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Adolescents’ Online Literacies

Connecting Classrooms, Digital Media, and Popular Culture – Revised edition


Edited By Donna E. Alvermann

This revised edition of Adolescents’ Online Literacies: Connecting Classrooms, Digital Media, and Popular Culture features a variety of digital tools for humanizing pedagogy. For example, the book examines numerous artistic representations of young people’s self-selected graphic novels and fan fiction as part of an in-class multi-genre unit on fandom. This edition makes concrete connections between what the research portrays and what teachers, school librarians, and school media specialists know to be the case in their interactions with young people at the middle and high school level. The contributors of these chapters – educators, consultants, and researchers who span two continents – focus on ways to incorporate and use the digital literacies that young people bring to school.
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Chapter 10: “I Think They’re Being Wired Differently”: Secondary Teachers’ Cultural Models of Adolescents and Their Online Literacies


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Secondary Teachers’ Cultural Models of Adolescents and Their Online Literacies

Kelly Chandler-Olcott and Elizabeth Lewis

The American media have shown significant interest in young people’s online literacies in the past few years. A columnist in a major paper framed social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace as “drugs” to which youth were addicted (Zimmerman, 2009). “Technology leaves teens speechless,” read the headline for another story about oral communication skills declining among adolescents who text message extensively (Barker, 2006). In spring 2009, reports appeared on television and in print about adolescents’ engagement in sexting, sending sexually explicit pictures of oneself via cell phone or posting them online (Richmond, 2009). The images that emerge from such coverage are of youth who are technologically proficient but whose choices threaten the development of their intellect, language, relationships—even their safety.

Qualitative research in education confirms the centrality of online literacies to many adolescents’ daily lives, but it often presents a more positive spin on their practices than reporters do. Lewis and Fabos (2005), for example, found that teens who participated in instant messaging (IM) demonstrated sophisticated thinking “as they critically analyzed the language of IM in terms of the rhetorical context within which it was framed, and in terms of what the texts could do for them” (p. 493). Other researchers have documented ← 183 | 184 → the value of literacy practices associated with zine...

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