Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Introduction Fall 2014

My name is Amy Wilson, although I got married last summer, so you may be seeing my name change to Lopez soon. As I said in class, I was formerly a middle and high school English and history teacher, but my heart is in middle school. My brother is the world's tallest bagpipe player, and I have a 14-year-old sister whose first language is Afrikaans. (Just LOVE her accent....really, I wish I had a video of her speaking so you could hear it.) I also had a baby this summer and she really rocked my world. For those of you who are also parents in class, I salute you. I had no idea how much time and energy a little one would take!

Our Little "Ladybug"

What is literacy? People talk about literacy in schools all the time. 

Here is a link to a national framework for "technology and engineering literacy":

And one to national benchmarks for "science literacy":

Another one to national standards for "financial literacy":

And, lastly, a guide to "health literacy":

I could go on and on....there are documents on agricultural literacy, etc....you get the drift. 

So what is literacy? Well, when you read these documents, it seems like 'literacy' can mean pretty much anything, although generally people equate it to be knowledgeable and skilled in a certain area. 

One of my favorite articles is one from the journal SCIENCE EDUCATION in which the authors, Norris and Phillips, tackle the meaning of the term "science literacy." They argue that you can't have "science literacy" unless you have basic literacy, such as the ability to read and write. I think the same is true for all disciplines. Even in PE. Students might read a website on how to get in shape, for instance, and implement a totally unrealistic workout routine that is damaging to their bodies. In this case, they wouldn't have the literacy they needed (the ability to locate valid and helpful information) that would help them achieve the goal they wanted (fitness). 

One can't imagine somebody being literate in chemistry without the ability to READ and UNDERSTAND the Periodic Table of Elements.

One can't imagine somebody being literate in math without the ability to READ and UNDERSTAND what particular equations or graphs are saying. 

One can't imagine somebody being financially literate without the ability to READ and UNDERSTAND credit card statements (or people who want you to open a new line of credit). 

And so on and so forth. 

So literacy to me--even though it can mean a lot of things--is still tied to reading and writing. It includes the ability to comprehend and critically evaluate texts. 

It's been a long time since I've named this blog, and I was asking myself today why I called it "more than words." My answer is because I think literacy means interpreting a variety of texts and not just words (such as the Periodic Table of Elements, for instance, which includes symbols and numbers,). Also because I think literacy involves action. For instance, I don't think you could be fully literate in science unless you could engage in inquiry; I don't think you could be fully literate in sewing unless you can sew, and so forth. At the same time, although being literate involves action (to me), I also think being literate involves TEXT, such as reading and understanding a sewing pattern. 

What drew me to my content area? As I said, I do believe literacy enhances all disciplines, so I love content area literacy as my content area because it is so applicable. 

I am looking forward to reading others' definitions of literacy as well and to working with you all throughout the semester.