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A conference to encourage K-12 educators to rethink the notion of what literacy is and how it can best be taught in the digital media age.

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Friday, May 12 • 14:40 - 15:40
Reimagining the Writer's Workshop: Students as Multimodal Text Designers

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Participants will explore the multimodal literacy processes of diverse, elementary students as they create new visions for writing workshop utilizing play, original story narratives, Legos, digital photography, and writing software applications on laptop computers. An examination of student productions and dialogue will be presented and offer insights into students as multimedia text creators with a particular focus on students learning English as a new language. Student work samples, transcripts, and video clips will provide connections to transactional theory, new literacies, and life in a multimodal world. This will be accompanied by a group discussion about advocating for active, student-centered literacy instruction during a time when many educators find it difficult to move beyond mandated, prescribed curricula. Attendees can expect to learn (1) new ways to engage students in multimodal literacies during a re-designed writer’s workshop, (2) to analyze student multimodal work and dialogue, and (3) to strategize a means to integrate new literacies into their instruction.

This session is based on a year-long qualitative research project in an urban, Title I public school third grade classroom. The project focused on 23 diverse students that included multilingual students whose families’ first languages were Spanish, French, Bassa, and Arabic. The study investigated the use of new literacies with a group of third graders’ meaning construction of texts through multimodal design and analysis of videotaped interactions, student interviews, and created texts. The students read Lego books, built story scenes and characters with actual Legos, photographed their creations with digital cameras, and then wrote graphic or comic style stories using StoryVisualizer. These student-centered experiences offer new understandings in conceptualizing literacy as a social practice in the 21st century while problematizing autonomous views of literacy (Street, 2012).

The intersection of New Literacy Studies (NLS) and multimodalities equally values where, how, and by whom a text is constructed along with physical features and contextual meanings (Street, Pahl, & Rowsell, 2009). NLS helps situate digital literacies in a sociocultural paradigm that values social, cultural, historical, and political contexts (Barton & Hamilton, 1998). Lankshear and Knoble (2011) define these literacies as “generating, communicating, and negotiating encoded meanings by providing a range of new or more widely accessible resource possibilities for making meaning” (p. 56). Value is given to the social and linguistic processes in the ever changing multimodal nature of literacy practices (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006). Shifting from conventions such as grammar and transmission of knowledge to unfamiliar domains where learners draw from multiple metalanguages and a mixture of modes to both interpret and express a repertoire of ideas is essential for learning (Cope & Kalantzis, 2013). Blending the social practices children bring from their homes and communities has the potential to inform the repertoires and medias that students use to express themselves in school (Genishi & Dyson, 2009).

Meaning cannot be gathered from language alone given the prevalence of other modes in 21st century literacy (Kress, 2003). Therefore, it is essential to closely examine the ways in which students understand, create, and transform multimodal representations of meaning by changing the shape of resources to meet their individual needs. This research moves beyond literacy as information retrieval to a model where “the reader re-makes the text, drawing on the possibilities each mode represents (Moss, 2003, p. 85).” The meaning resides in the resources available to the reader within the socially situated event. Transformation of the “basic” curricula is vital and studies such as this one will assist in developing a framework for reading, responding to, and creating multimodal productions.


avatar for Sally Brown

Sally Brown

Associate professor, Georgia Southern University
Associate Professor Georgia Southern University

Friday May 12, 2017 14:40 - 15:40
Classroom 419 High School and Administration Block, Level 4

Attendees (11)

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