ASCD Literacy in a Digital Age Presentation Notes

Posted by on Mar 26, 2010

The following are my notes, reflections, and slidedeck from my ASCD literacy presentation.

I presented this session with Angela Maiers, a true guru in the land of literacy.

Angela and I began our presentation by asking the participants to answer the question, “What is literacy?”  Certainly there has been much written and discussed on this topic, and we explained that our approach to the subject is rooted in communication; specifically, how we input and output through various mediums and modes.

We briefly discussed the work of Luke and Freebody and their Four Resource Model.  We discussed how these four resources work both as we input and output in communication.

We then discussed how important the medium is and how much it has changed.  This change is significant, and that significance is evidenced in videos like this.

We asked the participants to then consider the medium and the mode of communication and which one we most often use as adults.  We typically favor speaking, but what do we require our students to use the vast majority of the time they are working to communicate their learning?  What if we started changing our expectations and removing some of the barriers that trip kids up when they are trying to communicate?  What if we let them tell their stories and demonstrate their learning like this?

We discussed a practical example of the way we traditionally teach literacy by using an example of the book Number the Stars.  We explained how we could be doing so much more with our students and expecting them to dig so much deeper in their exploration of reading.  We showed two videos, and explained how the second led to an incredible learning experience for the entire school based on a comment someone left on the students’ YouTube post.

We wrapped up the session discussing how dramatically the web has changed in recent history, and we discussed the implications for literacy based on this change.  We ended the session with this video and explained how important passion and audience are for our students.


  1. Things I Learned This Week – #13 |
    March 28, 2010

    […] Grey and Angela Maiers presented this week on Literacy in a Digital Age. Wish I could have been there as I respect both of them hugely (and it’s very, very related […]

  2. Vicki Davis
    March 29, 2010

    Wow! I wish I could have been a fly on the ustream of this one! 😉

    The slides are compelling and I bet it was phenomenal! Wow!

    Literacy is being redefined and many balk at the redefinition. Some say that literacy clearly means READING, however, some time a go it moved past READING into RESEARCH and when it did that I certainly think that it encompassed the web. Now, it also seems to mean the ability to WRITE or create and that is also where some people take issue.

    But semantics aside – the FACT is that how students RESEARCH effectively and how they CREATE effectively has been REDEFINED and we must evolve as educators to make sure that students are EDUCATED in this way.

    Excellent work to two people I respect greatly and appreciate!

    • Ben Grey
      March 29, 2010

      Thanks, Vicki. We would have loved to have you there.

      The shift in literacy away from a hyper-focused effort on reading is essential. At the heart of literacy is communication. If we want our students to be successful in today’s culture, we must move beyond one simple mode of communication, like you said. I think the most challenging part is when we ask teachers what output they most often require their students to utilize when communicating their learning. The answer is overwhelmingly writing. Yet when we ask them how they, as adults, most often communicate, it’s overwhelmingly through speaking. And how often do we focus on helping students speak and listen? What about viewing and showing?

      And then start talking about what digital does to all of this…

  3. Daniel
    March 30, 2010

    I was at this session with my team (7 others). As a multi-media/literacy consultant I was very impressed with your presentation. Both the content and the delivery were superb. Your session (with AM) was one of the highlights of my ASCD 2010 experience. Thank you.

  4. Ben Grey
    April 1, 2010

    Thanks so much for coming out and bringing your team, Daniel. It was a great deal of fun to prepare and deliver the presentation. I’m glad you all enjoyed it.

  5. 7 Bits of Holiday Reading « Mobile Ministry Magazine (MMM)
    February 9, 2012

    […] Presentation and Notes talking about literacy in the digital age from Ben Grey […]


Leave a Reply