Friday, December 12, 2014

Spoken Word Poetry

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, a student reached out to me on email...

Jacqueline was right, I did enjoy the spoken-word poem, To This Day Project by Shane Koyczan. While one might argue that all poetry at its core is meant to be heard aloud and is "spoken-word" poetry, I see something else going on here: the importance of teaching digital texts.

Perhaps the importance of teaching the components of digital texts (visual text, spoken text, written or composed text) is as plain as the nose on our face. My student did not send me a newspaper article, or a book, or even song lyrics. She sent me a video...with enthusiasm. Consider her words:

I would love for you to watch this...

We can't forget that reaching out to an adult--whether parent, teacher, coach, pastor, et al.--is a big leap for young people. We have to reach back too.

In the process of sharing something with me, Jacqueline has given me pause to reflect.

image from Koyczan's To This Day Project
Digital texts have been composed for several decades, but it was restricted only to those trained to work in expensive studios. While we might think of digital literacy as the ability to access and present information, digital literacy has become bigger than that.

What Jacqueline shared with me is more than just a fun, fluffy activity. It is another option in the arsenal of writers. Digital Literacy reminds us that writing does not have to just be essays.

As teachers we can work outside the box.

Digital Literacy includes an ever-expanding number of ways that people tell stories...and it makes it accessible to anyone with a device. Just as I responded to the astonishing energy of MTV as an adolescent in the 80s, the current culture is responding to digital texts...and I can't express how rewarding it is as teacher to have students who reach out to include me in a piece of their world.

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