A myth I heard from a colleague recently was that students with low incidence disabilities do not use digital tools to support 21st century learning. This is simply false. Infact, my students are highly motivated by digital tech. How can we leverage this motivation while fostering 21st Century Skills to develop 21st Century Learning? It’s a tall order.
Twenty-first century learning is about a cultural change in education. The learning environment has morphed from the traditional setting to a dynamic environment of how to access and find digital information, generating digital and media learning to exhibit knowledge, and developing contextual understanding of content in a structure of play (MAET, 2022). Therefore this changes instructional practices. According to Renee Hobbs in Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action, digital and media literacy competencies have enormous practical value in our social and cultural communities (2010). In the classroom, digital and media literacy is a bridge to making connections across disciplines, civic engagement, and global perspectives. She impresses that the time to understand “how knowledge is constructed and how it represents reality” is now (2010).
Where to begin?
I began with Hobb’s Digital and Media Literacy: A Process of Learning to create an effective lesson. Hobbs addresses 5 communication competencies that are essential to students' learning needs in the digital and media world of learning: access, analyze, create, reflect and act which guided my lesson plan (2022). As well, this framework provided me with a clear structure as to how my students will access digital and media learning in this lesson in a meaningful way.
Additionally, my lesson plan aligns with Colorado Extended Evidence Outcomes, which are standards for students who have been identified with an intellectual disability (ID). Then I determined that expressing themselves through communication with an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device and speaking is the priority. This lesson, Understanding Core Vocabulary, introduces most frequently occurring prepositions, “on” and “off” in a play-based structure. First, activating their background knowledge of “on” and “off” is a way I can access their learning and engagement. Next, in the analyze phase, I integrate technology to build on their schema and understanding of symbols to build meaning. One strategy I utilize is the Gradual Release of Responsibility or “I do, We do, You do” approach when speaking and locating vocabulary on their talker. Additionally, I use a digital based book, Prepositions Digital Adapted Book Caterpillar, based off the familiar story by Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Evidence tells us when students have an opportunity to read the same books multiple times, it benefits their literacy skills, Why Reading the Same Book Repeatedly Is Good for Kids (Even If It Drives You Nuts). As well, my students will access some digital activities, Dress Up | Daniel Tiger | PBS KIDS or Counting Pizza Party Game which reinforces their understanding of targeted vocabulary. Finally, we will create two simple sentences on our AAC device using “ on” and “off” using the Gradual Release of Responsibility approach, again. In regards to assessment, based on research, Benfits of Formative Assessment , students will be assessed through multiple formative assessments over a period of time to create a portfolio of their knowledge. First, through exhibiting independence and displaying understanding of targeted vocabulary using previous digital activities, accurately. Secondly, students will be required to perform tasks exhibiting understanding of meaning of targeted vocabulary, accurately speaking and identifying targeted vocabulary on their talkers.
One of the challenges I experienced with this process of creating a lesson plan was how to apply Hobb’s Learning Process Model to students with significant learning needs. One major priority for my students at this age is developing a mindset of “learning how to learn” (Hobbs, 2022). This is a challenge I face frequently with my students. Therefore, I approached this challenge by first prioritizing what would be taught. Then I identified what previous vocabulary my students knew from previous lessons and started there.
The one pushback or question that kept surfacing was how can stakeholders (administrators, parent community, teachers and students) develop partnerships to support digital and media education and make digital and media literacy more visible? The time is now.
Resources and Image Credits:
Buddy Son Storytime. (2021, August, 21). The very hungry caterpillar-read aloud children’s book with sound effects and music!. Youtube. https://youtu.be/021xLvsAIm4
Colorado Academic Standards: RWC Extended Evidence Outcomes. (2021, August). Colorado Department of Education.
Corneal, Devon A., (2022). Why reading the same book repeatedly is good for kids (even if it drives you nuts). Brightly. https://www.readbrightly.com/why-reading-the-same-book-repeatedly-is-good-for-kids/
Fivestar. (2012). The benefits of formative assessment for special education. Fivestar. https://fivestartech.com/the-benefits-of-formative-assessment-for-special-education/
Devlin, C (2022). Understanding Core Language. [Google Document]. Google Docs.
Devlin, C. (2022). Prepositions digital adapted book hungry caterpillar. Google Slides. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1P4mj--ind37uWcpvEHo9du2Z-dPbhDs86QVPHl722Cw/edit?usp=sharing
Hobbs, R. (2010). Digital media and literacy: a plan of action. a white paper on the digital and media literacy recommendations of the knight commission on the information needs of communities in a democracy. The Aspen Institute. https://www.aspeninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Digital_and_Media_Literacy.pdf
Hobbs, R. (2022). Digital and Media Literacy: A Process of Learning. [Image]. Media Education Lab. https://mediaeducationlab.com/sites/default/files/AACRA%202022%20.pdf
Master of Arts in Educational Technology (2022, Summer). Course content from Unit 5: Unit 5.2: Explore instructional methods for 21st century learning. Michigan State University, CEP
810: Teaching Understanding with Technology.
Shanahan, T. (2018, October 31) Gradual release of responsibility and complex text. Reading