Multimodal literacy, first proposed by Professor Gunter Kress and Professor Carey Jewitt, Institute of Education, University of London . is about understanding the different ways of knowledge representations and meaning-making. Multimodal literacy focuses on the design of discourse by investigating the contributions of specific semiotic resources, (e.g. language, gesture, images) co-deployed across various modalities (e.g. visual, aural, somatic), as well as their interaction and integration in constructing a coherent multimodal text (such as advertisements, posters, news report, websites, films).
The pedagogical approaches in developing multimodal literacy is informed by the seminal work by Emeritus Professor Michael Halliday’s in Systemic Functional Theory  as well as other international scholars and researchers in the field of multimodality. The systemic approach in teaching Critical Viewing, developed in Singapore, focuses on the explicit teaching of parts and strategies in a multimodal text to help students make evidence-based interpretations of the text and develop critical thinking.
Jewitt, C. & Kress, G. (Eds.). (2003). Multimodal literacy. New York: Peter Lang.
See for example, Halliday, M.A.K. (1978). Language as social semiotic: The social interpretation of language and meaning. London: Edward Arnold and Halliday, M.A.K. & Matthiessen, C.M.I.M. (2004). An introduction to functional grammar (3rd edition). London: Arnold (1st edition 1985).
Multimodal literacy explores the design of discourse by investigating the contributions of different semiotic resources (for example, language, gesture, images) co-deployed across various modalities (for example, visual, aural, somatic) as well as their interaction and integration in constructing a coherent text.
Based on some of the work in multimodal literacy, it appears that the notion of multimodal literacy has two dimensions (see, for example, Kress, 2003, 2010; Jewitt & Kress, 2003; Kress et al. 2001, 2005 and Walsh, 2009).
1 st Dimension of Multimodal Literacy: Media Literacy
The first dimension is with respect to the prevalence of multimodal texts, specifically through multimedia texts afforded by the digital media, hence stressing the need for a literacy to produce and access information.
Multimodal literacy acknowledges the significance of all the semiotic resources and modalities in meaning making. The semiotic resources are not reduced to paralinguistic resources which are ancillary to language, but are viewed as semiotic resources that are conferred the same status as language and are just as effective in semiosis.
The functional affordances and constraints of each semiotic resource and their contribution to the multimodal discourse are considered as well. As O’Halloran & Smith (in press-b) reflect, “[d]ifferent semiotic resources bring with them their own affordances and constraints, both individually and in combination, as well as analytical challenges in terms of the natures of these media, the detail and scope of analysis, and the complexities arising from the integration of semiotic resources across media”. For instance, Kress (1999: 79) argues that language “is necessarily a temporally, sequentially organized mode… [t]he visual by contrast is a spatially and simultaneously organized mode”.
Following from this, it can be inferred that a ‘multimodal literate’ student must thus be sensitised to the meaning potential and choices afforded in the production of the text, rendering an enhanced ability to make deliberate and effective choices in the construction and presentation of knowledge. Armed with such an understanding, students will not only become discerning consumers of multisemiotic texts but they also will become competent producers of multimodal texts themselves.
2 nd Dimension of Multimodal Literacy: Multisemiotic Experience
The second dimension concerns the recognition that the experience of teaching and learning is intrinsically multisemiotic and multimodal. As O’Toole (1994: 15) observes, “[w]e ‘read’ people in everyday life: facial features and expression, stance, gesture, typical actions and clothing”.
While new media technology has foregrounded the multimodal nature of our communication, meanings have always been constructed and construed multimodally through the use of semiotic resources like language and corporeal resources such as gesture and postures across different sensory modalities through sight, smell, taste and touch. Norris (2004: 2) observes that “[a]ll movements, all noises, and all material objects carry interactional meanings as soon as they are perceived by a person”. In this sense, all interaction is multimodal. Our communication is more than what is said and heard but by what we perceive through expressions, gazes, gestures and movements.
Hence, there is a need to understand how the lesson experience is constructed through the teacher’s use of a repertoire of semiotic resources as embodied in his/her pedagogy. Appreciating the functional affordances and constraints of these semiotic resources and modalities as well as how they are co-deployed in the orchestration of the lesson can provide understandings which may lead to more effective teaching and learning in the classroom (see, for example, Lim, 2010, Lim, O’Halloran & Podlasov, submitted for publication, Lim, forthcoming).
From the dual perspectives of multimodal literacy in multimodal text and in multisemiotic experience, the infusion of multimodal literacy has two aspects.
They are 1) the inculcation of multimodal discourse analysis skills for students and 2) the sensitisation in the use of multimodal resources (the affordances and constraints each bring, their orchestration (contextualising relations) and their potential to shape the lesson experience) in the classroom for teachers.
To cite above text, please reference “O’Halloran, K. L. & Lim, F. V. (2011). Dimensioner af Multimodal Literacy. Viden om Læsning. Number 10, September 2011, pp. 14-21. Nationalt Videncenter for Laesning: Denmark” or “Lim, F.V. (2011) A Systemic Functional Multimodal Discourse Analysis Approach to Pedagogic Discourse. Doctoral thesis. National University of Singapore.”Share this:
Published: 23rd March, 2015 Last Edited: 23rd March, 2015
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In this assignment I will be exploring and critically discussing six relevant readings in relation to Multiliteracies in education. I will be discussing and analysing the central point's which arise in the reading, how this connects to wider readings, and what it suggests for our teaching practices. Furthermore; I will be concluding with my stance on teaching Multiliteracies in learning institutions in the near future.Durrant, C. and Green, B. (2000). Literacy and the new technologies in school education: meeting the l(IT)eracy challenge? Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 23(2), 89.
Durrant & Green (2000) discuss the practice of 3D literacy in classrooms in twenty first century. This practice of literacy and technology learning brings together simultaneously three aspects: The operational, the cultural and the critical which you will see in the image provided. This practice is important across the curriculum as it prepares students for the demand in technology skilled workforces in the twenty first century, as technology is a major part of the world we live in today. Students are exposed to these technologies in the home so therefore providing this resource in the classroom we are able to link the home learning environment to that of in the school; which hopefully provides a better experience for children to gain that higher learning. An issue which Delors (1996) discusses about how theory is changing with the movement of the twenty first century and that students need to be able to understand these changes in order to survive in everyday life. Durrant & Green (2000) explain the changing nature of the print based text, and how it is now part of a vast array of literacy resources provided in classrooms across the world. You will see here that computers are now an important part of the classroom environment. Whereas here you will see how the interactive whiteboard has influence the way in which lessons such as literacy are taught in schools in today's society. As a future educator I believe that these technology resources are just as effective in teaching students literacy as they allow the students to be involved in their learning. In having the ability to do so Durrant & Green (2000) discussed how the Australian government has provided funding for teachers to have access and training to these 'new' technologies in order to be better equipped in classrooms. With the new resources that have emerged over the years the concept of learning literacy is forever changing and as future educators we need to be 'up to date' with these changes in order for our students to benefit in the classroom and in their learning.Henderson, R. (2008). It's a Digital Life! Digital Literacies, Multiliteracies and Multimodality. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years; 16(2), 11-15.
Henderson (2008) argues that digital technologies for young people in today's society are the becoming the 'norm'. In this picture you can see that students are exposed to digital mediums during their everyday life experiences. Young students are exposed to different multimodal meanings through everyday experiences such as watching TV, where they are being exposed to colours, sounds and moving images. This is also present in the New London group (1996), where they discuss the six design elements in the meaning making process. Henderson (2008) along with Martello (2007) both converse on the issue that it is important for educators to indentify and focus on the strengths and capabilities developed as part of their socio-cultural practices. Having this connection we as educators are then able to view Vygotsky's 'scaffold' theory in order to extend and promote that higher learning in literacy which is present in this diagram here. With acknowledging 'new' literacy practices we need to understand and accept that new regulations and rules that are in practice in today's society. For example, this website which is for children to utilise exposes them to different ways of making meaning instead of using print based text and reading from left to right, the student is now making meaning from a range of multimodalities, including visual images, audio, hyperlinks and linguistic components. Henderson (2008) brings an important understanding explaining that as future educators we need to acknowledge that students will have diverse experiences of digital technologies from outside the classroom, although other students may not. In saying this; we need to be able to work with their knowledge and diversity and move forward.Knobel, M. & Lankshear, C. (2007). Sampling 'the new' in new literacies. In M. Knobel & C. Lankshear (Eds). A new literacies sampler (pp. 1-24). New York: Peter Lang
In this article by Lankshear & Knobel (2007) they begin by discussing the socio-cultural perspective in relation to literacy and how that relates to the discourses one person has. They confer about what Gee (1996) mentions which relate to the primary and secondary discourses that are socially recognized ways of using language. A primary discourse is made up of how we learn to do things within the family dynamics and our secondary discourse is enlisted through participations through outside groups such as churches, work and clubs Gee (1996). Having these discourses allow for students to understand the concept of literacy. Lankshear and Knobel (2007) discuss 'new' literacy's as having "technical stuff" and "ethos stuff", they discuss that new literacy's are more participatory, collaborative and distributed. This I feel to be beneficial to students as now students are able to be involved in their learning and are now able to share and collaborate with others. This website is an example how students are more engaged with the new literacy's put forward in the society, the focus isn't so much about the initial game but the way in which the students are now being involved in their literacy learning, it now gives the student control of their learning. Websites like this allow for students to learn new skills in order to use these web pages and gain a literacy understanding by being able to scroll through information, click on objects in order to begin the game. The Multiliteracies that society is now faced with has students involved in their learning, for example the internet and weblogs; students are in control of what they publish onto the web for others to read and comment. Lankshear and Knobel (2007) define these as new literacy's. Literacy in the twenty first century provide students, teachers, parents and the wider community; to build and participate in literacy practices that involve new and different kinds of values and procedures and I also believe the new literacy's are a valuable recourse in order to catering to the number of students who learn better my participation.Luke, A. & Freebody, P. (1999). Map of possible practices: further notes on the four resources model. Practically Primary, 4(12), 5-8
Luke & Freebody (1999) discuss the strengths of the four resources model in relation to educate students in becoming literate. It is an approach which incorporates a variety of relevant practices that integrate the ever changing culture; such as technologies rather than looking at the right method of teaching. Durrant & Green (2000) discuss the changes being put forward by these technologies in the classroom and how teachers need to adapt to these changes. In the picture here you will see how computers now play an important position in the classroom setting as well as interactive or smart boards being used to conducts lessons such as literacy. Whilst on placement I was able to witness an interactive whiteboard being use to teach a numeracy lesson, from that experience and from discussions with the teacher I saw and he felt that it was beneficial to the learning of his students. Luke & Freebody (1999) also draws on prior learning from outside the classroom; whether it is the community, everyday life or cultural practices. Learning that happens from people we engage and interact with (Kalantzis M. & Cope, B. (2004). An example of this approach is present here; this picture illustrates that not only the child is gaining that prior learning outside of the school but also the use of technologies being used. I feel that as a future educator we need to be able to draw from these experiences student's have witness and been part of in order to allow a true connection to their learning in the classroom. Martello (2007) discusses the importance of having the knowledge of the children's past experiences with literacy so we can therefore plan for those experiences.Martello, J. (2007). Many roads through many modes: becoming literate in childhood. In L. Makin, C. Jones-Diaz & C. McLachlan (Eds.), Literacies in childhood. changing views, challenging practice (2nd ed. pp. 89-103). Marrickville, N.S.W. Elsevier Australia.
Within this article by Martello (2007) she brings a clear understanding to the study of literacy through the assertion that making-meaning of text lies within the social practices that a student has experienced before they come to school; such an approach which is present within the critical literacy's Luke (2000) touches on. Martello (2007) discusses the importance of considering the diversity among each student literacy experience as every student's pathway into literacy's are through different modes in which they have been exposed to; the six design elements The New London Group (1996) discuss. A good example of this is seen in this picture. The focus is on the students interaction with one or more modes, they are not only visually learning about what is on the screen in front of them but they may also be participating in spoken and or written modes inside the home with parents or peers. Although when teaching students we need to understand that not all students will come in contact with the same modes, some children will have more contact with some more than others. Therefore as educators we need have knowledge of each student's past experiences therefore we can extend their learning. Martello (2007) argues the diversity in spoken language, the spoken language that students are exposed to in their homes. This is an example of how the diverse spoken language in the home may affect a child's approach to learning literacy, and as educators we need to provide this awareness to our teaching strategies in order to allow a sensitive blending of expectations in their pathway to new literacy'sNew London Group (1996). A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60-92
New London Group (1996) provides a strong position on Literacy Pedagogy and its position in the changing society. The authors bring to mind the connection among the social environment, the linguistic and cultural diversity amongst students which plays an important part in the learning of literacy. Such an approach to literacy is present in Healy (2008); he discusses how text in today's society embodies social meanings which relate to a person's culture. The New London Group (1996) critique the changes that need to made in Literacy Pedagogy in order for it to be relevant in today's working society, as outlined in Delors (1996) who also discuss the importance of providing students with the relevant resources and teachings for the twenty first century workforce. In this video, it makes an interesting and valid point to how the world is changing with new technologies and how we need to incorporate this into our classrooms and teachings. The new London group (1996) present an argument that they discuss in relation to the variety of significant modes of meaning-making where they link closely to the visual, the audio, and the spatial and so on. There is no set standard or skills that represent language, new communications in today's society are reshaping the way people, teachers and students use language. One example of multimedia resources is found here, it is clear to see that with these new technologies students are able to interact online with literacy texts and due to majority of students having access to computers in the classroom I feel it is a great way to incorporate both print and digital text modules into the students literacy experience. The webpage presents some of the six design elements in meaning-making that The New London Group (1996) discuss; some being audio; which is through the sound of the bee and turning the pages. Visual as it is visually stimulating to the student who is accessing it through the use of colours, spatial; as it is using the use of the whole screen allowing students to move around freely, and gestural from the bee's tone and expressions these are just a few but they all link together in order to allow the student to make meaning of the text presented. One implication I have found here is that when the students are reading the book, it does not allow the students to progress at their own pace. This could lead to students not getting the required learning experience out of this digital text and maybe others.
In conclusion, as educators I believe we need to accept that literacy pedagogy is ever changing with the new technologies that our society is exposed to in the twenty first century. As a future educator we need to acknowledge and draw on the social, cultural and linguistic diversity and experiences students have prior to coming into the classroom and extend on them by 'scaffolding' their learning to promote higher learning in literacy. As a future educator I will be incorporating the 3D approach that Durrant & Green (2000) discuss which I feel is closely linked to that of Luke & Freebody (1999) of the four resources model in order to allow for the students in my classroom to gain an understanding and make-meaning of the new technologies in which society has produced and allow for the learning and understanding of literacy.
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Course: MA Primary Education
Student ID. 1103059
Subject: Language and Literacy
Essay title: Literacy and Numeracy are seen as essential, cross-curricular skills. Identify the place of literacy in the Scottish primary curriculum and then at greater length, explore how grounding in literacy skills will facilitate in other curriculum areas in delivering the Curriculum for Excellence.
Word Count: 1912
The curriculum for excellence is organised into eight subject areas: Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Languages, Mathematics, Religious and Moral Education, Sciences, Social Studies, and Technologies. The Scottish primary curriculum recognises the importance of each of these subjects. However, literacy is seen as fundamental as it “unlocks access to the wider curriculum” ( Curriculum for excellence: Literacy across learning principles and practice). Literacy is organised into three strands: reading. writing and talking and listening. From my school placement experience, and personal reading I will discuss how grounding in each of these literacy strands can help facilitate children in their knowledge acquisition, and understanding of other curriculum areas.
The curriculum for excellence defines literacy as a “set of skills which allows an individual to engage fully in society and in learning through the different forms of language, and the range of texts which society values and finds useful” Within the curriculum literacy is organised into three strands: reading, writing and talking and listening. Reading is a skill which can greatly help children in all curriculum areas. However, it is essential that children foster a positive attitude towards reading from the early stages, in order for this to occur. “For the youngest children, well before the age of five, sharing and enjoying favourite books regularly with trusted adults, be they parents, carers, practitioners or teachers, is at the heart of this activity.”(Rose, 2006). While on placement in a nursery school I witnessed how an interest in reading can be promoted which was having a library for the children to go to. “ “library equips students with lifelong learning skills and develops their imagination, thereby enabling them to live as responsible citizens”.(Premars and Willars, 2002) Before home time the teacher would select a book to read to the children in the library, and would involve the children by asking a question like “what do you think will happen next?” “The very hungry caterpillar” was one book the teacher read to the children, which helped the children with their knowledge of the subject Health and Well-being, as from it the children learned about the importance of eating healthily in order to grow big and strong. The children also developed their Numeracy skills from the reading, when they counted the number of fruits the caterpillar eat each day. I could see that the children were all developing an interest in reading which encouraged them to go to the reading area by themselves a pick a book to look at. This was also helping them to establish an interest in other curriculum areas. One girl pick up a book on shapes, and she was pointing at a triangle, and she asked me “what is that?” with great curiosity. Another boy asked me to read a book about earthquakes to him, and as I was reading the book to the boy more children came over when they heard the excitement in my voice. After the reading. I asked the students to stand up and shake as though there was an earthquake, in order to encourage physical activity among the children. As children progress through the primary curriculum collaboration between teachers and Parents is vital for children‘s reading skills. “Children whose parents said they heard them read at home had markedly higher reading attainments at age 7 and 8 than children who did not receive this kind of help from their parents.”. While on placement with Primary 4 the teacher assigned the.
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