As we were walking down the hall after the Learning Lab, one of you asked me, "Paula, Are other teachers teaching this way, too?" My immediate response was, "I'm pretty far out there." and I turned to Ms. Fisher to ask how many other classrooms were using many of the tools and strategies my class is using. Her answer was that there are teachers in every school doing some of it, but not all teachers are.

I wanted to share with you some of the reasons I feel strongly our children HAVE to learn how to mediate these online tools.

First, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has published a set of literacies I am trying to implement:

The Definition of 21st Century LiteraciesAdopted by the NCTE Executive Committee
February 15, 2008Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Twenty-first century readers and writers need to
  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • Create, critique,, and evaluate multi-media texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

Secondly, I do appreciate that the wikispaces environment, especially, allows me to especially work with our students on the last one--attending to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments. I believe that is a life skill that allows these kids to impact how our world turns out, and I see what I am doing as building a better future as we work with ethical behaviors. A great book to read on this topic about life skills is Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky (also available as an e-book).

Thirdly, I have taught for 38 years--in all grade levels K-5--and students who work with me have traditionally been very successful on standardized tests, and also leave my room with a passion for learning. I know well how to teach to the test, and what I'm working to improve is helping students be ready for whatever life throws at them--because you and I both know the world is a very different place from the one we adults experienced as youngsters.
The following quote says it better than I can and is from the American Library Association at

The definition of information literacy has become more complex as resources and technologies have changed. Information literacy has progressed from the simple definition of using reference resources to find information. Multiple literacies, including digital, visual, textual, and technological, have now joined information literacy as crucial skills for this century. The continuing expansion of information demands that all individuals acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn on their own. The amount of information available to our learners necessitates that each individual acquire the skills to select, evaluate, and use information appropriately and effectively. Learning has a social context. Learning is enhanced by opportunities to share and learn with others. Students need to develop skills in sharing knowledge and learning with others, both in face-to-face situations and through technology. School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills. School libraries provide equitable physical and intellectual access to the resources and tools required for learning in a warm, stimulating, and safe environment. School librarians collaborate with others to provide instruction, learning strategies, and practice in using the essential learning skills needed in the 21st century.


So the four goals of the American Librarians' Association mesh nicely, with the English teachers' competencies. And then there's one more source, a blog, speaking to the digital writing our kids of today need to do.