Digital Literacy – Connection to Higher Order Thinking

How many hours of the 24 hours in a day do you think an average student speaks? Let’s paint a picture. Say, for instance, you are an 8th grade student. You wake up at 7 for school. Well, that right there is 7 hours without speaking. You walk to school alone, get in at 8:10AM and say good morning to your friends briefly during homeroom until your teacher quiets you down to teach. She gives you a 20 minute work period to collaborate. You repeat this for 8 classes for a total of 160 minutes of speaking time. Let’s say you hang out with your friends for an hour after school, that brings us to 220 minutes. Then, you get home and are attached to your phone. You were looking at it so much you didn’t even make eye contact with your mom at the dinner table. You did your homework, maybe texted a friend for help, took a shower, put on your pajamas and went on Snapchat until you fell asleep. The picture has been painted, and we are at give or take 4 hours out of a 24 hour day actually communicating with others.

What has changed?

Technology. That simple. There were no handheld devices to entertain ourselves back in the day. TVs were present, but programs were not nearly as entertaining or crystal clear. There was no Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Google, PS4, Xbox, Apple watches amongst many other devices. But now, there is. As a result, teens are spending NINE HOURS using technology and not speaking.

What Can We do to get our students to speak?

If students spend 9 hours a day in front of a screen, FINE. LET THEM. But let us not as educators take this as a loss, instead let’s use this to our advantage. To be fair, students are communicating, maybe the same amount as back in the day, but it’s different communication. Texting. DMing. Tweeting. Commenting on posts. This is what they know, so why not design our lessons accordingly through their excellence of digital literacy. Below is a picture from one of students using my favorite communicative math tool,

How is this Higher Order Thinking?

Well, this student created “Two Truths and a Lie”. She interpreted the graph, analyzed its features, and self-evaluated the truth to each statement. Another student then answered this question and explained why they chose their answer. All of a sudden, without speaking we have explained, interpreted, evaluated, and created. We did it through what they know best, communication via digital media. The saying is “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” This is a great case of this.

One thought on “Digital Literacy – Connection to Higher Order Thinking

  1. HI Jon,

    I like how this posts follows up on and expands on your previous post about using desmos as a teaching tool and about the challenges of getting your students to communicate. I do think that the oral aspect of communication should not be abandoned entirely. The act of articulating a verbal response in real time uses different parts of our brain and develops different skills than the act of communicating in writing. Students will need practice doing both. That doesn’t mean that the exercises you are describing should not be used–they seem great– but we don’t wnat to give up enturely on getting them to talk, as well. I wonder if a tool like VoiceThread, which would not be synchronous, but would allow them to forumulate their verbal responses in the privacy of thier home, might at least give them some practice with the oral aspect of communication?

    DR G


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