Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Entries Tagged as 'Presentation'

Thoughts on txting

July 22nd, 2014 · 1 Comment

As Internet and text messaging became viral, young people began to use innovating and unrecognizable expressions and txting languages to communicate. At first, as a linguistics major student, I felt that txting lingo and all those abbreviated letters are destroying not just English but languages in general just because it violates the standards to the extent that some texts are unrecognizable without an explanation. After reading Carrington’s article, his view on txting as a new genre that innovates and enriches language widened my perspective on this evolutionary change of expression. Yes, I agree that txting should be considered as a new form of communication as a cultivated mix of formal and informal language. Technology has brought this new form of language and according to some statistics, 95% of cell phone users between the age of 18 to 29 send text messages. However, texting is not even 20 years old and within this short period of time, this new form of language genre became extremely viral that even linguists feel threatened.

However, as Carrington points out himself, “there is also no room for an engagement with, or co-option of, new forms of text as they evolve around new technologies and social practices,” the language has a shifting trend without a policy or standard. This may help develop stylistic adaptations that account for the loss of socioemotional features, but at the same time, it can also cause communication error between people who use txting language and who do not. This I believe is the main reason for why older generations tend to regard txting language as a disease.

In Korea, there is a chat app namely KakaoTalk, which is similar to What’s App. The total number of registered users, as of April 2014, is 140 millions worldwide. From children to elderly, almost everyone in Korea use this app instead of using SMS text messaging. The app allows you to send pictures, videos, create a group chat, create a poll, calendar, voice call, and connect to personal blogs. On top of these functions, the app provides animated and vivacious emoticons. As Whitney mentioned in class, some people are evidently clever at using the perfect emoticons at the right situation. These emoticons are upgrades from what Facebook or special characters that smartphones already provide. I think the meanings are quite self-explanatory.


The app is not only used among young generation, but it also allows parents to communicate with children, teachers with students, businessmen with businessmen and even people who meet on craigslist communicate through KakaoTalk. Some people even post the screenshots of their conversations with others to tell stories. It has become such a powerful mean of communication and culture that no other form of language or text can allow us to do.

Part of the reason I believe is being able to express feelings and emotions that we were not able to convey through texts. We already have been through hundredfold of linguistic transformation throughout the ages. The problem is not only about txt language signifies a decline in language nor it evolving spoken language; but we should also focus on side effects. My only concern at the moment is how we can educate our students to differentiate between txt language and academic language. Not every teacher will be able to teach the difference unless they fully understand what txt language is.

Carrington, Victoria. “Txting: the end of civilization (again)?” Cambridge Journal of Education 35.2 (2005): 161-175. Web. 8 July 2014.

Tags: computer-mediated communication · Presentation

An Education for Instability

July 16th, 2014 · 4 Comments

In his article “A Curriculum for the Future”, Gunther Kress writes that a radical shift in thinking and curriculum in ELA classrooms is due to occur in response to the different needs of the contemporary adult in 21st century society. He states that the world has changed so much that the 19th century model of education is just not applicable anymore. Kress calls for a shift in curriculum from an education for stability to one for instability:

“Associated with this are the new media of communication and, in particular, a shift (parallelling all those already discussed) from the era of mass communication to the era of individuated communication, a shift from unidirectional communication, from a powerful source at the centre to the mass, to multidirectional communication from many directions/locations, a shift from the ‘passive audience’ (however ideological that notion had always been) to the interactive audience. All these have direct and profound consequences on the plausible and the necessary forms of education for now and for the near future.” (138)

The notion of a multi-directional communication and a shift to an interactive audience is what stands out for me in Kress’ assertion. As such, I have designed an activity for use in an ELA classroom that allows students to be creators and participators in such a communication. Using a variety of online tools, students are able to work collaboratively to create a co-authored product. The product can be inspired by whatever you are currently studying in your class—it could have a thematic or topical connection to a literary text, or it could simply be a pre-writing exercise begun with a prompt. The only stipulation is that the activity be carried out in silence thus disturbing the notion of passivity and activity, telecommunication and proximity, and the product of the individual vs. that of the group. So far in this class we have explored the following topics:

• modes of representation in ELA classroom/21st century literacy
• visual literacy and rhetoric
• media literacy
• social media and the notion of participation
• new literary forms/e-literature
• computer mediated communication
• gaming

I also designed this activity to address pieces of all of the things we have discussed thus far in regards to these topics.

In a group setting, students will work in silence to participate in a back channel conversation while they co-author a textual document with a particular purpose. This purpose may be nebulous or fixed. The backchannel application I use is Today’s Meet and the document will be created in Google docs. Each student will be invited to share the document and simultaneous editing will be possible. Google docs also has a “chat” capability which may or may not be used. I will begin the class by explaining the task and the “rules” as well as work with the students to determine the loose direction of the task. Once we have a sort of trajectory, we will begin and allow the interaction to take us where we will. The backchannel and the doc will be projected on the screen for all to witness (though it occurs to me that maybe just the backchannel might be appropriate). After the time is up, we will take the product (the created text) and render it in a text visualization tool. A teacher could then take this one step further and have the students create a found poem from the word cloud that serves as their reflection on the task.

After I execute this today, I will post the products as an exemplar.

Works Cited:

Kress, G. (2000). A curriculum for the future. Cambridge Journal of Education, 30(1), 133-145.

The Products:


Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 3.45.43 PM

The Today’s Meet chat transcript was lost to the ether but, interestingly, the group chose to communicate via in-doc Google chat instead.

Tags: computer-mediated communication · e-literature · Lesson Plans · multiliteracies · Presentation · Seminar Prompts · Social Media · Visual Literacy · Weblog Activities

Thoughts on txting

July 14th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Both Baron and Carrington’s articles raise the question of whether texting or other forms of computer-mediated communications are “degrading the language” (Baron 29). Carrington quotes a BBC news article which states that “text messaging, email and computer spell-checks have long been blamed for declining standards of spelling and grammar” (162). It also links “txting to youth to declining standards to poor achievement to social” (163).

I find these claims interesting because it appears to create a dichotomy between the two. You either text or you write “properly”. There does not appear to be a middle ground. What is not being recognized is the fact that different mediums have different expectations and conventions, and that while written English has its areas of use, so too does txting. If someone texted or wrote on social media like they did on their essay, their peers would view such a practice with eyebrows raised. Likewise, submitting an assignment as the Scottish girl did completely in text will draw the ire of teachers.


Tags: computer-mediated communication · Presentation

Reading Response “Good Video Games and Good Learning”

July 13th, 2014 · 2 Comments

In his article, Good Video Games and Good Learning, James Paul Gee identifies sixteen learning principles that good video games incorporate and argues that teachers should try integrating aspects of gaming into their classrooms in order to maximize students’ success. As someone who grew up playing Nintendo, Sega, and Play Station, I recognize that video games are very fun and agree with Gee that school should be fun too. Too often students today are forced to sit passively in their hard plastic seats for long periods of time and listen to a teacher talk for what seems like forever. By incorporating aspects of gaming into the classroom environment, students are able to have fun, proceed through the curriculum at their own pace, take part in the creation of storyline or setting of a game, and make mistakes in an academic space where failure has traditionally been highly stigmatized.

After reading Gee’s article, one of the potential benefits that immediately occurred to me was the possibility of reducing the amount of classroom behavior management needed. For generations, schools, and especially the classroom, have been environments where mistakes are considered the worst things that a student can make. The traditional classroom environment does not provide students with the opportunities to learn from the mistakes they made on their tests or assignments. The stigmatization of failure in the classroom has generated a feeling of animosity between students and their learning environment. By viewing mistakes as failures rather than learning opportunities, schools are adding a lot of unnecessary stress to their student body and preventing them from making educated guesses or taking chances. In such an environment, students could also begin to believe that their ideas are not valuable and are unworthy of sharing with the rest of the class just because they are different or potentially wrong.

Unlike the traditional classroom, I think that modern classrooms should present a happy, motivational, engaging, and purposeful setting for learning. In order to reduce the amount of classroom behavioral management needed, teachers must understand the conditions that affect the instructional process if they want to prevent inappropriate behavior. By incorporating the learning principles highlighted in Gee’s article, teachers are providing their students with the opportunity to move through the class material at a speed that is more comfortable and less stressful for them. Students will be less likely to act inappropriately in class if the learning environment is suited to their interests and learning styles. Teachers can provide help to students and guide them through their learning process when they ask for it, but most of the learning is done by the student at their own pace. It is the hope that during this process students will start to take ownership of their learning and begin to view their mistakes as learning opportunities rather than failures.

Another interesting learning principle that successful video games incorporate is what Gee describes as the element of production. As the article mentions, “players are producers, not just consumers; they are “writers” not just “readers”” (Gee, 35). In other words, many good video games get their players to take part in the writing, producing, and co-designing processes with every action and decision that they make in a game. In their short article, How Can Video Games Support Literacy Skills for Youth?,Kathy Sanford and Liz Merkel bring up the excellent point that video gamers also take part in many literary activities in order to improve their favorite games and gaming skills (Sanford and Merkel, 118-121). Gamers are always producing written reviews about games online, in magazines, and even on the iTunes app store. The popularity of these video games and gaming apps can often be determined by these written reviews and critiques by players. In order to write these reviews, gamers have to develop a complex language about the game by playing it. Therefore, teachers should try to tap into this knowledge of video games by encouraging their students to write about them during writing activities. Students should also be provided with a similar opportunity in the classroom to take part in the formulation of the curriculum and their own learning. As teachers, we need to recognize how video games are transforming previous forms of literacy. It is up to us as teachers to become informed about the learning principles that good video games incorporate and the activities of literacy that our students are already engaging with outside of the classroom.


-Cody Macvey



1) As English teachers, how can we use video games to improve the literacy skills of our students?

2) What are the potential drawbacks of structuring the classroom and curriculum like a video game?


Gee, J. (2005). Good Video Games and Good Learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33-37.

Sandford, Kathy, & Merkel, Liz. How Can Video Games Support Literacy Skills for Youth?. In Kendrick James, Teresea M. Dobson, Carl Legoo (Ed.1), English in Middle and Secondary Classrooms: Creative and Critical Advice from Canada’s Teacher Educators (118-121). Toronto: Pearson. (2012).

Tags: gaming · Presentation · Seminar Prompts

Seminar Lead – Erin Milne – We have not reached the end of civilization!

July 13th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Naomi Baron and Victoria Carrington articulate in each of their respective articles that “Standard English” is being destroyed due to the use of texting by adolescents in today’s society.  Carrington argues that “txting is clearly constructed in direct opposition to legitimate language, represented by the notion of Standard (or the Queen’s English)” (Carrington 168).  Text language, however, can better be seen as an alternative form of language and rather than perceiving this change as ‘the end of civilization’, (Carrington 161) might better be viewed as one form of literacy.


Carrington’s article begins with the discussion of a 13-year-old Scottish girl who submitted an essay to her teacher that was written entirely in ‘txt.’  The girl wrote an essay that happened to be written in ‘txt’ form.  Carrington further argues that due to the fact that the young girl was “unaware of the high stakes surrounding institutional literacy practices, she chose an inappropriate genre in which to respond to the class assignment” (Carrington 173).  In addition, Baron explains that “the shape of written language has always been as much a product of social attitudes and educational values as of technological developments” (Baron 31).  This means that the use of ‘txt’ language in a formal setting would likely be foreign for some adults because it is not something regularly seen within social realms.  Our society has not socially adjusted to the idea of using text language in formal settings and therefore is not yet prepared to accept this new form of language as a legitimate.


Written language has also largely been influenced by adolescents.  Baron states that “adolescents have long been a source of linguistic and behavioural novelty” (Baron 30).  Language has always been a part of adolescent small-group identity (Baron 30) and plays a significant role in the way that adults understand adolescents.  Text language acts as a snapshot into the lives of young students in our educational system.  If educators give students the opportunity to engage with text language in the classroom and let students know that this is in fact a legitimate form of literacy, students will be better able to shift and decode between a variety of print and visual forms.  Carrington argues that much of the meaning of contemporary text is embedded in the graphics, symbols, images and sounds that surround print” (Carrington 172).  Therefore, if educators can assist students in developing literacy skills in a variety of areas including ‘txt’, students will build the explicit skills necessary to engage with language that is continuously shifting.


So is ‘txt’ language really causing civilization to end?  In my opinion, not at all.  Knowledge of ‘txt’ language and other forms of computer-mediated forms of communication are simply empowering students and other members of society to participate and engage with others using a variety of literacy forms.

Erin Milne



Baron, N.S. (2005). Instant messaging and the future of language. Communications of the ACM, 46(7), 30-31.

Carrington, V. (2005).Txting: the end of civilization (again)? Cambridge Journal of Education, 35(2), 161CCC175.


Tags: Presentation · Seminar Prompts

Txt v.s. Text

July 12th, 2014 · 1 Comment

English is “under attack”! Standardized English is the legitimate text to use. The widespread use of txt language is a social disease; it leads to addiction and lowers individual’s ability to shift between text types. Txt is a spoiled version of English.

These concerns center the question raised by both of the articles: does the use of txt or instant messaging language degrade English?

When I read the articles, I wondered: what is considered as “correct” English? I believe the definition changes with the environment as “language has always been a product of social attitudes” (Baron, 2005). For example, there are variations of English all over the world, such as Chinglish in China, Singlish in Singapore, and Konglish in Korea; these are socially acceptable language in their respective countries. In those societies, we cannot say what the majority is speaking is incorrect. Applying the same concept, txting, then, is a product of the txting community. Can we truly state that the language is wrong in their community?


Tags: computer-mediated communication · Presentation

Possible Co-existence?

July 12th, 2014 · No Comments

There are two articles to be read for this topic, but I am only focusing on Carrington’s Txting – the End of Civilization (again)?.

Many educators are shocked when their students hand in assignments that are written in texting language. Many wonder if texting is going to ruin students’ ability to write in Standard English. Carrington made an compelling argument to outline the dilemma that English teachers encounter and to offer another point of view to the controversy.

When I was reading the article, this question instantly popped up in my mind: who determined what is Standardized English? Then more questions followed: can language be changed overtime? If so, who is permitting the change or what is driving the change? Language keeps on evolving. From Old English, to Middle English to now Modern, can there be more progress? Why are educators terrified by the texting language? Is it because they are not the experts of this new literacy?

These questions left unsolved after I finished the article. However, I found it interesting how Carrington brought the social aspect of texting to light. Outside of the classroom, most of our students nowadays are engaged in simplifying the languages into short-forms or replacing expressions with emoticons. This is the literary currency that is being practiced outside of class right now. On the other hand, when students are in class, they need to code-switch, writing and reading in Standardized English. I found this process of switching between two literacies interesting because in some way, it reminded of translation. Being an ELL learner and teaching ELL classes, I found that language could be easily interfered by your daily social interaction or practices. For example, one of my ELL student directly translated a Chinese saying into English in one of his assignments. Since I had that chinese background, I instantly understood what he was trying to say. However, other teachers might be clueless. It became a perfect teaching moment. I told him the right way to express whatever he tried to say. I think the same method could be applied. As teachers, we need to acknowledge that students’ usage of texting for social interaction. Students have some kind of background knowledge to grammar or sentence structure in order to construct a comprehendible text. Therefore, we cannot really indicate that it is degrading Standardized language. Texting is just another form for students to be more efficiently express their thoughts. At the same time, as teachers, we need to help them develop the literacy that is being valued by the dominant professional realm that will allow them to be successful in the future.

In my opinion, these two literacies can definitely co-exist. We just need to figure out how or what is the best way to introduce this form of language into the classroom.


Tags: Presentation · Seminar Prompts · Social Media

Seminar Lead Blog Post: Texting (Monday, July 14)

July 12th, 2014 · No Comments

The articles on instant messaging, texting, email, and other forms of informal electronic communication raised some interesting questions about the language we as English teachers are supposed to teach. For the purposes of simplicity, I will refer in this blog post to “texting” or “texting language” to mean any abbreviated and/or condensed form of communicating often found in digital spaces.

One of the major questions concerned in these two articles is: Is texting language degrading “standard” English? Though they were written around 2005, sentiments seem to have changed very little since then, and texting language is still associated with teenagers and young adults in an often criticizing way. Texting is still thought of as dangerous to students’ ability to master academic and professional English, with fears of lol’s and omg’s littering an essay or a cover letter. I definitely ran into that fearful attitude at my practicum school as teachers worried about what this language meant for their students’ futures, especially those with weaker English skills to begin with.

This notion of the degradation of some sort of “standard” English reminded me of something we worked on for our second Inquiry Seminar. On our “Inquiry into Writing” blog, Ceilidh posted an interesting video on African-American Vernacular English (Ebonics) under her section on writing and culture. The video shows a school that treats Ebonics as a distinct dialect with its own features and grammatical rules. Teachers teach students the differences between Ebonics and “standard” English in a way that does not devalue students’ home culture, unlike the typical viewpoint that sees Ebonics as an incorrect or lowly version of English.

Hence, the question of whether texting language is degrading “standard” English is quite similar to the questioning of the value of Ebonics. In both cases, there is a direct comparison between and value claim about the “nonstandard” and “standard” forms of English.

The backlash against any non-standard form of English, especially forms that considerably break the conventions, invites us to think critically about who the gatekeepers of this knowledge are, and who benefits from the maintenance of some sort of “standardized” English, and who loses? Also, to what extent can language accommodate change over time, and what changes are permissible?

And most importantly, is our role as teachers to teach our students how to switch registers while still upholding this “standard” English? If yes, perhaps we can learn how better to go about this by learning from other situations, such as the teaching of Ebonics in a way that still values students’ background knowledge.


To view Ceilidh’s piece from our old blog, click here.

Tags: Presentation · Seminar Prompts

Seminar Lead Response – I See, I Do: Persuasive Messages and Visual Literacy

July 6th, 2014 · No Comments

With an article devoted to “addressing persuasive visual messages” (Farmer 33), and which opens with the line that “if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a few images can constitute a persuasive argument” (Farmer 30), I found myself taking a closer look at the image presented at the beginning of the article, and generally paying more attention to the visual layout of the article, in an attempt to analyze it in the same ways that it suggests that teachers should train students to analyze advertizing and other media. The article suggests that what makes an image persuasive is “content, context, and connotation”, so with that in mind, I delved deeper into the article’s visual presence.

The initial image content is of a young woman in a blue shirt, with crossed arms and a skeptical expression on her face. At first glance, we might take the contextual meaning that she is a visual model for the championed stance of skepticism and critical thinking. Looking deeper at context and connotation, and applying some of the analysis techniques recommended by the article, such as considering “who created the message”, “why was the message created”, and “what values, lifestyles, and points of view are represented or omitted” (Farmer 32), I took time to think about why the image was included, why that image was specifically chosen, how it influenced me, and whose values and intentions were being communicated. I was certainly struck by the use of colour, as my second look prompted me to realize that the young woman’s shirt was the same cool azure as some of the accent text, bullet point markers, and dividers between sections. I questioned the effect of the colour scheme, and also questioned whether the young woman’s photo was changed to make her shirt match the scheme, or whether the colour scheme was matched to her actual shirt colour as photographed. The colour scheme of azure, rust red, white, and a much paler azure used in some of the charts, not only granted a coherence and cohesiveness granted by the continuity of the colour scheme, but it also had aesthetic and emotional effects. It is a non-threatening and visually appealing colour scheme, which created an emotional feeling of calm, stability, and authority, that I feel encouraged me to take on a trusting demeanor. The colour scheme connotated an environment of comfort and trust, and helped convince me of the textual argument. Taking a cultural perspective and trying to further understand their “visual coding system” (Farmer 31), I also suspect that as this article was produced in the United States of America that there may have been a subtle connection to their flag, whether it was a conscious or unconscious decision, and that the basic red-white-blue colour scheme would be likely to evoke an American’s patriotic sensibilities and cause them to feel an ethical responsibility to their students and by extension, a responsibility to the wellbeing of the country as a whole, in an endless feedback loop.

These visuals were subtle, yet had a powerful impact of the article’s effectiveness. My own education in visual literacy, possibly augmented by the approaches recommended by this article, have equipped me to unpack the article at both textual and visual levels, and to better understand the meaning being communicated. These skills assist me in assessing visual and textual messages every day, and while I am able to recognize the techniques being used to persuade me in this article, I am the one who has carefully weighed and considered, and decided that the argument has merit, rather than being passively led to agree with Farmer’s conclusions.

Question to Consider:
Visual literacy extends beyond the critical analysis of illustrative or photographic image, and includes all of the visuals included in a given product: the colours, shapes, fonts, and layout. What conventions of this layer of communication do you consciously understand and interpret, and how much of it is interpreted on a subconscious level?


Farmer, Lesley S.J. (2007). I See, I Do: Persuasive Messages and Visual Literacy. Internet @ schools, 14(4), p. 30-33.

By Amanda Cameron

Tags: multiliteracies · Presentation · Seminar Prompts · Visual Literacy · Weblog Activities

Farmer Article Response for Seminar Lead Assignment (Weblog #1 – Ashley Slade)

July 5th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Lesley Farmer’s brief, four-page, article has been one of the most practical articles I have read since September. As part of our Education program, we have been exposed to many theories and questions surrounding literacy: what is literacy? how many literacies are there? how do we use them? define them? etc. Farmer’s article aims to clarify the concept of visual literacy, and readers are not only provided with a definition of what visual literacy is, but we are also given examples of construction concepts and principles, deeper level thinking prompts to ask our students, extra resources on the topic, the reasons why teaching visual literacy is important, and much more. Overall, the article was laid out in simple language which made it a pleasure to read, and, coincidentally, the layout of the paper made the text more appealing to the eye. I felt that the most important parts of the article, when looking for theoretical discussion points, were the introduction and the last page as they discuss what visual literacy is and why it is important. The rest of the article was filled with the technicailities behind visualliteracy and examples of how to discuss this with, and develop it in, your class.

In the introduction, Farmer describes visual literacy as the ability to be “critical visual consumers and producers” (2007, p. 30). This means that our students need the skills not only to understand and analyse presented visuals, but also to create their own visual pieces. I found this extremely interesting, because when I have thought about literacy in the past, I have only thought of it in the sense of reading, or internalizing something, not creating it. However, I see the benefits of having the term literacy include both understanding and production. In order to start developing an understanding of visual messages, we should have students “evaluate visual messages in light of what the producer is trying to convince the viewer to do or think” (p. 33). This relates to the traditional English classroom definition of literacy in that in understanding a literary work, we try to analyze the author’s tone, mood, and intention. In order to further establish this literacy, though, we need to have students move on from understanding to actually using these manipulation techniques themselves (p.33). Such techniques can include altering digital images through cropping to remove a certain context, changing visual sequences to alter the cause-and-effect implications, and changing the size of certain items to change perceived importance (p. 32).

The most intriguing and most beneficial part of this reading, in my opinion, is the section (on the last page) in which Farmer outlines specific ways in which students (or any audience) can identify image alterations. By providing us with this information, Farmer is providing us with tools to identify manipulative images. I feel that this will highly benefit our students who live in a world where they are subject to a bombardment of photo-shopped, and otherwise altered, images that tend to have more of a negative impact on their mental health than anything.

Question for Discussion during the Seminar:

Some digital images are edited so well that it is impossible for the average person to tell if an image has even been altered. Do you feel that critical viewing should only be applied to photos that have been altered? Or should we assess and evaluate all visual images regardless of editing?


Farmer, Lesley S.J. (2007). I See, I Do: Persuasive Messages and Visual Literacy. Internet @ schools, 14(4), p. 30-33.

Tags: Presentation · Seminar Prompts · Visual Literacy · Weblog Activities