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Cole Benack

SEDC 710
Literacy Survey Essay
Looking back on the first day of class and my initial definition of literacy, its interesting
to see how literally I believed the definition to be:
I believe literacy is the ability to read, write, and speak in a manner by which you
can be understood by others and also be fully able to express your thoughts,
feelings, and emotions into words. There is no one correct type of literacy. You
may be able to read every science-fiction book in existence but become stumped
or clueless when it comes to poetry. Spelling words also plays a large role in
literacy. Languages are a complex system and
Thats where I suppose I ran out of time or intelligent ideas. I am not ashamed to say that the
concept of literacy, especially critical literacy, has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Id like
to believe that because I am so proficient in mathematics, I in turn do not posses the language
skills to become adept in literacy, but the more I learn about it, the more I see it as an excuse.
Yes, perhaps English Language Arts is not my strongest subject, but to simply group literacy as
the ability to understand intense research articles and write insightful responses was indeed quite
ignorant. What I have come to understand now about literacy is all the different discourses in our
lives that it applies to. I will admit, when we first wrote the Who I Am poem I didnt really
understand the point of it or what it was for. I now understand how it shows the different aspects
of ourselves that describe the person we are. Going forward, I understand I will encounter not
only many different types of students, but also many different discourses that these students will
posses.
One reading from class that really resonated with me was the article by Hagood. Seeing
how teachers could misunderstand a student and it turn isolate them from the educational system

was in all honesty quite disturbing. This quote in particular shows how misconstrued Timony
was:
By connecting his knowledge of current events related to the girl's suspension for
bringing a Tweety Bird key chain to school to his commentary about Alex's guitar
pick, Timony exhibited subjectivity, pushing against stabilization of the meaning
of weapons and of an identity that adolescents are violent. At the same time,
Timony acknowledged that adolescents are capable of being violent, citing
Anthony as an example and exhibiting another aspect of subjectivity. Thus,
Timony implemented an understanding of critical literacy and subjectivity though
admittedly unknowingly by these specific terms. (259 Hagood)
I hope that I encounter a student like Timony in any of classes. The ability to connect the events
that surround one on a smaller social level to other events around the world exhibits the kind of
critical literacy that needs to be instilled in our student for future years to come. As far as it
pertains to my content area, math, I hope students look at the world around them and see the
applications of the math they learn in the classroom. Yes, not all the formulas and computations
may be explicitly relevant, but the problem solving and logic students use when approaching
math is more than relevant in any subject. Another source from class that have moved what
literacy can mean in my content area was the reading African American Boys and Literacy. At
one point in the reading, the writer talks about a teacher that really affected the writers life:
My eighth-grade teacher understood that her role as a teacher needed to go
beyond helping me do well on the Reading Mastery Program that our school
district was then using to measure reading achievement. She was concerned about
my identity. She understood something about the turmoil Malcolm X had
experienced in his life, and saw a connection between his text and my life.
This shows the profound affect a teacher can have on a student that extends beyond the exact
material in the course curriculum. As a math teacher, I will not only be trying to prepare my
students for exams at the end of the year and preparing them for the courses they will take in the
future, but trying to create critically literate students by exposing them to things that cause to

think about connections between the material learned in class and applications found outside of
it.
Another aspect of literacy I learned was extremely important, particularly when applied
to math was academic language. Below are mathematics semantics from the gonzagateach wiki
on academic language:

3 times a number is more than 2 times the number.


a given number, the unknown, a number multiplied by itself; change over time; let
x equal 10; other than; impossible/unlikely/likely/probable/certain

It is invaluable that the students are able to use the academic language from their content area
effectively. Not only does it promote a deeper understanding of the subject, but it also
encourages increased literacy in other classes. The crossover for many classes, especially math
and science, can be quite invaluable to both teachers and students. Having the opportunity to
work with students studying to become science teachers really helped cement this idea for me.
Having the ability to work with other teachers from other subjects in the future is something I
will certainly want to implement.
Of all the resources that we used in this class, there are two that I anticipate will be the
most useful to me when it comes time to plan lessons for my future classes. The first is the
cognitive rigor matrix. Too often in mathematics, teachers are too focused on the areas of
remember and understand. The Cognitive Rigor Matrix not only shows there are many other
areas students must be able to perform mathematics in, but also the different levels at which
these dimensions can be shown at. Before this semester, I had many qualms with the Common
Core State Standards (CCSS), especially since I never encountered it during my time in school.
Using it the way we did in class showed me its true value, and that is helping teachers structure
their lessons to promote literacy in their students, especially for students who may have much

room to improve in these areas. There is also a lot more leeway and ability to manipulate the
standards than I originally thought. Both of these resources will be invaluable to my future
classrooms as I attempt to create students that can attain the right answer, but also posses the
literacy skills to truly understand and then explain the content they are taught.