This week is Teen Tech Week, sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association, an event that asks us to think about the importance and availability of various technologies in the library.
We may not all teach teens, but we certainly all use technology in the classroom in some way—and the students we teach interact with technologies regularly in the course of their normal daily lives.
The texts that students interact with have rapidly expanded from the days when the only definition of a text was a print-based book or magazine. While students interact with a range of print, visual, and sound texts, they do not always recognize that these many documents are texts (even though they may find all these texts in the library).
To encourage students to expand their definition of texts, try a simple activity in the classroom. Ask students to spend a few minutes freewriting about the role that technology plays in their lives. Next, ask students to brainstorm a list of technologies that they use, see, or know about in their notebooks, in order to give students a few minutes to gather their thoughts. You can ask questions to encourage their discovery:
- What technology do you have in your desk, backpack, or locker?
- What technology do you see in the classroom?
- What technology do you see in other classrooms and locations in the school?
- What technology do you see in the workplace (yours, a family member’s, or someone else’s)?
- What technology do you see on your way from home to school?
- What technology do you see in the mall or grocery store?
- What technology did you see or use when you were younger?
If students have not included nondigital technologies in their list, share the first two paragraphs of the definition of technology from Wikipedia. The List of Technologies from Wikipedia may also stimulate discussion.
Once you have an extensive list of technologies assembled, step back and review the entire list with the students.If any patterns emerge from the list, take a few minutes to talk about the comparisons among technologies. As they look at the list, ask students to explore the various texts related to the technologies in more detail. Your goal is simply to ask students to think more deeply about the various texts that they use, see, or know.
Many follow-ups to this activity are possible:
- Explore the defiinition of texts and literacy more completely with students at the elementary, middle, or secondary/college level.
- Have students track all the technologies that they interact with over the course of a day and then draw conclusions about their “dependence” on technology.
- Ask students to choose a favorite technology and discuss the ways it influences their lives.
- Have students write technology autobiographies that explore why they use the technologies that they do.