5 Activities That Pack a Super-Literacy Punch!

For librarians, supporting 21st century learning means supporting the multiple literacies that go with it: digital literacy, information literacy, visual literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, and so on. I like to refer to these as the ‘literacies of information’ since they all have roots in information technology. Often, I find that these literacies are treated and discussed as separate entities.

They shouldn’t be. Why? Because even when you are teaching, say, information literacy skills, you’re typically touching on other literacies as well (e.g. digital literacy, media literacy). That being said, some learning activities are more literacy-rich than others.

Here are 5 activities that pack a super-literacy punch:


Not blogs, blogging. And not writing a single blog post for an assignment (that’s not blogging, blogging suggests multiple blog posts). Blogging as a literacy-rich activity is an ongoing effort over a period of time — semester, trimester, curricular unit, you get the picture. It even makes for a good library programming activity, such as a YA lit blog hosted by the library, but run by student authors.

What makes it a super-literacy activity?

Reading and writing. Crafting a media message. Finding or creating audiovisual objects. Researching and synthesizing information. Learning how to use a digital tool. Commenting.That’s critical, media, visual, information, digital and technology literacy learning.

Blogging tools

You already know the big ones, but here are some classroom blogging tools you may be unfamiliar with:


While learning to code is a great skill, it’s not the coding per se that makes it a literacy-rich activity in classrooms and libraries. Coding teaches design thinking, which is a creative problem solving process.

Design thinking in a nutshell:

What makes it a super-literacy activity?

I see information literacy in the design thinking process (above image), with critical literacy being a function of information literacy. Add in coding to teach design thinking, and you’ll also promote digital, media, technology, and visual literacies.

Coding tools

Concept Mapping

Concept mapping is typically seen by librarians as a strategy that assists students in the planning stages of the research process. It’s so much more than that! Concept mapping can be an entire research activity in and of itself, and a great alternative to the annotated bibliography (you can still annotate within the concept map). A well-developed concept map resembles a bowl of spaghetti or a spider web:


What makes it a super-literacy activity?

Researching, analyzing, and organizing information. Identifying relationships between concepts. Creating a visual display of information. Learning to use a digital tool. That’s critical, information, visual, digital, and technology literacy learning.

Concept Mapping Tools

These concept mapping tools include linking words, which are essential to the concept mapping process (otherwise it’s really mind mapping).

Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling is an activity that runs the gamut from simple (images and text) to complex (including movie elements). And digital storytelling fits anywhere within the curriculum, from fictional stories in a language arts or English class to memoirs in a History class to heavily researched documentary-like projects in a Science or Social Studies class.

What makes it a super-literacy activity?

Gathering information. Finding, developing, and synthesizing multiple media elements. Arranging visual information. Writing. Storyboarding. Learning to use digital tools. That’s critical, information, media, visual, digital, and technology literacy learning.

Digital Storytelling Tools


Yes, gaming. And especially virtual worlds, roleplaying games (RPGs) and puzzlers. The cognitive benefits of gaming is a growing area of research, as is game-based learning. Though, most of what you see developed for classrooms today is the use of gaming elements to increase engagement and motivation. Games themselves, the ones designed by honest to goodness game designers, the kinds of games that are difficult to master, those are the games that make for literacy-rich experiences. And libraries are the perfect avenue for promoting gameplay to support multiple literacies.

What makes it a super-literacy activity?

Exploring environments to find clues and information. Using information to solve problems or mysteries. Learning how to build virtual worlds. ‘Reading’ the actions of game characters or other players. That’s critical, information, digital, technology, media and visual literacy learning. Also spatial literacy learning.

Literacy-Rich Games

I wrote about these games and more in a previous post.


One thought on “5 Activities That Pack a Super-Literacy Punch!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s