I chose the following question for my inquiry: How do Multiliteracies practices affect struggling readers and writers in their learning?
(1) Significance of Question in my Teaching Practice and Context
The question is significant in my teaching context because of the demographics of the students at my school, and particularly in my class. I currently work at an international school in Japan in which our mission statement states that we are an inclusive school. Therefore, many students with various needs are attending our school, coming from a variety of ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. Unlike public schools, we do not receive any government funding because we are a private school with no financial ties to the Japanese ministry of education. Therefore, we often do not have the resources necessary to effectively support learners with disabilities, such as appropriate tools and specialists. In addition, since many of the families come from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, we have many English Language Learners who struggle in literacy as well. Therefore, I would like to explore how Multiliteracies would benefit struggling readers and/or writers. This would include children who have disabilities, speak English as an additional language, or have a combination of both.
(2) Significance of Question to my Students’ Literacy Learning in Contemporary Times
In contemporary times, students are required to show their learning in a variety of ways. At my particular school which is an International Baccalaureate school, the skills to communicate their knowledge through multiple modalities is a prominent component of the program. Specifically, at the end of the Primary Years Program which starts in Kindergarten and ends in grade 5, students inquire into a central idea over the period of approximately six weeks. Throughout the process of inquiry learners collaborate with their peers, teachers, and other people from the community to gain deeper understandings of the central idea. At our school, student in grade 3 and beyond use a tool called Google Community to share their learning, give constructive feedback and problem-solve through a digital platform where resources and information in multiple modalities are used on a daily basis.
In the final exhibition, learners present their findings in front of the school and community. In this process, they are required to share what they have discovered through their inquiry in a variety of ways. For example, in past exhibitions, there were student-created videos, visual arts, music, theatre, and more. A main goal of the program is to help learners develop the skills necessary to communicate in dynamic ways through multiple modalities, which is an essential component of becoming a life-long learner. Therefore, the program focuses on supporting learners in the process to build the skills to collaboratively learn and share their new knowledge and understandings through multiple modes of expression.
(3) My Emergent Understanding of Multiliteracies Characteristics
The purpose of education is to prepare children to successfully participate as citizens in the global workforce. Since the nature of the workforce has drastically changed in the past 100 years, the nature of education must adapt to such changes (Robinson, 2008). In the old economy, traditional forms of literacies and content knowledge through memorization adequately prepared children for a workforce which were the “product of the industrial revolution: factories, production lines and hierarchies” (Robertson, 2013). In contrast, the new economy requires “problem solving, creativity and information and communication technology literacy,” (2013) since we are preparing our students for our unpredictable economies of the 21st century (2008). As a result of the difference in what the new economy requires, the education also must shift in accordance to this global trend.
Along with such drastic changes, the English language itself has also diverged into multiple versions of English, depending on the culture, subculture, country, ethnicity, interests, and so on (Cope and Kalantzis, 2009). Consequently, the nature of communication itself has become more dynamic, as stated by Cope and Kalantzis, “…the need to conceive meaning making as a form of design or active and dynamic transformation of the social world, and its contemporary forms increasingly multimodal, with linguistic, visual, audio, gestural and spatial modes of meaning becoming increasingly integrated in everyday media and cultural practices.” (2009, p. 166) In short, children are now encouraged to construct meaning using multiple modalities to reflect the changing nature of the social world. Furthermore, traditional forms of alphabetical literacy are no longer adequate, and must be combined with the use of multimodal forms of communication (Cope and Kalantzis, 2009, p. 166)
Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2009) “Multiliteracies”: New
literacies, new learning. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 4(3), 164-195.
The RSA. (2010, October 14). Changing Education Paradigms [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.thersa.org/discover/videos/event-videos/2008/06/changing-paradigms/
Robertson, C. (2013, April 10). Why Multiliteracies? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.lc2.ca/item/105-why-multiliteracies