Tag Archives: multimodal

Ways that Digital Tools Can Help Students to Read Their Worlds

Sometimes called “affordances,” the digital world offers advantages to students.  Teachers’ repertoires today likely include Twitter, Glogster, Kahoot, Prezi, a comic creator, Ted Talks, LiveBinders, podcasts, Animoto, Quizlet, a class wiki, white board illustrating, screencasting, and blog posting. These and other platforms infuse ways for students to become better readers of their worlds through nuanced textual interactions, inquiry, analytical thinking, and composing.

Textual Interactions 

Source: Wikipedia

Online tools transform students into text detectives who have fun while hunting for clues.  Start with quickly paced e-learning modules that point to key evidence; primary sources offer a wealth of possibilities. A Civil War era journal entry, sheet music from the Roaring 20’s, an eggless-butterless-milkless World War II cake recipe, or civil rights protest photo can spur conversations and engagement— and each can be accessed digitally.  Alternatively, daily digital newspapers and blogs allow students to explore local and global perspectives, and e-readers and audiobooks bring professional narration to  combined reading/ listening experiences.  It’s fascinating how digital book chats, Amazon student book reviews, or one book/ one school programs can foster a school community through common literary experiences.

Student Inquiry 

Source: Greg McVerry

E-learning centers immerse students in appropriately challenging investigations.  Online design tasks might include image-based visualizations that spur language acquisition.  Vocabulary games, multi-level/ tiered questioning, close reading wikis, or online discussion boards introduce new concepts.  Moreover, social justice simulations can unveil lives that have been affected by race, class, language, gender, or religious difference.  Further, a curation tool like Storify can help students to develop critical perspectives and to become more curious about others who don’t fit their own community’s definition of “Normal.”

Analytical Thinking 

Source: NASA

Do science/ English collaborations seem a bit avant-garde? Scientific texts can fulfill various English and literature standards through readings available at National Geographic, NOAA, NSF, NASA,  Sierra Club, and Nature Conservancy websites. Follow up with a computer lab gallery walk, cartoon slideshow, Ted Talk about study skills, sports podcast to spur argumentation, or celebrity media evaluation.  Add in online guided questions, dictionaries, and translation tools to help struggling readers. Visual texts are important in our symbol-based society, so digital classic works of art, stylized comics, minimalist advertisements, and short films can be “read” as balanced, integrated elements.

Composing  

Source: The Abundant Artist

Infuse background and context into writing-to-learn activities then let students blog!  Because blogging is a reflection of identity, student bloggers gain insights into the human side of composing; they discern the complex interplay of words and ideas for an audience, making sense through print, sound, images, and videos.  Digital photography can also bring personalization and purpose to the writing process.  And don’t forget how fan fiction creates an outlet for imaginative mediation of the demands of audience and genre.

Ultimately, it is the richness of the digital world that resonates with students, for, as W. Somerset Maugham said, “The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.”

Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. is the recipient of the International Literacy Association’s 2015 Grand Prize Award for Technology and Reading.  She teaches high school English and is an adjunct faculty member at Rhode Island College. If you’d like information about workshops in digital and media literacy and learning, contact Carolyn at c4tuna31@gmail.com.

The Digital Writing Process

One of my earliest and richest professional development activities was with the National Writing Project.  As a newly certified English teacher, the NWP’s process approach to writing seemed a whirlwind:  how could I help my students to see the possibilities within all the stages of pre-writing, organizing, drafting, and revision?  Slowly, I came to understand the process approach to writing and became a particular fan of Donald Murray, who made visible the struggles of writers and the joy of discovery through the written word.

Now, with nearly 20 years of middle and high school teaching behind me, I still respect the writing process approach and its benefits.  I also recognize that the nature of writing has changed tremendously over those two decades due to the significant influence of digital tools and sources.  Of course, today’s composers still must meet the commonly accepted conventions of the genre in which they are engaged, but our visual digital culture creates different demands than did the primarily print text-based world.

Digital environments mediate the navigation, length, and complexity of texts, requiring composers to adapt to audience, tone, and purpose in ways that previous generations were never required. Digital environments have disrupted the writing process as we once knew it due to an interwoven combination of traditional narrative sequencing, hyperlinks to other digital sources, infusions of multimedia texts like videos and podcasts, and interactive response fields.

A new Digital Writing Process SOARS!

Source: Carolyn Fortuna

Source: Carolyn Fortuna

  •  Survey: Have students surf the web and a large body of texts as a way of frontloading concepts and language. One way to ensure that students’ research meets your institution’s guidelines for social appropriateness and keen content connections is to curate a collection of digital models through which students can surf. (Here’s a sample curation from a sports and popular culture course I teach.)  A curation helps to illuminate what works among digital design, multimedia choices, and narrative structure.  And, so they learn to embed a pattern of attribution, it’s probably best for students to grab short phrases of direct excerpts from the sources they find, using quotation marks.  Otherwise, students might find themselves part of a plagiarism controversy.
  • Organize: Students need to sort through the chaos of all the fabulous texts and direct excerpts they’ve gathered from the web. Have students group their direct excerpts according to commonalities, and then have them narrow those commonalities into hierarchies. Students will also benefit from exposure to different methods to code evidence, such as color coordinating, charting, doing in-document keyword searches, or categorizing. Eventually, move students from an integration of patterns into a systematic, theoretically embedded explanation.
  • Address: One of the truly marvelous benefits of surfing the web is the capacity to see how other composers design their ideas and formats.  Commonly called conventions of the genre, these expected ways of adhering to a particular type of compositional style take a bit of scrutiny.  Have students analyze a variety of texts within a particular genre and identify certain predictable characteristics.  As students move into drafting their own compositions, they should practice different approaches to establishing mood and tone through deliberate word choices.  And, because their digital design should be visually appealing to appeal to a targeted audience, they should recognize and incorporate pointed design techniques, a clear message, and a professional look. 
  • Revise: Believe it or not, the revision stage of the digital writing process is the most time-consuming.  That’s because a first full draft of a composition, in all likelihood, lacks depth of ideas, language cohesion, and/or an interrelated design structure.  Moreover, when one aspect of the digital composition is changed, the other areas are immediately affected.  Guide students through a series of directed steps to consider how each part of the digital design process interacts with others.  Provide opportunities for 1-to-1 teacher: student conferencing, small group collaboration, and focus group feedback so that students have a balance of ample creative time and constructive responses.
  • Survey again:  Often, a full and revised draft of a composition still isn’t polished enough. That’s why the digital writing process requires composers to return to the web and to continue to survey mentor models of published digital compositions.  This final step is often lacking in classrooms, although new digital technologies and pedagogical tools have emerged to help teachers in the teaching of revision.  Students need to revisit the digital sources that originally inspired them, study them with a newly formed composer’s point of view, and decide what additional strategies they can adopt to infuse more nuance, voice, and authenticity to their own original compositions.

Many teachers now incorporate multimodal texts into their instruction as ways of making meaning. Because digital realms mediate content and meaning, curricula must also change to address new possible digital composing pathways.  Teachers in a PEW Research Center study report that their students have a broad audience for written material due to pervasive social media production opportunities. It’s time for teachers and cultural workers across disciplines to embrace a new Digital Writing Process as a necessary way to help guide our students to their highest levels of digital compositional excellence.

Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. is the recipient of the International Literacy Association’s 2015 Grand Prize Award for Technology and Reading.  She teaches high school English and is an adjunct faculty member at Rhode Island College. If you’d like information for your school or non-profit organization about workshops in digital and media literacy and learning, contact Carolyn at c4tuna31@gmail.com.

URI Education Professors, Graduate Win Education Awards from International Literacy Association

Media Contact: Elizabeth Rau, 401-874-2116UR

KINGSTON, R.I. – Aug. 5, 2015 – Two University of Rhode Island education professors and a URI graduate have won international awards for their accomplishments in literacy.

The awards were given by the International Literary Association at its annual conference in St. Louis July 19.

“It’s a special honor for me to be recognized by my peers,’’ says Julie Coiro, a URI associate professor of education who won the Computers in Reading Research Award. “I’m thrilled to be able to contribute to the growing body of work on how to best support teachers and students learning how to read, write and think more deeply with new technologies.”

Coiro’s award honors reading researchers who have made a significant contribution to research about classroom literacy instruction and technology integration.

Coiro, of Quaker Hill, Conn., teaches courses in reading and digital literacy and is an expert in the field of new literacies, which seeks to understand and develop literacy in a digital age.

She has lectured from Taipei, Taiwan and Manitoba, Canada to Brisbane, Australia and Mendillon, Colombia about her research on the new literacies of the Internet, online reading comprehension and practices for technology integration and professional development.

She recently completed a five-year research project funded by the U.S. Department of Education to develop assessments to measure online reading comprehension to support classroom instruction.

Coiro also co-directs the Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy at URI, a graduate program that allows educators, librarians and media professionals to learn how to use digital media to create learning opportunities for students. Under her leadership, educators and media experts from throughout the world attended the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy at URI’s Feinstein Providence Campus, also in July.

“It’s a thrill to get so many different types of educators revved up about literacy and learning with technology,’’ Coiro says. “Then you watch them go back to their districts and do incredible things.”

Coiro is co-editor of The Handbook of Research On New Literacies and has co-authored a book for classroom teachers, New Literacies for New Times: Teaching with the Internet K-12.

In 2011, she won the Early Career Achievement Award from the Literacy Research Association. The following year, she received URI’s Early Career Faculty Research Excellence Award in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities.

And in 2014, she received an Elva Knight Research Award – with her colleague Carita Kiili of Jyväskylä, Finland – to study how to support high school students as they critically read and write online texts involving controversial issues.

Theresa A. Deeney received the Jerry Johns Outstanding Teacher Educator Award for outstanding college or university teacher of reading methods or reading-related courses.

Deeney, of South Kingstown, is an associate professor of literacy education at URI, coordinator of the graduate literacy program and director of graduate studies in the School of Education.

Her research focuses on pre- and in-service teacher education in literacy and assessment and instructional practices for students who struggle. Her work has appeared in The Reading Teacher, Journal of Special Education and Intervention in School and Clinic, Yearbook of the Literacy Research Association.

“Being recognized by my peers for my work in literacy teacher education is an honor,’’ she says, of her award. “I’m so grateful to all of the wonderful teachers I’ve had the pleasure to learn from over the years. They’re really the ones who deserve recognition.”

As part of her work, Deeney directs URI’s After School Literacy Program, a yearlong program run in conjunction with the Graduate Reading Program. Under her guidance, URI students have helped more than 90 children and adolescents in local schools with reading and language difficulties.

Deeney is author of Improving Literacy Instruction with Classroom Research. In 2007, she received the Outstanding Outreach Award from URI’s College of Human Science and Services for her work with urban teachers, and in 2015, the Outstanding Service Award. She also received the 2014 Constance McCullough Award from the International Literacy Association for professional development in Kenya as part of her work with the Africa Teacher Foundation. For this project, she helps teachers in some of the poorest areas of Kenya learn instructional techniques for developing their students’ literacy skills.

“I am thrilled that Terry Deeney and Julie Coiro have been recognized internationally for their excellence in research and instruction in literacy,’’ says Lori E. Ciccomascolo, interim dean of the College of Human Science and Services and dean of URI’s Feinstein College of Continuing Education. “They clearly have had an impact in their field, and I thank them for setting such a high standard for how literacy is taught and researched.”

Another award went to Carolyn Fortuna, of Glocester, who won the International Literacy Association’s 2015 grand prize Technology and Reading Award. The award honors educators in grades K-12 who are making outstanding and innovative contributions to the use of technology in reading education.

Fortuna is a 2010 graduate of the joint doctoral program in education at URI and Rhode Island College. She attended URI’s Summer Institute in Digital Literacy in 2013 and frequently participates in URI’s Media Education Lab research. She is the founder and director of IDigItMedia.com, which offers digital media literacy and learning professional development to schools and nonprofits.

She teaches high school English in Franklin, Mass., and is an adjunct faculty member at Rhode Island College.

Pictured above: Julie Coiro (top); Theresa Deeney (middle); and Carolyn Fortuna (bottom). Photos courtesy of URI.

Reprinted with permission of the University of Rhode Island.

International Literacy Association 2015 Grand Prize Award for Technology and Reading

Source: International Literacy Association

St. Louis, Missouri— August 5, 2015

Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D., a high school English teacher in Franklin, Massachusetts, was awarded the International Reading Association’s Grand Prize Award for Technology and Reading at this year’s annual conference.  Fortuna designed a project titled, “Reading Meets a 1:1 Digital Environment in Senior High School English.”

Dr. Fortuna integrates critical digital literacy, which is examination of social and cultural issues in the Internet age, into structured reading activities. With a constant infusion of print, audio, digital, visual, and video modalities, her students read intertextually, research across cultures, and compose authentically through individualized, inquiry-based, and collaborative digital literacy learning.

The ILA Award for Technology and Reading honors educators in grades K–12 who are making an outstanding and innovative contribution to the use of technology in reading education. Recognized were two grand-prize winners, seven U.S. regional winners, one Canadian, and one international winner. All entrants must be educators who work directly with students ages 5–18 for all or part of the working day. carolyn receiving ILA award

A graduate of the Feinstein Joint Doctoral Program at URI and Rhode Island College, Dr. Fortuna and each of her students use Google websites to analyze and produce texts.  All their websites become filled with short and long fiction, primary source documents, art, Prezis, Quizlets, You Tubes, poetry, songs, film trailers, commercials, podcasts, and even cartoons.

She says, “I want to help students to read their worlds and to recognize their capacities as change agents.”  This means moving student engagement from recall to critical analysis, digital composition, transformation, and publication. In a unit, students might start with advertisement analysis and continue with digital workshop argumentation. A survey of non-fiction essays can morph into collaborative teaching, and  e-learning modules  might progress to a study of curated museums of texts.

Dr. Fortuna thinks that literacy is socially inclusive, can inspire civic participation, and has the capacity to develop lifelong learning. Her high school seniors build awareness of and forge connections to issues that are a microcosm of the larger society in which we live.

Source: Original artwork by Andy Childs

Source: Original artwork by Andy Childs

For more information, visit literacyworldwide.org. Media Contact: press@reading.org.

Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. is the recipient of the International Literacy Association’s 2015 Grand Prize Award for Technology and Reading.  She teaches high school English and is an adjunct faculty member at Rhode Island College. If you’d like information for your school or non-profit organization about workshops in digital and media literacy and learning, contact Carolyn at c4tuna31@gmail.com.

Offsetting the Fear of Digital Applications in the Classroom

While attending a recent summer workshop, I was surprised to become immersed in debate about the validity of digitally-based classrooms.  Isn’t that a topic for last century?  Hasn’t President Obama been pushing an agenda so that all schools are connected?

Yet a vocal opposition of teachers around me insisted that the digital world is only a passing trend, that it’s only young teachers who are equipped to incorporate digital tools and applications into literacy instruction.

I became a bit conscious of my gray roots and wrinkles as I responded. To me, digital literacy and learning should merge in every classroom, everyday, as authentic representations of the ways that today’s adolescents read their worlds. Digital tools offer advantages, sometimes called “affordances” (Boyd, 2010), through access to multiple modalities and participatory culture.

But I also understand how individuals who haven’t had a lot of exposure to technology in their personal lives or professional development might be hesitant, even afraid. A teacher who stands before a class of skeptical students is vulnerable.  We’re expected to know everything: Common Core content, multiple intelligences, classroom management strategies, formative assessment…. Whew!  Who has time for digital applications, anyways?

Actually, digital intersections can ease the complex demands of our teaching profession. Technology in the classroom can provide students with individualization, inquiry, and engagement that complement traditional — and proven— methods of literacy learning.  It does require taking academic risks, but the rewards can be invigorating.

Three Steps You Can Take to Gain Digital Proficiency

  • Find a trusted colleague. Learning how to navigate web applications is different than learning from a book.  Until you’ve been personally shown the series of steps to, say, set up a blog or transfer a link to a teacher website, the digital world seems daunting.  If you have a colleague whom you can trust with the raw truth that you really don’t know Instagram (or Moodle, Google Classroom, the difference among Internet Explorer/ Firefox/ Chrome: the list can be long), you’ve started on the path to digital proficiency. Set up mutually convenient times to meet and exchange ideas.  And, who knows?  Your colleague likely will inhale your content area expertise in a mutuality of collaboration.
  • Pilot your new digital lesson when the stakes are low. Once you’ve found your digital inroad, it’s time to go live. Figure out where you can embed it into a unit under way cleanly and with supporting activities. Do you have a class of tech-savvy, invested learners? They’d likely help out if something goes awry.
  • Breathe deeply, reflect, and rededicate. You’ve done it!  Your digitally-infused lesson was a roaring success, simply an adequate learning event, or mediocre at best. Whichever the case, it’s time to feel proud of what you attempted and accomplished.  But don’t stop there. 

Be curious about new digital resources, approaches to 21st century pedagogies, and opportunities for continual PD.  After all, your digital excursions can open up many new and exhilarating possibilities.

References

danah boyd. (2010). “Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications.” In Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (ed. Zizi Papacharissi), pp. 39-58.

Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. is the recipient of the International Literacy Association’s 2015 grand prize Award for Technology and Reading.  She teaches high school English in Franklin, MA and is an adjunct faculty member at Rhode Island College. If you’d like information for your school or non-profit organization about workshops in digital and media literacy and learning, contact Carolyn at c4tuna31@gmail.com.

Presentations at Conferences: The Year in Review at IDigItMedia

National Council of Teachers of English, Washington, D.C. Roundtable: The Intersection of Literacy, Sport, Culture, and Society. November, 2014. 

What does it mean to ground literacy instruction in a favorite topic?  Dr. Carolyn described what that intersection could look like in a talk called, “Not the Same Old Story: Student Discourse in a Sports and Popular Culture Course.” Reviewing a media literacy intervention as a method to enhance critical distance, she demonstrated how language skills can be imparted through critical discourse, visual, and digital media analysis. Students drew upon NAMLE core concepts of audience and authorship, messages and meanings, and representations and reality to become ready to delve into their own original multimodal compositions.

Northeast Popular Culture Association, Providence, RI. New England Studies Section. October, 2014.

Film draws upon many factors–genetic, social, and cultural influences as well as the built environment—to shape viewer perception and identification. Rhode Island has been the site for many film sets, and the ways that Rhode Island has been represented in film have ranged from portrayed spaces of great aesthetic and natural beauty to that of people with malicious motivations and predatory lifestyles.  Drawing upon social constructivist orientation to understand how the meanings people associate with physical landscapes carry differing ontological and epistemological perspectives, Dr. Carolyn presented a white paper titled, “Not for Nuthin’: Rhode Island Films and the Sense of Place,” to describe how a sense of place in film is congruent with or reinforces Rhode Island identity.

Rhode Island Writing Project, Providence, RI. March, 2014 

Dr. Carolyn led a workshop in which participants followed students’ multimodal writing progress and wrote themselves in a session called, “Modeling the Digital Writing Workshop.”  They tracked progress from frontloading learning events, to online persona advertising analysis, to a digital composition with hyperlinks, audio/ video, and visual analysis. Participants learned how digital writing is more than just a skill; it is a means of interfacing with ideas and with the world, a mode of thinking and expressing in all grades and disciplines.

National Council of Teachers of English, Boston, MA. November, 2013. 

What happens when high school students meet theory? Do they rebel, regurgitate the teacher’s ideas, or relish a new opportunity?  How can teachers create meaningful literacy structures through teaching about theory as a way to interpret texts? Dr. Carolyn helped an audience to conceptualize answers to those questions by modeling “Online Personas: Advertising Analysis.”  She argued that theoretical analysis through online personas offers students low stakes practice in critical writing.

National Council of Teachers of English, Boston, MA. November, 2013.

How can critical literacy praxis create meaningful composing opportunities for students?  In “(Re)Creating Ibsen’s A Doll’s House through Critical Literacy,” Dr. Carolyn traced how, through multimodal research presentations, online discussion boards, acting company performances, inside/outside circle collaborations, and poetry slams, students can grapple with social, historic, and cultural contexts and reconcile issues of gender, socioeconomic class, and identity.

Northeast Popular Culture Association, Burlington, VT. October, 2013. 

Sociocultural processes shape and anchor individuals within specific moments of social reality.  Dr. Carolyn offered a white paper titled, “’Electrifyingly Cool and Sexy:’” The Cultural Politics of Speed in Ron Howard’s Rush” and posed several questions about the film’s depiction of masculinity.  Did producer Howard target the fearless mindset of the title contenders, their single-minded determination to win, and their teams’ elite technical engineering? Or did he reproduce Hollywood’s ritualistic pulses of insatiable sex and violence against a backdrop of speed and spectacle? The presentation offered a practical application of sports and theory as embedded in contemporary film.

Promising Practices Conference

Fortuna and Shultz at Rhode Island College

Carolyn and Brian facilitated a workshop to educators and teacher education candidates called “Off the Track: A New Approach to the Heterogeneous Classroom through Multigenre, Multimodal Literacy Learning.” Providence, November, 2012.