Teaching Literacy Online

This semester I was enrolled in an online teaching practicuum. I had never really been exposed to the world of online education before, with the exception of taking a couple of university courses online. So the experience of online teaching was an entirely new world for me. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Teaching online is hard, but teaching literacy online is even harder. However, there are still some ways that teachers can overcome teaching in a non-traditional classroom and successfully teach literacy to their students. You have to be very motivated in your conquests to teach it. During my time as a pre-student teacher in my online practicuum, I have observed a lot of things and have came up with a lot of interesting ideas on how online teachers can incorporate literacy into their supplemental teachings online.

The platform that my school uses is called Plato. This type of platform already has all of the content prepared, so the teachers don’t have to create any of the main content themselves. There have already been lectures, assignments, and etc. created and uploaded onto the platform. However, this doesn’t mean that the teachers are exempt from actually teaching material. If the students are unable to grasp a concept, then it’s the job of the teachers to guide them with supplemental instruction or material that they themselves have created.

One of my main concerns was how I was going to implement the tools and ideas that I have learned in my education and English courses into an online environment. How was I going to do a shared reading or literature circles? Then I realized that I should think of the technology as a tool, rather than a burden.

When supplying online students with supplemental material, try and incorporate certain literacy tools, like vocabulary. One of the easiest ways to teach literacy online is through vocabulary because most times you don’t have to be directly instructing your students every second while they are completing the assignment/activity. You can either give the students a list of vocabulary words to research and define, or you could do something even further with it and have them pick out their own vocabulary words from a reading. This is something they could easily do on their own without too much consistent guidance from the teacher.

I think it would also be interesting to try and implement literacy circles into online education. If a small group of students are all having trouble with a topic, then assign them a supplemental reading that you think might help them out with their understanding of the subject at hand. Then assign each of them a literacy circle role. Once they have completed their role sheets, you can have them get together on Google Hangout. Then the students can collaborate and discuss the topic with one another, while having the teacher there to provide any guidance or comments that might be needed.

Online education is becoming a very large part of our education system and I think that’s it’s very important that we are all knowledgeable about how to successfully incorporate literacy into your teachings. Use technology to your advantage and try to increase communications with and among your students.


Understanding Cultural Literacy in the Classroom

It has always been very important to me that students feel like they are understood and accepted in the classroom. They should feel like the teacher not only cares about them, but understands where they come from. It has recently become apparent to me that not many teachers take the time to discover the backgrounds of their students. They don’t know their culture or what their home life entails, and I think it’s really important to know such things, especially as en educator.

Literacy is viewed in many different ways across not only the world, but our own country as well. A student might be writing a story for their English class that goes on and on and on, and the teacher will most likely just reprimand them for it. They will say that it’s a run-on story and that it has no concrete beginning, middle, or end. However, what the teacher might not know, is that the student is Native American. And even if the teacher is aware of this, they might not necessarily understand the Native American culture. Storytelling is a very important part of the Native American culture. In some Native American cultures, they are taught from a young age that stories are supposed to last 7 nights and that they can be told in an almost non-sequential way. If the teacher had known this, things might have played out differently.

This also goes for different dialects as well. African American Vernacular English is very common and should be treated as a recognized language and part of a culture, not as improper. It’s very often that children use this language when they are at home and around their friends, so they would be apt to use it in the classroom and in their writing as well. Once again, it’s very important for teachers to recognize this and understand cultural differences in life and in literacy.

It’s important for us as teachers to acknowledge these differences, but not in a way that puts down the student or their culture. They shouldn’t be afraid to express themselves or their culture. The students should be able to understand that their language and culture is as valid as Standard English.

However, we should also help them to recognize that there is a certain time and place that their own cultural literacy should be used, as well as when Standard English should be used. Once again, we do not want this to be derogatory or have any negative connotations. We simply want to educate our students in the ways of Standard English, just as any other language, but not put down their own culture while we are doing it. We should teach them the advantages of using each type of language and the times when they can benefit them the most.

This is why it’s so essential to get to know our students. Not only will we be bridging the gap between educator and pupil, but we will be forming a special kind of relationship that will help us to better understand and help one another. It’s important for our role as a teacher to make as many connections with our students as possible, and I think that this is a great way to do that. If you’re looking for any extra resources or information on this topic, the book “Other People’s Children” by Lisa Delpit is exceptionally helpful with this area of education.