Literacy and Education: Understanding the New Literacy Studies in the Classroom
Publication Year: 2012
Six years since the First Edition of Literacy and Education, the ways we think about literacy have changed. The book continues to be an accessible guide to current theory on literacy with practical applications in the classroom, but has a new focus on the ecologies of literacy, and on participatory and visual ways of researching literacy.
The new edition examines; New Literacy Studies; Material culture and literacy; Digital literacies; The ecological, place-based approaches to literacy education; Timescales and identities; Ways in which research has moved on to inform literacy education
Classroom teachers, teacher trainers and students of literacy will find this a user-friendly guide to new theory in literacy education, clearly demonstrating how to implement this theory in the classroom in a way that is inclusive and ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: The New Literacy Studies and Teaching Literacy: Where We Were and Where We Are Going
- Chapter 2: Multimodal Literacies: New Ways of Reading and Writing
- Chapter 3: Children's Texts Go to School
- Chapter 4: Literacies in the Community
- Chapter 5: Literacy and Identity: Who Are the Meaning Makers?
- Chapter 6: Navigating New Literacies for New Times: Shaping Curriculum and Pedagogy
Education at SAGE[Page ii]
SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets.
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© Kate Pahl and Jennifer Rowsell 2012
First published 2005, reprinted in 2006, 2007, 2008 twice, 2009, 2011 twice.
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List of Figures[Page vi]
- Figure 3.1 Four models of literacy at home and at school 59
- Figure 3.2 Bonni as a child 62
- Figure 3.3 Bonni's special note 64
- Figure 3.4 Alicia's intergenerational artifact 66
- Figure 3.5 Literacy practices in the home 68
- Figure 3.6 Children's popular cultural worlds 69
- Figure 3.7 Lucy's crystal 72
- Figure 3.8 Third space 74
- Figure 3.9 Mariam tracing the story with her finger 84
In a time of rampant standardization of literacy education through government insistence of measurable performance outcomes in many countries, it is restorative to read Kate Pahl's and Jennifer Rowsell's new edition of Literacy and Education. Their book begins as it continues with a thought-provoking vignette written by a high school student, a survivor of the Haiti earthquake of 2010, who came to Princeton hopeful of studying at Rutgers University. His writing tells of privileges and silences, about places at the centre, places at the margins, about untold stories. Pahl and Rowsell populate their guide to the New Literacy Studies with students and teachers making meanings of and in their worlds. Importantly, they show that developing literate repertoires involves complex relationships with identity, time, spaces and places – material and virtual.
Allan Luke wrote in the Foreword to the first edition in 2005 that Literacy and Education ‘is a comprehensive introduction to social and cultural approaches to literacy’ (Luke, 2005) which leads us to young people and teachers negotiating the everyday worlds of classrooms and communities. This remains true of the new edition. Writing for teachers, Pahl and Rowsell cover significant theoretical and research terrain; they are flamboyant tour guides, ranging far and wide in their treatment of ideas as diverse as artifactual critical literacy, communities of practice, design literacies, discourse, figured worlds, genre theory, materiality, modal learning, multimodality and more. I mean flamboyant in the best sense of this word – that is, they lead us with flair, colour and surprise. The last 50 years of the best of theory and research in literacy education (and what is emerging) are signalled in their glossary and introduced in the book! Their vignettes adroitly illustrate these new vocabularies, giving us alternative words and generative metaphors as antidotes to the sometimes depressing world of literacy education policy. Pahl and Rowsell re-energize the reader; their stories make you want to go back to the classroom, the library, the neighbourhood walk, the mall, the Internet – to watch how young people are making meaning and how teachers are approaching their pedagogies in these new times.
So why would teachers, early career and those all along the way, and teacher educators want to read such a book given that typical literacy [Page viii]policy agenda at this time requires narrow approaches to literacy teaching and in some cases provides teachers with scripted curriculum? Pahl and Rowsell are generous tour guides, offering teachers a rich intellectual journey into the world of New Literacy Studies, the work of seminal theorists such as Hymes, Heath, Street and Kress, to their own work and that of leading and emergent scholars. They introduce historical and contemporary research from literacy educators far and wide – from South Africa, to Canada, to Australia, to New Zealand and the United Kingdom – working in very different contexts with highly diverse students. They actively mediate and translate complex and rich ideas, often through illustrative stories from their own and others’ practice. Having worked with teacher-researchers for over three decades, I see this as a book to be read in such collectives, shared with other teachers, as the impetus for classroom investigations. It is a text that opens up action and inquiry. The teachers with whom I have worked for some time do not avoid theory or research; instead they welcome it, finding that it provides rich nourishment in what is sometimes a barren educational landscape. However, increasingly they are time-poor and somewhat exhausted by compulsory change initiatives and mandated literacy programmes. This book is a valuable offering to such practitioners. It offers tools to deconstruct different views of teaching and learning, and to undertake ongoing research about their practices. Further, it offers a persuasive rationale for including complex multimodal approaches to literacy in today's globally mediated environments, which young people must navigate.
For teacher educators, Literacy and Education is a really useful resource as it helps tell the history of literacy education studies even as it invites new readers and new teachers into possible futures. The fascinating fragments from vignettes, classrooms and communities provide a conduit for examining complex theoretical perspectives, different paradigms and contemporary debates in literacy education. The theory boxes, reflections, activities, vignettes and questions are pedagogical tools, soundly underpinned with theory and not simply layout options. Having a comprehensive research-based text around which innovative pedagogies and classroom projects can be designed can facilitate the considerable identity work that new teachers need to undertake.
Importantly, given the demands of the times in terms of measurable standards, Pahl and Rowsell argue that ‘it is possible to combine an understanding of literacy as a set of skills with an understanding of how we use literacy in everyday life’. Informed by inclusive models of literacy, such as those conceptualized by Bill Green (including operational, cultural and critical dimensions) and Luke and Freebody's four resources [Page ix]approach, addressing skills remains just one element of teachers’ work, but not the whole deal. Pahl and Rowsell recognize the ways in which texts increasingly frame and organize people's lives and invite teachers to use their own classroom materials, bookshelves and so on as a place to start in thinking about how texts capture ‘traces of practice’.
A key idea that underlies much of the unique work accomplished by Pahl and Rowsell is that of artifactual literacies. The focus not only on different media and modes, as well various texts and genres, but also on the very objects or stuff that people use to make meaning – whether it is the craftwork done at home, the design work done by film-makers, the shoe-boxes redecorated and story-filled and brought to school – as ethnographers of literacy they never take the everyday for granted. Rather, in rendering it visible, they raise new questions for educators about curriculum design, what values are preferred. How to think critically about new domains of practice, in particular multimodal sites, is a really useful contribution for teachers who wish to incorporate digital communications and new media. Noting the dilemmas teachers face when out-of-school texts enter the classroom, they demonstrate how the child's resources may act as an important interface between existing knowledge and experience and new academic discursive practices.
One of the most generative frames of reference over the past two decades for considering the learning assets in children's worlds beyond the school was developed by Luis Moll and colleagues (1992). Funds of knowledge are the resources shared in families and local communities. For example, such knowledge may range from horticulture, cooking, mechanics, music, herbal medicine, and so on. Such knowledge may be in various ways connected to the locality of the community. People make use of what they have to hand in similar ways to how children necessarily use the resources they have to make meaning in classrooms. The extent to which there is permeability between home and school worlds can help children to feel as though they belong and accomplish new learning. Pahl and Rowsell review recent related international research on the various ways in which parents in different communities support their children's literacy. They consider how schools can open their practices to allow for multilingual literacy events such as dual-language story books. They also consider how teachers can be more open to learning from home practices, for example to learn about how families engage with a range of technologies.
Increasingly, scholars are recognizing the need to go beyond their disciplines and to employ multiple research approaches to answer research questions. In this book we see the value of the careful ethnographic work which underpins the New Literacy Studies, the inclusion of teacher [Page x]inquiry for social justice, for which there is a long tradition in literacy studies (Rogers et al., 2009), plus the inclusion of new approaches, such as Alison Clark's (2010) work with children and space, which open up new frames of reference. The authors understand that what is needed is an ecological approach to the study of literacy, focusing on how people make meaning in relation to their own identities and localities with the resources at hand. This leads Pahl and Rowsell to suggest very creative projects for teachers to undertake at home and at school with respect to the ecologies of print-related objects in homes and schools which take into account the power relations that pertain to language and spatial practices. Teacher readers would benefit from reading this book in small study groups as it is designed to generate activity and inquiry, ideally where schools are ‘hubs for research on literacy’.
New Literacy Studies researchers have always concerned themselves with context. Indeed, a key assumption of their approach is the importance of situating literacy studies in connection with wider cultural practices and avoiding the assumption that literacy is what is taught and learned in school (Street & Street, 1991). Recently given features of the contemporary era, in association with globalization (mobility, environmental disasters, financial crises), literacy scholars have attended not only to context as a setting for the negotiation of practices, but to space and place as constitutive categories in their own right. Just as we understand that discourse is constitutive of identities, for example a ‘refugee’ in comparison to ‘illegal’ or ‘alien’, now literacy educators are looking again at spatial relationships and also at how places are made by people and how such relationships might afford new place-based critical literacies (Comber, 2010). Even in these words alone, we can see how identity, power, space and place come together in our naming practices and legal discourses.
People's identities cannot be separated from the ways they engage in literate practices; their histories and present positioning in places and spatial relations infuse how they make sense of and compose texts. Their biographical resources are therefore crucial to what might be done in schools and other sites of learning. Yet over time people's interests and capabilities change as they connect with and take on new opportunities, thereby layering both identities and discursive resources. Schooled identities can allow for opening out and enriching of possibilities or they can lock people into different educational trajectories. Pahl and Rowsell invite us to look closely at the interpretative resources children have, to see multilingualism as an asset, not a problem in learning to read. Their classrooms of tomorrow are rich with potential for teachers and children to research in various settings, to interrogate, to debate, to work collaboratively, to [Page xi]engage in intercultural communication. In short, they would be developing complex dispositions towards inquiry, analysis, design and action. Literacy is not a discreet academic skill but part of a complex and dynamic learner repertoire (Comber, 2007; Janks, 2010).
In an era of ever-changing digital communications, audit cultures and high-stakes literacy assessment, it is more important than ever to create spaces where teachers can engage intellectually with the new demands of teaching literacy and the contradictions that lie in normative educational discourses. Abstract notions of performance tend to bracket out embodied people in particular places. So-called improvement in literacy becomes just a matter of investing in the right programme or applying the correct techniques to solve the diagnosed problem. Meanwhile the real game, in the world beyond schooling, has moved on in terms of accessing design literacies and modal learning. There are real equity issues here, as Pahl and Rowsell note. Wisely, they do not advocate for a lack of attention to traditional literate practices, such as composing well. However, they argue cogently for an equal prioritization of the complex semiotic repertoires upon which the full participation of citizens depends. They are aware that there is a danger in the contemporary moment of one kind of literacy – the old basics – being offered to poor, working-class and immigrant children under the auspices of education, while more affluent children assemble new digital media literacies at home and at school, exponentially gaining an advantage over peers with less access to the newly dominant communication practices.
Literacy and Education makes an important contribution to the field of literacy studies. I have described it here as a guide book because it tells us where we have been, outlines the features of where we are now and points the way for where we need to go as an educational community – teachers and researchers working together – committed to literacy education for social justice. Importantly, as guides to the New Literacy Studies, they offer hope for more equitable literacy learning, hope that in part emanates from the fresh perspective of their rich research repertoires which allow for new pedagogical designs, new literacies and new ecologies.Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane,
About the Authors
We have benefited from the input and ideas of the following people: Chloe Allan, Donna Alvermann, Fiona Blaikie, Margit Boeck, Robin Bone, Deborah Bullivant, Cathy Burnett, Catherine Compton-Lilly, Julia Davies, Bill Green, Abigail Hackett, Mary Hamilton, Danuta Harrap, Marcus Hurcombe, Diane Lapp, Joanne Larson, Mary Lovering, Jackie Marsh, Guy Merchant, Bonny Norton, the Qaddar family, Steve Pool, Zahir Rafiq, Sherry Rose, Richard Steadman-Jones, Brian Street, Maureen Walsh, Pam Whitty and Angela Wright.
We would like to thank our funders: The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), UK (Connected Communities), Booktrust, UK, The Museums and Libraries Association (MLA) Yorkshire, UK, the International Reading Association's Elva Knight Grant, the Social Science and Humanities and Research Council (SSHRC), Canada, and Yorkshire Forward, UK.
We are deeply grateful to the following scholars for their vignettes: Sandra Abrams, Parven Akhter, Eryn Decoste, Candace Kuby, Cheryl McLean, Lynn Marr, Sue Nichols, Rahat Niqvi, Anne Peel, Francene Planas, Rob Simon, Saskia Stille, Kari-Lynn Winters and Amelia Wolfe.
We would like to thank the following young people for their work and ideas: Bonni, Dionne, Lucy and Tanya, Winston Charlebon and the Year 6 children from High Greave School, Rotherham as well as the Year 6 children from Thorogate Junior School, Rotherham.
Finally, we would like to thank Marianne Lagrange and Nicola Marshall for their support during the editorial process as well as Barbara Comber for her thoughtful response to our work in the Foreword.
Glossary of Terms[Page xiv]
- Affordance Choosing materials appropriately for the task, for example, choosing a font for a poster which carries effect.
- Anthropology The study of people in everyday, naturalistic contexts, focused on cultures and practices.
- Artifact An object that is tied to a context and an identity. It carries a story and has a past. For example, framed photographs.
- Artifactual critical literacy Looking at objects from the perspective of power, discourse and ideology.
- Autonomous A model of literacy independent of social context. Literacy as a set of skills. For example, phonics programmes, reading schemes.
- Avatars Characters who have digital identities such as Harry Potter in the Harry Potter videogames.
- Communicational landscape The different ways people make meaning, in either visual or verbal forms. For example, the Internet offers a vast array of communicational sites.
- Communities of practice Groups of people with common beliefs, values, ways of speaking and being. We all belong to a number of them. For example, home, school, office, etc.
- Constraint The things that stop texts being functional. For example, texts that are too linguistic for pre-school children.
- Critical literacy A way of looking at the embodied understandings within texts as opposed to a surface reading of texts. Seeing power within texts. For [Page xv]example, differentiating between two newspapers, such as The Observer and The Daily Mail.
- Crossing Moving from one site to the next. For example, home to school.
- Cultural capital The currency we bring to situations. For example, children bring experiences from home to school.
- Cultural practices The things we do with culture, the actions that take place around culture and the re-fashioning of culture in texts and artifacts. For example, parents making books with children on the web.
- Cultural resources A way of recognizing what children bring to educational settings from their own cultural heritage. For example, bringing in new information to school about cultural events.
- Culture A way of describing a characteristic of human life by which people share values, behaviours, ways of speaking, ways of being. For example, football in the UK.
- Design literacies Spin, design, multimodality and participatory structures are the four core elements of the framework, and creativity, trial and error, remix and convergence are dispositions adopted when taking a design literacies approach to literacy teaching and learning.
- Dialogic A give-and-take situation, a type of discourse, a way of speaking. For example, an interview in a magazine.
- Digital literacies Literacy practices online, such as writing messages in Club Penguin or creating new avatars.
- Digitized artifacts Anything that can be viewed online. For example, blogs, wikis, Prezis that have a form and function.
- discourse Language in a social context. For example, the language of PGCE students. [Page xvi]
- Discourse Language and other stuff. For example, gestures, clothes (e.g. that worn by bikers).
- Discursive identity The way we speak is tied to who we are, our identity in the world. For example, when we become a teacher we take on a specific discursive identity around teaching as opposed to, for example, mothering.
- Domains Domains are spaces or worlds where we use literacy. For example, work, home, school.
- e-portfolios A repository that students fill that is online and can be co-ordinated by a teacher or facilitator so that students can gain credits for their work.
- Ecological Ecological work captures the interdependence that happens within communities when people rely on resources in their immediate environment for everyday practices, including literacy practices.
- Ethnography The study of cultural identities and worlds which focuses on ways of recording those cultural identities, and standing away and drawing close to the experience.
- Family literacy Any activity that involves parents and children in literacy. Activities are often taught in school settings, with joint programmes for parents and children to enjoy.
- Figured worlds Collectively realized ‘as-if’ worlds that we inhabit. Figured worlds are opened up by artifacts. For example, a staffroom in a school is a figured world.
- Funds of knowledge The cultural resources that families and homes bring to other settings. For example, home stories brought to classrooms.
- Global domains Networks and entities that exist outside the local. For example, the Internet is a global network. [Page xvii]
- Global literacies Literacy practices that are associated with globalization. For example, the language used within global banking institutions such as Lloyds Bank.
- Globalization The process of imposed networks and entities into local domains. For example, McDonalds in local domains.
- Hybridity Different cultural forms interacting in the same space. For example, two children in a playground incorporating North American English with Chinese.
- Identity A way of describing a sense of self that is in practice. For example, two literacy teachers chatting at a language and literacy conference.
- Identity-in-practice Identities as expressed in artifacts, texts and discourse. For example, your diary is an expression of your identity-in-practice.
- Ideology Any system of cultural meaning which is infused with power that seeps into practices and texts. For example, a newspaper with a liberal slant on issues.
- Intercultural communication Communication between cultures that informs practice. For example, using children's funds of knowledge in the classroom.
- Listening methodologies Ways of eliciting students’ thoughts and ideas that involve active methodologies that are congruent with their existing practices. For example, walking tours and the use of visual methods.
- Literacies Ways of expressing meaning in linguistic forms across domains. For example, text messaging.
- Literacy Ways of making meaning with linguistic stuff in a communicative landscape. For example, early writing with a drawing.
- Literacy event Any action involving the comprehension of print. For example, writing a lesson plan. [Page xviii]
- Literacy of fusion It is combining elements of linguistic and visual in order to create a text. For example, using PowerPoint for a presentation.
- Literacy practices Patterns of activity around literacy. For example, a guided reading session with a particular set of practices.
- Local domains It is the sense of place and neighbourhood that people inhabit. For example, community centres.
- Macro Activity at a strategic level, such as government action. For example, ‘No Child Left Behind’.
- Materiality The stuff we use to make texts. For example, tissue paper to make a collage.
- Meso Activity at an intermediate level, such as a school policy document. For example, home–school reading policy.
- Micro Activity at a local level, such as teachers in classrooms. For example, a Year 5 teacher working with a student.
- Modal learning Making meaning through multiple modes or units of representation and communication.
- Mode A unit of meaning and representation.
- Motivated sign Infusing our identity into texts. For example, a child putting a particular colour of paint in a drawing.
- Multilingual literacies Different linguistic identities can be employed in the same space. For example, Arabic language practices functioning alongside English language practices.
- Multilingualism The employment of different linguistic identities in a particular space. For example, Punjabi, Urdu and English used in a home space. [Page xix]
- Multiliteracies Using different linguistic systems within the same space. For example, home–school book-making using different languages and dual texts.
- Multimodal identity Individuals using different stuff to make meaning. For example, choosing a particular font and layout for an academic paper.
- Multimodal literacy Literacy teaching and learning that takes account of all modes within texts of all kinds.
- Multimodality A way of making meaning that allows for different modes. For example, model-making as a form of communication.
- Multiple literacies Different linguistic systems working within the same space. For example, Chinese, Turkish and English students working on a language activity at a writing centre.
- Narrative The showing or the telling of these events and the mode selected for that to take place. For example, a story told in a cartoon strip.
- New Literacy Studies An approach to literacy and language learning that looks at how literacy is used in everyday life – from literacy events like guided reading at school to reading a newspaper in a café.
- Out-of-school literacy practices Practices which are not infused with literacy pedagogy. For example, children playing videogames.
- Pedagogy The inscribing into practice of teacherly activities. For example, building assessment strands into a unit.
- Reader response Being able to identify texts as crafted objects and being alert to the values and interests that texts have within them.
- Recontextualization Carrying practices across sites and putting them in a different context. For example, taking popular songs from the radio and inserting them into school discourse. [Page xx]
- Ruling passions The way people's interest affects their literacy practices. For example, gardening.
- Schooled literacy A notion of literacy practices tied to school learning. For example, homework.
- Sedimented identities in texts The concept of the layering or sedimenting of identities in texts over time. For example, a grandparent's story becoming a picture and then a written story.
- Sign A combination of meaning and form. For example, a road sign.
- Site A place that is specific. For example, a mosque.
- Social practice Cultural patterns and forms inscribed into everyday lives. For example, eating breakfast.
- Space An area in which something takes place. A space can be real or imagined. For example, a classroom or a chatroom.
- Strategies The way the powerful shape space and practices. For example, standardized assessment tests.
- Symbol A sign that refers to an idea. For example, Bonni's special note in Chapter two.
- Synaesthesia The blurring of different modes into one another. For example, seeing words as colours.
- Syncretic literacy Two different cultural practices merging in one literacy practice. For example, a reading scheme in a different cultural space.
- Tactics The ways people who live within institutionalized spaces manipulate them. For example, students who write on desks. [Page xxi]
- Teacher mediation Inscribing of teacher identity into texts and practices. For example, teachers working with reading schemes.
- Text It is an articulation of a discourse. For example, a website for a clothing company.
- Texts as artifacts Texts that have a history or story of their making. For example, a photo album.
- Third space It is a space where students draw on different discourses that are in-between other domains. For example, drawing on knowledge acquired through doing bike stunts in the science classroom.
- Traces An inscription to access a history. For example, a novel carries traces of an author's experience and ideas.
- Visual communication Ways of expressing meaning in the visual. For example, television.
- Wealth model A wealth model of literacy acknowledges the cultural resources families bring to literacy, such as stories told across generations.
- Weblogs Identity-infused web spaces with personal messages and artifacts.
Conclusion to the Second Edition of Literacy and Education[Page 174]
In this conclusion we reflect on what the field of literacy has brought and what we have learned from current research that advances the field further. We think about what literacy looks like now and what literacy will look like in the future. When we consider research on literacy we realize that much of literacy is distributed in space and time. We also realize that literacy is situated, and can disempower as well as empower communities. It is material and it can be expressed in different forms. Understanding literacy involves a sensuous engagement with the world, and a sense of literacy that is ‘in place’ (Pink, 2009).
- What are our visions for literacy in the future?
First, we think that literacy will be about ecologies and networks. Rather than think of individualized ‘homes’ which are separately resourced, resources will be developed that can be used by communities in hubs. Local libraries will become literacy networks, and ways of using libraries in different ways, as in community gardens, resource centres for food, cooking and trips, as well as spaces for literacy and art activities, will be ways forward. Schools likewise will become networked into communities in new ways, drawing on the expertise of all adults in the community, as Keri Facer (2011) has outlined.
Second, we think literacy will be seen as more embodied and sensuous. The impact on emotions of seeing negative print, either in the form of obscene graffiti or in relation to a newspaper that denigrates women or is racist, will be more carefully understood. Meaning-making in homes will be respected and understood as not just being about books, but will be recognized as being about family traditions, intergenerational literacies, and multilingual literacies. The ‘stuff’ of literacy will be respected and the ways in which literacies are embodied in print, textiles, digital stuff, including mobile phones, cameras and videogames, will become more important. Teachers can link these home literacies to the curriculum and links between online and offline spaces will be more securely [Page 175]established and recognized. Writing on the computer will not be separated off as ‘ICT’, but will be fully congruent with all literacy practices in community contexts.
Third, students will be encouraged to develop critical literacy skills that are in place (Morrell, 2008; Comber, 2010). This will involve taking images of neighbourhoods, counting, for example, the stores that sell alcohol over the stores that sell books. Spatial literacies will become more important. This understanding will also link to sustainability and an agenda that is about reducing carbon footprints. Schools will work with policy-makers to track the neighbourhood's characteristics. Literacy will involve the skills of GPS mapping and Google Earth as well as deciding what things count in communities for literacy learning. Schools will become hubs for research on literacy and rather than teach pre-set skills, the literacy curriculum will be the subject of research and inquiry. In that way, literacy will be seen as cultural (i.e., embedded in contexts), critical (i.e., as a source of power relations and also a site of critique), and also operational (i.e., as something to be learned) (Green, 1998).
Fourth, digital and immersive worlds will become more prevalent, more naturalized and more accepted as the forum for communication and understanding. What this increased ubiquity means is that our engagement with texts and with literacy will shift. Texts have changed dramatically over the past decade and where we previously turned pages, we now scroll, touch, tap, slide, etc. With these shifts in the formats, designs, and functions of texts and devices that hold texts, there needs to be similar, commensurate shifts in classroom practice. What is more, there needs to be a shift in the kinds of media and tools that we use in the classroom, such as more use of tablets and mobile devices. The kinds of literacy practices that we adopt in digital environments need to be far more present in literacy curriculum and teaching.
Fifth, and connected to the above point, educators need a language and a logic for new communicative practices that are multimodal and participatory. Notions such as remix, mash-ups, participating in online chat, collaborative work, problem-solving will (or should) become standard and accepted parlance for literacy work in primary, middle and secondary classrooms. Working with and across different modes should be part of everyday teaching so that students move far more fluidly from their modally complex lives outside school walls to their worlds within school walls. But what is to become of spelling, grammar, mechanics, as they are still alive and well in written composition? These more traditional skills still figure in the world of reading, writing and composition, [Page 176]and as literacy educators we need to find new ways of presenting conventions so that students can navigate the rapidity of change with enduring ways of communicating.
Finally, there is a need to shift our logic and language for literacy education. Design and thinking about design literacies is one way forward. Teaching reading, writing, speaking, listening through design is more in line with the sorts of skills and texts that students regularly inhabit. Having students work collaboratively on and offline fosters more permability between being in and out of school. A big challenge for educators broadly, and literacy educators specifically, is developing assessment frameworks that assess digital, multimodal, design-based skills. We have some way to go in developing curriculum, pedagogy and assessment measures shaped around twenty-first-century practices.
- What are the gaps you see in your practice between the curricula and the literacies your students use?
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