Shifting Literacy Instruction

Shifting Literacy Instruction

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3212-5.ch007
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Abstract

Five years-worth of research combines to provide an overview of findings as reported from each of the studies. The value in this chapter rests with the emphasis on student voices and their perspectives about digital literacy learning given the students are faced with curriculum mandates and stressed educators every day in classrooms. Therefore, we must listen to children, in order to recognize the impact of instructional decisions. Overall, students report a sense of agency, or control, as being essential in the meaning making process. This includes making decisions about tools and collaborating with others. This chapter contains suggestions for modifying existing structures like writing workshop and linguistic-based assessments. The conclusion focuses on future research questions that continue the quest to better understand the multimodal work of diverse students.
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You know, you said we can get on this [StoryJumper] at home and we have Internet at home. I can use my password and he can help me with my book cuz I don’t remember everything about my soccer team… I think he knows more and can help. It will be a better book if he helps me. We can put two authors on the cover, me and him.

Drawing on five years of research with young learners developing new literacies in a global world, students revealed their perspectives about school-based literacy classroom experiences. These views represent students’ experiences based on the social, political, and economic circumstances faced by their community, school, and families. These experiences may not apply to all students but offer insights into 21st century literacy in a time when common core standards and district mandates drive a great deal of classroom instruction and leave little room for student voice and choice.

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Learning From And With Students: Voices Of Young Learners

Agency

Agency, making choices about all aspects of meaning making, was a theme that permeated student voices. Students repeatedly referenced the essential role of choice and taking charge of the learning process (Adams Becker, Freeman, Giesinger, Cummins, & Yuhnke, 2016; Brown, 2014). These concepts trickled through comments about collaboration with peers, control over text topics, making decisions about modes, flexibility of time and space, using technology, and judging their own work (Table 1).

Table 1.
Sample student interview comments about agency
StudentProjectAgency Comments
MeliciaLegoI liked the part when we got to take the pictures and like make the story with the pictures because it was fun and it really let me like be free with the things that I had in my mind that I wanted to share out in my book.
SharondaLegoUhhh, it [building with Legos] helped me like make my own stories, own ideas, and like helped me creating stuff instead of just writing and like kinda like figure out stuff and drawing pictures. I got to pick what to do.
Beast Boy
(emergent bilingual)
PoetryI could make my poem about aliens. Nobody ever let me write on aliens… Getting Google pictures gooder than drawing. I no good drawing.
Wonder WomanPoetryYou want it [poem] to be your vision, not other people's vision. And you want to have, you need a little bit encouragement as people, your family members, about what do you think you should write in your poem. Like, how do you want it to be like? How do you want it to be created? Like that.
Nia
(emergent bilingual)
Cloud WritingYou get to pick lots of stuff in StoryJumper. Like faces, dresses, hair, where they go, like beaches, castles and stuff like that. When Mr. Ramos makes us write, he tells what to do. I don’t like that. It’s hard to write on something like that…
TaevionCloud WritingYou know, I, the best part was working with my friends on books. We usually have to write on paper alone. And get graded. This is better. You let us write together to make books. We helped each other and made cooler books.
DwayneGraphic NovelsMy story was about a bank robber. I drew the pictures and had time to make all of them. Then, I had time to make my voice in the computer. We got to record until we liked it best. It made my video awesome… I was the decider.
Furry Paws
(emergent bilingual)
Graphic NovelsI make a book and got to use computer. I do not gets to use computer most times. Other peoples uses it. This time I use it, make my story in video.

This was evidenced across projects with native and non-native English speakers. Autonomous decisions were valued by students as they used the available tools and interactions with peers to produce particular meanings (Maybin, 2006). The social experiences of students invoked space for positions of authority within their own work and in their negotiations with peers (Arnott, 2016).

Developing as a text maker required students to use agentive moves to maneuver the digital landscape in order to fully explore semiotic options. In this way students matched the most apt resources to the production at hand (Fisher, 2010; Kress, 2010). Students’ cultural and linguistic resources were also embedded in these literacy practices and evidenced in their choice of topics and language use. Taking control of the meaning making process empowered students to be active in telling their own stories (Kuby & Vaughn, 2015). These agentive moves frequently led to identity building.

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