And That’s a Wrap – Final Blog Portfolio

Dear Professor Vee,

It’s hard to believe that the school year is already over! For me this is a big moment; a week from today (Friday) I will be graduating, moving onto the next chapter, and doing everything in my power to accomplish the goals I have set for myself.

Your class challenged me in new ways compared to the previous writing courses I have taken. Communicating on the blog weekly, although it was sometimes tedious, was something that I grew to enjoy. I liked being able to see my classmates thoughts on topics that we had discussed in class and others that they brought up for outside the classroom discussion. I think this realm of communication worked well for our class and the goals we were trying to accomplish when learning what literacy is, how it is defined, and what things count as literacy and what does not. I don’t think blogging will work for all classes at the university level, but it definitely works well for classes like ours where there are many complex branches to be discussed. Do I see myself doing this in the future? Probably not. Although I found this experience to be very rewarding, it was sometimes time consuming and I had to set reminders for myself of when to do it. Even if I would start one, I have a feeling it would end up like the journals that I had when I was younger; it would be cool at first, but then I would get too busy/forget about it and never look at it again. It also doesn’t help that I truly enjoy reading much more than writing. However, I do like reading other people’s blogs about their adventures, cooking/baking recipes, etc. and I like having those realms to look to for something to read and learn on.

The blog posts that I have chosen for the final portfolio I think show the best progression in my online communication skills. As I had explained for the midterm, speaking online was something I was still grasping when the first portfolio was due, but I think I have a good general understanding of what works and what doesn’t for this literacy environment.

Have a wonderful summer and thank you for all your help with making me a better writer and opening my eyes to the complexity of literacy.

Caroline Owens

Best Blog Post:

What does race have to do with the ability to read and write?

Best Comment:

Should we be Shifting the Locus of Control?

Second Best Comment:

Do you think teacher may eventually be second to WWW?

Most Detrimental Aspect of Literacy

After going through the course and discussing the several aspects of literacy that were brought up throughout the semester (culture, langauge barriers, drive to succeed, economics, etc.) what do you think is the most detrimental one toward a child’s literacy? Why do you think this is the most detrimental and not another topic? Do you think the detriment that you chose is more of a personal problem, a problem in the education system, or a combination of the both?

Technology – Helping Hand or Hindrance?

The main focus throughout the article From Pencils to Pixels revolves around Baron’s ideas about the stages of literacy technologies and how they apply to every new product. The article began by discussing the important ways the invention of the computer changed literacy practices and how he personally has become reliant on technology; this is something I think all of us can relate to in some way or another. Baron then summarizes the stages of literacy technology. First, it trialed by a small group of people and will then expand to the general public when it relates to the older, more popular forms of communication. It is not until the technology spreads that it really will become its own. For new technology to become successful, it must be accessible, useful, and trustworthy.
Baron relates this to writing as a technology in and of itself. At first, writing was resisted because it was untrustworthy, but eventually the positive outlooks on writing were seen, and the general public caught on. This cognitive revolution and the invention of the printing press triggered a second cognitive revolution.
With all of this in mind, have you had an experience (let’s say in the past 10 years) where you have tried a new piece of technology and it improved your knowledge/literacy history? Or did this technological advancement do more hindering on your learning? If it’s hindering, do you think its because of the product itself or was it another factor? Do you think this hindrance will increase in the future with the creation of new apps and social media sites (a.k.a. new distractions)?

What does race have to do with the ability to read and write?

In the article “When I Can Read My Title Clear,” Cornelius discusses how slaves had the desire to learn to read and write but were punished when their owners found out. They had to be extremely secretive about learning to read and write because the punishments were extremely severe. For example, Henry Wright’s father learned to read with the help of his master’s son, which he was told to keep to himself, because if the white men in the community found out one of the slaves could read and write, they would cut his fingers off. These severe punishments instilled fear in many, but also promoted secretive learning among those whose “sympathetic owners” allowed them to learn.

My question regarding this reading is why do you think slave owners were so afraid of the slaves learning to read and write? From what we have discussed in class, reading and writing seems to be a positive thing; it is something that promotes mental growth and forward, critical thinking. It is an outlet for us to release our deepest thoughts and calm the mind. Do you think the answer to this question revolves around power? Equal rights? Or do you think it is something broader or more personal than that?

Problems with Cultural Assimilation – Can We Fix Them?

Our class discussion on Thursday revolved around how people of different socioeconomic backgrounds potentially may be lacking in literacy for several reasons, such as motivational factors, home and or work distractions, and potentially who their sponsors of literacy are. For the readings, they discussed a different outlook on why reading levels might be low, and the answer to that is a problem with cultural assimilation.

Based on the readings, and your thoughts on cultural assimilation, immigration, etc., do you believe that immigrants and minorities should conform to already established customs and attitudes that have set the bar for the importance of literacy? Or do you think we should take a pluralist approach, meaning that our nation should be open to different ethnic, religious, and cultural groups to exercise their individuality and help strengthen the ever-evolving definition of literacy so that no one is illiterate? In other words, should those who come into the USA be forced to become like “us,” or should we strive to broaden the meaning of what it is to be a literate American citizen to something more? What dangers do you foresee if we were to remain very by the book or if we were to take more of a pluralist approach?

Importance of Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking. It enables us to recognize a wide range of subjective analyses of otherwise objective data, and to evaluate how well each analysis might meet our needs. Facts may be facts, but how we interpret them may vary.

Over the weekend I conducted my interview for this week’s literacy assignment. The person I chose to interview was my aunt, who is the head principal at a local high school. Once we were done with the interview there were aspects she furthered on upon me asking some questions and the subject revolved around critical thinking and writing and how that is incorporated into the Collins Writing Program. Collins Writing is a 5 step program that builds us up to be critical thinkers and good writers. This was interesting to talk to her about. She was explained how it is brought into the school system and how it is integrated into each academic level. As she touched upon each level, I could remember certain points in my academic career when I either learned the steps to critical thinking and writing in school or when I had to learn them myself; this was especially signifiant in my freshman year of college. I had to learn how to think critically and analyze to understand the material. In order to pass some of my classes I had to be able to ask the right questions while studying to succeed.

I would like you to take a look at this website (link below) and read a little about the Collins Writing Program. Did your school integrate this into the learning system? What aspects of this system do you think could be changed? What are the best parts of the system? For those of you who want to teach, which area do you think is most important? If one cannot critically think while writing does that make them a bad writer?

The Economy & Literacy

In the article “Sponsors of Literacy” Deborah Brandt discusses a few cases where literacy has impacted the job market for selected individuals. Through the stories of Dwayne Lowery, Carol White, Sarah Steele, Raymond Branch, and Debora Lopez, we can see how society’s economic prosperity and literacy have a great influence on each other, as they jointly grow together.
Based on this information, how do you think the role of literacy influences the economic development of this country? What variables do you think cause one to succeed in economic literacy and one to fail? Going along with what Brandt states at the end (last paragraph on page 183) do you think we are in pursuit of literacy or that literacy is in pursuit of us? Or do you see it as a combination of the two?

Blog #1 – A Fond Memory of Literacy

In class on Tuesday, we discussed how each of us defines literacy. Many of our definitions had certain aspects in common, such as how literacy can refer to being not only able to read and understand, but also being able to communicate in an effective and appropriate way for those you are talking to so that they can understand the message, or point, you are trying to get across. We also discussed how you talk and approach your friends differently than you would to your parents, professors, etc.

One of my fondest memories of literacy is from my part-time nanny job that I held over the summer. Two days a week I watched two girls, ages 1 and 3. Watching them weekly not only brought joy to my life, but it also gave me first hand experience in toddler and infant communication. For those of you who don’t know, speech ability varies quite a bit between these ages. The two girls and I would read books frequently and the 3 year old would sometimes want to read instead. In these cases, I would whisper the words into her ear and she would say them aloud to her younger sister. The 1 year old was always the most interesting, developmental wise, in my opinion. Sometimes she could say certain words very clearly and I could understand exactly what she wanted. Other times, I wasn’t so fortunate. She had come up with her own words, phrases, and signals to let me know what she wanted. Especially when I first started, I had a hard time adjusting to this new vocabulary I had to pick up on, but eventually I got it down pat. The most fascinating part of it all was that the 3 year old understood her younger sister perfectly. It was amazing to me how just a difference in age can effect the communication gap so greatly.