The Common Core State Standards in the United States (CCSSO, 2010) call for greater emphasis on students being able to read complex informational texts across grade levels and subjects. This requires teachers being able to help students learn and apply key skills with a range of online multimodal information sources (that combine different modes of communication – linguistic (through print), visual (via, images and graphics), aural (through audio), gestural (through video), and numerical (through graphs and tables)). These skills include discerning the purpose(s) of a source, making inferences, analyzing claims and evidence, assessing the credibility and accuracy of sources, and comparing different sources to identify where they agree or disagree. The Singapore Social Studies curriculum is rooted in the rigorous instruction of these kinds of skills, thus offering an opportunity for educators in the United States and other parts of the world to learn from the experiences of teachers and students in Singapore social studies classrooms.
One of the purposes of this blog is to consider the range of teaching approaches and strategies across contexts that can help educators better prepare students for the kinds of critical reading and thinking necessary to work with the complex information sources they are likely to encounter in online environments. By carefully and critically considering the range of 21st century standards and competencies called for in different educational contexts (such as in the United States and Singapore), we hope to highlight some of the challenges and opportunities for educators doing this difficult work. We also hope educators across different contexts can use this site to share strategies and approaches they are using to better prepare students for 21st century contexts.