Contemporary conceptualizations of literacy as socially and culturally situated practice must be framed in our digitally-mediated, glocalized societies where networked communication technologies have created innovative texts opening up new literacies and demanding new pedagogies. This chapter discusses a Toronto-based program of collaborative school-university action research that aims to develop a pedagogy of multiliteracies in an urban elementary school. The project engaging our research collective is about guiding children to rewrite traditional children’s stories as individualized digital narratives that enfold their cultural understandings and community languages. Situated within current epistemological questions about what it means to become a literate person in the 21st century, our project responds to reciprocal educational challenges: How can we facilitate the acquisition of relevant literacies for contemporary children experiencing divergent home, school, community and societal practices? How can we redesign curricula and assessment to be socially responsive and responsible?
Key Terms in this Chapter
Literacies: A critique of the notion of literacy as a monolithic, cognitive skill that describes literacy practices in socio-cultural context.
Glocalization: A sociological descriptor of the intersection of global and local culture.
Additive multilingualism: Education in which subsequent languages are taught as additions to the learner’s existing language repertoire rather than as replacements.
Additive bilingualism: An approach to second language teaching in which the second language is seen as an addition to the learner’s first language rather than as a replacement for it. In additive bilingualism, educational support is offered for the first language in tandem with second language instruction.
Transliteracies: My description of a phenomenon sometimes described as “mode-switching”: moving between paper and screen literacies.
Secondary orality: A term coined by Walter Ong to describe oral language use in post-literate electronic media contexts.
Multiliteracies: Developed by the New London Group (1996) to describe the complexities of contemporary culturally and socially situated literacy practices which engage multiple languages in multiple modalities, especially as described by digital communications media.