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    Facebook Frustrations

    By Joan Rhodes
     | Apr 20, 2018

    Facebook FrustrationsThis week’s nightly technology news was alarming.  After learning that Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, was going to speak before Congress regarding the data breach that impacted an estimated 87 million Facebook users, I fully expected to see that my private data had been collected by Cambridge Analytica. After all, my information has been hacked at a medical facility and two retailers so far this year.

    The positive news is that, because of this, my free credit monitoring has been in effect for almost a full year at no cost. I thought I had dodged a bullet by avoiding the This is Your Digital Life app. Unfortunately, as I continued reading an article titled, “How can I tell if my info was shared with Cambridge Analytica?” I learned that one of my Facebook “friends” had logged into the app prior to its 2015 removal from Facebook. All I could think was, what does this mean for my data? Where is my data?

    According to Facebook’s investigators, “As a result, the following information was likely shared with This Is Your Digital Life:” my public profile, page likes, birthday, and current city. If that wasn’t enough to get my blood boiling, Facebook also noted that “A small number of people who logged into This Is Your Digital Life also shared their own news feed, timeline, posts and messages, which may have included posts and messages from you. They may also have shared your hometown.” (Click here to see what Facebook considers your public profile. You will be surprised.)

    Am I the only one frustrated by this turn of events? I think not, and this feeling was confirmed when I looked at my own news feed and found several of my friends contemplating whether they should follow the 10% of U.S. Facebook users who have already closed their accounts. I’m sure I'm not alone in wondering if our opinions and political views have been impacted by the use of our personal data. (Click here for more information on how Facebook used research and established models to sway thinking.)

    Like many social media users, I generally believe that whatever I post is fair game for sharing and that complete privacy is a thing of the past. But this data breach has me wondering about how young students may be impacted by the unregulated sharing of personal information by social media companies. A 2014 Pew Research Center report found that “91% of Americans ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that people have lost control over how personal information is collected and used,” and that 80% are “concerned about advertisers and businesses accessing the data they share on social media platforms.” Moreover, roughly half of U.S. residents do not believe that social media sites or the government will protect their privacy. So, why do we continue to use sites that put our privacy at risk?

    Lee Rainie, director of internet and technology research at Pew Research Center, notes that U.S. residents have a complex relationship with social media. We are hesitant to give up the ability to stay connected with our friends and have come to rely on social media sites to make life efficient. Nonetheless, as educators, we have a responsibility to understand how to protect privacy for both ourselves and our students. So, what can we do?

    Short of joining the #DeleteFacebook movement, educators should demonstrate how to use Facebook’s new centralized page to update security/privacy settings and read (and share with students) articles that provide practical tips for protection. Recommendations include deleting birthdates, phone numbers, and other personal information as well as eliminating bad habits like tagging your home location and inadvertently sharing your address with the public. For more general advice, Common Sense Education offers lesson plans, cheat sheets, social media tips, privacy evaluation tools, and more to help students learn and practice responsible digital citizenship. Whatever tactic you choose, monitoring your identifiable information is critically important in this technology-driven world

    Joan Rhodes is an associate professor of reading and early/elementary education at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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

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    Tracing Talk With Technology: Reflecting on Interactive Read-Aloud Through Digital Annotation

    By Jon Wargo
     | Apr 13, 2018

    VideoAntAs a teacher educator, I teach courses across the instructional methods sequence at my institution. From the introductory Teaching Reading course to advanced classes such as Teaching of Language and Literacy to Diverse Learners, I have the pleasure of working with prospective teachers across their years of preparation. A common tension, however—whether a first-year student or a new teacher—is using technology to talk back to practice. In other words, how do we use digital media and technology to trace our interactional moves and to reflect on our practice?

    Facilitating talk through the interactive read-aloud assignment

    One way I approach this tension is by embedding opportunities for students to become fluent with digital tools that enable them to critically reflect on their practice. For example, in my Teaching Reading course, students are asked to plan, enact, and reflect on an interactive read-aloud. Following Fisher, Flood, Lapp, and Frey’s (2004) essential components of an interactive read-aloud, we focus on text selection, preview and practice our read-aloud, establish purpose, model fluent reading, consider our expressions during reading, and discuss the text.

    A key component in our work, however, is to move beyond the IRE (initiate, response, evaluate) model of structuring talk and questioning. In other words, we work to create a dialogic space—providing students with frequent and sustained opportunities to engage in talk—and move away from recitation. But as prospective teachers and novice educators, how do we trace talk? I want to suggest that technology, video, and digital annotation help prospective teachers to “see” discussion in a new light.

    Using digital annotation to dig in

    After planning, students go into their field placements to video record their lesson. While they work to plan discussions where students have opportunities to engage in multiple roles (e.g., inquisitor, facilitator of interaction, respondent, etc.), the enactment and text talk sometimes falls to recitation. Prospective teachers evaluate students’ responses rather than challenge or extend topics and issues.

    With video in hand, students upload their video and then use VideoAnt, a web-based annotation tool, to annotate the specific moves and roles they took up. By engaging in this process, students can trace talk through the technology while leveraging digital media and video to become reflective practitioners (see above image). After annotating the video, students then use literature from the course to reflect and plan for improvement. Noticing when conversations collapse, they consider next steps for building a classroom culture of rich literary talk.

    Amplifying reflection through annotation

    Beyond the gadgets, gizmos, apps, and tech tools, I want students to walk away from my classes empowered to engage with technology and digital media in ways that align to building a culture of practitioner inquiry.

    Jon M. Wargo is an assistant professor of Teacher Education, Special Education, and Curriculum and Instruction at Boston College.

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

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    Digital Tools to Support Home–School Partnerships

    By Aileen Hower
     | Apr 06, 2018

    seesaw2With a son with an autism spectrum disorder and another son with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, I spend a great deal of time asking what’s for homework, what activities or projects are coming up in each of their classes, and what school/extra-curricular events we must attend. These conversations have not always been the most fruitful, since neither son is overly organized or overly attuned to what is going on in the classroom or when homework is assigned.

    However, in our technology enhanced district, where teachers use learning management systems and digital backpacks, communication that helps me keep my sons organized and, more importantly, helps them stay organized, has been a huge help in supporting their executive functioning (the brain’s management system).

    Tools to help students stay organized

    In the short term, my sons’ teachers have successfully utilized Remind. Using this tool, teachers can share quick reminders of school events or homework that is due. They can post handouts and even videos of the day’s learning.

    More important, for the parent of students who literally respond to the question, "What did you do today at school?" with, “Nothing,” Remind can also capture aspects of the day so that parents can ask specifically about an assembly or field trip and hold a conversation.

    I use Remind with college students to share about a canceled class, a field visit, or a special event occurring on campus. Some have expressed appreciation for this quick form of communication.

    Other tools that serve similar purposes are Class Dojo and Twitter. These tools can be private or invitation/sign up-only accessible, and allow families to learn about school information directly from the teacher, without too much additional time on the part of the educator. As a parent, I have been extremely thankful for this way to obtain additional or immediate information about my students.

    Tools to facilitate communication between home and school

    remind2One tool that provides families a glimpse into the classroom is Seesaw. Students can create digital portfolios of written work or recordings of their voice to share with home. Educationally, it is a great tool to use to share students’ work and lessons with their families.

    Digital tools can open our classrooms to families, help manage student workloads/ schedules, and foster conversations about the learning taking place in our classrooms. For students who struggle with organization and communication, and for families who want to partner with their child’s teacher, these tools can facilitate rich relationships throughout the year.

    Aileen P. Hower is an assistant professor of literacy at Millersville University in Pennsylvania where she teaches at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to teaching, she is the president elect of the Keystone State Reading Association and was the conference chair for the KSRA 50th Annual Conference in 2017. You can find her on Twitter at @aileenhower or on her blog at aileenhower.wordpress.com.

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

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    To Our Next Generation of Teachers: Embrace the “Digital” in Literacy

    By Carolyn Fortuna
     | Mar 30, 2018

    Digital LiteracyAs I help preservice teachers gain confidence to stand before their first groups of students, I’m conscious of the tensions this next generation of educators will face in our uncertain era. What are the best approaches that new teachers can use to help their students to achieve the highest possible levels of learning? How can new teachers move political and legal controversies into educational and civic contexts?

    I believe that, while there is no single panacea for problems that educators face every day, new teachers should embrace a multidimensional approach where digital tools and texts are essential mechanisms to inspire students. The digital world opens up interactions with authentic texts and tasks and creates engaged and more fully literate learners.

    Why digital literacy enhances learning

    When preservice teachers attempt e-learning, they discover how the digital world blends with traditional instructional delivery to achieve a diverse range of learning outcomes. Preservice teachers often gain digital confidence when they experience its larger potential for usefulness, self-efficacy, and responsiveness. Digital inquiry, with its possibilities to represent different points of view and a range of experiences, also elevates students’ capacity for critical thinking.

    Preservice teachers need to be disposed to digital literacy learning themselves, which means they must master the digital competencies they would like to foster among their students. I require my preservice teachers to experience the digital composing process from a student perspective. That means they experience a mélange of frustration and wonder as they become immersed in digital learning and incorporate new digital inquiry methods that match essential questions to authentic tasks.

    Sample digital learning tasks for preservice teachers

    The supply of digital applications and sources for instructional purposes is far-ranging, indeed, and a bit overwhelming for preservice teachers. Yet, because digital literacies inspire educators to reconsider what it means to be knowledge-holders in society, they also validate the real-world forms of literacy that students possess.

    Here are some sample digital learning activities that preservice teachers might design for their students:

    Final thoughts

    When preservice teachers are required to find, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information in a wide variety of formats, they inspire learning in their students. Preservice teachers need to complete their undergraduate programs with the skills to engage, participate, and teach in a world in which literacy must keep pace with rapidly changing technologies.

    Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a recent recipient of the ILA Grand Prize for Reading and Technology. She’s newly retired from a 20-year career as a public school secondary English teacher and now teaches in the Educational and Gender Studies Departments at Rhode Island College, where she embeds critical digital media literacy instruction in all her courses. She is a staff member of the Media Education Lab and program chair for the Northeast Regional Media Literacy Conference.

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

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    Reading Online: An Instructional Model and Ideas for the ELA Classroom

    By Alexandra Panos and James Damico
     | Mar 23, 2018

    Reading OnlineReading online about divisive and complicated topics can and should be central to the English language arts classroom. At least, that is what we have been advocating for the past four years, as we study how people read online about climate change. Reading online in a fake news era holds many challenges—and opportunities—for literacy teachers to directly confront the difficult nature of online sources about this divisive issue.

    The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication has been examining public beliefs and attitudes around climate change since 2009. The program’s research has identified six unique audiences within the United States public that each respond to the issue in their own distinct way. Another 2017 study in the American Educational Research Journal about reading online determined that students struggle to identify misinformation online and instead rely on previously held opinions.

    In our research, we developed an instructional model that supports students in reading online about climate change. In a forthcoming chapter of Literacy Research, Practice and Evaluationwe outline the following model:

    • Select a diverse set of digital information sources.
    • Ask students to make their thinking visible as they evaluate these sources.
    • Ensure students read/view sources multiple times in order to reflect upon and revise their evaluations.
    • Create opportunities for students to deliberate the reliability merits of each source.

    Our findings indicate that there is real value in students reading independently as part of a multi-step evaluation process. Our findings also point to the importance of providing students with opportunities to talk across differences in both large group discussion and in pairs.

    Here’s an example of what this kind of discussion-based lesson looks like in a high school class. The lesson begins with a diverse collection of sources, continues with questions to facilitate critical reading over multiple steps and ideas for promoting student-led evaluation and discussion, and concludes with a reminder about how to link these practices to civic engagement that turns knowledge into action.

    Curating a set of diverse sources

    Identify online sources that hold a range of perspectives about climate change, such as:

    • BP’s “Sustainability” webpage.
    • A Christian Science Monitor article about one scientist’s shifting perspective on climate change.
    • The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change’s website.
    • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s website.

    Supporting critical reading practices over multiple steps

    First, students read/view a source briefly and note their evaluation of its reliability. In a second reading, students evaluate sources independently using the following questions to support critical reading practices:

    • Who created the source?
    • Why was it created?
    • What claims are made?
    • Are claims well supported? Explain.
    • Do you detect biases or points of view?
    • To what extent is this source reliable? (Possible answers: highly reliable, somewhat reliable, somewhat unreliable, unreliable)

    Student-led evaluation and discussion

    We use the following Stand Your Ground discussion format:

    • Stage your classroom in four quadrants (highly reliable, somewhat reliable, somewhat unreliable, and unreliable).
    • Ask students to move to the area designated for their rating of each source (one source at a time). Students should explain, defend, persuade, and modify their stances throughout the discussion.
    • Ask students to take note of their final stances.
    • Extend the activity through argumentative writing.

    Civic engagement across perspectives and beliefs

    Finally, we promote a spirit of civic engagement that does not shy away from debate. We argue dialogue should remain rooted in the scientific consensus. In pairs, students who hold different climate change beliefs evaluate sources for their reliability, talking aloud as they read or view a source. Then students may search together for online sources they both deem reliable.

    Other helpful resources

    A People’s Curriculum for the Earth (Rethinking Schools, 2014) includes interdisciplinary resources on environmental issues. Author Paul Fleischman created a website to support his 2014 book, Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines. Researchers Richard Beach, Jeff Share, and Allen Webb created a Wiki workspace about teaching climate change in ELA, where educators can connect and share resources.

    Reading online about divisive topics can and should be a part of the ELA classroom. We believe it is important to support students’ independent critical reading habits by creating opportunities to examine online text with careful guidance and support by their teachers and with their peers.

    Alexandra Panos is a former middle school ELA teacher and currently works as a PhD candidate and education researcher in the Department of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education at Indiana University, Bloomington.

    James Damico is a former elementary and middle school teacher and currently serves as the director of the INSPIRE Living-Learning Center at Indiana University, Bloomington in addition to his role as an associate professor in the Department of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education.

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