Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Good Start

Jewitt, Carey. "Multimodality and Literacy in School Classrooms." Review of Research in Education 32 (2008): 241-67. Print.

Carey’s article serves as an introduction to multimodal teaching and literacy in the classroom. She is actually looking at how using multimodal technologies and techniques affect the way that we learn. She argues that the presentation of information in the classroom changes both what is learned and how it is learned. She later argues that if we are going to use multimodal examples in class, we need to be creating multimodalt exts as well.

Carey’s article covers a lot of area in 28 pages. Based in England, she is studying the use of digital media, print, image, and body language in classrooms that span preschool, primary school, and higher learning (and three countries). Carey starts by explaining the move from a focus on literacy to literacies that has happened over the past 15 years. This has happened as a result in our culture’s shift from print to digital. Communication has in no way decreased as a result, but, as Carey notes, “writing as the dominant mode is increasingly brought into new textual relations with, or even exchanged for, visual and multi-modal forms of expression (244). The understanding becomes that teaching only writing as words limits students’ understanding of current culture and may even work counter to their understanding of text. Simply put, students ‘read’ more than just books.

She goes on to discuss studies done in multimodal teaching. Modes are different forms of communication that include, but do not end at, language. Carey’s examples range from the creation of a cross-cultural alphabet book a class created to the study of music or pictures in a class. No mode should be put above another and technology is not the only mode that can be brought into the classroom. In the classroom, this is a shift from lecture and discussion to creation. Students will bring themselves and their literacies into the classroom to create these new texts.

She ends by realizing some of the challenges that multimodal teaching brings into the classroom. Variances in modes mean that students must ‘read’ multiple texts in class, often converting what they know of one mode into another. She adds that body language is another mode in the classroom. A teacher’s body language can really affect the way a class learns. So, students must become expert readers and teachers must do all they can to relay meaning.

I am planning on doing my project on multimodal teaching, especially how to creating multimodal texts in a writing classroom. Carey’s article works as a good introduction to the idea of multimodal teaching and is a great place to start. The wealth of information she tries to take on means that she touches on a lot of ideas, but doesn’t go into anything with depth. She acknowledges at the end that her discussion of multimodal teaching leaves open a lot of discussion. What she does give is a good definition of multimodal teaching and a lot of great examples of what that can look like. I think it’s a useful article to establish one in the conversation.

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