygiene to keep us healthy and safe. Just as we would want students to wash their hands frequently to keep their bodies physically healthy, we should remind them to practice digital hygiene to protect their digital health.

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program. Her Purposeful Tech column looks at how classroom teachers can think critically about today's instructional technologies.

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    From Print to Digital: Composing Multimodal Texts Through Transmediation

    By Sohee Park
     | Mar 17, 2017
    301270317-TILE_w220

    Transmediation refers to “student’s translation of content from one sign system into another.” Writing a story based on a photo or creating an iMovie book trailer about a novel are two examples of transmediation. transmediating print-based text into digital multimodal text, by introducing the benefits and some evidence-based transmediating tasks for use in K–12 classrooms.

    Benefits of transmediating a print-based text into a digital multimodal text

    Research studies report at least three positive impacts of transmediating a print-based text into digital multimodal text on students’ learning: deeper understandings of content, creative expressions of ideas, and promoted analytic conversations.

    1. Deeper Understandings of Content. Transmediation develops students’ understandings of specific literary and informational text. In More Than Writing-To-Learn: Using Multimodal Writing Tasks in Science Classrooms, for instance, Mark McDermott reported that students who composed multimodal texts on the scientific
    content that they learned from a textbook understood the content better than before the activity; students who created more integrated multimodal texts showed better understanding of the content than others.

    2. Creative Expressions of Ideas. According to Marjorie Siegel and Jason Ranker, transmediation enables students to be creative through making new connections and meanings between different modes. For example, if a student reads an informational text about volcanoes and wants to compose a video about the stages of eruption using interactive whiteboard apps (e.g., Scoodle Jam or Educreations), the student should go through a series of complex cognitive processes: comprehending written information, creating linguistic mental representations of the comprehended information, transforming the linguistic mental representations to visual and audio mental representations, and applying it on the apps. During these processes, students utilize their creativity and imagination to transform linguistic mental representations into other modal representations.

    3. Promoted Analytic Conversations. Some transmediation tasks accompany analytic conversations between students. In Jennifer McCormick’s study on how transmediation fosters analytical conversations among middle school students, the conversations occurred when a student’s connections between the known and the invented modes were not apparent to other students. In Øystein Gilje’s work, students had analytic conversations while they collaborated for the transmediation of a student’s written synopsis into a film. To further clarify the author’s intention or for collaborative multimodal composition, having analytic conversations during the transmediation activities helped students improve understanding of the task and content as well as oral language skills.

    Evidence-based tasks for transmediation through digital multimodal composition

    There are some evidence-based tasks for transmediation using digital multimodal composition. The table presents exemplary tasks using literary texts at three different levels.

     

    Elementary School
    (Grades K–5)

    Middle School
    (Grades 6–8)

    High School
    (Grades 9–12)

    Transmediating Tasks Using
    Literary Texts

    • The BFG by Roald Dahl—A micro-documentary including an introduction by a narrator, an observation, re-enactment of events, and an interview of the main characters (Mills, 2011)

    Transmediation can be done with informational texts in a variety of content areas. One thing that should be emphasized in all lessons about transmediation is that metalanguages such as glossaries of filmmaking and technical aspects of digital tools should be taught in advance for the successful implementation of the transmediation activities.

    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association’s Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

    SoheePark_80w

    Sohee Park is a doctoral candidate specializing in literacy education at the University of Delaware. Her research interest centers on best practices for instruction and assessment of digital multimodal composition.

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    Digital Formative Assessments in Literacy

    By Kara Sevensma and Robin Schuhmacher
     | Mar 03, 2017

    20170303_TILEFormative assessment is a crucial component of supporting effective literacy instruction in any classroom. Research has taught us that teachers can responsively inform their literacy instruction through intentional and varied assessments of student learning. (For more information about effective formative assessment, see Johnston and Afflerbach).

    A powerful formative assessment tool is observation. Teachers gain valuable data by observing individuals or small groups of students reading and thinking aloud about the text or their reading processes. Documenting these think-alouds can be time-consuming given the ratio of students to teachers in most classrooms. It is here that teachers can leverage digital technologies.

    By using apps that allow students to record images and audio (Educreations, Shadow Puppet, Book Creator, ShowMe, Seesaw), teachers reduce the time it takes to conduct individual or small-group think-alouds about specific literacy concepts or skills. Well-structured formative assessment tasks allow students to work independently or in small groups, either recording simultaneously or through structured rotations, with limited support from the teacher. The resulting digital videos can be viewed any time and shared with wider audiences.   

    Creating videos to understand text features

    To understand the potential of digital formative assessment, I asked Robin Schuhmacher, second-grade teacher and 2014 Apple Educator of the Year, to share an example. Robin developed a cross-curricular literacy and science unit in which one of many goals was identifying informational text features (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.2.5). After several initial lessons, she had the second graders participate in a formative assessment of their current knowledge about informational text features. Students embarked individually on a nonfiction scavenger hunt in books selected on the basis of interest and reading level. Then, in pairs, students discussed and selected the best representations of informational text features. Over the course of a single lesson, they used Shadow Puppet on their iPads to take pictures of specific text features and to record audio that named and described the characteristics of each feature.

    Robin reviewed the videos outside of class time, identifying gaps in knowledge and planning responsive instruction for future lessons. Robin shared selections of the videos with the whole class, reviewing text features that students had mastered and those that still needed reinforcement. When reviewing videos with each pair of students, Robin could more specifically identify gaps in knowledge. Supported by additional targeted instruction, the pair then recorded a new video to demonstrate new understanding about text features they had previously missed.

    Tips for using digital tools for assessment

    Teachers can use a number of digital tools to enhance formative assessment. When getting started, consider your current assessment practices and evaluate whether a digital tool could provide new or unique opportunities to assess students’ literacy knowledge. Choose an app that is easy for students to use and high-interest texts at an appropriate reading level for each student. Model the creation process and a sample video of what you expect from students. Consider pairing or grouping students when first using the app. If you are recording simultaneously, spread students out to minimize audio overlap. Be intentional in the process, and you will find the power of using digital tools for formative assessment.

     
    Kara Sevensma is an assistant professor of education at Calvin College. She is currently researching educational technology and human flourishing with a grant supported by the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning. She can be contacted at sevensma@calvin.edu.

     

    RobinSchuhmacher_80Robin Schuhmacher is a second-grade teacher and differentiation coach in Cherry Creek School District. She has 12 years of experience in the primary classroom and holds a B.A. in elementary education and an M.A. in special education. She can be contacted at rschuhmacher@cherrycreekschools.org or via Twitter @robin_schuh.


    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association’s 
    Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).


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    Integrating Videos Into Literacy Instruction

    By Marilyn E. Moore
     | Feb 24, 2017

    ThinkstockPhotos-80607869_x300Common Core State Standards encourage teachers to focus on reading texts deeply, writing for digital environments collaboratively, and reading and writing nonfiction texts. The use of videos for instruction and production facilitates meeting these standards and engages students in more real-world reading and writing experiences.   

    Integrating videos in support of literacy practices

    Traditional literacy practices emphasized individual mastery of concepts and skills, whereas new media literacy practices emphasize collaborative, social, and context activity. Following are new media examples that describe literacy curriculum at the elementary and secondary levels that incorporate the use of video.

    Ideas for the elementary level are found in the article“Devillainizing Video in Support of Comprehension and Vocabulary Instruction,” by Matthew Hall and Katherine Dougherty Stahl. Classroom videos that digitally define a content area vocabulary term are being developed by teachers. The definitions can include narration, music, props, additional people, and manipulatives. In “eVoc Strategies: 10 Ways to Use Technology to Build Vocabulary,” Bridget Dalton and Dana Grisham emphasize, “Sound vocabulary instruction incorporates multiple exposures in multiple contexts of words to be learned.”

    With young students, using short videos of narratives as part of comprehension can address higher comprehension skills such as inference skills. In addition, introducing a story using video and discussion can be followed by children reading the story and completing writing activities.

    Teaching Shakespeare With YouTube” by Christy Desmet and Joyce Bruett proposes that YouTube is a popular site for building class assignments for students’ skills in critical reading and writing. For example, YouTube lists nearly 50 entries for videos on Macbeth and videos on Hamlet. These videos can be used for modeling the text for further discussion, writing a critical analysis, or having students produce their own modern-day version of Hamlet or Macbeth. YouTube Shakespeare restricts the length and size of videos to 10 minutes or less.

    Identifying tools used for video production

    For years, educators have purchased videos or made their own videos using a camcorder or smartphone. Today, students are using Web. 2.0 digital tools such as Flipgrid and Voki, as Kara Clayton shared recently. Flipgrid can be used by students to create their own video response to posts by people such as their teacher. Voki is a speaking avatar program that also gives students a platform for expressing themselves.

    Educators are also using YouTube videos in the classroom to get attention, introduce new concepts, provide information, or review important points. The subject of literature is particularly enhanced through the use of YouTube.

    Identifying potential challenges of using videos in the classroom

    Currently, many schools block YouTube and other social networking sites because many videos are highly inappropriate for students. Locating the right video can also be difficult because the vast numbers available must be vetted for accuracy, reasonableness, and support for the literacy activity. Another challenge when using YouTube is that videos teachers select may not be available at any given time. To ensure availability requires teachers to copy and save it on a thumb drive, computer, or other device.

    In “Escaping the Lesson-Planning Doldrums,” Catlin Tucker states, “As students shift from passive observers to active participants, teachers must also shift from being founts of knowledge to becoming architects of learning experiences—the goal of designing lessons that are exciting, engaging and student-centered.” The use of videos can give new energy to planning literacy lessons. 

    marilyn moore headshotMarilyn E. Moore is a professor and faculty director for the Reading Program at National University, La Jolla, CA.

    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association’s Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

     
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