New Literacies Autobiography

As I pursue my Master of Arts in Literacy Education, we take a variety of classes. Currently I am taking a class on “New Literacies.” Our current assignment is to reflect on our “New Literacies Autobiography” a short reflection on literacy in our lives, of all forms. As the class is technologically focused, we are encouraged to write more than just a discussion post. Since I have tried (and largely failed at being consistent) to make myself into more of a writer, hence this blog, I decided that I would post mine here. So, if you’re not reading this because you’re in my small group, bear with me.

I am an only child. This, I think, has largely impacted how I view literacy. As a young child, I spent the majority of my time with adults, and when they didn’t want to hang out with a six, seven, or eight year-old, I was handed a book and told to go read. Luckily for me, I didn’t mind it. In addition to being an only child, we were a family that moved a lot. By the time I graduated high school I had moved more than twelve times and gone to more than seven schools. Because of this, my lifelong friends aren’t “my best friend “Jenny” that I’ve known since I was six!” My lifelong friends are Meg Murray, Laura Ingalls, and Claudia Kincaid. Oh, I had plenty of real-life friends, but before the advent of electronic communication as we know it now, once you moved away, communication with those left behind didn’t last long.

Books and the characters in them remained my closest friends up to high school and college. While I still enjoyed (and enjoy) reading, I was able to live in one place long enough to make lasting “human” friends. The majority of my childhood and adolescent literacy life revolved around books.

When I went to college, all of that changed. I started college in 1997, and was given my first email address. That little green-screen computer int he student union opened up an entire new world to me. Within a year, the internet was increasingly popular and forums, chat rooms, and blogs were quickly becoming the norm. As a transient kid, moving around a lot, I found these arenas to be wonderful for me. Going home for the summer? Great! All my “friends” come with me in my little grey box, as long as I hook it up to a phone line. Electronic communication quickly became my literacy of choice.

I didn’t desert my book-friends, however, they just took a backseat to electronics (and homework, it was college after all).

Now, as an adult, my definition of literacy, and it’s role in my life is evolving. As a reader and a reading teacher, I frequently forget that literacy is more than the ability to read a book and interact with a story. It’s writing, it’s even speaking, all forms of communication. These classes have helped me to expand my definition and look for new opportunities. When I realized that I was expecting my students to write, but wasn’t writing myself, I started this blog. When I discovered the number of wonderful teachers using Twitter for staff development, I joined in. Lastly, when I started my master’s coursework, I continue to discover new ways of defining and incorporating the idea of “literacy” into my personal and professional life.

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Professional Organizations

Since early this summer, I’ve contemplated joining a professional organization. While I’ve been unfortunate enough to be cut from positions for the last two years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be teaching full-time (or near it) for all three years of my career so far. I decided that I wanted to join a professional organization to further my professional development.

I did some research, and looked into the IRA (International Reading Association), NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), the MRA (Minnesota Reading Association), and a few others, that I didn’t consider long enough to list here.

After passing on the MRA, looking for a national-based organization, I just about decided on NCTE. (Due in large part to the fantastic stories I was reading on Twitter about the latest convention). I spoke with my literacy coach at school who recommended NCTE (she’s a former member, no longer belonging as she is no longer teaching), and that really sealed the deal for me.

So here I am. The newest member of NCTE.

I feel so grown up.