What do you do?
After twenty-two years of teaching English to high school and middle school students, I have taken an exciting turn in my educational journey. I am currently teaching Career Preparedness and Pop Culture to 8th graders at Spanish Fort Middle School found in Spanish Fort, Alabama. Two years ago, I completed eMINTS training which helped me to shift the focus from the teacher to the student in an inquiry-based classroom. This was a perfect fit for the new direction the school system took that year by providing laptops to every student. It has been exciting to see how my students achieve when given the right tools, guidance, and opportunity. I have also extended this pedagogy to the online English course that I am teaching through ACCESS and Troy University and to the curriculum I am creating for the Baldwin County Virtual School. Incorporating technology has been a key component in my work to foster collaboration among students and develop their media literacy.
Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.
The Alabama Career Preparedness Course of Study requires students to create a résumé and a webpage. The buzzword these days is “personal branding.” I believe that in the future almost all careers will require a professional webpage that provides colleges, industry professionals and the public a window into their attributes, goals and achievements. The all-important “First Impression” may well be digital, and it behooves each individual to ensure that the impression is positive.
What better time than eighth grade to start developing your own personal brand? Now is the time for students to plant the seeds for their future. Many students are just now establishing an online presence. I really want them to think about who will be looking at this webpage—colleges? Future employers? They need to consider the direction that they want to define for their life.
It takes effort and higher order thinking skills for students to truly define themselves and their goals. Creating a webpage that succinctly expresses who they are could be an important first step in that process. It will provide positive direction and can advance with them as they continue their education.
Why is media literacy important to you?
Students need to be prepared for whatever life throws at them. Media literacy gives them freedom. They must be able to critically evaluate what they see and hear. They must be able to dig for truth themselves. Being a savvy media user and producer is necessary for students to have successful families, careers and governments.
What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?
I am most excited about the accessibility of media to everyone. I love that students can express themselves through many formats. I enjoy being on the cutting-edge of education by providing my students with the knowledge and ability to be high-functioning members of our media-driven society.
Why did you become a NAMLE member, what benefits do you see to membership, and how will it support your work?
I became a member of NAMLE because I believe that being digitally literate is an important part of being a positive, contributing member of society. I just stumbled upon the website earlier this year as I was looking for interesting projects for my Pop Culture class. I was pleased and excited to see the many educational resources NAMLE provides FOR FREE! I also appreciate the opportunities provided to members such as: conferences, member created resources, the M-Passioned page, current research, and the student voice page.