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My quick thoughts, back stage, and rants as I try to Teach kids about the Web while learning how to help others build a better Web.


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Greg McVerry

Trying to Define Digital #literacies on wikipedia

4 min read

I am trying to fix the digital literacy article on Wikipedia. Here is the current definition:

Digital literacy refers to an individual's ability to find, evaluate, and compose clear information through writing and other mediums on various digital platforms. Digital literacy is evaluated by an individual's grammar, composition, typing skills and ability to produce writings, images, audio and designs using technology. While digital literacy initially focused on digital skills and stand-alone computers, the advent of the Internet and use of social media, has caused some of its focus to shift to mobile devices. Digital literacy does not replace traditional forms of literacy, instead building upon the skills that form the foundation of traditional forms of literacy.[1]

Digital literacy built on the expanding role of social science research in the field of literacy[2] as well on concepts of visual literacy [3], computer literacy [4], and information literacy, [5]

Overall digital literacy shares many defining principles with other fields that use modifiers in front of literacy to define ways of being and domain specific knowledge. The term has grown in popularity in education and higher education settings and can be found used in International and national standards [6]. Similar to other expanding definitions of literacy that recognize cultural and historical ways of making meaning [7] digital literacy does not replace traditional forms of literacy, instead building upon the skills that form the foundation of traditional forms of literacy.[1]

I have issues with this mainly as it draws only from information processing models of research yet in the second paragraph discussed the social sciences used. Specifically the current dfn is only relying on an informational retrieval model.

I know of few scholars who still use an IR perspective for digital literacy...and I studied at the New Literacies Research Lab...probably the most cognitive approaches to digital literacy. Don, studied under Jean Chall and we studied under him.You can't get much more old school than that.

Online reading comprehension was a cognitive approach whereas most other literacy researchers used much stronger socio-cultural approaches. Thus to define digital literacy from an IR perspective makes little sense.

The only citation to defining the term is Henry Jenkins book on Participatory culture. I love the text but it is not the go to guide for defining digital literacies. It is tangentially connected.

The discussion of mobile devices as a shift in the definition does not fit in a dfn nor is the claim supported.

Much of our ideas in the third paragraph remain, and it is too confusing and still needs work. I will agree with the other editors there.

Here was our edit:

Digital literacy, also known as digital literacies[1], refers to the shared cultural practices of encoding and decoding meaning on the world[2] through multiple modalities produced or transferred using information digitally recorded and stored . Digital literacies encompass a bricolage of skills, attitudes, and dispositions as participants negotiate meaning and identity[3] in a networked society [4]and may include, but is not limited to, an individual's grammar, composition, writings, images, audio, video, podcasting, remixing and designs using technology.

Digital literacy, first coined in 1997 by Paul Gilster [5] built on the expanding role of anthropological research in the field of literacy[6] as well on concepts of visual literacy [7], computer literacy [8], and information literacy, [9]

Overall digital literacy shares many defining principles with other fields that use modifiers in front of literacy to define ways of being and domain specific knowledge. The term has grown in popularity in education and higher education settings and can be found used in International and national standards [10]. Similar to other expanding definitions of literacy that recognize cultural and historical ways of making meaning [11] digital literacy does not replace traditional forms of literacy, instead building upon the skills that form the foundation of traditional forms of literacy.[12]

I feel this is better cited and combines both cognitive and socio-cultural perspectives on reading. I lead with a sociocultural perspective as it reflects the current state of literature and where the work of digital literacies happens. In terms of citations I added Belshaw (wrote the book on Digital Literacy). Lanksher and Knobel (new literacies anyone), and Gillchrist (coined the term)

Other editors felt my revision is too confusing. Maybe I did use too much jargon and flowery metaphors (bricolage) yet I do not think the constant reversion of my edits is the best approach. Wikipedia works better when we revise rather than reject edit.

Greg McVerry

Parents want to help, but they don't know how. We have the teaching degrees. Text out the vocab words in the unit, post tutorials and notes, share reading tips...and make reading logs actually useful and not painful for parents.

Greg McVerry

Hey I got my copy of McMindfulness in. Anyone else want to join in on the pop up reading club....Let me know. Read, blog, tweet and tag your post . We will add a another section to the planet.

Greg McVerry

Social learning of fear and safety isdetermined by the demonstrator’sracial group

I do not like when we assign race as a factor and then look to biological explanations of a social construct that is a tool of power.

Why not just members? Reading studies like these make me feel icky. Like we try to justify race and racism from an evolutionary stand point. Members of groups respond better to members. This may be a social construct or a biological group of animals.


This study is cited a lot in my fast read of online learning and race.

Greg McVerry

@telliowkuwp Learned about him from you actually. Done some skimming of the surface reading. Keep meaning to go deep.

Greg McVerry

No math tutorial as remediation, but we may learn to scrape public databases and do cool stuff with numbers. No reading intervention but you know we will mark up a ton of stuff as we read together. No writing tutors but wow will we play with words.

Greg McVerry

@NomadWarMachine Really though it starts with good semantic HTML. Do you use your headings correctly for screen readers? your images? My middle child uses screen readers to research is dog breed podcast when the reading level is above his age.

Greg McVerry

To Dream Big, Think Small #IndieWeb

2 min read

I am tired hearing about scale. In such a short time we have warped success to think it means millions overnight and billions in a year or two....

Because the web and local media will be saved doing the exact same thing again....

I want to dream big. So I think small.

大阪府立中之島図書館 flickr photo by m-louis shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

A server (or rented host) in every library and patrons can after completing training and signing community code of conduct. Abandoned sites archived. Libraries as local archives...who would have thought.

Reading newspaper flickr photo by zandwacht shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Or a small local newspaper that provides hosting to subscribers. Give each physical address a domain, let families tell their story. Cash in on local sports coverage. Build in marketplace, do coupon newsletters, local business banners and crawl back classified revenue from facebook. Donate portion to local charities. Reader loyalty rather than data exploitation.

School flickr photo by gayboystpaul2004 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

A school system where every student can finish the sentence, "My url is..." Students taught to not only read the web but write it as well. A literacy program that involves reading and writing? Good idea.

Those are my dreams.

Greg McVerry

Questioning Techniques

8 min read

Resources From around the web on using in the classroom

The Chalkboard Splash:

This TPT requires that students respond to a prompt and then find any open spot on the chalkboard or whiteboard where they can record their responses. In order to make this activity run smoothly, where students aren't needing to wait for each other, students should be asked to try to limit their answers to 15 words or less. See the next two activities for examples of how you might use this activity.

The "Pause, Star, Rank":

This technique works well at the conclusions of lessons or units that have packed in quite a bit of information or concepts.  It allows students to pause and review all the things that they have learned by reading over their notes and reflecting on what the essential concepts are.

Here are the steps for Pause, Star, Rank:

1) Pause: Review any notes that you've taken during this unit.

2) Star: Place a star on the concepts that you believe were the most important for understanding the unit.

3) Rank: Number your top three concepts and be ready to explain why they are your top three.

Once students have been given a suitable amount of time to star their concepts, alert them that the time for placing stars on important concepts is coming to a close, and then ask students to rank their top three starred concepts. After students have been given a suitable amount of time to rank the concepts, they should then get into pairs or small groups in order to share their top three concepts and explain their rationales for selecting their top three. You can cap off this activity with a chalkboard splash where students summarize their number one concept (using fewer than 15 words) and write the number one concept anywhere on the chalkboard or whiteboard. This can then be a springboard for a mini-review led by those concepts that students selected as the most important.

The A-Z Sentence Summary:

This technique provides a quick and easy way to have students wrap up what they've learned. At the end of your lesson, pass out one A through Z magnet or die-cut to each of the students in your class. Ask students to wrap up what they've learned in one sentence using the letter they've been assigned as the first letter of the sentence. Then, call out the letters in alphabetical order. When each letter is called, the student who was assigned that letter should read their sentence out loud for the class to hear. Duplicate letters for classes with more than 26 students. We also use this activity as a chalkboard splash, where students attach their magnets to the chalkboard or whiteboard and write their sentence. As a wrap-up we'll often ask students to work with their table groups to come up with categories for the summary sentences.

Using activities that require total participation not only is more interesting for students than a traditional teacher-directed lesson would be, but it also puts the responsibility on students to actively focus on what they are learning, and repackage it in a way that demonstrates deep understandings.

Response: Ways to Cultivate 'Whole-Class Engagement'

The purpose of a Socratic Seminar is to achieve a deeper understanding about the ideas and values in a text. In the Seminar, participants systematically question and examine issues and principles related to a particular content, and articulate different points-of-view.Socratic Seminar

  1. Ask students to seek out the evidence:
    • What kind of evidence did you find?
    • What makes you think that...?
  2. Ask students to explain:
    • How would you explain this?
    • What were some of the causes that led to...?
  3. >Ask questions that relate concepts, ideas, and opinions:
    • How does that compare to...?
    • What did other people discover or say about ...?
  4. Ask questions that encourage your students to predict:
    • What will you do next?
    • What will happen if you...?
    • What could you do to prevent that ?
  5. Ask students questions that encourage them to describe:
    • What did you do?
    • What happened?
    • What did you observe happening?

Practicing Effective Questioning

Providing daily opportunities for questioning builds confidence in students’ ability to craft their own questions. During question breaks in our literature and history units, for example, students can write down questions they have, and can also do so during verbal or digital discussions with peersEstablishing a Culture of Questioning

Depth of Knowledge Chart

Level 1. Recall and Reproduction: Tasks at this level require recall of facts or rote application of simple procedures. The task does not require any cognitive effort beyond remembering the right response or formula. Copying, computing, defining, and recognizing are typical Level 1 tasks.

Level 2. Skills and Concepts: At this level, a student must make some decisions about his or her approach. Tasks with more than one mental step, such as comparing, organizing, summarizing, predicting, and estimating, are usually Level 2.

Level 3. Strategic Thinking: At this level of complexity, students must use planning and evidence, and thinking is more abstract. A task with multiple valid responses, where students must justify their choices, would be Level 3. Examples include solving non-routine problems, designing an experiment, or analyzing characteristics of a genre.

Level 4. Extended Thinking: Level 4 tasks require the most complex cognitive effort. Students synthesize information from multiple sources, often over an extended period of time, or transfer knowledge from one domain to solve problems in another. Designing a survey and interpreting the results, analyzing multiple texts by to extract themes, or writing an original myth in an ancient style would all be examples of Level 4.

Using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge to Increase Rigor

Indeed, keep having kids read text, and definitely engage them in discussions of those texts, but form your questions — not on the basis of standards or skills lists — but on the basis of the texts themselves. Your questions should lead kids to think deeply about a text and to come away with a coherent and lasting memory of its content and aesthetic qualities.

Reading should be about that; not about answering particular kinds of questions, even if the questions vaguely resemble the ones on your state assessment test.

Where Questioning Fits in Comprehension Instruction: Skills and Strategies

A traditional teacher-led question-and-answer ap-proach that is widely used is recitation, or the Initi-ate-Response-Evaluate (I-R-E) model of questioning (Mehan, 1979). Although this model can be an effec-tive way to check for factual knowledge or recall, it typically does not encourage higher-order thinking.

Questions that ask for more evidence:

How do you know that? What data is that claim based on?

Questions that ask for clarification: Can you put that another way? What do you mean by that?

Linking or extension questions: Is there any con-nection between what you’ve just said and __? How does your comment fit with ___ earlier comment?

Hypothetical questions: What might have happened if ___?

Cause and effect questions: What is likely to be the effect of___?

Summary and synthesis questions: What are the one or two most important ideas that emerged from this discussion? What remains unresolved or conten-tious about this topic?

An example of teacher questioning that supports thinking and discussion is the K-W-L strategy, which helps students learn from expository text in any co n-tent area (Ogle, 1986). Using this strategy, the teach-er models for students how to create a three-column chart, labeling the first column K, the middle column W, and the third column L.

Question the Author (QtA) is a reading comprehen-sion strategy that actively engages students with a text by asking them to pose questions of the author while they are reading, rather than after they read. In forming their questions, students become engaged in the reading and solidify their understanding of the text. QtA teaches students to critique the author’s writing, challenge the author, recognize the author’s perspec-tive, and understand why the author made choices.

The National Reading Panel (2000) examined 203 studies of reading comprehension instruction and found the strongest scientifically-based evidence was for asking readers to generate questions while read-ing. Self-questioning was the most effective strategy— asking readers to generate questions while reading improves reading comprehension.

Guided reciprocal peer questioning (King, 1990, 1991) is a strategy in which students question one another about the content they are learning, using higher-order, open-ended question stems that then become the focus of a structured, small-group discussion. Fol-lowing a mini-lecture or an assigned reading, the teacher provides a set of generic questions stems and asks students to use the stems to generate questions about the content of the lecture or the reading.

Reciprocal teaching (Palincsar & Brown, 1984) is an interactive teaching strategy that supports students in improving reading comprehension. It uses four strate-gies that the teacher needs to model over a number of sessions and that demonstrate how an expert reader uses comprehension strategies to understand a text: Predicting what the reading is about

Clarifying words and phrases that were not un-derstood during reading Generating questions about the text

Summarizing what was read

Deeper Learning through Questioning

Greg McVerry

I just published another on the dumb stuff we do to assess novel reading the classroom


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