This week’s reading was from Jenkins (2008) Afterword: Communities of Readers, Clusters of Practices. It discussed looking at the new literacies that technology has created as more than just something that distracts students from their coursework. The reading suggested that, instead, educators should be embracing these technologies and looking at them as ways to give meaning to our lessons by connecting our students with each other and with other communities of learners. I was particularly interested in the idea of “Do it Ourselves” vs the traditional thinking of DIY culture. When we read previously about DIY, I had a hard time relating, but once I looked at it in terms of what it really is (Do it Ourselves) I realized I am much more a part of that culture than I had originally thought.
I was most interested this week in the idea of creating participatory cultures in our classrooms. A lot of what was said about these cultures resonated with me as practices that are already in place in my classroom, but I know that there is definitely room for improvement, and without a doubt room for me to include technology and new literacies in those practices. I really like the idea of “peer-to-peer education: we learn from each other in the process of working together to achieve shared goals,” (Jenkins, 3). As an educator of diverse learners it really speaks to me that it shouldn’t necessarily matter that all participants know the same things, but more so that students can view the same learning from multiple entry points and can use their individual expertise to grow as a group. As difficult as this type of system is in today’s educational world, with the expectations put on classroom teachers to have their students perform a certain way on standardized tests, I still feel that this should be the end goal in each of our classrooms. This led me to find out more about creating participatory cultures in the schools.
I found a couple of articles that were interesting and, although they are presented in very different ways, their messages share a common goal: using new literacies in a participatory culture to make sure students are gaining the cultural competencies they need to be successful 21st century citizens. In the article What is Learning in a Participatory Culture, Erin Reilly (who has worked with Henry Jenkins, interestingly) discusses again how formal schools are slow to join the movement of participatory cultures as they remain focused on the perils of social media rather than the opportunities it can provide to us and our students as learners. She looks at the work of the Project New Media Literacies team through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that has identified 12 social skills (that I can easily translate into literacy skills in my classroom) that we all need in order to be members of participatory cultures as well as ways that schools can use new literacies to help our students acquire those skills. I found the sections on Zoey’s Room which is an interactive social media platform on which girls can explore STEM activities through peer to peer learning to be particularly inspiring.
I also read this article by Lauren Goldburg in which she outlines her own experiences as a teacher seeking out participatory classroom. It was geared toward high school students as she is a high school teacher, but it was interesting none-the-less. She discusses how before she could create a participatory classroom she first had to become a part of such cultures herself through various platforms such as Twitter. This is a quick and easy read that really got me thinking about how being a member of this course (and a new member of the Twitter and Hypothesis communities) is, in many ways, my first step towards creating the environment that I want in my own classroom.