Schmoker’s Authentic Literacy and Blogging

Fulfilling the lead learner role that principals have become expected to embody, I am always looking for what I can learn to help my staff and students succeed. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been reading Mike Schmoker’s new book, Focus. He talks about the need for authentic literacy, which he defines as “purposeful-usually argumentative-reading, writing and talking”(Schmoker, 2010). At the same time, I attended a county-wide Institute Day presentation on 21st Century skills-Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking.
21st Century Skills

from @j_bednar on Flickr

While I sat and listened to some great presentations on how we can implement these skills in our grade levels, I was also reading how Schmoker denounces the educational faddism he sees so prevalent today. As I try to reconcile his ideas with all that I continue to read about 21st Century skills, I am reflecting on how to guide my building forward.

William Zinsser wrote, “writing and learning and thinking are the same process.” As districts grapple with revising curricula to match the New Illinois Learning Standards Incorporating the Common Core, I believe that there needs to be much of Schmoker’s Authentic Literacy written as the foundation of all English/Language Arts curricular discussions. However, I also believe that blogging is a good place for 21st Century Skills to meet Schmoker’s definition. As teachers, administrators and students are compelled to write more and for a more public consumption, we will need to grapple with ideas, become more reflective and improve our overall thinking. I am committing to blogging as a way to show my writing and thinking. I hope I am not the only one seeing the link between blogging and the type of thinking Schmoker writes about in his book.

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