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Technology and Critical Literacy in Early Childhood Hardcover – Aug 1 2012

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A little book with A LOT to offer Aug. 14 2013
By Faith Rogow, media literacy education maven - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The more I read TECHNOLOGY AND CRITICAL LITERACY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD, the more I wanted to call every media literacy educator I know and say, "You've got to read this book. It's brilliant." Though Vasquez and Felderman never use the phrase "media literacy," the classroom activities they describe are some of the finest examples of media literacy integration I have ever seen (and I've been at this for nearly thirty years). And given that media literacy in early childhood is rare, their focus on work with children aged 5-7 is beyond exciting.

My favorite example is one that involved podcasts, dual language learners, non-English speaking family members, map reading, research, and Antarctica (yes, Antarctica). In another example, a simple project with six-year-olds growing tomato plants ended up encompassing ad analysis, scientific experimentation to test the claims of an ad, Internet research, comparison of websites using Word Clouds, a lesson on gender stereotyping, and lots of opportunities to practice language, reasoning, and observation skills.

What these authors describe is teaching at its finest. Lessons are multifaceted, constructivist, and developmentally appropriate. Media technologies are integrated in a natural but intentional way, taking advantage of the strengths of the various tools as well as the strengths of the children and their teachers. And most of the ideas would be fairly easy to replicate once you understand the basic pedagogy of their approach.

Without ever referencing the Key Questions or core competencies of media literacy education (see, for example, The Teacher's Guide to Media Literacy, pp. 19-20, 39), the activities in this book exemplify the field's goals. Instead of counting the minutes that kids spend in front of a screen, they design lessons that focus on deep learning, including asking standard media literacy questions like "Who benefits?" and "Who is left out?"

The result of Vasquez's and Felderman's critical literacy approach is students who reflect on the media they encounter and create, and who routinely ask questions and are already somewhat skilled at knowing how to find answers. Most importantly, these young children come to believe in their own power to learn and make a difference in the world. Every now and then I had to remind myself that I was reading about six-year-olds!

For anyone involved in a professional learning community, but especially early childhood and primary level teachers and administrators, this title would be a perfect choice for discussion.

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