Friday, February 22, 2008


What literacies are needed for communication? Most educators would agree that writing (composition, not handwriting) is central to communication. The practice of writing the 5 paragraph essay makes one think. Tell people what you are going to say in your introduction, say it in the main content, say what you have said in the conclusion. Speeches in school are formatted this way too.
With what else does K12 education need to equip learners? Mathematical literacies for basic functioning are needed for success in society. There were always just three literacies, often called the 3R's.
With the advent of the digital age, computer literacies are essential. When a new student begins in my computer class, I can tell in a couple minutes how digitally literate they are. Necessary to digital literacy are mouse skills, browser skills, keyboarding skills, & listening skills. Probably above all those is the ability to adapt. The person who can adapt to a digital environment quickly is a thinker, a learner, and a teacher.
Adapters are not afraid of computers. They are not afraid of failing. They are not afraid of thinking. Good communication is central to these literacies. Young learners always seemed shocked when I show them how to communicate with each other, how to collaborate together, how to explore without "the teacher", essentially how to think (gasp! Is that what school does?).
What literacies do you think we should be teaching in k12 education?
Technorati Tags:
Photo by Namdit
Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc.51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA
Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.
Available at


Lisa Parisi said...

Well said, Durff. I have a new student this year who has no keyboarding skills at all. I have never really thought of keyboarding skills as very important. Figured it was something that could be learned along the way. But I see how much this child is struggling to keep up with assignments and how difficult it is for him to communicate in blogs, wikis, and emails. He understands what to say and how to say it. He is learning to find information on his own and make connections with other children. But he cannot use the computer to do so without assistance. So, at least for him, I think keyboarding is the first skill necessary for digital communication.

Mrs. V. said...

I think you have a great list of things here- all important. Lisa's comment is critical to this conversation, because it reminds all of us to see it in a more individual light. This kid needs keyboarding to be successful, another may be a great listener, but not a great speaker. Others may be able to say what they feel, but can't get it down on paper. It always comes back to differentiation. I think that especially because I work with younger elementary students, I need to be sure to identify those things so I can send a more well rounded literate student on to the next grade, and eventually into the world.

amanda said...

With our world evolving, and new technologies created everyday, I think that computer literacy is one of the most important subjects that we need to be teaching students everyday. As a society, we do not know what the new problems will be in the future, so if our students do not know how to use the technology that we have right now, how will they be able to grasp the more advance concepts of the computer if they do not know the basics. I also think that students should be completely literate in English, such as public speaking and writing because I feel that our work places are slowing shifting into more interpersonal work places. Many large companies are making their employees work together in small committees. If our children do not know how to express their ideas through verbal and written communication, we are setting them up for failure. I think that these two put ideas are the most important literacies for our education system to focus on.

Alex Becker *isu student said...

Hi, this is Alex again, from ISU. I think computer literacy is important in the age we live in. When you say computer literacy I'd like to add that we should teach internet literacy as well. The internet has a needle of great information under a haystack of junk and misinformation. A lot of internet beginners will just type what they want to learn about in google. This can be problematic because google rates thier searches by the number of links to the site not by quality of information. So the students could be reading about and learning the wrong material. Teachers need to be aware of this and other internet related issues and be able guide their students to further internet literacy. In our class we learned about a site called This site comes up 4th on a google search and from the surface looks valid. But, if you take a closer look you find out that the site is hosted by Stormfront- a white supremacy group.