Tag: Literacy

Mozilla’s Web Literacy Standards Released

Mozilla has just released its set of Web Literacy Standards and it’s something that everyone who uses the web personally or in the classroom needs to look at and try to understand.

Many people are comfortable with just accessing the web and siphoning off what they need for the moment.  But, that’s only part of the picture.  The web literacy standard identifies three strands where you might be navigating, creating for, or participating on the web.  See the table below.

It’s not a big task.  It only takes a few minutes to read the attributes.

But, where are you?  Are you stuck on the left?  If so, there’s so much more that you could be doing.  Shift your eyes to the right.

In the classroom though, this should serve as a plan to scaffold the type of activities that you have in your classroom.

Where do you fall on this chart?  I wish that I had found this to share at the open of the #ECOO13 Conference.  It would have added so much value to just about every session that was offered.  Certainly, it should help as folks plan for ECOO14.

For more details, check the Mozilla Wiki and the Web Literacy Standard page.

Kudos to Doug Belshaw (@dajbelshaw) and team for release 1.0.


Literacy Visually

There are times that I really worry about my sense of literacy.  I read so much on line and there’s no guarantee that any of it is going to be properly written or constructed.  Liberties seem to be taken with the language regularly and there are some that just don’t appear to care.  It irks me to see signs outside of stores or on the street with “there” where “their” should be.  Or, gasp! the inappropriate use of the apostrophe.  I’ve even been known to go to into a store to help the cause of literacy and report mistakes.  It’s always to the embarrassment of my wife “You’re such a teacher”.

Of course, there’s spelling, but grammar also figures high on the scale as well.  Even as a computer science teacher, I required my students to submit a written description of their projects.  After all, not every computer science graduate will end up being a coder.  Someone has to write the documentation or work the support desk and communication is key to the best of supports.

Visual.ly had a fabulous blog post recently.  Titled “11 Infographics That Will Help You Improve Your Grammar and Spelling“.  I thoroughly enjoyed the post and found myself nodding at many of the tips and reminders in the infographics.

Now, I had been chastised once for supporting great efforts like this.  “So and so says that you’re supporting the company that created them.”  To that end, my response was a question as to what “so and so” has done recently except complain.  To me, anyone that supports the literacy cause in an LOL world can’t be all bad!

As I was taking a look at the infographics in the article, I was checking the source.  One of the sources caught my eye.

It was to the web resource Grammar.net.


Talk about hitting the literacy infographic jackpot.

It’s infographic after infographic about all kinds of use of the English language like this little snippet from the graphic about adjectives and adverbs.


You name a literacy lesson and I’ll bet there’s an infographic at the site to support it!

Each of the infographic comes with code to embed it into your class wiki or you could just send your students to the graphic being discussed during today’s lesson.

Language teachers, and we all should be one, should immediately check out the wealth of resources here.  Your going to love it.

(I can’t believe I just did that.)


On my Wiki, I have a link that I used when talking about media literacy.  I call it Sites That Should Make You Go Hmmm.  It’s devoted to the notion and, for some, the awakening to the fact that not everything you read online is true.  (no kidding, you mean the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus is endangered?)

I know that many people have used the page as part of a web literacy unit with students.  That’s what it’s there for and you’re welcome to it.

Whenever I’m reading online anymore, I find that it’s more important than ever to have your BS filter locked and loaded.  Such a story hopped to my reading today.

It seems like more and more people are looking for and expecting the outrageous, the new, the exciting and they want to be on top of it.  I guess a particularly easy target are the “Apple Fanboys“.  They hand on every hint of a new product from Apple and just have this desire to be the first to break the news.  Even if they have never seen or heard of it, they’re quick to blog or vlog about how great and awesome it is and how it’s the newest and greatest thing going.  And, to their defence, Apple is noted for some incredibly innovative types of things.  I mean – roll back the clock a few years and who could imagine a telephone slash media player slash computer slash PDA?  Well, except Star Trek.

It was with great interest that I read the story “Swedish firm’s Apple hoax shows gullibility of online readers” in the Los Angeles Times.  I had to read it a couple of times just to be sure that I was reading what I thought I was reading…  Then, to verify, I had to track back to the original blog post from this Swedish Company.  “How we screwed (almost) the whole Apple community” and then to the Reddit link.  What’s unique about this is the explanation of how it was done.  To my knowledge, this was the first time such a thing was documented.

Ah, it was done in good fun and I’m sure that there was some joking around a water cooler somewhere.

The real gem from this whole story is the graphic at the bottom of the post where they plot “Perceived Level of Truth” versus “Distance from Source”.  I could see that being a very valuable discussion piece in the classroom when talking about media literacy.

Other than the use of the story for literacy terms, the whole incident did have a bit of value for the company from me.  I backed off the URL to the root to discover just what this company was and what it does.  Thankfully, Google Chrome has built-in translation features.

So much information

I awoke yesterday morning to a message from my friend @aforgrave who had just seen my #FollowFriday messages about Ontario Educators.  He wanted to know if this was yet another automated thing I had going on and, if not, had I seen the new about the earthquake in Japan.

As a matter of fact, I was awake doing my Friday routine and hadn’t checked into the overnight stream of information as of yet.  I had just roused myself and was doing this before I got distracted with some early learning morning news and learning.  As we know now, the events of yesterday were horrible and the effects of the earthquake were being felt in the Pacific and on Americas side of the Pacific all day.

Once again, Twitter had served to be the perfect conduit of information as it happened.  It absolutely trumped RSS for providing the information to the world and the news channels seemed puzzled as to the importance of what was happening.  In my quest for news, I found that television news was incomplete and I was switching all over trying to find the latest details.  The traditional US cable channels were doing their best and yet the reports were intermixed with weather trivia, the price of gasoline, and an analysis of what the US response to the crisis would be.  I found that for the most considered reports, that I settled on Global’s Vancouver channel and BBC World.

and Twitter.

My saviour for the television news was the remote control.  My saviour for Twitter was the hashtags #japan and #tsunami.  As would be expected, the demand for information forced these types of searches to the top of the suggestions.

There was no shortage of resources reporting on situation.  It really was disconcerting and one of the reports I watched interviewed a professor from Simon Fraser University who was asked if we were experiencing more earthquakes given the Japan and recent Christchurch situations.  I was surprised at the response which was no, we’re not experiencing more of them – they’re just happening in populated areas where we’re equipped with the ability to cover it better.  Certainly, we experienced that yesterday and it continues this morning with the reports of damages to nuclear plants in Japan.

Classroom treatment of situations like this is important.  In this case, watching and dealing with live information may not always be age appropriate given its nature.  One resource that immediately came through was actually a recycled activity from CBCLearning.  It was designed for the disaster a few years ago in the Indian Ocean and was equally as appropriate for yesterday.

Links to this and so many other resources made this form of news aggregation so powerful.  For me, one of the most powerful moments was actually an image.  This was not necessarily an infographic but did convey a powerful message.

There was so much information.  The world will be solidly behind and hoping for a quick recovery from this disaster.  There will come a time when there will be educational reflection on the events.  There will be classrooms where teachers and resources were right on top of this as a teaching opportunity.  There will be other classrooms where access to these resources were blocked and so another opportunity is lost.  There will be incredible opportunities to turn this into lessons about media literacy and global citizenship and awareness.

If you’re an educator reading this, how did you handle it?  How will you handle the next steps as Japan recovers?

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Doug Never Says Anything

and with this utility, you can get to the point quicker!

The web resource Summarity is “Software that Summarizes”.  The premise is pretty simple.  Select some text, paste it to Summarity and let it do its thing.

Its thing is to analyse your content and summarize it to save you reading the entire content.  So, I decided to put it to the test.  I went back to my blog post about my first look at the Apple iOS 4.2, copied all of the text, pasted it into the entry box and asked Summarity to summarize it for me.  The result?

That’s kind of cool.  Plus, once you do get a summary, you can adjust the shrinkage factor to give more verbose or shorter results.  Ever looking for the educational angle, I turn to literacy and one of the important concepts is having students learn to summarize a piece of reading.  Using Summarity might well be an engaging hook to compare a computer generated summary with one that’s done manually.

But, there’s another component to this resource that I find even more helpful.  It’s called Skim Mode.  With Skim Mode, it’s like a computer generated highlighter where the Summarity highlights by making the phrases that it deems important become bold.

This feature, I find really interesting.  Just like the process of reading text and identifying the salient points, you can focus on the highlights, but also still read about it to put the reading in context.

So, if you’re a regular reader of this blog and want me to get to the point — just summarize my entry and get to it!

Learning with the folks from Waterloo

Last Friday, I had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to do some learning with 75 Waterloo Region teachers at a presentation led by David Warlick.

David, checking out the setup

The message was a powerful one.  His presentation “Redefining Literacy” is one that makes you rethink most everything about education and his examples of how to use the tools of the web as a new literacy put things very nicely in context.

Ron, with his ever present camera

The session was hosted by the ITS Department of the WRDSB and is part of a continuing effort to keep pushing the envelope.  In addition to the great PD with David, it was announced that a new server running WordPress software was recently launched to allow teachers and students to blog in house as opposed to using other resources.

I live blogged David’s presentation using Coveritlive.  My observations appear below.

David Warlick in Kitchener (0pens in a new window)

It was a great day to learn and a good group to learn with. My thanks to Ron, Harry, and Mark for including me.

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Christmas Resolutions

It’s too late for this year, and probably won’t be possible, but my resolution for future Christmas events is to not have gifts of technology.

It’s a great deal of work to support and everyone wants everything to work right away.


If there ever was a cause for the importance of literacy, one only has to take a look at what passes for manuals these days.  Life was so much easier when it was just putting Tab A into Slot B.  But, now we’re looking at high tech instructions that have been either poorly written or poorly translated or just a guess as to what would work.

Perhaps with software like Jing now being freely availabe, companies can come up with more completely documented instructions.

Next year, it’s going to be mittens all round.

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