The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 49


The DEEPer Literacy Framework

D. Design Pedagogically Sound Lessons that Merge New Literacies with 21st Century Knowledge and Skills

New literacies are defined as “socially recognized ways of generating, communicating and negotiating meaningful content through the medium of encoded texts of participation in discourses” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006, p. 64). The emergence of new literacies has necessitated the need for early childhood educators to expand their pedagogical understandings toward literacy instruction to extend beyond traditional literacy skills, such as those associated with reading and writing. Morrell (2012) best described this pedagogical transition as a “responsibility in helping our student to acquire these 21st-century literacies without abandoning our commitment to the traditional literacies” (pp. 301-302). In other words, literacy lessons should continue to address traditional skills associated with reading and writing, while also merging new forms of literacy with 21st-century knowledge and skills.

As an example, consider the reading workshop model, a popular approach used in many early childhood classrooms. Serafini and Youngs (2013) described how to redesign this established approach to develop students’ literacy skills into a pedagogically sound approach that fosters 21st-century literacy learning (see Table 1). First, using digital texts rather than printed texts provides students with enriching opportunities to learn how to navigate electronic texts. As students develop these new skills, they are still utilizing traditional skills associated with reading, such as decoding. Next, sharing is a critical aspect of the reading workshop model. Early childhood teachers may now redesign this aspect of the reading workshop by encouraging students to share Web-based resources to extend and share information with peers in the classroom, as well as with others beyond the classroom. Another way reading workshop may be redesigned is through the rich discussions that take place after readings. Technology-based tools, such as Skype, FceTime, blogs, and wikis, create digital spaces where students may participate in various forms of discourse with others related to their readings. A final redesigned element of the reading workshop includes how students demonstrate analysis of readings. Digital resources, such as Prezi, Glogster, and Wordle enable students to create multimodal representations of their analyses using text, videos, audio files, and images.

E. Engage Learners with Student-Centered Lessons that Utilize Comprehension Skills

In the digital age, explicit instruction with thinking and comprehension skills is more important than ever (Harvey & Goudvis, 2013). Literacy instruction must target students’ (a) metacognitive understandings, (b) strategic thinking, and (c) realization of the power of their own thinking. Calvert (2015) described how technology-infused literacy stations were a way for early childhood educators to embed student-centered learning experiences that foster development of these comprehension skills. Literacy stations are widely used by early childhood educators, particularly at the elementary level, to engage students with structured cooperative tasks that “reinforce, practice, and extend learning with simple materials” (p. 147).

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).


by Dr. Laurie A. Sharp & Dr. Jennifer Stegall