For this week, I read two chapters in ADOLESCENT LITERACY. The first chapter was called “The Measure of Our Success,” by Kylene Beers, one of the editors of this text. I really enjoyed reading this excerpt, as Beers raises some valuable points.
First, I would draw our attention to the problems that arise from teaching to a test. Beers describes the problems that come along with NCLB. She suggests that it would be too hard to teach to a test when there are gaps in the communities in which these students live. If we address the gaps that are evident in other social institutions, then we might then talk about a student’s performance on a high-stakes test. Her last paragraph in the first section is great…
“But, of course, NCLB mandates that schools do something that no other insitution has been mandated to do. And my fear is not that we won’t be able to accomplish this, but that we will” (5).
What Beers is getting at is the fact that teaching in this method will leave kids without the appropriate literacies that they will need to survive in today’s day and age. She is describing the shift in literacy demands. “[…] literacy is a set of skills that reflect the needs of the time. As those needs shift, then our definition of literacy shifts” (7). It is certain that what was working in an ELA classroom many years ago will not hold up to the rigors of today’s society.
So, when we discuss this tomorrow night, I would ask you to think about this question:
Would we be able to give our classrooms a face-lift? What if students worked not only independently but sometimes in groups in the school, community, or even across the globe? Would we be able to setup a classroom that values multiple literacies with a curriculum based on technology? These are just some of the changes that Beers suggests.
I would also draw attention to the chart on page 12 called 21st CENTURY LEARNING. Figure 1-1.