New Literacies and Multimodality

In a previous post I began to explore aspects of what Multimodality meant to me in the context of onscreen work with 2 Create a Story.

I recently read an amazing book Edited by Janet Evans called "Literacy Moves On:" which I would strongly recommend to anyone teaching literacy in the primary school. Published in 2004 by David Fulton, it is a very readable and accessible text, that deals practically and theoretically with ways in which multiliteracies and popular culture can be exploited in the classroom, and explores how the multimodal world may impact on children's text creation and their views as authors. There are also 2 excellent online publications on multimodality and multiliteracies in the classroom available from the QCA and UKLA entitled More than Words and More Than Words 2. Inspiring stuff.

I was stimulated after reading this book, to reconsider some of my preconceptions about why my students seemingly meandered into unconnected dialogue at the end of their stories. Was it because they couldn't organise their work? Or were they in fact drawing on a wider text world, and playing their story like an episode of Eastenders on some cranial screen, where dialogue unlinked by stage directions and narration, carried their created plot through the physical actions of characters only they could see? Could they see their story unfold as they wrote it? Presumably they must, since the dialogue was frequently linked even if not as expected in the written forms they were presenting. Might part of the solution to mine and their "problem" be to value and draw on this text type as narrative, and engage them more critically with it, to help understand the difference between the oral text genre's I wanted them to write, whilst drawing on the largely visual text of a TV programme as a stimulus or starting point. I enjoyed as an outcome of these reflections, using several animated stories without dialogue last year, in supporting a group of reluctant writers in narrative writing activities. Their favourite was "Bert." Having the visual narrative, to work from really seemed to help them organise events, and understand how to develop the story sequentially. There being no dialogue, they had to really think about how they would describe the actions of characters, and the events in the story as it unfolded. They also wrote reams, and were happy to revisit, revise and develop the stories they had written in onscreen form, using images captured from the film within a PowerPoint writing frame. What was really good to see was them later sharing the stories they had written so proudly with younger students, printed out in the form of picture books.

I would also like to recommend a really good teachers TV programe I came across recently about reading multimodal texts such as this in the classroom. Check it out.

Reading Film: The Lesson
Reading Film: The Monk and The Fish

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