Reading and Digital Literacy, Efforts and Projects Making a World Wide Difference


Bonnie Bracey  Sutton sharing Sunshine Online Books in  the Languages of South Africa with Educators at an IEarn Conference
I did get to work in Africa, in South Africa, Namibia, Tunisia, Egypt

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Mobile Matters
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Powerful Ideas Spread
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There are all kinds of games, simulations and events that kids get to experience on devices. Whatever the learning landscape let’s do it to encourage reading.
 Here is a way in which my mentor helps with literacy in South Africa. Kevin Federle is featured in the video using her work. We change the world one reader at a time, one learning community at a time.. if needed.
There are all kinds of games, simulations and events that kids get to experience on devices. Whatever the learning landscape let’s do it to encourage reading.
“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”
 – A C Grayling, Financial Times (in a review of A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel)
Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This infographic <http://www.example-infographics.com/literacy-in-the-world/&gt;  visualizes data on literacy rates in the world, and the correlation between literacy rates and democracy. (Source: uis.enesco.org (direct document download) <http://www.uis.unesco.org/literacy/Documents/literacy-peace-infographic-final-en.pdf&gt; For those of us who are tasked with helping with the transformation of learning there is a huge task.
To work in Africa was a dream of mine. I had never been there, but studied it from afar. My uncle taught many Africans when he was working at Lincoln University and he traveled often to Africa when I was a student. My mother would not let me go. I was able to teach there with the support of a mentor. I am sharing the back story to encourage you to live your dreals
But I need to tell the whole story. To keep your attention here is a video to show what I am talking about a journey of dusty roads, townships and villages and eternal thanks. But this time the traveler is Kevin Federle and not me. He played tennis with them too, I cooked in townships with the people. I loved it. My work was ten years earlier.
Books and Bytes
Teaching reading was always a great skill of mine. My mother and I enjoyed reading and sharing idea.  I used a lot of integrated methods to share life experiences. I also worked with a skilled teacher, Deloris Davis. I think she could have taught dead people to read. She and I teamed up in using the skills we had to teach children to read. She taught vocabulary and life experiences. I liked people to tell their own stories. Children made their own books, wrote their own poetry, and went to the theater at the Smithsonian. We did plays and we cooked. We were all purpose in getting kids to read.So I wrote once in a while on the early Internet about these methods. I admit to integrating the arts into my work. ( How could I not, if I was personalizing the learning?)
One day I got a request to visit New Zealand.
 
New Zealand? 
It seemed so far away and I was battling to keep my job. My principal kept telling me that Arlington Schools could hire three people with my salary. She said nothing about my skills or the fact that I worked with President Clinton, Vice President Gore,  and that we were crafting the document to shape the way that technology would be used in the US. Inside the school system administrators were casting dark eyes at me. But I did not go on the trip. I thought I needed to tend fires at home. Eventually I was so badgered that I did decide to go to visit.
Wendy Pye sent me Sunshine Books.
Who is Wendy Pye?
Wendy is the owner and Managing Director of the Wendy Pye Publishing Ltd, publishers of educational products. Wendy’s Sunshine Book and Galaxy Kids brands have taken the company to the ends of the earth and she became a publishing phenomenon when she launched Sunshine Books in 1985. Through her vision, passion, drive and energy, Wendy has built her company into one of the world’s most successful educational export companies. Her educational products consist of over 1800 titles which have sold over 218 million copies worldwide.The books were like the personal books the kids and I wrote, not as funny ok, and the illustrations were not as priceless, but she said that she had a digital way of turning kids stories into their personal stories. I was intrigued. New Zealand, maybe I thought and then my little niece threw me a curve.
I was on my way to demonstrate technology in the inner city to schools who did not believe in the Internet. I could not find the books that had been sent to me. I had started using them because they were interesting to children.
Finally, I discovered that the books were in her school backpack. I asked her why. She said she liked the books and wanted to keep them and share with her friends, so I used my original student product to share.
I decided to go to New Zealand. I was privileged to travel there to learn Wendy’s  ways of crafting a learning landscape to teach reading in wonderful ways.Wendy pioneered the use of multimedia – animated internet and CD-Rom – to complement the print and other components of her products. She was a leader in the development of an early literacy program and learning technologies, and she worked with many institutes and universities worldwide to develop strategies for literacy through research.
I decided I had to go to New Zealand to see the way the technology worked when my principal decided that I would go back into a regular classroom with limited use of technology ( or I could retire). So since I decided to retire, and change the world outside of the classroom, I needed new tools.New Zealand here I come ,I thought.
 
Working with the Maori/ Sunshine Books/ Researching in New Zealand
Sunshine Books had programs in Maori schools. I visited, learned, and understood that Wendy and I had similar ways of thinking about reading. I loved the art and ways in which she integrated the learning process. Barefoot to School was a descriptor for some of my writings about being in New Zealand. I explored the museums in Wellington and we talked to educators from the Beehive about digital technology. We worked with professors in the Universities.
 I had a new friend, who understood how to let the creator in the child emerge. I was excited about the travel and synergy. We toured universities and visited in cities to share our ideas. I was always thinking these books would work in inner city schools too. Children at the age of five were introduced to technology, it was amazing and it worked. I have to share about the letter getter later. Here is a tease.http://www.awardinteractive.com/lettergetter/AboutLGO.php
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