Post 6 (4/10/17)

Throughout this course, we have been challenged to expand our horizons about what we think about when we focus on “literacy.” Initially, all this meant to me was the ability to read and write in the form of letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, and so on. This is because reading and writing are two very important subjects in the education world and it’s a system that is used widely throughout the world. But learning about multiliteracies, including visual literacy, is eye-opening because of how broad the idea of “literacy” actually is.

As educators, we need to take a long look at visual literacy as a tool to engage students just as much as written information. I think it is safe to say that we have all, at one time or another, appreciated the concise and well-constructed diagram or graph over reading pages and pages on a single subject. For example:

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Taken from australianidentity2012.weebly.com/

This is a timeline about the major events that happened during World War I. It’s not as descriptive as a text book could be on the same subject, but it certainly informs the reader about the war and sequences some of the most critical moments. Students might find this sort of visual text more appealing and informative, especially if they are struggling readers or are more attracted to visual learning.

From the Visual Literacy Assignment, I read about exploded diagrams and learned how great of a source this specific kind of visual text can be. An example of an exploded diagram is this:

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If a person has never seen an image like this before, that person would likely be very confused at the beginning. After all, exploded diagrams can be confusing and overwhelming if you’re not used to them. But after being taught and understanding what the picture and words represent in the picture, it can be a very powerful form of visual text. With this example of the exploded diagram, you might have no idea what is being expressed in the image, but after making meaning through the separate parts of the deconstructed chair you can see the visual text in a way that makes sense.

That is the most crucial part about understanding visual literacy and its place in schools. As Arwood, Kaulitz, and Brown said, “Visuals offer varying kinds of information to different learners” (2009, p. 14). This requires the separate but connected interpretations from the person who creates the source and the person who is consuming it.

And I believe that is one of the major takeaways from learning about multiliteracies, which is offering many different modes of learning to reach the most students as possible throughout their lives. As future educators, we have to make an attempt to include as many children as possible, no matter what their abilities are and no matter their impairments.

This brings me to Ron McCallum’s Ted Talk. At 11:41 of his speech, he talks about a way so that people everywhere around the world has the access to the materials they need to participate. McCallum is blind and has the technology where he can access certain websites that his technology can process. Unfortunately, not all websites are coded the same way and therefore he cannot access all websites, but what is there was a universal standard for websites so McCallum could read from any site that he chooses?

So isn’t that the point? We have to expand our knowledge and understanding on what being “literate” truly means and we have to involve all different forms of literacy. Having a greater understanding of many avenues for information is purely more beneficial than just being taught one. As Moline puts it, “By becoming familiar with the advantages of the different tools at our disposal, we are more likely to choose the one that will do the job best” (2012, p. 44). If a student is struggling in reading, then engage in alternate forms of text. If a child has difficulties sitting through an independent reading period, then have everyone get up and participate in a sing-a-long session. If someone can’t articulate their answers in an essay, have them paint a portrait.

In closing, there is more than just one way to show that you are literate. That is why we are all literate.

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Post 5 (3/20/17)

We have talked about literacy in many different forms, but through the chapters and readings from Kliewer and Dudley-Marling and Paugh, we are learning about instructional strategies and concepts on how to improve and develop everyone’s reading and writing. One strategy widely discussed is the Reading Workshop model.

The Reading Workshop model is a great design for a teacher to improve every student’s literacy. The four steps to the model according to Dudley-Marling and Paugh are: reading aloud, mini-lesson, independent reading/small-group activities, and self-assessment. By implementing these steps, the teacher can keep every student involved and active with a reading lesson.

This makes me think back to when I was in elementary school. I’m trying to remember if my teachers used this reading workshop model, but I cannot remember. All I know is that I did not like reading all that much. So when I see pictures of children with books like this…

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Taken from athome.readinghorizons.com

I am baffled. Just look how happy those students are, resting their hands and young faces on a pile of books that they may or may not have read. As for me, books did not come easy to me and it took me a very long time to read a passage, let alone an entire book! For me, whenever I read I looked more like this:

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Taken from http://www.learningspy.co.uk

Maybe if I remember participating in reading workshops like the ones Dudley-Marling and Paugh wrote about, I would have read with more success. That being said, I do remember observing a second grade classroom last year and watching a teacher use a similar workshop strategy. She allotted a period of time for the students to read independently and work on different aspects of reading comprehension. During this period, a few select individuals met with her near her desk and focused on some areas they were working on. I thought it was a good way to divide her time and to keep the students occupied simultaneously.

But this wasn’t exactly the reading workshop model that Dudley-Marling and Paugh discussed. There was no read aloud time and no mini-lesson given to the class, and this makes it a less-inclusive environment than the reading workshop model. The workshop model is an inclusive pedagogy because of the way that all children can partake in the system and how differentiated instruction seamlessly becomes integrated within the lesson part of the model. Children with difficulties or disabilities do not have to be pulled out or away from the rest of the class while the workshop model is being used. With the right tools and preparation, the teacher can integrate certain modifications that some students need.

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Rick is reading aloud to his class as the first step to the Reading Workshop. Taken from http://www.teachingchannel.org.

During the opening and the mini-lesson, the entire class is involved. The teacher can read a book or story to the class, ask them questions along the way to keep them focused and engaged on the lesson, and also have them converse with other children to keep everyone active. Then during the independent time, the teacher has the opportunity to interact with children individually. This is where the teacher can take advantage of one-to-one time and concentrate on specific areas where a child needs assistance in. This is purely a great inclusive pedagogy.

I believe that the workshop model fits into Kliewer’s Triadic Literate Profile and Literate Citizenship.

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Taken from Seeing All Kids as Readers by Christopher Kliewer, p. 38.

As the teacher reads a story aloud, children will be coached to understand the concept of reading comprehension or to improve their literacy. Throughout the lesson and the work time, the students will be utilizing their symbolic presence and narratives by trying to make sense of their world with the world of the book and relating the character’s feelings with their own. Finally, as the teacher talks with every student to see how they’re progressing, the students will use their systems of symbols to communicate and convey what they want to say.

The Triadic Literate Profile and the Reading Workshop model work together without being restrictive of one another. After all, both of these things have to do with literacy development. The workshop is a model for teachers to improve students’ abilities in literacy and the literate profile is an understanding on how children use symbols, signs, and experience to receive and transmit messages.

The video below is an introduction to Rick and how he uses the Reading Workshop model with his class (from http://www.teachingchannel.org).

An important factor to this model is how it is evidence of inclusive literacy. In the video at the 2:16 mark, Rick is explaining how he asks all of the children to talk to a partner about what their theory is at the moment or how it might be changing. He asks the children to show certain emotions and if they can replicate it. Or he asks if they have ever experienced something happening in the book. In the video, the class is discussing with a partner and Rick is focusing on the conversation of specific children. He can check in and see if struggling students are following along with the mini-lesson while the rest of the children are still engaging with each other. It’s perfect execution of inclusion.

Then at the 24:13 mark, the student, Amori, has some trouble with vocabulary words and pronouncing words correctly. Rick sits in as she reads a passage from her book and concentrates on a certain lesson when she mispronounces a word. He tells her to look for the double consonants and how the preceding letter is soft. She says “stealer” when reading “stellar.” During this part of the reading workshop model (independent reading and self-assessment), the teacher can talk and teach directly to a certain student. Rick shows he knows every single one of his students and where they need some help in. This is his time to divide his time to those who need extra help.

I was impressed by how well Rick managed the Reading Workshop model. All of the steps were effective and with a well-structured classroom, there is no doubt in my mind that every student will be able to climb to new reading levels. One final note I would like to take is how Rick encouraged the children to ask their peers when they needed help defining an unknown word, or spelling a confusing word. I love this idea and wish my elementary school classrooms functioned this way. Instead, we were afraid to ask for help and were always in competition with one another for the better grade or the first one to hand in the test.

With that in mind, I came across this today and just want to share it.

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Taken from http://www.dontgiveupworld.com

I don’t know where this came from or if it’s true, but that’s not the point. Just think, if we all functioned this way to believe that our society and our education is better if we all succeed, we wouldn’t hesitate so much to help our neighbors and our peers. If we truly value everyone else and believe we all can contribute to make a better place, that is when real improvement can finally be made.

Post 4 (2/27/17)

Thinking about literacy in regards to reading and writing, what mainly comes to my mind are words.

The words that fill up novels, newspapers, and magazines.

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Taken from http://www.entrepreneur.com.

The words that are carefully selected in poems and speeches.

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Taken from http://www.tampabay.com.

The words that now serve as hashtags and status updates.

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Taken from http://www.musingsonlifeandlove.com.

Words are the foundation of reading and writing skills. There are letters that make up every word, and each letter is composed of certain sounds. Reading and writing work in harmony together and what grabbed my attention was the writing-process approach and writing about reading. This made me think about the way I personally read and write and how understanding the process that I go through might help future students that struggle.

Take these blog entries, for example. We are reading the assigned articles and chapters in order to learn something and discuss what we have read by writing our own responses. As writers, we are constructing the text and we are communicating some sort of meaning we have made and want to convey. When the members of every blog group read each other’s post, they are the readers and bring their own understandings to recognizing the written language (Pinell & Fountas, p. 293). It helps that we’re all reading the same information because this makes it easier for the reader to recognize what the writer is saying.

This is similar to how the writing-process approach works. Writing about reading helps develop struggling readers and writers because it helps them understand how print works. It’s a process that goes back and forth constantly. For struggling readers, it might not be the easiest task to construct their own though, but by asking them to write based on a recent story that has been read, then he or she has something to focus on.

As a future educator, it is extremely powerful to help struggling writers through the writing-process approach. By focusing on a student’s ideas and interests to engage them into writing what they know and what they want to communicate, this will truly help them understand that writing makes sense of things for oneself, and then for others.

I must admit, it was difficult for me to go through the illustrations and examples of children struggling to articulate their thoughts through writing and stay the course with the writing-process approach. If I saw a poorly written paragraph with many misspellings, my first thought would be to teach the student how to correctly spell every word. But in the Graves article, it is shown that Billy’s teacher responded to his writing based on the content, not the imperfections in his spelling. This has its great benefit to keep the student’s attention to how writing is about communicating meaning from something you know.

One takeaway from the readings is how to help students with their quality of writing, they must write at least four days a week. Here is a quote I found that talks directly to what the articles were saying about how children should be writing a lot more than they are.

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Taken from http://www.picturequotes.com.

This made me question, was this the real reason why some teachers made us write journal entries every day? Also, how did writing everyday help with my writing development?

I want to leave this post with a video from Joe Thompson and Philip Landefeld discussing writing vs. typing. In higher education, this is a debate in classrooms in regards to what is better for students’ to learn and keep notes. In early education, the discussion leans towards how writing engages motor skills and letter recognition. Enjoy!

Post 3 (2/13/17) – Visual Literacy

As we’ve been discussing in class this semester, literacy extends much further than comprehending the written words in a book or the knowledge of phonics and phonemes. The multimedia this week concentrated on the importance of visual literacy and its place in today’s education and society. As educators and future educators, we should all pay very close attention to visual literacy because as the video titled Visual Literacy and Critical Thinking stated, visual literacy is the main ingredient to critical thinking.

We are trying to transition from an institution that provides one way to correctly answer a question, to a broader sense of educating individuals to think for themselves and to have the tools to solve any question. There usually isn’t only one way to solve anything, so why base instruction around this method? Educators must provide every student with the ability to construct their own paths to find the answer, not limiting them to only one road. And that is the basis of critical thinking, which goes hand-in-hand with visual literacy. Being able to look at the same image, or visual representation, and having many different interpretations is a form of critical thinking.

Today, we live in a visual world and that is evident from the modernization of self-portraits (as expressed by Elizabeth Urbanski in Selfies – a visual analysis) and using emojis to communicate (as discussed by Liza and Alex from Me and My Girlfriend Texted Only in Emoji for a Month). I found the podcast episode of the couple very fascinating and wondered myself if I could communicate with others effectively only using emojis. Since emojis are pictures of emotions and other common things, it seems possible to communicate using them since the system of communicating through pictures have been used in the past. But while the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” those words might not represent that same meaning to someone else.

This reminds me of a game that I love to play with my family and friends called Codenames: Pictures (yes, I’m a geek). In this game, you have many pictures on the board and have to use only one word to give as a hint so your team can pick your randomly assigned cards to win the game. Sounds easy? Not quite. In this game, every card is an abstract image. There isn’t a picture of a baseball or an apple; there is more than one commonly identified image within every single card. While this makes it easier to connect multiple cards together, it also makes it challenging because other cards that aren’t yours might match your hint.

Here is an example (Let’s number the cards 1 through 9, from top left to bottom right):

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If cards 6 and 9 were mine to identify, I might give the clue “circle” to my team. But they could look at cards 5, 6, 8, and 9 as cards that have a circle in the photo and have a difficult time choosing which cards I want them to select. To narrow the scope of the clue, maybe “wheel” would be better.

If cards 1, 2, and 7 were mine to identify, I could give the hint “wings” to my team, hoping they will see that each card contains wings. Or if cards 3, 5, and 9 were mine, I could say “water” hoping my team will link together the submarine, toilet bowl, and fish as pertaining to water.

This is a great game that will challenge your visual literacy and see how compatible you are with your teammates when examining and describing the same pictures. But there are many times when you realize that you and your teammates aren’t interpreting the same images in a similar way. This is why Alex and Liza had difficulties communicating, especially when Liza had to cancel plans with Alex. Listen to this clip below:

Here is an example on how two people can look at the same pictures and interpret it completely differently. And just like Codenames: Pictures, you’re not always going to be on the same page even though you’re looking at the same thing. But that’s what is so great about visual literacy because it is the understanding that different perspectives exist and that there are multiple meanings to the same image. Educators have to understand the broad concept of literacy and how everyone with different nationalities, cultures, traditions, ages, genders, languages, abilities, etc. must be given the opportunity to learn.

David McCandless takes visual literacy to a data processing perspective and suggests that by displaying data in visually appealing forms, it is easier to see patterns. I loved this image of the scientific evidence for popular health supplements shown in his presentation:

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Click image to enlarge.

This image is extremely appealing to the eye and he has taken a lot of research and condensed it into a viewer-friendly format where everyone can understand. Would children learn better if they were looking at charts like this instead of reading hundreds of research articles? Possibly, but the point isn’t if they will learn better or worse. It’s that this is another way to display the same information.

I want to close this post mentioning the Paul Hughes video, Ten Meters of Thinking, The ABC of Communication. I loved his multimodal presentation using narration, along with the written word and drawn pictures on a scroll. The presentation was engaging and supportive of how alternative ways of instructing is effective. Below is an image from his presentation that, to me, sums up his entire talk:

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With just Action and true Communication, we will get Belief. This positive outcome will result in a dialogue across the board with every person and organization involved. While the image alone isn’t easy to decipher, when you pair it with Hughes’ narration it makes the message very powerful.

My final thought is that visual literacy must be implemented in every classroom by every educator. It’s not right being told exactly what something means. We all have a thought, an opinion, and a voice and need to use it in order to fully capture what literacy means.

Post 2 (2/6/17) – Multiliteracies

The definition of literacy will always seem to rewrite itself, until you can find a broad enough statement that will hold truth for what it meant in the past, what it means in the present, and what it will mean in the future. Without a greater understanding of literacy, it is common to view it as the ability to read and write. You can think about “literature” and “literacy” being the same thing, and in a way you wouldn’t be wrong, but that would be like saying humans are the only living life form on Earth. There are many other contexts to examine within the term “literacy” and that is why it is so confusing for many, as it was expressed in the Dousay article Reinforcing Multiliteracies Through Design Activities.

Both the Dousay and Cope/Kalantzis articles shared their information on multiliteracies, which extends to the approach of literacy and pedagogy. Not only does literacy refer to linguistics but it also takes on multimodal forms such as multimedia and technology. As a future educator, it is important to know about these terms and the strategies on how to implement learning practices to embrace multiliteracies. This can be tied into the Kliewer chapter about Isaac, the boy with Down syndrome and his first day of class. Using the medical approach he was seen as disabled and was told he would have to stay in self-contained classrooms because of his disability. But the parents fought for more because they saw how capable Isaac was and with the right implementations from Ms. Robbins, grabbed onto what made Isaac participate in the classroom. This reminded me of the article about the boy Christopher from last week because both individuals had to overcome their labels as being disabled, but with the right focus on what context could provide them with the environment they’re comfortable and can contribute in, they weren’t acting like how the doctors diagnosed them. They were actively involved in the classroom and out-of-classroom activities and was included in the learning process.

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But in addition to all of the discussion on multiliteracies and the old capitalism of school and changing the structures to fit the emerging students and the advanced technology, I must admit that I was completely awestruck by the digital story-telling from two of the suggested sites from the article “10 Mind-Blowing Interactive Stories.” These included The Boat and After the Storm. It was one thing reading about how effective digital story-telling could be from the Dousay article, but it’s another beast to experience the impact and the degree of expertise put into these projects. There is no doubt how effective digital story-telling can be when used in a classroom. It will definitely actively involve students in the learning process and it certainly provides an interesting outlet of information. I loved the comic-book style of The Boat, with its sound effects and creativeness flowing from every stroke of my touchpad. And After the Storm was just a brilliant form of story-telling. I loved how interactive each frame was, from photos to videos to the voice-over narration to the interactive illustrations moving from scrolling. I can’t believe I haven’t been introduced to this sooner.

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Saved from PBWorks.com. This word map is very similar to the word map on literacy from my first blog post. This shows how the two are connected and how broad both terms can be from different perspectives.

Digital stories is definitely a way to use multiliteracies in the classroom and to show students how there are other forms of story-telling outside of the written language or the traditional approaches using video and audio. Collaborating all of the elements truly taps into all of our senses as we engage in digital stories. Though I’m not exactly sure quite yet how to present and use this in the classroom, introducing students to digital story-telling and having them participate in making their own projects would be an excellent way to embrace multiliteracies. This is why we’re spending the majority of this class online. It’s why we’re not writing in journals and handing them in every week, but instead creating multimodal blogs. And as the articles stated, technology is moving forward at a brisk pace, so for everything we’re learning about multiliteracies today will likely evolve into something more in the near future. We just have to make an attempt to keep up to provide our students every opportunity to display their knowledge.

I just want to leave this post with a short 3-minute video by the New London Group talking about the pedagogy of multiliteracies (from 1996). Enjoy!

Post 1 (1/30/17)

A connection that I made to all three of the readings is how important it is to change the common perspectives that are set in place from society, institutions, way of communicating, and more. We are all used to a certain way of living and we all have a level of expectations when we engage with other individuals. But what is so crucial is that we understand that there isn’t only one correct way to do anything. There isn’t one way for educators to shape their lessons, and there isn’t only one way to assess students either. No one should be judged without thoroughly tapping into what they do and why they act the way they do.

I really liked what the Hendrickson article said about language and how some individuals with autism do not intend to blurt out non-dialogic speech. When non-disabled people hear words that do not fit in with the context of the conversation, it’s easy to be frustrated or even annoyed. Maybe you will think that they don’t understand or aren’t paying attention to the conversation. But this was untrue according to the participants of the study from people with autism who used facilitated communication.

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Saved from Maryann Ryan-Pate via http://www.pinterest.com

This made an impact on me because I currently work with young students on the autism spectrum. Some of them display spontaneous echolalic speech and others display routine social scripting. A lot of the time, other aides in the room try to connect the spontaneous phrases and words to something the students want, but according to the participants in the study that isn’t always the case.

This is all proof about how critical language is in our everyday society, but it’s also how we interpret the meaning of language for those who need extra attention. I often try to put myself in the shoes of the students in the classroom who cannot say exactly what they want. Imagine the degree of frustration and stress they must feel to not be able to articulate what they desperately want to say. I always try my best to stay patient and to attempt to figure out what they’re saying, but it’s not an easy task.

Speaking of educators and their role when dealing with students we might not understand, the article by Kathleen Collins challenges the way educators look at their students and observe literacy. Changing the perspective to New Literacy Studies, educators should broaden the scope of literacy and how it relates to giving meaning to the world.

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I loved the example in the article about Christopher and how the teacher thought of him as shy and unwilling to partake in classroom activities, but all of this stemmed from not engaging in something that truly gave him confidence. I’m not a teacher yet, but I would have likely fallen into the same process of assessing Christopher during in-class activities and not engaging him in out-of-class activities.

This makes me think about some classmates when I was in elementary school and how they seemed very uninterested throughout the school day. But what if they were staying in the back and not participating for reasons other than not being academic? In the article, it was great how Christopher took the leadership role and gave out advice to the rest of the class while making the set for a performance.

As for the video of the high school senior talking about her dyslexia, what impacted me the most was when she described how much work and effort she must put into just writing four sentences. Because of her dyslexia, she can’t simply think of the words she wants to say and write them down. She goes through a whole process that involves: writing a draft, revising it, writing a second draft, revising it again, circling words that look incorrect, searching the correct spelling on Google, writing the draft in pencil and then finally writing over it in pen. This is a very tiring process just to write a few sentences and I applaud her tenacity for overcoming her obstacles.

This sparked my interest in dyslexia and I found another Ted Talk video of Jonathan Buchanan who talked about dyslexia in a different way. He addressed the benefits and the possibilities of having dyslexia and stated something I never knew before: that people with dyslexia have traits that can make them great business leaders. Naturally, I had to research this and found an article that said that 20 percent of the UK’s business self-starters and 35 percent of company founders in the US are dyslexic. This absolutely amazed me.

Buchanan finishes off his Ted Talk with a quote from Albert Einstein (but from further research, the quote cannot be verified and therefore is anonymous),

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

This is an extremely powerful message that sums up all of the readings and finding the true definition of literacy. Most schools work a specific way and just because a student doesn’t do well in that learning environment doesn’t mean there isn’t potential elsewhere. So just like anyone with a learning disability, dyslexia, autism, or anything else, maybe the square peg (the student) doesn’t precisely fit into the round hole (formal schooling). But it is the job of educators to help identify the strengths of every student.