Remember Walkie-Talkies?

Ok so this is super random and I don’t know why I’m so excited but I had to share this.

Do you guys remember walkie-talkies? Well ok, I absolutely looooved those things growing up, I guilt tripped my mom into getting me a pair (I looked so pitiful with my pieces of yarn and used solo cups tied to each end. I think what really sold the deal was when I forced her to play along!)

Anyway, while attempting to do my blog portfolio I read back over a post someone put up     about not liking the sound of their voice and recorded audio’s being perfected and all that.

Well if you think about it, walkie-talkies have been replaced by texting! Of course a lot more changes have happened. I don’t think people would text someone and then do a military summersault, ducked head spin-dodge roll like me and my friends used to do after relaying a message over a walkie-talkie.

But there’s more to it. Walkie-talkies required you to remain within a certain distance of one another, if you moved out of that distance pshhhhhhhhsccccrrrrrrr! is all you would hear. Now, we can extend our playtime adventures to greater distances….but to do that there is distance.

Just something that popped into my head. As you were :).

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Stand By Me

I tried to explain this wonderful literacy reference in class today but I couldn’t remember the line. So here it is:

“It’s like God gave you something, man, all those stories you can make up. And He said, “This is what we got for ya, kid. Try not to lose it.” Kids lose everything unless there’s someone there to look out for them.”

What a great literacy sponsor Gordie has! I just really thought it was a good example of what literacy means, even to these kids. It actually ties nicely into my “Nothing gold can stay” concept!

That’s all, just thought I would share!

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Over Thanksgiving I went shopping for bikes at a Performance Bike shop and noticed different forms of literacy being thrown at us from everywhere – there were physical tags on bikes with prices, we looked on the online website with one of the salesmen, the salesman looked up a record to see how much a bike would be on Black Friday, and then a manager looked at another webpage to see if they would be able to ship a bike to a chain in Pittsburgh for me – all in less than 15 minutes!

At the bike shop I almost felt like there was too much going on, and so my dad and I ended up leaving the store with two completely different understandings of what the salesmen had told us. Perhaps this was a sign that neither of us had the hyper attention skills needed to take in information from different sources all at once.

While having hyper attention skills might have helped us understand information in a situation where someone’s pushing a product at you, is it a good idea to promote hyper attention activities in a classroom like we did in class?

I don’t think it really is.  I think it’s important to start from a basis where a child can focus in depth on one activity or concept before developing hyper attention skills.  It’s sort of like the idea of “close reading.”  In a lot of my lit classes we’ve had to do a short analysis on a paragraph out of a whole novel before we got to a paper with a larger argument.

What I’m thinking is that if activities like the one we did in class promote hyper attentive “disorders” in children, then it would be a bad idea to introduce this scattered sort of activities until maybe later in highshcool.


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Spoiler Alert-Literacy in Glee

Over the break I realized that we haven’t talked about literacy and pop culture at all. We’ve talked about literacy in the Amish community, in schools, in the past, present, and future, but never in pop culture. Over the break I was catching up on Glee and one of the characters admits that he can’t read and later on finds out he has dyslexia. There were a few hints leading up to his big confession, but I didn’t catch any of them! The climax where he finally admits it accurately depicted how non-literates get by which we discussed with the GPLC women. Here’s what happened (not word for word, but close!):

Jake: Here’s my biggest fear. (hands a piece of paper to Ryder)

Ryder: Be a man and read it to me!

bla bla bla

Jake: You have to tell me your secret now. You just told me to be a man and read mine out loud to you.

Ryder: I told you to read it out loud because I CAN’T READ!

Dramatic, I know. But when it happened my reaction wasn’t “oh my gosh! No wonder Ryder has a C- average!” It was more like “Literacy in pop culture! Now the whole world can see what a major problem illiteracy is in America and how we can’t keep passing kids on through school and assuming they’re stupid and lost causes! If only everyone knew as much about literacy as I do! Here’s their opportunity!” This episode of Glee has come at an excellent time. Our Literacy Problems essays are being workshopped on Monday and I someone is surely trying to solve the problem of illiteracy. For many issues, the first step is acknowledgement and getting the word out. Remember KONY2012? A major television show with a wide audience has just introduced problems with literacy in American high schools. Ryder had been passed through school, never tested, too embarrassed to ask for help, and convinced he was stupid. He had made it to 10th or 11th grade with minimal reading skills. There’s an entire scene that shows him going through the testing process when he finally gets help. Although this is just a TV show, I was excited to see an issue of literacy being addressed. As an avid television watcher, this is the first show I can think of that has introduced a character that cannot read. I’m searching for the scene of Ryder taking his test to add for you non-Glee watchers out there, it’s pretty interesting! Until then, I’ll be keeping my eye out for more literacy problems in pop culture. Have you noticed an?y

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The Cracker Barrel Peg Game

Since fall break I had been waiting to come home for Thanksgiving so I could be around my large family and eat enough food the week that I was home to make up for my pitiful refridgerator in Pittsburgh. But, this year most of my family visited their in-laws, and my mom worked all day, so my immediate family, plus 3,  ate dinner at Cracker Barrel.

My parents and us “kids” drove separately and my parents left the restaurant before us. My brother, cousin, god children, and I sat at the restaurant a while trying to beat the impossible peg board game. The object of the game is to only have one peg remaining. If you leave two then according to the game “you’re pretty smart.” If you leave three “you’re just plain dumb,” and if you leave “four or more’n” then you’re just an ignoramus (its spelled in a much more ridiculous and insulting way on the actual game). After failing for the umpteenth time, my brother shoved the game away and mumbled in his 18 year old nostalgia, “This is stupid. This game doesn’t matter.”

“Oh your just mad that the game keeps calling you an eeeegnoramous!” my cousin teases.

“No! This game is actually stupid, I’m ready to go.”

At first I thought my brother was just being “emo,” but during our ride home we had the most philosophical conversation ever. The conversation has made me completely rethink my proposed solution to the “literacy crisis” and my approach to the remixed essay.

My brother offered his solution to the school system through a 6 hour rant/conversation that was triggered by a board game but started by 12 “wasted years trapped in pointless walls.” He started off talking about how nothing in life mattered but food, water, homeostasis, and salvation. Then he began talk about how money and degrees are pointless, because knowledge can’t be measured. I offer to you his condensed solution, simple and sweet and incomplete.

Teachers should teach and learn. Students should learn and teach. This way Shakespeare isn’t so pointless, biology and math aren’t unnecessarily complicated, and students actually remember what they learned each year. But the only way a subjects utility is known, their has to be a relationship between teachers and students and administrators.

How can we fill this out more?

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Welp, this is it…

When I started this semester, my definition of literacy was pretty awesome (and by awesome I mean bland and unfocused).  I knew in a hyperaware 21st century environment, most of us depended on literacy in one form or another.  But the extent of this dependence was largely underestimated by me.  Every assignment from the literacy log to the literacy in context essay has helped me to understand the role of literacy in our lives.  I’ve been able to see the challenges that we as a society have gone through in order to create a more literate nation.  I’ve seen the unfortunate connection between politics and literacy.  I’ve seen literacy take the form of a 5 paragraph essay as well as an oral church sermon.  Overall, I’ve seen examples of literacy almost everywhere.

The question now is how.  How will we as future educators promote literacy in an effective and meaningful way?  How will we use technology as an ally as opposed to an enemy?  How can we ever achieve widespread literacy when so many with learning disabilities are improperly educated?  How will we ever make writing fun?

These are all questions I’ve dealt with over the course of the semester.  It’s frustrating that none of these questions has a simple answer but where’s the fun in that?  Despite the rigorous literacy practices in school, I think most people would agree that there is something fun about knowing how to read and write.  It keeps us in touch with ourselves and the world around us.  Speaking of which, time to go check Facebook…

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Thanksgiving Literacy

I noticed that I am beginning to find literacy skills and literacy events in everything that I see and almost everything that I do. On thanksgiving, I noticed a bunch of bustling bodies around my kitchen and everyone seemed to know what they were doing.

My stepfather is a professional chef and throughout all the years that I have known him I have never seen him open a cookbook or look at a recipe. I told him how I looked up a recipe for a dish that he had made and he laughed at me and told me that I should just know these things. I guess my food literacy just isn’t up to par. I tried to help him cook thanksgiving dinner but it was extremely difficult because he would expect me to know what he was going to need or do next and I just could not figure it out that easily. There was nothing else I could do but sit around the table and wait for someone to give me explicit directions on what to do next.

Another instance of literacy that I noticed is around the dinner table and afterwards. My aunt’s boyfriend is not Jamaican and does not always understand what we are saying or even what is going on at times. Around the table we would be speaking fast and I would notice that he would be glancing at me to try and figure out what was going on. Towards the end of the dinner, we were having our own conversation because we had gotten lost in all of what was going on. I guess our oral literacy skills in Jamaican Patois weren’t up to par either.

After dinner, everyone decided to watch a Jamaican comedy. I just could not understand some of the punch lines to the jokes and I ended up playing games on my Ipod and looking up and laughing when I did hear something that I did understand. However, everyone else around the table were laughing every other minute. I guess I know what areas in literacy I need to increase my skills in for the next family get together.


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Hyperattention… Continued

Forgive me, all, for backtracking to last week’s class, but I’m still thinking about what the heck happened in the hyperattention class. Even almost a week later, I’m tensing up remembering the craziness.

First off, from a lesson planning perspective, I thought it was absolute genius. I know that sounds like brown-nosing, but please hear me out. The typical classroom dynamic was completely thrown out the window, we were not necessarily working as individuals or groups, and our activities were structured, yet unstructured at the same time. Just these two aspects alone can lead to confusion, which was the objective. And with the addition of the hyperstimulation, chaos reigned. Prof. Vee certainly got her point across!

As someone with attention issues, this class was a major challenge. Thank goodness we didn’t have to produce anything grade-worthy to submit, because I would have failed the assignment miserably. With all the noise, distractions, and confusion, it was the perfect storm for someone like me; concentration was impossible. Before the first song finished (was it Beyonce?), I was already clenching my teeth and my shoulders were getting progressively tighter. Coping strategies to maintain concentration went out the window, and I just hoped that maybe the next activity require less attention than the one before it.

By the end of class, I had a raging headache and I craved silence. I could channel Jane Austen right now, and talk about “my poor nerves.” But a week later, I’m still thinking about a particular class and how effective it was. And that fact alone tells me that maybe it made an impression on you all as well. When someone says that they have ADHD, you might be able to empathize with them a bit more, now that you know just how chaotic things can seem. Maybe when we have students with ADHD we can remember this class and design lesson plans that minimize distractions and environmental noise. I’d say that the headache was worth it.



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Do I have to do it?

I too found the Literacy Remixed project to be quite intuitive about the different forms of literacy in our world today. Although, I am on the opposite end – I hate the way I sound and find it very difficult to produce something interesting. I can’t grasp how to make it interesting? Why wasn’t the written form enough? Or better yet, how am I supposed to transform this into an audio version because I like the written one just fine.

I have also been taking a public speaking course this semester, so I thought that would come in handy for this assignment; so far it is not that helpful. I do find that if I know what I want to say I can sound more confident about it. Just like public speaking you really don’t want to wing it. So I made a draft.

Basically, I took my 4 page paper, turned it into an outline of a speech, then attempted to record me saying the script. Sounds like this could be a definite form of literacy; reading and writing are both in there. It is clearly a literacy event because it revolves around the written word.

My only problem with this project is the idea that this could be our future. If I thought it was difficult to write a paper then I am in for a rude awakening when audio diaries start piling up in my coursework. It’s one thing to have to give a speech, but to be forced to listen to yourself say the same phrases over and over through editing is almost punishment.

I hope that as I make progress with the assignment (and get over my own voice) that I can start to grasp how this form of literacy will impact my writing. I do have to say that I will not complain about having to write another paper because there is so much more, painstaking detail that goes into audacity.

But who knows, kids these days might be more interested in hearing what they have to say this way. Maybe it will make them less self-conscious. At the same time, it could push them further from being interested in literacy. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Digital Literacy?

I just finished my literacy remixed assignment, and it made me think a lot about digital literacy. Before having taken this class, I never would have thought of the digital composition as a literacy event. When I listened to my final product, it seemed, at first glance, very far removed from the traditional literacy events of reading and writing. The fact that I was listening to the composition in the first place and that it was on a computer is what put me off, I think, from looking at it as a literacy event. Also, the music in the composition played such an important part in the project that I think it displaced some of the more traditional literacy elements of my project; like the fact that my subject itself was literacy.

When I began to rethink the digital composition as a literacy event, it hit me how different digital literacy is from traditional literacy. I mean, the Audacity program has so many literacy components that it would take me pages upon pages to describe them all. Knowing how to navigate all of the program’s functions and using the correct tools in the correct manner, are all literacy practices that Audacity requires one to know. For example, it took me forever to figure out what the envelope tool was supposed to do and I don’t think that even by the end of my project, I was using it in the correct way! Never in a million years would I have thought that I would need to know how to use something like this. As a junior in college and an English literature major on top of that, I consider myself highly literate, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that my ego came out somewhat bruised by the end of this class assignment.

However, I truly believe that this is the direction in which our future is headed. I wouldn’t be surprised if within the next fifty to one-hundred years digital literacy became just as relevant if not more relevant than traditional literacy. Can you imagine a future where we no longer have to hand in written essays, but rather digital compositions that require the use of such programs like Audacity? I sure can’t, and I’m not by any means saying that such a dramatic change will definitely occur. Nevertheless, it is worth to thinking about. While I don’t believe there will ever be a time where printed books go out of fashion and written essays become extinct (or maybe this is just my own nostalgic and wishful thinking coming in the way…), I do think that technology and digital media will only continue to grow in relevance in the near coming future. I think more jobs will require more advanced training in technology and computers and that anybody training in those fields now will have an advantage over the rest of us in the future. As for me, I don’t ever foresee myself turning into a techie; I’m just too traditional and technology challenged. However, one can always change, and with these changing times, who knows what will happen?

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