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High Tech Forms of Literacy

After four years of studying the boys problem I still haven't reached a conclusion on the impact new technologies have on literacy. Conventional wisdom suggests the influence is negative. I'm undecided, but I did note this press release from the International Reading Association:

New IRA book provides strategies for "remixing" best practices and new literacies

NEWARK, DELAWARE, USA--To be literate in today's society full of Tweeting, blogging, YouTubing, texting, and downloading means constantly developing new literacy skills. But how can a middle or high school classroom teacher--who may not be as up-to-speed with new technologies as her 13-year-old students--connect the skills necessary to keep up with 21st-century tools while instilling traditional, essential literacy skills?

v"Remix," a term often associated with music, refers to using bits of previously recorded material to create something new. Authors Gainer and Lapp contend that if teachers hope to connect students' real-world and school literacy practices, they must remix proven best practices with the new literacies students are growing up with. Their new book, Literacy Remix: Bridging Adolescents' In and Out of School Literacies, shows just how to do this.

Literacy Remix provides an important new direction for teachers of adolescents. The multimodal activities presented give ideas for incorporating still and moving visual images, song lyrics, Internet sites, and other media into classroom learning to support and extend traditional academic language arts practices. Readers see lessons in action that teach students how to use the reading, writing, learning, and communicating tools of their day-to-day lives to learn important literacy and language arts skills. Video clips on the book's webpage (see URL below) show real student work, demonstrating the possibilities.

Gainer and Lapp assert that teachers today do not need to be experts in technology to make use of new literacies in the classroom. Instead, comments Gainer, "openness to diverse perspectives, critical consciousness, and some basic background information, such as what's in Literacy Remix, can go a long way."

Literacy Remix is available now for just $19.95 for IRA members and $24.95 for nonmembers. To find out more, visit the book's webpage, www.reading.org/General/Publications/Books/BK800.aspx.

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