Digital Lessons Good, But Light on Tech Ideas
Literacy Lessons for a Digital World: Using Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and More to Meet the Demands of the Common Core
By Jamie E. Diamond and Meg C. Gaier
(Scholastic Teaching Resources, 2014 – Learn more)
Reviewed by Sandy Wisneski
At first glance, Literacy Lessons for a Digital World appears to be a well-developed resource for digital literacy. The cover displays a logo saying that everything is connected to the Common Core Standards. The subtitle reads “using blogs, wikis, podcasts, and more to meet the demands of the common core.”
However, as I began reading chapter 1 on digital storytelling, I was disappointed by the lack of technical help in creating a digital story.
The only suggested software was Photo Story 3 for Windows and iMovie for Macs. What was lacking were options for online, web-based approaches to creating a digital story. The latest trend for devices are Chromebooks and they only use web-based programs, extensions or apps.
Also, there are no options like Prezi, Glogster, Voicethread or Google Apps presented in the chapter. These are alternative ways to create digital stories that emphasize a collaborative group approach. Group collaboration is an essential piece when working digitally on projects today.
The authors do offer a gamut of choices for lessons in all content areas from problem solving in math to book trailers in reading. Each lesson is scripted for anyone needing ideas on how to begin teaching the process. This was a strong point of the book. But my frustrations continued when I wanted to access the resources.
More attention to time-saving needed
The only way you could print out the resources was by using a CD that was attached at the back of the book. Not all devices have a way to play CDs these days. I needed to find an external drive and hook it up in order to get to the resources.
When I did find the resources, they were all in one large document. I had hoped they would be in folders for each of the chapters. When I checked back in the book searching for thumbnails for each of the documents, I only found a reference list that these were on the CD. Time savers are essential for teachers and this book design did not save me any time.
Lots of good ideas
Each of the chapters contains scripts for implementing content lessons that are connected to a Common Core Standard. The book is aimed at teachers who are comfortable with technology and have experience with digital storytelling software.
For someone looking for a step-by-step guide that teaches the process, the scripted lessons are an excellent way to begin. Those who have been integrating technology into their content will find examples of how blogs, wikis, digital storytelling and podcasts can be used in every content area. There is a plethora of ideas to integrate technology into content areas. The book contains excellent student samples and assessments, and the reproducibles are well-done and beneficial to each lesson.
Literacy Lessons for a Digital World is written by teachers who work in the classroom. The ideas are practical, well planned out, and connected to the Common Core Standards. The instructions are detailed with theory to back each approach. If you are looking for content ideas on how to integrate technology, this book is for you. However, if you need step-by-step help on how to work with the software or programs, you will have to look elsewhere for that support.
Sandy Wisneski is lead teacher at Catalyst Charter Middle School which opened in the fall of 2013. She is the district webmaster, tech mentor, and yearbook advisory as well as new teacher mentor. Over the past 37 years she has become certified as a Flat Classroom Teacher and obtained her masters in reading. She enjoys challenging students to “take ownership” for their learning and to be effective digital citizens in the world.