I am proud to say that I’ve had my goal for my Professional Development Plan approved in my first year of teaching. Here’s a sneak peak at the research I’ll be doing over the next three-four years.
English teachers have always put forth giant efforts to unlock the hidden joys of literature for young adults who don’t necessarily see the “joy” at first glance. However, in today’s modern age of technology, the gap that English teachers bridge is larger than ever. The dusty pages of the printed word seem passé to many youth, despite the fact that they are writing novels’ worth of sentences via text message every day! The online world is covered in text—both stellar and pathetic—and therefore the ability to navigate it and create it is more pertinent than ever before. Still, many youth fail to see the relationship between their constantly typing fingers flying across shiny devices and the dog-eared page of Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy. I’ve also watched my students struggle to write a literary interpretation, despite the fact that they post their own poetry on their blogs! My hope is not to drag my students back to the time before our online, globalized world; rather, it is to give them the tools to understand it, be prepared to work within it, and appreciate the rich literary past that they can now buy with the click of a button on Amazon.com!
I have noticed that the few times I’ve attempted to integrate visual media and technology into my teaching, the students instantly perk up. The students that get confused by a page seem to gravitate with longing toward a screen, particularly if there are some stimulating images involved. I want to know how I can get better at making this tendency work for me, to inspire and enrich literature/writing learning experiences for my 21st century kids.
I will research media/visual methods of language arts instruction and integrate visual media and technology into my literature and writing pedagogy so that students will increase media literacy, my instruction is better serving visual learners, and students leave my high school classes prepared to thrive as readers and writers in our increasingly media-saturated world.
By integrating visual media and technology in my classroom, I hope to raise student interest as well as performance on writing and literature tasks. I teach a diverse population of students in many ways; however, one thing they have in common is the media-saturated, technology-driven professional world that they will enter upon graduation. This is a situation that fascinates them, and also represents a crucial component of what “literacy” means today. It is my hope that as I involve more media and technology in my teaching, students will be better able to understand and exhibit skills in literature and writing. If all goes well, they’ll also be able to more easily transfer these skills to the modern workplace.