Literacies Circle: Who Are We Behind Screens?

Schools are switching from in-person to remote learning and back with moments’ notice. Families are dealing with an onslaught of confusing information about exposures, testing, and isolation. Especially when the information changes as each member of the family gets sick or exposed one after another in a seemingly slow-motion march through the depths of a gray winter. All the while, work deadlines still need to be met and children are either sick or they are climbing walls.

And while marching through the depths of a gray winter, even the various instructional programs on screens seem to blur gray.

This. Is. Getting. Old, right?

Literacies instruction via technology come in many forms. It can be synchronous with teachers and peers interacting on Zoom or Google Classrooms. Or asynchronous using a workshop model that can span both in-person and remote learning. It can also be in the form of a specific instructional program, such as one that teaches phonics skills or offers leveled reading material with comprehension questions. It can even be a collection of audio and video books to listen and read along. Or a combination of everything and anything. Not to mention there is much literacies learning in video games that people play outside of school hours.

However, a lot of data is being collected behind the screens. Data that are sorted by an algorithm accordingly to note accomplishments, develop goals, and spit out the next steps. Data that determine learning loss or deficits. Data that might not match who we really are as readers and writers.

A elementary age boy in camouflage jacket at a bookstore perusing a book about Minecraft.

In a literacies circle, we can ask how do we foster a sense of wholeness as readers and writers rather than just a set of skills and points as determined by an algorithm?

How do we know that instruction via technology is growing our readers and writers in terms of their engagement in reading and writing?

How do we know that the learning is growing our readers and writers in terms of humanity and empathy?

What is really important for us to read, write, and reflect about? What can drive our children and teens to chase their curiosity, fully delve into, and even make a difference in our world?

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