The Mystery of Literacy

Hello Pioneers!!

What is literacy?

Often when we think of the word “literacy,” our initial thought has to do with reading or writing. This definition of literacy is extremely limiting.

Before we define exactly what literacy is, I want you to first think about all of the texts that you see in the day. When you wake up, the newspaper and a magazine might be sitting on the breakfast table. On your way to school, you see signs and advertisements on the side of the road. What about the talk shows that are on the radio in the car? Does that count as a text, even though it’s not written? Before we even get to school, there are opinions and ideas thrown at us from all directions. How do we respond to this? When you check your smartphone, you see a video Snapchat from your friend. Can a picture or video count as a text? Though the common definition of text requires written words, we are subjected to written, visual, and auditory facets of information every day.

Even when we are at school, the texts that we see are not limited to that novel you are analyzing in your English class. In some classes, the texts you are expected to read and comprehend are sometimes in different languages: Spanish, of course, but also math and science. Wouldn’t you agree that algebra is a language of its own? Doesn’t physics have it’s own set of vocabulary that you must know in order to get through a reading.

There are different levels to literacy. First, we must be able to read the text. We must be able to look at a word, symbol, or picture and understand what it says.

1. Read the text for what it says.

Second, we need to be able to understand the intended message of the text. We look at the word, symbol, or picture and understand not just what it means, but what it implies. For example, maybe you can read the line, “Wherefore art thou, Romeo,” and see what it says. However, knowing that this means, “Why are you Romeo?” is a different skill.

2. Read the text for what it means.

Third, we need to be able to critically analyze a text that we now understand. Do we believe that the text is true? How does this make us feel? Are there any biases or hidden agendas present? As literate people in this society, we are fed information from our sources. Being literate means not just being able to understand the text, but also being able to make informed decisions about it. This requires active thought and previous knowledge–much more than what is often used in simple reading of text.

3. Consciously and actively make personal decisions about the text.

Lastly, we should be able to communicate what we have learned about a text back out into the world. Having this knowledge and keeping it internal is only half of the process. The other half is sharing knowledge with the society to keep the chain of text and literacy flowing.

4. Communicate knowledge of the text to the world.

In general, this process can be used for any kind of text. For example, being able to say the word “comida” out loud completes step one. Knowing that “comida” means food in Spanish completes step two. Understanding how to properly use “comida” in a sentence and in society is step three, while actually using it in this way is step four. For mathematics, look at the following steps regarding the equation 3x+1=10

1. Be able to read aloud the equation 3x+1=10, knowing the proper names for symbols.

2. Be able to understand what this equation is asking for (solving for x).

3. Know the process of how to solve for x.

4. Be able to share this knowledge and apply the mathematics to the “real world.”

Being critical of the text we see is important for our survival in the 21st century. Media comes at us from all directions and being able to problem solve and form opinions about the texts in our world will allow us to be smart and useful members of our high school, our community, and the world.

In the U-Link, the goal is to do more than complete assignments one time and study for that upcoming test next week. When we can understand the processes and methods that make up the content of our classes, we find ourselves learning material and strategies that will stay with us forever. Most of all, we find that thinking deeply and critically about our surroundings can help us all to be literate of the world.

A Great Place To Learn

Hello Pioneers! My name is Jen and I am an Honors Scholar from Illinois State University completing a service learning project here at the U Link Literacy and Learning Center. Please stop by and say hi!

To me, this literacy center is a new kind of learning community for U High students. My favorite part about working in this center is the relaxed environment that allows students to learn where they are comfortable. Let me take you through a visit to the learning center from a student’s perspective:

 

During one of my free periods, I enter the learning center, where I am met and greeted.  I check in by using the computer at the front to sign myself in, noting down that I’m only here for a quiet place to study for an upcoming quiz. After checking in, I take a seat at one of the many tables, beginning to study in a quiet environment. A mentor lets me know that she is there to help me if needed. I forgot one of my textbooks for class, but luckily, there is a collection of class books on the bookshelf. I forgot my pencil, too, so I borrow one from the supply bins. When my free period is over, I head back to class, feeling relaxed and prepared!

If you haven’t visited the U Link Center yet, stop by and see what it’s like! Hope to see you all there! Jen

 

Happy New Year 2016

It’s a great year in the U-Link and Learning Center!!  We continue to gain new mentors and at this time we have over 52 U-High volunteers.  Some of our mentors include:

Victoria Parrot, Brendan Wall, Michael Mosley, Colin Hardman, Alex Plumadore, Advika Kamatar, Simon Heinrich, Melissa Reiss, Dylan Panizo and many more.  Come check out our list in the center!!

We had 7 special study sessions in December and I want to say thank you to all of our session managers.  I am continually impressed with our mentors as they fill their roles and with how much time they contribute.  Thank you!!!!

Happy 2016!! Mrs. McCain