Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Entries Tagged as 'Social Media'

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

A Curriculum for the Future

July 15th, 2014 · No Comments

I find just as I am finishing my E-Portfolio I am finalizing my concepts on what I should include in my teaching philosophy. I found this article particularly appealing as it comments on that the “new arrangements seem to need to demand an education for a period of fluidity, of instability” (138). I find my own beliefs in teaching English are grounded in my hope that future citizens learn not necessarily thematic investigations into texts, but instead the ability to this logically and creatively on their own. The world is only constant in that it is continually changing and students need to be able to think flexibly. The ways students interact with each other is changing seemingly by the month, “in new communicational webs” (143).

A part of our own understanding of how our students communicate is rooted in the realization that they will always be finding new means. It is near impossible for us as teachers to stay ahead of the curve of our student’s technologies. Instead, I see it as imperative that students learn how to adapt to any textual resources that they come into contact with. Kress articulates a difference of exposure results between two siblings and how their perceptions of the media can be so different (143). I find this to be a perfect example of how different even two of our students can be from each other. It is not important then for us to be “hip”, using Instagram, Snapchat or Tumblr to try and keep up with our students, but to instead present to them a variety of literacies and allow them to adapt them to their needs. Honestly I can’t imagine myself in my 50’s caring about what the new fads and technologies are. What will be necessary at whatever time will be an ability to teach students to understand materials presented to them and to clearly articulate and defend their ideas.

Kress goes into detail that the structure of education in the past does not fit well with what our students need today (134). I find this particularly invigorating, as I agree that the old molds and factory processing of students is not our future. What I find disheartening though is our very own teacher education program should so reflect exactly what we should be moving away from. We have a strict order of what is required of us, a rigorous schedule, and (nearly ritualistic in their repetitiveness) reflections. Interestingly enough, what we praise is not what we practice.

Kress, Gunther. “A Curriculum for the Future.” Cambridge Journal of Education 30.1 (2000): 133-45.

Tags: multiliteracies · Social Media · Uncategorized

OMG srsly wrting dis way = hrd!- Seminar Lead on Computer Mediated Communication

July 13th, 2014 · 1 Comment

OMG srsly wrting dis way = hrd! By Justin Bolivar

In response to Baron and Carrington’s articles surrounding the idea that texting is destroying “the Queen’s English” both articles cite that shorthand communication between adolescents threatens the state of the English language. However, both articles speculate that shorthand could have a negative impact on English language, but fail to produce, at least in my opinion, a concrete example of how this is happening. When I first approached writing this post, I was going to write it in text-speak, however, to code the post into that language would have taken me much longer than if I were to write it “properly,” as per our sources.

In Carrington’s article “Txting: the end of civilization (again)?” she takes on the story of a student who wrote about their summer using shorthand language. Now, what we do not get to see in the article or in the news story she covers is if this student who used this language was consistently using it throughout her course work. For all we know, it could have been a joke that she was attempting to play on her teacher, or, she was bored of her summer vacation, and simply wanted to act out. The article ends rather anticlimactically when Carrington states that “I doubt very much that her actions signal the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it and suspect that ‘standards’ will survive for some time.” Therefore, we have parents, administrators, and teachers getting up in arms about textspeak in the classroom, however, I propose that bringing in the idea of textspeak can actually help in a classroom setting!

On practicum, the final assessment task, as mandated by IB for my grade 10’s was to write a letter using Shakespearian language. Now, Shakespearian language is hard enough for them to understand, but to write a letter seemed daunting. In addition, who writes letters anymore? Thus, what I set out to do is make the assignment more tangible for the class, and something that they could relate to. What I did is create an assignment where students would write text messages between the characters, so that they could practice Shakespeare speak in a safe environment, but also so that they could revisit some of the key plot lines of the play. I introduced the assignment as a fun assignment, and marked them rather liberally. My learning objective was to have them become more comfortable using a medium most of them are used to, so that I could help to build other skills for another assessment. I have attached the assignment below, as well as some student examples:


In preparation for the final assessment task of the unit, where you will write a letter to any character from the play or be yourself, but in Shakespearian language, “Shakespeare Text Message” will be your first step!

Individually, your task will be to write six text messages of appropriate length (three sent and three received) using Shakespearian language. These responses will be shared with the class for collaboration and feedback, so that you have some information for your final assessment.

Student example:

Mercutio: Romeo! Romeo! Hast thou hithered the tidings?

Romeo: Nay Mercutio I hast nought

Mercutio: Young Juliet hath a baby upon her bosom!!

Romeo: What wretched sirrah hath done this to my

Juliet?!?! I shall dispatch of his soul!!

Mercutio: Hahaha peace gentle Romeo, peace. Doth thou not see the date? ‘Tis Aprils Fooling!!

Romeo: I bite my thumb at thee

Mercutio. Plague on you! Plague on you a thousand times!!


Works Cited:


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


Tags: computer-mediated communication · multiliteracies · Social Media

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

“Instant Messaging and the Future of Language”: “Englishes,” Registers and the Vernacular

July 8th, 2014 · No Comments

First of all, the article in itself is a meta-commentary on the instantaneous nature of much of our communication and media today. Whether this is intended seems irrelevant but intriguing nonetheless. The medium is, indeed, the message. This is not to say that this article does not pack a great deal of punch in terms of making a statement on issues and ideas we face on a daily basis.

To begin with a bit of a digression, reading this piece reminded me of recent discussions of how English is now often referred to as Englishes in critical-theoretical circles. David E. Kirkland, in “English(es) in the Urban Context,” discusses the how English Language Arts teachers need to navigate through teaching more academic English but also acknowledges that students use other ways of speaking (ones traditionalists would often consider lesser). Kirkland essentially argues that other “Englishes” (essentially differing vernaculars) should very much be acknowledged and included in our teaching but that they be tempered with the more formalized language that students will need when applying for jobs, taking university courses, etc. This meshes quite well with what Baron is trying to say in her analysis of IM inside and outside the classroom. She argues that teachers and parents should ensure these forms are included in what, how, when, and why we teach. IM and texting do not seem all that threatening at this juncture but it can be difficult to predict where these sorts of technologies will carry us. Baron, in her research, also makes an interesting observation that not only are there are certain stratum in IM and texting but also that the research:

Suggests that IM conversations serve largely pragmatic information- sharing and social-communication functions rather than providing contexts for establishing or maintaining group identity. (Baron 30)

We have the expected language of texting (e.g. “lol”, “ttyl”, “brb,” etc.) but people are using these forms of communication deemed “above” the commonly used “textspeak” that many of us are familiar with. This idea, then, brings us into a discussion of registers. We all speak differently depending on the context we are in and with whom we are interacting. This is taken a step further in terms of how we use a very specific medium. Texting, IM, Facebook messaging, etc. can all be used at different levels and with different results. Baron also recognizes that there is trend of people using IM as a sort of “voicemail” or away message. The person, or “user,” is not physically interacting with the medium but they are still sending information to be decoded by the receiver or viewer of that message. The author also, somewhat hilariously, notes that subjects of her research were found to interact “face-to-face” though she seems to put this at par with activities like “listening to music,” “surfing the Net” (an already seemingly outmoded turn of phrase it seems), and “eating.” Regardless of what is going on while we are texting, we are using IM “Englishes” to communicate, form bonds, and to be included in social groupings – as are our students. Baron also makes an interesting point of including the idea that IM and texting are mediated and manipulated by ever-advancing predictive text and auto-correct technology which can often blur the line/transition between what we think, write, and send to others in our correspondence. This, perhaps, means adding yet another layer to the multiple registers within the realm of text, i-, e-messaging, etc.

-George Frankson

Works Cited

Baron, Noami S. “Instant messaging and the future of language.” Communications of the ACM 46.7 (2005): pp. 30-31.

Kirkland, David E. “English(Es) in Urban Contexts: Politics, Pluralism, and Possibilities.” English Education 42.3 (2010): p 293.

Tags: computer-mediated communication · Social Media

YouTube – Breaker of Information and Privacy Act

July 15th, 2013 · No Comments

Having looked at the certain links from this week’s reading of the Copyright Act and Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, the first idea that came to mind was YouTube.  As teachers, we search for various videos and music that we try to incorporate into our lessons as a way to tie in the ideas we have in mind for our students to grasp or go beyond what we had planned for them.  There is that possibility that we could simply find the original source and use that within the walls of our classroom or resort to using YouTube.  Most of us have used this website to show the clips that we need to show in order to tie reference or show additional information, but YouTube is possibly the only site I know that can show pirated clips without receiving any sort of punishment.  There are times where I have found entire cinematic classics on it and it will be there for days before it’s taken down.  Why then isn’t the act pushed on YouTube?

I did not discovered YouTube until my senior year, I thought this was a great website to watch an assortment of videos without thinking of the repercussions of the Copyright Act and the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act as any other teenager would not care for such rules.  I thought it was remarkable that I was able to access videos without any harassment or do exclusive searching.  It was with a click of a mouse and I was able to find what I wanted.  This proved helpful throughout my BA as I did presentations using YouTube clips and not asking for permission.  I didn’t realize at the time about the Copyright Infringement and the huge impact it had on YouTube and it’s users.  There were times where I was able to find videos one day, then suddenly they were taken down because of this infringement.  It then makes me wonder, as educators are we still able to use this form of text even though it breaks the law?  Am I susceptible of using a product that clearly breaks the law?  Or does the 10% increment, like it does for photocopying texts, come into play?  It is something that I have puzzled over before starting my practicum considering the amount of YouTube clips I wanted to use and show my students.  I must admit, I still use YouTube clips for explanation or to provide further interest or discussion with my students.



Tags: Social Media

Another thought on “Blogging as Participation”

July 15th, 2013 · No Comments

Although the discussions on the “Blogging as Participation” article by Lankshear and Knobel may have moved on, I was just recently reminded of an interesting tool that may be used in the classroom- its called “TodaysMeet”. It is a tool that tries to bring the ‘Backchannel’ to the forefront of a presentation. On their website TodaysMeet identify Backchannel as “everything going on in the room that isn’t coming from a presenter” ( They further state that the backchannel is where people ask each other questions, pass notes, get distracted, and give you the most immediate feedback you’ll ever get”. I find this to be a fascinating tool because it may allow for a speaker or presenter (which we sometimes find ourselves being in a classroom ie. we take on that role, although hopefully not for too long at a time!) to see what people in the class may think. Its timely and inclusive, so that people who may not be entirely comfortable speaking up in a regular setting may comment in the this new type of chat room. That is one benefit that I see to using it. Also, it allows students to have even further in depth discussion in another medium. Another benefit is that its immediate and timely feedback to the presenter (in this case the teacher). However, is it effective and does it really help the teacher? I’m sure that a lot of the backroom is some banter that may be deemed unimportant, which in turn may be a distraction. Also, is it a distraction to the students? Are the participating in more Backchannel than would usually happen?

We ran an experiment with this tool in my LLED 361 classroom last semester, and there was alot of conversation in the Backchannel that was very interesting. We would comment about what the instructor was doing, what we thought of the videos she was showing us, made connections to our lives, etc. However, there was also lots of joking and ‘fluff’, so to speak. Was it interesting? Yes. Was it necessary? I’m still not sure. Would I try it in a classroom? Perhaps. I am interested to know if anyone else has tried it before or if you have any ideas on how it can be used effectively as a classroom tool.

Although this may not be a blog per se, I find that it is definitely an important development in the Web 2.0. It is interactive, timely and participatory. The two main ways that Lankshear and Knobel define blogs is their ability to have a large pool of participants with the right tools for accessing it for and of partipation (7). I’m not TodaysMeet is a blog. it is more like a chatroom. It brings the same issues of participation, multiple literacies and creation of knowledge that blogs can in the age of the Web 2.0.

-Zlatina Radomirova (blog post #2)

Works cited

Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M.  ”Blogging as Participation: The Active Sociality of a New   Literacy.” American Educational Research Association. San Francisco, CA. April 11, 2006. Web.




Tags: Social Media

Blogging as Participation (Instagram and Snapchat)

July 12th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Katherine Spilsted- Blog Post #2

After reading the article and the presentation last class, it got me thinking about the type of participation we (and our students) are using in addition to just blogging, and as mentioned, vlogging. One of the interesting parts of the article was when participation was defined as “involvement in some kind of shared purpose or activity- taking part in some kind of endeavour in which others are involved” (Lankshear & Knobel, p 4) and these activities may have more or less recognized norms and criteria depending on what is taking place and how the creator and audience are able to connect with one another. I think the newer forms of participation may have higher standard of norms but less so criteria in some cases. By this, I mean that with these new ways to socialize we create ‘unwritten’ norms very quickly, but those participating are the ones determining the criteria involved and these can be very loose and changing. Using Instagram as an example, those who participate know the norms of the photo sharing app even though there is no written disclaimer on what is or isn’t allowed. The criteria, however, is endless and an include almost everything under the sun- except for what is deemed out of the norm of regular usage from participants. I think Instagram is very interesting to look at as a platform for participation and blogging because the creator can post photos and use captions, while the audience is able to comment on the photo and ‘like’ it to raise it’s status to a popular page. Like the article describes, however, as soon as the user account becomes popular, the creator usually becomes removed from participation and serves only as a photo source not involved in the comments or discussion about the actual photo. As well, these accounts then serve only to raise the amounts of followers by posting photos saying “help me reach 20,000 followers” rather than sharing a thought provoking or visually appealing image.  If Instagram is compared to a type of blog, Shirky explains that a blogger may end up becoming a “broadcasting outlet, distributing material without participating in conversations about it” (Shirky 2003: n.p.) which is exactly what you will see happen if you follow the same account over time, the blogger is not able to participate in discussion due to sheer amount of comments that sometimes don’t even refer to the photo or engage with previous comments. Instagram then becomes an outlet for exposure of a single photo, rather than smaller more intimate accounts that produce discussion and artistic photos. That being said, brings me back to the lack of criteria Instagram has that allow users to post whatever they like- but the higher norms have trained users to post certain images to gain popularity or followers.

The second thought that came to me after the presentation is how even newer participation outlets, such as Snapchat, have even fewer norms and less criteria than platforms such as vlogging and Instagram. Snapchats allow users to engage in participation with multiple users separately but maintaining ‘conversations’ through picture messages with a simple caption that disappear within seconds after a viewer sees it. There is literally no norms and no criteria for this literacy as the creator controls everything to who sees the picture, and how long they see it- after which the photo is gone.  I think Snapchat is really interesting in terms of participation because if every photo could be saved, it would become a blog-like app, but since the photos are deleted, it’s such a ‘low’ form of literacy that is often looked at with negative opinions- “oh… you use Snapchat?”  This app is something students are using and know so much about, yet we are dismissing it from the classroom and I think it would be really interesting to get students to critically look at these new literacies and start to ask questions, since they know more about than we may do. I do recognize the difficulties when using a new media platform like Snapchat in the classroom, but I also recognize the amazing possibilities our technology has to create these new literacies that students actually want to use and participate with and I think that by encouraging new literacies in the classroom, we can encourage students to constantly participate in significant discussion even outside of the classroom.

Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M.  ”Blogging as Participation: The Active Sociality of a New   Literacy.” American Educational Research Association. San Francisco, CA. April 11, 2006. Web.

Tags: Social Media

Social Media Ideas and Resources for ELA Classrooms

July 11th, 2013 · No Comments

  •  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (LBD): a modern-day Vlog adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

–> The LBD website: (make sure to check out Lizzie’s tumblr and the other characters’ twitter accounts — they were more exciting when people were following the series play out in real time, but they’re still interesting to read!)

–> The first vlog in the series:


  • Animals quoting Shakespeare Tumblr:

Tags: Presentation · Seminar Prompts · Social Media

A Response to Blogging as Participation

July 10th, 2013 · 2 Comments

This article provided a very interesting overview of the participatory nature of blogging as well as a history of blogging. Particularly striking is the definition of blogging as “like a mongrel hunting the dark alleys of the digital city” that is “adaptive and unique at the same time” (p.2). What an image! I think this definition can be extended to the internet as a whole. It would be interesting if we could make education as “adaptive and unique” as technology is right now.

I found Lankshear and Knobel’s description of the evolution of who is and was creating and using blogs very interesting. They explain that blogging used to be something that was exclusive to people with a computer programming background until weblog publishing tools became available online, at which point blogging became open to the mass population (p.3). This change reminded me a a conversation that occurred in my YA Literature class a few days ago about how students are not being taught coding and how they aren’t interested in learning it because most everything that we want to create on the internet today, we can do so through a program that someone else has already created (ie. Weebly, Blogspot, Twitter, Wordle, etc.). Does this promote only shallow participation from today’s internet users?

In my own experience with being an internet user, I sometimes wonder if my consumer attitude towards the internet means that I am not really participating at all. I often feel a bit guilty that I do not contribute to blogs, wikipedia, yahoo answers, etc. but I use them all the time for almost everything I do. A question I would like to pose to Lankshear and Knobel is: Does simply visiting and reading a blog count as participation? Similarly, I would like to ask: What is my responsibility to the online community? I have also always been too nervous of the participatory aspect of blogging to create my own blog. Not only can it be intimidating to think that anyone can read your thoughts, but if your blog does become appreciated and population you are in danger of “becoming a broadcast outlet, distributing material without participating in conversations about it” (p.4) because you become a slave to the expectations of your followers.

Coincidentally, I just set up a blog the other day with some friends and I am very excited to see how it works out. I would also like to ask my students how or if they are using blogs because I’m sure it is all changing really fast.

– Dayonne (entry #1)


Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (2006). Blogging as Participation: The Active Sociality of a New Literacy. American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, US. April 11, 2006.

Tags: Social Media