Using Multimodal Texts in the K-2 Classroom

What are “Multimodal” texts?

Multimodality particularises the communication and representation of ideas which relies on the amalgamation or multiplicity of modes including, “linguistic, visual, auditory, spatial and gestural..systems” (Bull & Anstey, 2010, as cited in Booker, 2012, p.1). Jewitt (2005) states that “print and screen based technologies [or] digital media” (p.1) allow these modes to become available, thus, help to shape the process of meaning making. Within the contemporary classroom, it is critical for teachers to expose children to multimodal texts that they enjoy engaging, connecting and interacting with, in order to further their appreciation of a broader range of literature. Ultimately, multidimensional texts may serve as “powerful motivator[s]” (Booker, 2012, p.1) where children can evaluate the techniques employed by writers to convey and formulate meaning, which provides students with opportunities to understand they too have a choice around what they read and write.

Review of a website- ABC.ya.com

Aspect of reading to be taught through this website: Vocabulary

review of ABCya

Useful resource to teach K-2 students about multimodal texts

Short Animation Clip – Bernard Bear goes Scuba Diving

So how is this a valuable resource?

This short animation clip effectively depicts how meaning can still be conveyed without the use of a narrator voice over or diegetic sounds, that is, speech. As highlighted by Bull & Anstey (2010), a text may be considered multimodal when it combines “two or more semiotic systems” (para.7). In this particular video, non-diegetic sound effects, gestural movements or actions of the bear and visual elements merge to formulate a story that can still be understood by viewers. More specifically, instead of Bernard bear explicitly remarking “I think there is something behind me”, the deep and threatening sound effects which insinuate the presence of an ominous creature behind him communicate these messages across to the audience. Respectively, this video serves as an exemplar of how quality texts whether digital or print can similarly utilise a range of modes to construct expressive representations of ideas or concepts. Essentially, there is a need to recognise “that we cannot just consider the differences between reading print and [viewing] on screen as static comparisons” (Walsh, 2010, as cited in Hertzberg & Freeman, 2012, p.77). Furthermore the value of this clip extends to enabling teachers in demonstrating to K-2 students how the use of specific vocabulary in writing, particularly adjectives, can allow greater visualisation of meaning.

Book Reviews

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References

Anstey, M. & Bull, G. (2010). Helping teachers to explore multimodal texts. Curriculum & Leadership Journal: an electronic journal for leaders in education, 8 (16), 1. Retrieved June 3, 2014, from

http://www.curriculum.edu.au/leader/helping_teachers_to_explore_multimodal_texts,31522.html?issueID=12141

Booker, K. (2012). Practical strategies: using picturebooks to empower and inspire readers and writers in the upper primary classroom. Literacy Learning: the Middle Years, 20, 1-15.

Hertzberg, M. & Freeman, J. (2012). Teaching English language learners in mainstream classes. Marrickville Metro, N.S.W.: Primary English Teaching Association Australia. Chapter 5 – Focus on reading (pp. 77-90).

Jewitt, C. (2005). Multimodality, “reading” and “writing” for the 21st century. Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, 26, 315-331.

Images

Blair, G. (2012). Book of the Week: Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters [photograph]. Retrieved from

http://www.designmom.com/2013/07/book-of-the-week-lesters-dreadful-sweaters/

No author. (2013). “The Dark”, by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen [photograph]. Retrieved from

http://storyseekersuk.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/the-dark-by-lemony-snicket-illustrated-by-jon-klassen/

Wood, L. (2012). Peggy [photograph]. Retrieved from

http://laurawoodillustration.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/peggy.html

Video

RabbitsRock76. (2010, June 30). Bernard Bear – Scuba Diving . Retrieved from

http://www.youtube.com/watch

 

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Reading Role Reflection

As a result of actively participating in this group activity, I found that my understanding of the reading was enhanced significantly as each group member was able to offer their interpretation of the text from a distinct perspective. Furthermore, I learnt that deconstructing the text in this manner enabled a more thorough and concise examination of the reading as central concepts and ideas were effectively extracted from the content to be elaborated on. More specifically, in undertaking the role of ‘investigator’ I was able to provide a contextual backdrop for the reading and in doing so the research paradigms became more concrete and in a sense, tangible to myself and the other group members as they were informed of the myriad, external as well as personal influences which contributed largely to the motivations and purpose of Winch and Holliday’s (2010) research.

A challenging aspect of the reader role activity was the requirement to look at the reading from only one angle, that is, the specific perspective related to each reader role then having to sustain an engaging and active discussion focused around the relevant ideas and information threaded out from the larger text. Moreover, it was also difficult to brainstorm creative strategies that could be employed throughout the discussion to encourage members to participate by contributing their thoughts and opinions. Nevertheless, by using the PMI analysis model to evaluate the methods used by fellow group members, I was able to assess and familiarise myself with the strategies that prompted effective discourse and discussion, which could ultimately be implemented for my own presentation in the following weeks.

What Defines Literacy?

In our everyday lives, we are constantly interpreting, evaluating and constructing meaning out of information that is expressed or presented to us through a variety of media. Within the context of learning, it is critical that young children are equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills that will enable them to exercise these abilities throughout their schooling years and beyond.

Literacy thus embraces a range of cognitive and physical capabilities that are intrinsically linked to language and provide individuals with the opportunity to ‘function smoothly’ (Freebody, 2012, p.4) in complex settings. What Freebody highlights here is the ability of individuals to perform and understand reading and writing related tasks with greater precision, fluidity and confidence. Nevertheless, in recent years the challenge to define literacy emerges from the idea that its meaning continues to change with the times. Therefore, literacy in a sense is not restricted to a specific skill but pervades many learning areas (National Curriculum, 2009, as cited in NSW Department of Education and Training Learning and Development, p.12) whilst extending to include the manner in which individuals articulate and project their ideas, emotions and perceptions.

While it is important for children to be literate, literacy skills on their own are inadequate to guarantee success within and away from the classroom environment (Barton, 2007, as cited in Freebody, 2012, p.4). In addition to literacy skills, particular behaviours and dispositions may motivate and drive students to apply their knowledge of language to broader situations (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013, p.1). Such situations may encompass children learning to work independently or interacting with others co-operatively.

Literacy. What is it?

Literacy. What is it?

Tan, S. (2008). Tales from outer suburbia (pp.8-19). Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin.

Children can develop their literacy skills within an engaging learning environment.

Children can develop their literacy skills within an engaging learning environment.

Chylinski, L. (2013). Composition in architectural rendering [Illustration]. Retrieved 16 March, 2014, from Creative Media Illustration Inc., A New Classroom, http://www.cmistudio.com/blog/Classroom/Classroom.htm#.U4sqWShpcV4

Oral literacy is inherent to written literacy.

Oral literacy is inherent to written literacy.

Woodson, J. & Blackall, S. (2010). Pecan pie baby (pp.1-32). New York: Putnam Juvenile.

Literacy: Growing a repertoire of English usage (ACARA 2009, p.6)

Literacy: Growing a repertoire of English usage (ACARA 2009, p.6)

Jeram, A. (2002). I love my little story book (pp. 1-26). London: Walker Books.

References

Freebody, P. (2012). Knowledge about language, literacy and literature in the teaching and learning of English. In A. Simpson, S. White, P. Freebody, & B.Comber (Eds.), Language, Literacy and Literature. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2012). Curriculum Development Process (pp.3-19). Sydney: Author.