Reading David O’Brien’s article “At Risk” Adolescents: Redefining Competence Through the Mulitiliteracies of Intermediality, Visual Arts and Representation (2001), I felt as if I were making a major connection. Then I read his brief biography. His experiences as a Title I teacher and a junior high reading teacher is parallel to my daily life. I knew exactly what he was describing when he discussed the “struggling” reader. A student who can not interact with print efficiently and effectively according to assessments that are measuring comprehension. These students struggle with encoding/decoding, having a limited word recognition ability and using poor meta-cognitive strategies, or no strategies at all. This is a description of the students I work with day in and day out. I mentioned previously that these students long for alternative outlets in the classroom to express themselves, or even take a break from the tasks they are asked to perform daily, and know that they are not successful. My heart breaks to know that the standards in which students are held accountable for are not where their strengths lie.
O’Brien talks about the success students in the Literacy Lab had when using multimedia tools to create and construct online projects. These examples should give teachers enough encouragement to embed these technologies into their curriculum to give students a level playing field when it comes to assessment. Knowing students have difficulties with traditional print assessments, and then continually setting students up for failure is absurd. As educators, we need to change how we assess students to make sure we are accurate in our attempts to educate.
In Ian O’Bryne’s article Online Content Construction: Students as Informed Readers and Writers of Multimodal Information (CRAJ, 2012), the example of the teacher was what hit home the most. I can easily replace Mrs. Vazquez’s name with Teacher X in my school, and this article could have been written about her. I am lucky enough to be able to work with welcoming staff. I’ve been on this high horse a long time. However, I believe this article was written especially to be shared with teachers who need to take a few steps into the “uncomfortable zone” and put into practice activities with media literacy. I have had some great conversations with Teacher X over how to extend student learning beyond webquests, and the importance of allowing students to create beyond one or two types of projects that she feels would be an appropriate way to assess student learning. This teacher, like Mrs. Vazquez, is constantly reflecting on her own teaching and making the lessons better and better for her students. The readability of O’Bryne’s article is to be acknowledged also. When looking for materials to share with staff on education and practice, I try to find examples that teachers find relevant and can immediately take away to apply to their classes. This is one example of how you can see a teacher progress through the her own reflective learning process and grow to infuse technology in with a great lesson for her students.