Friday, September 2, 2016

Social Studies: Traditional Literacy and Visual Literacy

I'm an advocate for social studies because I believe that education involves preparing students to participate in our society. Too often, social studies is removed from the day for elementary students because of heightened emphasis on literacy and math. Due to this heightened emphasis on literacy (reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing), this is EXACTLY why Social Studies must remain within every student's day. Let me uncover this idea for you with a series of belief statements.

Belief Statement One:
Traditional literacy involves students learning the skills to acquire meaning from traditional texts. Traditional texts include those that are informational or fiction written with sentences or paragraphs. Students have specific goals in learning how to think about, fluently read, and comprehend traditional texts. If this takes place in a "reading block," then social studies is a content area where students transfer and reapply these skills in authentic ways. Teachers elevate the effective application of these skills in social studies but they also simultaneously focus on the content of social studies. The thinking that leads to understanding of social studies content is critical. View the image as a support for this belief.

Belief Statement Two:
21st century literacy should absolutely include traditional texts, but it MUST also include instruction in reading nontraditional texts. Nontraditional texts surround our students every day and if we leave these out of the learning process, then we are are leaving out a massive amount of sources that we use to acquire information. At the heart of best practice in social studies and science, students should be reading and analyzing charts, maps, graphs, primary sources, artifacts, media, and timelines. View the images and video supports for this belief.

Belief Statement Three:
We must use thinking routines that allow students to engage in "reading" nontraditional texts. Since "reading" nontraditional texts involves visual analysis, we must embrace the application of core critical thinking skills in more flexible ways and ask students to regularly apply them across the contents. View the following links for ideas related to thinking routines for analyzing nontraditional texts.

Belief Statement Four:
We must use social studies as a content where students engage with all the types of sources that exist in our world. Students apply thinking and acquire content through the reading of multiple sources. This involves the transfer and reapplication of skills with traditional texts and the elevation of thinking routines with nontraditional texts.

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