Literacy can be defined as the process of getting essential skills in reading writing and analyzing and interpretation of written and spoken literature. It is the bedrock for continuous learning, and it is an integral part of the highly skilled population needed for Alberta’s next generation economy. Literacy levels can be used to determine the level of income, wellbeing and social status (Linda & Karen, 2010). Across Canada literacy has been taken seriously. The Ministry of Education is spearheading the campaign through the 2007 Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) Literacy Action Plan. It encourages the provinces and territories to work together to increase the literacy levels of all Canadian population. In addition, it is important to build literacy skills in the curriculum for all subjects and grades. This is because students do not easily transfer literacy skills from one experience to another unless they are instructed. Teaching cuts across different curriculum allows development of content to avoid complexity (Linda & Karen, 2010).
Literacy is a test through which high school completion is assessed. This is because students without reading and writing skills find it hard to keep pace with the demand of high school curriculum. This has a direct implication in the economic status of Alberta since those individuals who fail to complete high school tend to find it very hard to make a living (Linda & Karen, 2010). During a provincial consultation, educators in Alberta advanced the need to have more support in advancing their knowledge in literacy. This would increase the capacity of the teachers of kindergarten. This is very important because at this level students come from schools with varying literacy levels and cultural backgrounds (Owen, Silet & Brown, 1998).
Literacy is not a skill which has its applicability in one discipline but the widened scope of its applicability in Alberta should be encouraged so as to cover other fields of study. In Alberta increase of literacy levels has been championed by the government and it has put in place an evaluation, mentoring and reporting system to monitor the progress (Linda & Karen, 2010).
Studies carried among7th graders found that 40% students have decided that putting effort in reading is not worth it. This clearly demonstrates that there are instances whereby many students can not be able to read or write. The same can be said of the number of students who show lack of interest in school (Owen & Brown (1998). Teachers are now working towards bringing media into the classrooms especially to those students who seem disinterested in the written word. Visual media such as television, advertising images, films, diagrams, symbols, photographs, videos, drama, drawings, sculpture and paintings are used. This in return makes viewing and representing part of contemporary life and enhancing media literacy (Linda & Karen, 2010).
Viewing can be defined as the active process of attending to and comprehending visual media. Skills in viewing allow students to comprehend ways in which images and language can be used to convey ideas, values and beliefs (Linda & Karen, 2010). These ideas, values and beliefs, have great influence on their lives, yet most often than not are conveyed through visual media by politicians or through advertising (Owen, Silet & Brown, 1998). Viewing allows students to get into contact with materials from diverse socio-cultural back grounds. This enables them to receive information and appreciate the ideas of others. This is because the comprehension process involved in reading, such as previewing, predicting and making inferences are also used in viewing (Linda & Karen, 2010). Teachers ensure that students gain skills in active and critical thinking as part of media literacy. To ensure that, in representing students, they convey a diversity of messages in terms of information and ideas. Through a variety of media such as video presentations, posters, diagrams, charts, symbols, visual art, drama, mime and models (Owen, Silet & Brown,1998).
Linda D. & Karen, P. (2010). Fresh Perspectives on New Illiteracies and Technology Integration. Voices from the Middle. 17(3), 9-18. Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/VM/0173mar2010/VM0173F resh.pd
Owen, D. Silet, C. & Brown, S. (1998). Teaching Television to Empower Students. English Journal. 17(1), 28-33. Retrived from