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[In your view, what are innovations in instruction,or how would you describe them to your students?]
MARVA CAPPELLO: Well, innovationsare anything, any new approach to problem solving.And so innovations and instructionare simply appropriations on old practices or new waysto fill a gap that hasn't been traditionally accomplishedby regular mainstream methods.[What are the origins of these innovations?In which classrooms and what forms have these taken shape?]Well, innovations occur when there's a need.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: So they grow out of a need to either do a better job,or to fix an area that hasn't been approached before.And for me, in particular, my workdeals with visual literacies.My innovations tend to be around the use of visual textsin classrooms.And so I do research that helps support studentslearning English and using visuals to support languagedevelopment.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And I advocate for this for many different reasons.I think it's really important for teachersto capitalize on the students out of school learning.Our students today, our contemporary societyis overwhelmingly visual in character.It makes really good sense for teachers to appropriateand borrow from what students are doing outside of schoolfor inside school communication processes.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: I also advocate for this, because itcan be applied in both receptive and productive modes.Just because students are being flooded with imagesdoesn't mean that they know how to critically view them.So part of our job is to help students develop the skillsthat they need to be critical viewers of media,of visual text.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And in terms of production, I thinkit's really important that we allow students, especiallyour English learners and those that are strugglingwith English to have ways that they canexpress their understandings.We never want students to be limited by language.We don't want their cognition to belimited by the way they can expresstheir new understandings.And so using visuals and visual texts in the classroomallows them another route to communicatewhat they understand.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: [What first inspired you to start research in this field?]So I have a BFA in photography.My background comes from visual arts.And I worked in the field.I was a photographer's assistant,and I curated a private collection of images.So I've always seen the world this way.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: But it really wasn't until I started doing researchand I came upon a school in anthropology,of anthropological thinking and the waythat they used visual based research methods.Then I tried to take that back into my classroomand use it for pedagogical purposes.So I do see it in twofold, one for research purposes,and one for teaching purposes.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: So I've been influenced in doing photography since the mid '80s,and even before that.It's just the way I see the world.So it makes perfect sense for me.I'm sure that students and childrensee the world in similar ways.[What key thinkers have most inspired you, and why?]Susan Sontag's essays on photographyhave been really important, just the ideathat when we make images, we are conferring importance.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: That's always stuck with me.In terms of anthropological work,the seminal book by Collier and Collieron doing visual anthropology has been really important.But in education, I would have to saythat the work of Peggy Albers and also Frank Serafinihas really framed the way that I think about using visualsfor instruction and classroom.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: [What are the principal innovationsin use in the classroom today?What technologies are connected to these innovations?]So I see teachers more and more makinggood use of the visuals that are available to themin their content area textbooks, as wellas through internet resources.I'm really pleased to see teachersusing free databases for access through the Creative Commons,but also, through museum websites.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: Museums like Getty and the Metropolitan Museumof Art in New York both have free content for teachersto use in their classrooms.And I see more and more teachers usingthis to support their curriculum,especially across the disciplines.I also see teachers using visual based strategiesto engage students.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: In relationship to the Common Core,where there's a heavy focus on providing evidenceto support claims, visuals make a really good toolto teach that skill to students.And I've been seeing quite a bit of that in the schoolsthat I work with here in Southern California.In terms of technology, that's a great assetfor this kind of work.And one of the schools where I've justcompleted my most recent research study,the students had 1 to 1 iPads.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And I saw them able to use this for both those receptive andproductive purposes that I spoke about before.So for example, in receptive purposes,the students were able to zoom in.They could scroll and highlight specific areasof the images, whether it's textbook images or fine art,in order to find evidence to support their claims.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And then on the other side, in productive purposes,students use apps to create visuals.And that might be drawing apps, or photographic apps,or using images that they collect from the internetin order to express their understandings,and things like Reflector, or other tools wherethe teachers can then show the students' work on the screen.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: That's been really helpful in those kind of visual basedlessons, as well.[How have advancements in technology impacted the fieldof innovations in instruction?]It absolutely impacted the field.Technology has really made a differenceto accessibility for both teachers and for students.So in the past, in fact, I used to work for and a photo agency.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And we would get requests from ad agencies.We need a photograph of a couple on the beach in Bermuda.And we'd have to go into our filesand physically find that image and then send it to the agency.Now, access is immediate.Our students are so clever in termsof finding the kinds of tools that they need.And so not just things like Google,but as I mentioned earlier, arts institutionsdigitalizing their collections makesthis really helpful for us, especially whenwe're doing rather obscure topicsthat we might not be able to find a large number of booksand references on having internet access,and especially those visuals reallymakes a difference to learning.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: [What are the desired pedagogical outcomes of theseinnovations, and what does the research tell us abouttheir effectiveness for good pedagogy?]So far, the research is pretty limited.But we do know that using images with childrenhelps them create deeper memories.We also have found out that it definitelyimpacts vocabulary development.And that's been a finding that I see, as well.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: In my own work, I found that using imagesreally does provide support for academic language development.And this is really important, because the Common Coreis asking for increasing amounts of information textswhere they have very subject specific vocabulary.If we use images, not only does that give students another wayto understand the vocabulary or a deep concept, but also,a way to practice it.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: Through having the discussions about the imageswithin their class, they get to try it on in a safe space,in a novel way, in a way that might notfeel like traditional school.So that leads me to another outcome,which is this safe space I describe as a way for studentsto take risks.So since engaging with visual text is an innovation,and there is a novelty to it, if frees studentsfrom the kind of conventional educational expectations.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And so more students, I found, are willing to participate,and different kinds of students.I hear teachers tell me, that's the first timeI heard her speak in a whole group all year.And I do believe that that has to dowith the innovative quality of using this particular approachto education.I think it makes a really big difference,that safe space, that engagement where we'reable to differentiate for all different students, I think,is really important, especially rightnow, when text is more complex and vocabulary is more complex.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: [How important are research methods for a rigorous analysisof this field?What are the key research methods being employed?]Not surprisingly, the research methodsthat we use to study visual based classroom experiencesare visual based.It makes perfect sense.So I've used two key important-- Ibelieve two important methodologies in the past.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: One is the use of photo interviews.So in my own work, I've created photo kits of picturesthat I've created with the students and pictures,images, drawings, or photographs of the studentshave created, and included them as a toolto guide the conversations that Ihave with students about the concepts that we're addressing.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: So for example, one study, I exploredstudents' perceptions of what was important in writing.And I had the images.And I actually asked them to start the coding with me.Let's take these images and sort them into categories.And then we named the categories.So we were able to use that as again, from memory,but also to help them guide the kinds of languagethat they needed to express their understanding.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: Another very important methodology that I useis visual discourse analysis.Visual discourse analysis is a way to find and namepatterns in visual data.So one example of that is I'm working with a team at SDSUcalled Arts Alive.And we gave cameras to participantsduring theater performances and createda database of 2,300 images.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: Now, we can look at those images,and sort them, and tag them to come upwith a kind of discourse to expresswhat we believe we're interpreting, what the imagemakers met.So we don't have the image makers anymorethe way we did in the photo interview.It's up to us, as the researchers--we're an interdisciplinary team--to begin to interpret what we believe those photographs mean,or what their intentions were.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: [What are the challenges to the applicationof those innovative instructional methods?Where do you feel current innovations have limitationsor need further testing?]So one challenge that I find is that most of these visual basedinnovations come out of aesthetic development or museumeducation.And in that context, there's not really a right or wrong answer.We're looking for students to develop a deeper understandingreally based on personal experience.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: There's not a yes or no.However, when we transition these strategiesinto the classroom, especially for disciplinary learnings,so learning in social studies or learning in science,there usually is a correct answer.So that's been an adjustment.We've had to help teachers redirect lessonsin order to get to understandings.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: So one example of that would be I recentlywas working with a group of fifth graders.And the teacher shared a photograph--it was a painting rather, of explorers coming to the US.And the students drew upon their fourth grade knowledgeof the Gold Rush and made assumptionsthat the explorers would be mining along the shoreline.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: Well, that's not correct.And so we have to find ways to use these innovations to getto the objective, to align them specificallywith the objective.And this is especially important in terms of developing literacyin the disciplines.Along with those limitations is whatI believe, a strong area of research going forward.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: Since we need to find effective waysto appropriate these innovations for classroom use,especially in the disciplines, I'murging researchers to do more work in that area.We should see the way these visuals mightapply across the disciplines for literacy outcomes.I think that's an area that really needs strengthening.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: There's very, very little research out there on this.The only thing that we see, for example, with a visual thinkingstrategy, as an example, is medicinehas used this visual base to teach internsobservation skills.So looking at imagery in medicinein order to draw those same conclusions.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: So that's a very small base.I'd really like to see that expand, especiallyin elementary and middle schools,for disciplinary purposes.[How has the quality of education changed as a resultof innovations in instruction?]In terms of these particular innovations, visual based,one of the major changes I see is equity,because using visuals in the classroomallows a greater range of participation,it allows students to engage with the textin many different ways, in many different levels.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: I feel that it really allows students accessto the curriculum in other ways that they may be limited.They may be challenged to get to that curriculum.And to me, that's a really important outcome.I work near the US/Mexico border.I have a large number of English learnersin the classrooms in the schools that I work with.I want them to be able to be engagedin the curriculum in the very same waythat our monolingual English students are.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And so this issue of equity and accesshas been very important to me.[What role does video play in innovations in instruction?]When I talk about visual images, Ido think about it including both video and still.I feel that it's easier for me, personally, to access and talkabout-- I have the discourse of still images becauseof my background in photography.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And so that's why I use still images more than video.I think that there's a really important rolefor video to play.And I encourage students-- and sodoes the Common Core State Standards--to both produce and reflect on media forms, old and new.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: So traditional old school paintings and photographs,as well as the most innovative video techniques,all are important.Just for myself, I typically stay around still images,just because of my background knowledge,and I'm really comfortable in that discourse.[What are examples of how key research has had an impacton public or educational policy?]Significantly, you will see this turn up in the Common CoreState Standards.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And I've mentioned this earlier.But it's really important for us to knowthat it is cited specifically in the standardsthat students are required to attendto print forms and non print text,in forms both old and new.In addition, anchor standard number 7requires students to interpret and create media.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: So just in those two places alone,there's an acknowledgement of the shift in our student'sworlds in order to incorporate thatin our educational settings.Further, Coleman, who's one of the creators of the CommonCore, talks about the use of art as an observational skillat helping students build that kind of close studythat they need to be successful for complex texts.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And even though he's specifically talking about art,I believe that we can extend those notionsto the use of all visual texts, whether they'refrom textbook images, charts, and maps,and graphs, to the range of fine art that's available for usto use in the classrooms, as well.[Of all the studies that you have conducted,what do you feel is the most significant, and why?]Well, I feel that we always think our last work ismost significant.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And I think that's true for myself.My latest study explored the use of visual textsacross the disciplines in grades four, five, and six.It was an unusual coaching model that we used,a multi-tiered model.So I met with the teachers.We planned ways to integrate visualsinto their already existing curriculum.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: Then I went in and modeled the strategies,a range of visual strategies for the teachers.Then they tried it out, and I give themfeedback and coaching.And then we looked at the student dataand explored the outcomes of those strategiesto see if those triangulated with our perceptionsabout the way that the strategies weregoing in the classroom.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And so that's been very exciting and fruitful work for me.I've learned a lot from participating in that.And that school was one that really welcomed me,and they understood the value of visuals.And so the principal set out a goal for the teachersto understand text as something more than print on a page,and so I always had that in mind in working with the teachersat that school site.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: We learned that the teachers perceivedthe visual based lessons to support academic vocabulary.The idea about risk taking that I spoke to earliercomes directly out of that study.And the third outcome was that it helped studentsbuild accountable talk.In other words, they were able to buildon each other's perceptions when they were engagedin discussions about the text, the visual text in waysthat they hadn't before.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: So instead of just discounting students' contributions,they built upon them.I agreed with Brandy when she said,or I disagreed, because I see in the corner-- and the waythat they were able to structure that, we felt,was really helpful not just for staking claims and makingarguments, but we hope that will transfer to their writing.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And we're beginning to see that transfer now.[What are you currently investigating, and why?]We recently launched the Center for Visual Literacies at SDSU.And one of the most important outcomes of that endeavour isto create a community of scholars.So outside the classroom, my work rightnow is trying to build a community, because sociologyhas a group of visual experts.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: Anthropology has a group, a visual society.There's nothing in education.So I'd like to be able to find a group,create a community of like-minded individuals.And we could share resources with teachersand with educational researchers.The current research that I'm engaged inis I mentioned also, working with the Arts Alive teamat SDSU, and we're exploring this large dataset in order to interpret the participants' understanding.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: So our participants created the images,as part of the experience.And now, they've left us with the images as data.So both to elicit data and as data.So that's really exciting.[For students who are new to this field,what literature would you recommend they readfor a preliminary understanding, and why?]Most certainly, Kress and Van Leeuwen's 2006 text,called Reading Images, has been really important.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: So whether you're a teacher using visualsin your classroom, or a qualitative researcherexploring visual methodologies, Ithink this is considered a seminal text.I also, for teachers, would highlyrecommend the work of Peggy Albers, who integrates visuals,especially art in classrooms.And also, Frank Serafini, whose recent book,reading the visual, would really help teachers planningin their classroom from picture books, to complex images,not only for visual purposes, but for literacy outcomes,as well.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: For researchers, I would suggest Gillian Rosewould be really helpful.She does across social sciences, offers many different waysto analyze visual texts.[What are the key knowledge areas and skills that studentsdevelop pursuing study of this field,and how might these benefit students' academicor professional development?]So being able to critically analyze mediais a skill that we benefit in all aspects of our life.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And so for teachers and for researchersthat are working with visuals, I thinkthat this will benefit them.And in terms of organizing instruction,in terms of research design, it really gives you another wayto view the process.And extending notions of text to include visual text,I think will really benefit not only instruction,not only teaching, but also, the waythat we collect data for research, so in both ways.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: [What is your sense of the trajectory for research in thisfield over the next 5 years?]So as I mentioned, I'd really liketo see a visual education association or societywith a dedicated journal.And I hope that I have a role in that in the future.I also think that the increase of complexity and informationtext for students, especially in K-8,require changes in instruction.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: And this is one way for us to support studentswho are transitioning to the new demands of the Common CoreState Standards.So I believe that there will be increased amounts of researchand pedagogy in this area.I think visuals will be will become privileged textin the classroom as teachers realizethey can leverage it for the kinds of outcomesthat they're looking for.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: [What are your own scholarly ambitions for the future?What would you like to investigate next?]So in terms of my own personal goals,I really would like to develop the Center for VisualLiteracies into a community, potentially beginninga journal or an edited volume, maybe a special interestgroup, an ARA.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: But I really see my research going forwardalong this trajectory.Specifically, I'd like to incorporate a widerrange of visual based strategies and assessmentsfor literacy purposes across the discipline.So far, I've seen specific strategies,like visual thinking strategy, whichis Abigail Housen, and Philip Yenawine from museum education.
MARVA CAPPELLO [continued]: But not a great amount of articulated visual basedstrategies that can be applied beyond that.So creating innovations means being able to solve problems.And as these challenges arise as a result of the Common Core,or in meeting the needs of a diverse group of students,I'm hoping to encourage teachers and to studythe way that they innovate using visual text to solvethose problems.
Marva Cappello, Innovations in Instruction
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Professor Marva Cappello reviews visual literacy and the methods for instruction using visual aids.
Professor Marva Cappello reviews visual literacy and the methods for instruction using visual aids.