The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 48

The aim of literacy, including media and new literacies, is to actively construct meaning (Gee, 2012), but the perception of being literate has changed throughout the centuries, from the ability to print and recognize one’s name to navigating the intricacies of a digital setting (Baker, Pearson & Rozendal, 2010). As a result, Baker, Pearson and Rozendal (2010) warn, “If our schools continue to limit the literacy curriculum to reading and writing traditional, alphabetic, printed texts, then our children will be well prepared for 1950 but ill prepared for 2050” (p. 2).

Ian Jukes (n.d.) further emphasized that educators must prepare students for the future they face, not the world as we know it. Technology has greatly altered the landscape of education and reshaped our understanding of what it means to be literate in the 21st century. In order for learners to be “active, successful participants in this 21st-century global society” (National Council of Teachers of English [NCTE], 2013, para. 1), the focus of literacy instruction requires a “fundamental change” (Leu, 2000, p. 424).

New technologies continue to give rise to new literacies, which has challenged the conventional definition of literacy (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, Cammack, 2004), as well as instructional approaches with literacy (International Reading Association, 2002). According to the NCTE (2013), literacy in the 21st-century requires expertise with technology, cultural competence, collaborative skills, global perspectives, and use of higher order thinking

skills with multiple sources of information in varied formats. Likewise, the International Society for Technology in Education (2007) established standards that define knowledge and skills needed to learn and live in a global world that is diverse, rapidly changing, and technology-driven. Technology has begged the transformation of literacy instruction (Leu, 2000), and early childhood

educators are contending with the daunting task of

merging the demands of addressing new literacies

with the complexity of 21st-century knowledge and skills.

Over the last several years, technology in education has been a priority (U.S. DOE, 2010). However, a recent survey reported that 60% of teachers still feel underprepared to integrate technology in their classrooms (Reuters, 2015). Findings indicated the presence of more technology in classrooms; however, more attention was needed for instructional integration. In this article, we describe the DEEPer literacy instructional framework, which are principles aimed to assist early childhood educators with nudging their literacy instruction into the 21st century.

The DEEPer literacy framework promotes the planning of carefully designed lessons with the 21st-century learner in mind. The DEEPer literacy instructional framework consists of the following principles:

● Design pedagogically sound lessons that merge new literacies with 21st-century knowledge and skills.

● Engage learners with student-centered lessons that utilize comprehension skills.

● Establish, embrace, and respect multiculturalism.

● Present situations for learners to think deeply, collaborate, and solve problems.

The DEEPer literacy instructional framework is relevant to today’s early childhood educators because it provides them with an instructional framework that promotes students’ development of new literacies, as well as 21st-century knowledge and skills through carefully designed literacy lessons. Moreover, the DEEPer literacy instructional framework can be used alongside any set of standards and curriculum.

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