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Seeking Digital Citizen Engagement

Author: Abby Morales ’15

Abby Morales, Teacher, Grad Student, Amazing Mom, Social Media Activist, and Leader #mystkates

One of my ultimate goals as an effective educator is to equip my students with the skills necessary to be a successful and productive member of society. Just as Stronge (2007) indicates, the term effective “has multiple layers and implications within the teaching profession” (p. 99). In order to be effective, an educator must care deeply, recognize complexity, communicate clearly, and serve conscientiously (Stronge, 2007, p. 100).

Stronge (2007) states that caring deeply involves providing the child with the support they need while holding them accountable for their own learning. This is done by addressing complexity in matching the skill level of the student with an appropriate task. If students are to complete meaningful tasks to a high degree, the teacher must clearly communicate the expectations and processes associated with each given task (Stronge, 2007, p. 100-102). Lastly, the effective teacher must be willing to dedicate the necessary time and energy required to make all of this possible.

Dr. Henry Jenkins of the University of Southern California discusses the role of digital media to create opportunities for civic engagement in our world. He specifically references the Harry Potter Alliance, which is a group that organizes around human right issues around the world. After reading Harry Potter, the leader of the Harry Potter Alliance, recognized evil in society, and formed an “army” to tackle the issues of our time. He used the fantasy of the book to help others understand the needs of the world. He has since used this platform to mobilize 100,000 young people to address human rights issues (Jenkins, 2011).

Jenkins states that people desperately want to share things with one another, which is also how people learn from one another. When it comes to digital platforms, people acquire skills by playing around with the media. The question he poses is, “How do we go from participating in our culture to participating in our political and civic structures?” He questions how we can get people to be as passionate about the future of our society as they are about anime, etc. Jenkins asserts that if this is not established in the classroom, many kids will be left behind (Jenkins, 2011).

Just as Dr. Henry Jenkins (2011) refers to the sense of student empowerment achieved by participation in authentic practices, each teacher should strive to guide his or her students through meaningful tasks that will also provide them with the skills needed to be successful in the future, regardless of their chosen career paths. From a traditional understanding of literacy as reading and writing, I would add creating and collaborating in a variety of contexts. As the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) recognized and established,

“Active, successful participants in this 21st century global society must be able to

– Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology;

– Build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships with others so to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought;

– Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes;

– Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information;

– Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts;

– Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments” (NCTE, 2013).

It is my goal to help my students reach this degree of overall literacy, using technology as a way in which acquire essential 21st century skills.

NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment (2013) Retreived from National Council of Teachers of English website:

Jenkins, H., (2011, February 13). Extended Interview: Dr. Henry Jenkins. Digital media-new learners of the 21st century. PBS. Retrieved from the IPTV website:

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