Literacy – My Beliefs

Literacy – My Definition/Beliefs

During a recent PD Day, we had the opportunity to discuss and complete a couple of activities that focused on literacy with the eventual goal of developing a school wide definition of literacy.

Our school’s learning coach gave us articles to read prior to the meeting to help guide the basis of our discussion. We also completed an “I Believe Template” and “Beliefs About Literacy Activity.”

I believe that in the past, literacy has been used to describe a person who can read and write. After the discussion and activity we participated in, I have come to a few new conclusions about what I believe literacy is.

Literacy is the ability to communicate using a variety of mediums.  

The ability to read and write is at the heart of literacy. In todays world we communicate in so many ways, that I am left with the following questions:

  • Is being able to properly compose an email not a form of literacy? It is not a traditional letter but do we still communicate using traditional letters? Or being able to read and communicate tone in an email.
  • Is the ability to communicate and recognize body language not also a form of literacy?
  • Is social media a form of literacy?
    • Effectively using  140 characters to precisely convey your message.
    • Recognizing what is appropriate to post and what is not on various social media sites.
    • Being able to build a brand and use social media to persuade others.

The students that are coming through our schools are growing up in a much different environment than we did. So while I believe that reading and writing are the foundation of literacy, I believe we have a duty to prepare them for this new world and address the questions above.

Literacy should be taught in all classes regardless of subject area.

It is the responsibility of all teachers to assess and teach literacy. If we truly believe in the importance of literacy then our curriculum, lesson planning, and assessments need to reflect that.

dangerous illiterate

Schools need to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

Our staff came up with the following beliefs about literacy. Now if, as administrators and school leaders, we do nothing to foster nor promote these beliefs with the staff, students, parents, and the community, we are doing a disservice to everyone. The precious collaborative time we spent developing and discussing literacy would be completely wasted.

What is your school doing to help build a community that believes literacy is important? Do you have a DEAR period (Drop Everything and Read) or something similar, where all students, regardless of age or ability, have built in reading time? Time when the adults act as role models and read as well, not sit at their computers or do marking. Do your teachers have time to plan common assessments that have literacy components built in?

Terry Hoganson

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One thought on “Literacy – My Beliefs

  1. Interesting blogs! Loved your thoughts on literacy. I’d add that literacy is the ability to see symbols, think deeply about them, and make meaning of them. Those symbols could be letters, numbers, musical notes, lines and shapes in art or design, or images on social media or signs or videos. This is why i completely agree with you that literacy needs to be a goal for all subjects, not just ELA. And as you point out, in a changing world that heavily emphasizes social media and images, other subjects, like the arts, help our students become literate by today’s standards.

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