I am a 5th grade teacher at Glenwood Landing, an elementary school located on the north shore of Long Island (NY), and I am also a Literacy Studies doctoral candidate at Hofstra University. My dissertation focuses on ethics and morality in digital space amongst upper elementary students, social media’s effects on cognitive development, school culture transference and their relational impact on literacy events such as cyber bullying and cyber citizenship.
2) Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.
This past academic year, my students and I were involved with the creation of a class blog that focused on cyber bullying. Students, using their self-selected, anonymous blogger identities, would engage in digital discourse in response to cyber bullying scenarios that I created. Discussions from this “second classroom” (Campano, 2007) would permeate our 5th grade social studies curriculum (Birth of our Nation/Government Formation). This intersection of spaces (or “worlds” as deemed by the New London Group, 2000) sparked the idea of a cyber constitution, reflective of their participation as both producers and consumers in this space. Transference and generalization of school culture and the (elementary) golden rule philosophy was evident in both their blogging threads and face-to-face discussions. I see this living literacies event as an opportunity to involve the school community (students, parents, educators and administrators), with its identified mission of “guided engagement and democracy,” to create a district-wide cyber constitution that perhaps could be a model for others. With schools now responsible for upholding anti-bullying behavior, this event brought (and continues to bring) engagement, empowerment, agency and ownership to its participants. I am excited to see what the next phase will bring.
3) Why is media literacy important to you?
Media literacy is important to me because it is part of life, especially the lives of my students. Although not everyone in the field of education recognizes its presence and influence, I believe that it should be better represented in the curriculum and teaching standards that I am responsible for. I have witnessed media literacy engage and empower my students, contributing to agentive identities. I have watched my students fluidly navigate both media and non-media literacies, and be able to analyze and synthesize information before communicating with their peers. These events, to me, espoused 21st-century values. I want all students to have these opportunities. I want all teachers to be as inspired by their students as I have been. Media literacy can be this catalyst.
4) What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?
Currently, I am most excited that media literacy seems to be rapidly gaining in support of it becoming a recognized component of our national education standards. Those involved in directing the future of our education system are validating the necessity and usefulness of media literacy in the classroom, along with understanding that guidance and/or mentorship in this area will also be needed and beneficial. As a classroom educator, I would love to be able to incorporate media literacy into my daily teaching without feeling as though I need to defend or justify its role.
5) Why did you become a NAMLE member – what benefits do you see to membership and how will it support your work?
I first became a NAMLE member after searching for information related to my dissertation focus and locating a relevant article in its online journal (The Journal of Media Literacy Education). Every article in its Table of Contents caught my attention. Needless to say, after meticulously reading each one of them, I knew that I had to join this inspirational media literacy think tank! I hope that I’ll be able to connect with other teacher researchers that are passionate about media literacy in their classrooms and how it can contribute to all areas of growth in their students.