Implications for Teaching
Megan Higdon
Adolescent and Digital Literacies Learning Alongside Our Students written by Sara Kajder is an excellent resource for teachers. It provides real life scenarios and looks at the real challenges we have in the classroom. The book does not take place in a dream school or the wealthiest neighborhood. It is real life. Kajder references the National Council of Teachers of English’s (NCTE) Policy Research Brief about Adolescent Literacy (AL) released in 2007 many times throughout this book. Kajder spoke of using the document to backup her teachings and assignments. This document lays out the need for technology and other motivating activities and shies away from paper and pencil tasks. Teachers know what is in the best interest of their students. They know the best instructional practices but often times are not given the freedom to use this information. Kajder used the AL Brief in order to justify the need for changes. Students need meaningful learning experiences.

This book has touched on so many implications for teaching and ways to change our thinking. Kajder listed three reminders when planning instruction.
"1.Kids comes to us multiply literate.
2. Literacy is social, active, and connective.
3. Kids need to be able to answer "We are doing this in order to...."
(Kajder, 2010, p. 6-7).
As educators, we need to remember these key ideas when planning and teaching our lessons. Adolescents are motivated by different things than younger students and as educators we need to reflect that in our daily instruction.


Kajder brought up a good point that the current state of assessments narrow our thinking of literacies while AL Brief wants us to broaden our thinking on literacies. Kajder stated "we are all learners in a literacy landscape that is unfamiliar but packed with new possibility" (Kajder, 2010, p. 14). If teachers are given more opportunities in their daily lesson planning then they will be able to incorporate more motivators into their lessons thus creating more engaged learners. Kajder shows explicitly how children are misrepresented in the school setting. We need to give them multiple opportunities to show their true potential through assessments. Pencil and paper tasks should not be the only way we assess. We can allow them to use multiple technologies to create a final product. Wikis, PowerPoints, and YouTube are just a few uses of technology. All of these can be used to create an assignment that shows what the students have mastered and maybe even things you didn’t know about the student.

Technology allows information right at our finger tips and allows students to access it quickly. Teachers can take this into account when planning innovative lessons. Choice and technology can be influential in lessons. Together they can be powerful.

Just searching for information on the internet requires many different strategies. They locate information but also rule out the good and bad sources. Students must skim the information to see if it what they want. Teachers should keep in mind how valuable this is. As educators we often times just to the finished product when so much learning can take place in each step along the way.
Kajder gives a framework that is helpful for teachers when they are reflecting on their teaching. Teachers are asked to do so many tasks in a given day. It is hard to take a minute to think about your lessons. This quick “ think” will help you create more meaningful lessons for your students.
“1. I am doing well but can do better.
2. What watching my students’ literacy practices teaches me that I want to build upon:_.
3. __isn’t working.” (Kajder, 2010, p. 71).

“Research tells us that adolescents are largely learning how to mediate identify, compose, and collaborate in online spaces outside of our classrooms and that these are practices and spaces that are increasingly valued, and even expected by employers.” (Kajder, 2010, p.87) It is amazing how much adolescents are doing outside the classroom. The big shift or change in teaching should be to use these skills and tools to complete assignments in the classroom. Nobody should be forced to change everything they have known about teaching but simply think outside the box and what simple changes they could make.

When we are thinking of the implications for teaching, think flexibility. We must be flexible and open for change. Quality teaching is important and quality teachers are open to change.



Resources:
Kajder, S. (2010).Adolescents and digital literacies learning alongside our students.NCTE Urbana:IL.

Education, N. C. (2010) LD Online. Adolescent Literacy: What's Technology Got to Do With It? Retrieved 11 26, 2012,from http://www.ldonline.org/article/35792/