What is the Author’s “Text Message”?


This past weekend I attended the Young Authors and Storytellers Festival here at SUNY Geneseo. The children in the community were invited to attend the festival and enter their own poems into the poetry contest. It was a great day full of learning and appreciation for children’s poetry.

Literacy for this generation is defined differently than from even five years ago. The keynote speaker, an artist from Arkansas, showed the children a slideshow explaining ekphrasis, a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art. She began by showing what I thought were random shapes, and she went around the room and ask different age groups what we thought the image was. The adults had no answer, the college students labeled the image “art”, and the younger children yelled, “GOOGLE!” After looking at the image a little harder, I could make out the word “Google”, but the parents could not. I found this interesting and concluded that the children knew it was Google because of technology, whereas if the woman showed a blurry picture of Webster’s Dictionary cover, the parents would recognize that, while the children may not.


Because the keynote speaker was an artist, she related poetry to her favorite paintings to show that every piece of art has a story. As she went through the poems, she would ask the children, “what is the text message the author is sending us?” I was very confused by this question. Text message? This poem is from the 1800s, how could the author send me a “text message”? In that moment, I felt very old because the kids did not find anything wrong or strange with that question. She continued to teach the students about how each poem has a text message the author is sending to you to explain what is happening. This interpretation was bizarre to me, but it was an effective strategy because the students knew exactly what they were being asked.

The term literacy is constantly evolving. I think that as long as children are reading, it shouldn’t necessarily matter what they are reading from: a book, a magazine, an iPad, an iPhone, or a Kindle. Reading is a vital part to survival in our society and in the classroom. It is our jobs as teachers and role models to find what makes children excited about reading in order to ensure their interest in being life long learners.


Social Media in the Classroom


After reading the article “5 Unique Uses of Twitter in the Classroom” by Ryan Lytle, I thought about how beneficial Twitter really is in a classroom setting. The article discusses the use of Twitter mainly in universities for the purposes of conveying messages to students, to broaden their technological ability, and how to expand businesses. Although the article focuses mostly on how to build a business over Twitter, I think one important takeaway is the importance of social media etiquette. Because social media is still relatively new, we have not created a social etiquette of what is appropriate and what is not including when you should and shouldn’t use social media, and what is and isn’t appropriate to post.

In our class, we use Twitter during and after class using #engl340. This, in my opinion, is a great resource to continue the conversation out of the classroom setting. It enforces the fact that learning does not end once you leave the class. The article discusses the importance of maintaining a professional Twitter in order to spread your ideas as well as become more marketable.


I think that this topic is now relevant to all ages, whether it be in a college or a high school. Technology is a topic that must be taught, and well, in order to maintain an appropriate social media image in future endeavors.