Rethinking Writing Pedagogy: Supporting Preservice and Inservice Teachers' Digital and Multimodal Writing Practices

Rethinking Writing Pedagogy: Supporting Preservice and Inservice Teachers' Digital and Multimodal Writing Practices

Melanie Hundley (Vanderbilt University, USA), Robin Jocius (The Citadel, USA) and Emily Pendergrass (Vanderbilt University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0000-2.ch010

Abstract

This chapter examines practices, strategies, and assessments used to support preservice and inservice teachers in becoming digital writers who can thoughtfully integrate digital and multimodal writing into their pedagogical practice. The chapter is organized into two sections: (1) a research-based discussion of goals and strategies for integrating digital and multimodal writing into preservice and inservice teacher education courses, and (2) concrete examples of activities and assessments for teacher education courses that can successfully scaffold teachers into becoming digital writers. Findings demonstrate that the thoughtful and purposeful integration of digital, multimodal writing into teacher education courses can shift understandings of writing as a participatory practice and support teachers in successful classroom integration.
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Introduction

Preparing English teachers is in such a state of flux right now. All this social media, digital media, and transmedia doesn’t seem to be going away, so I guess we’re going to have to address it, Lara, Teacher Educator, 2017.

The writing that I did as a student is so different than the writing my students need to do—I was words on paper and they are words on paper, plus words with video and images and so much more. We need to think about what will help students write in thoughtful, complex ways using all the tools available to them, Abbie, Middle School Teacher, 2018

As the above quotes from Lara and Abbie demonstrate, how writing is defined and how it is taught is shifting, transitioning from familiar forms of print to digital and multimodal modes. In order to take advantage of the rapidly expanding repertoire of digital tools that enable new ways of making, communicating, and disseminating meaning in the 21st century, both preservice and inservice teachers need explicit support and opportunities to engage with digital writing practices (VanKooten & Berkley, 2016). In order to shift their thinking and to push on critical understandings of what writing is, it is essential to disrupt teachers’ current understandings and to challenge them by providing multiple and varied experiences with writing across 21st century tools and forms. More specifically, to come to understand writing as a set of multimodal, multigenre, and distributed practices that enable participation and communication in an increasingly connected world, teachers must first become digital and multimodal writers themselves.

This chapter examines practices, strategies, and assessments used to support preservice and inservice teachers in becoming digital writers who can thoughtfully integrate digital and multimodal writing into their pedagogical practice. The chapter is organized into two sections: (1) a research-based discussion of goals and strategies for integrating digital and multimodal writing into preservice and inservice teacher education courses; and (2) concrete examples of activities and assessments for teacher education courses that can successfully scaffold teachers into becoming digital writers. Throughout each section, we draw on our work with both preservice and inservice teachers across two universities to demonstrate that thoughtful and purposeful integration of digital, multimodal writing into teacher education courses can both shift understandings of writing as a participatory practice and support teachers in successful classroom integration.

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Background

As we began thinking about the possibilities and challenges of supporting teachers’ development as digital and multimodal writers, we realized that we first needed to surface the kinds of writing that are most prevalent in the classroom experiences of the teachers with whom we work. We began by reviewing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010), as well as other state and national curriculum mapping documents, to synthesize the most common types of writing identified as part of these standards. We found that, overwhelmingly, concepts of writing in these standards center on three particular genres: narrative, argument, and informative/explanatory. Additionally, although little explicit attention is paid to digital and multimodal writing, the expectation is that P-12 students will learn to be able to move skillfully among new and print media and to create and remix many different media forms. For instance, as Dalton (2012) argued, the open-endedness of the CCSS offers “wide latitude...to integrate technology and literacy in ways that matter for students’ learning and engagement” (p. 333).

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