Multimodal Texts

What Are Multimodal Texts?

Multimodal is defined in the Australian Curriculum as the strategic use of “two or more communication modes to make meaning”

(O’Brien, 2014)

These texts are becoming increasingly prevalent in modern society and thus it is crucial that educators not only comprehend the nature of multimodal texts, but also the most comprehensive teaching strategies to impart that understanding to their students. Callow (2014), emphasised that multimodal texts can be paper based, digital, live or transmedia, highlighting the pervading influence of such texts and the critical role of educators in ensuring that students are able to critically analyse, and gain meaning from this form, and thus, gain a greater and more sophisticated literary understanding. Multimodal texts allow the reader to more obviously utilise the four reader roles as described by Winch (2010), actively engaging, utilising and participating in the text and utilising the code-breaking skills learnt in the classroom in new ways. Despite their obvious applicability in the classroom, as with any text, teachers must make certain that the multimodal texts they select are appropriate and sophisticated, developing the children’s literacy skills. To this end, educators should apply Mallett’s (2010) ‘criteria for choosing’ (p. 25); a cohesive design and layout, strong narrative and originality, thereby ensuring that the children gain a comprehensive and detailed understanding of ‘quality’ multimodal texts.

Reference List

Callow, J. (2014). Building a digital repertoire of resources for teaching literacy. Lecture, The University of Sydney.

Mallett, M. 2010. Choosing and using fiction and non-fiction 3-11. London: Routledge.

O’Brien, A. (2014). creating multimodal texts. creating multimodal texts. Retrieved 1 June 2014, from http://creatingmultimodaltexts.com/

Winch, G., Johnston, R. R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L. and Holliday, M. 2010. Towards a Model of Reading. In: Winch, G. eds. 2010. Literacy. 4th ed. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press

 

IPad App Review: When you grow up – a you’re-in-the-story book!

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‘When you grow up – a you’re-in-the-story book!’ is an app designed to engage children within the text and thereby encourage their literary development. It takes a photo of the child’s face and uses them as the main character of the story, which is focused on the variety of careers available to children when they ‘grow up’, including being a fire-fighter, an artist, and an astronaut. The story features colourful illustrations, sound effects and engaging animations which enhance the text and hold the student’s interest. The app is a significant aid to literacy development utilising rhyming words and repeated phrases to assist early readers in phoneme and phonemic awareness of high frequency words, in addition to providing ‘read to me’ and ‘read by myself’ options which allow the child to vary the difficulty of the app  and thus expand upon their reading and literacy ability.

‘When you grow up – a you’re-in-the-story book!’ (Released 27th February, 2011) ($1.29)

*To find more apps which have been identified as beneficial to literacy development go to iPads for Learning from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, designed by the State Government of Victoria.

 

Multimodal Video Clip: The Lost Thing

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The Lost Thing is a perfect example of a multimodal text, wherein the director has taken an existing picture book and adapted it to suit a short animated film without losing the meaning intended by the author, Shaun Tan. The picture book utilised a combination of image and text to highlight complex themes, such as isolation, acceptance and the importance of imagination, a concept Tan and Ruhemann did not lose when adapting it to suit the film style.

The short films use of animation, sound effects and narration is certainly demonstrative of a multimodal text which would be a significant aid to any educator’s lessons relating to multimodality. It encourages children to understand the importance of combining the various elements of a text in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of its meaning whilst also reinforcing key literary concepts including story structure, description, and text construction.

Educators using this film as a resource would be encouraged to accompany it with analysis activities, modelling to the students how to gain understanding from such a text through joint construction before allowing them to attempt the work on their own.

 

Book Review: Henry’s Bath by Margaret Perversi

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Henry’s Bath is a picture book written by Margaret Perversi and illustrated by Ron Brooks. The story is about a young boy named Henry who doesn’t want to have his bath and the various antics which result.

Although the language of the text is simple, the repeated phrases and accumulation of animals will appeal to early primary readers. The farm animals, including goats, cows and ducks, engage children, particularly those from the city who may not have many experiences with such animals. The sepia drawings are beautiful, detailed and exciting, and demonstrate the use of images to enhance the text, allowing the story to be developed without adding further text which might intimidate beginning readers.

Henry’s Bath is a simple, yet interesting book particularly well suited to kindergarten readers, allowing them to develop their literacy skills through quality children’s literature.

Book Review: Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl

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Revolting Rhymes is a collection of traditional tales, with a twist, written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake. It contains six fairy tales; Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf and The Three Little Pigs; which have been adapted to contrast the usual simple story. Goldilocks and the Three Bears, for example, begins with the suggestion that Goldilocks was at fault and should, in fact, be put in jail. Dahl twists the story to illustrate how badly Goldilocks behaved throughout the story, listing her ‘crimes’ and altering the ending to have her eaten.

The illustrations are detailed and entertaining, well suited to the story and engaging for readers of all ages. The text is written as a poem which greatly aids beginning readers through the use of rhyming patterns, expanding their vocabulary by using sophisticated language and unusual words. The use of well known stories allows the reader to make assumptions and connections to the text, assumptions which are often challenged in Dahl’s interpretation.

Revolting Rhymes is a fun and engaging text which will have particular appeal to primary age boys, allowing them to find new interest in stories that they have, in most cases, lost interest in.

Book Review: Jessica’s Box by Peter Carnavas

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Jessica’s Box is a children’s picture book written by Peter Carnavas for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. The story is about a little girl’s attempts to make friends during her first week at school. Jessica initially tries to make friends by bringing different things to school in a box but finds any relationships formed fleeting. She becomes increasingly discouraged until one day she takes nothing at all in her box and discovers that true friends don’t come from things.

The water colour and pencil drawings are emotive and engaging, and Carnavas’ use of colour reflects Jessica’s emotions and experiences developing a deep connection between the character and the reader. The text utilises contrasting size and placement to create emphasis, “Ta-DAAA!” and the sophisticated language expands the student’s vocabulary.

Jessica’s Box is a heart-warming and engaging book which encourages the reader to look beyond material possessions to the person, reflecting the fears experienced by all children starting school. Furthermore, Jessica’s disability, shown through her wheelchair, is particularly relevant to early primary readers encouraging them to understand that those with a disability are not different but experience the same fears and excitement as anyone else, and need friendship.

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Picture Book Review

 

Alexander and the Dragon by Katharine Holabird

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Context

Alexander and the Dragon is a children’s picture book written by Katharine Holabird and illustrated by Helen Craig.The story takes place in Alexander’s bedroom and is about Alexander trying to overcome his fears.

Text Description

The story is about a little boy called Alexander and how he manages to overcome his nightmares through a special friendship with a creature that at first scared him, the dragon.

The water colour and ink pictures are vivid and expressive and the varying of light and dark helps the reader to understand Alexander’s emotions.

Judgement

Alexander and the Dragon is a fun and enjoyable book, encouraging children to face and overcome their fears, and is particularly relatable to early primary readers.

I highly recommend this book as the expressive illustrations and sophisticated language work beautifully together to reflect the emotions of the characters. This book is suited to most ages, however it would be particularly well suited to early primary readers, reflecting their own fears and expanding their vocabulary.

Video

Strategies for Teaching EAL/D (English as an Additional Language or Dialect) Students

In Australia’s multicultural society it is essential that teachers understand how to work with EAL/D students and have strategies in place to enable the best possible opportunities to interact with and learn English and literacy. Gibbons (1991), states that ‘one in four of all children in Australian schools speak English as their second language. Although non-English speaking background students tend to pick up what Gibbons refers to as ‘playground language’ fairly quickly, educators must ensure that they plan activities which will develop the students understanding of the type of language used in the classroom.

The video demonstrates methods applicable within a classroom to assist with such learners, specifically those in the earlier years of primary school. It encourages educators to engage the students in literacy based activities which are kept simple, firmly embedded in practical language, directly connected to both the surrounding and different specific environments, demonstrate clear examples and gradually increase the difficulty of tasks with the proficiency of the learner. The activities depicted in the video are extremely beneficial to EAL/D students as they allow them to learn and develop their skills in a supportive and interactive environment.

The activity demonstrated in the video would be exceptionally useful to EAL/D students as it enabled them to utilise their growing understanding of the English language in a positive environment, applying it to the objects and tasks surrounding them and building in complexity as they learn. The addition of modifiers to the questions in Barrier Game One, ‘Put a red counter on the first part of the caterpillar’ (Using Barrier Games, 2014, 2:21), allows the educator the opportunity to assess the students learning process and determine whether areas need further revision in order to be applied to the task. This teaching method is supportive of Gibbon’s postulation that EAL/D students tend to memorize ‘chunks of language and routine phrases’ (Gibbons, 1991, p. 9), gradually introducing new concepts and words. The introduction of a barrier (2:56), demonstrated a further stage of proficiency from the students, and required them to have a solid understanding of the language on an individual level. Previously they had been able to seek assistance from the other student however now they needed to make the decision on their own, thus allowing the teacher to assess the progress of each child separately. In between activities the teacher modeled how to set up and play the games, thus demonstrating necessary everyday skills whilst still reinforcing the language they had been learning and how to apply it ‘What do you see?’ ‘Spots and spikes’ (4:45). Barrier Game Two both reinforced the previous lessons and began to use them in conjunction with social and cultural conventions necessary for daily interactions, such as turn-taking, with the educator using sophisticated yet understandable language and actions to indicate the order.

The video depicts several useful and sophisticated lessons which could easily be applied by a teacher in order to assist their EAL/D students. The tasks build in complexity gradually and allow the children’s language abilities to progress at their own pace.

Reference List
Using Barrier Games. (2014). [image] Available at: http://youtu.be/nka1-nuCyAA [Accessed 26 Apr. 2014].
Gibbons, P. (1991). Learning to learn in a second language. 1st ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Group Reader Role Reflection

Introduction:

Over the past week we have been focusing on utilising group work and ‘reader roles’ in order to better enable us to analyse and understand a text. This activity focused on a Winch Reading from Literacy published in 2010. My personal role was graphic artist which involved visually representing the crucial elements of the texts (as seen in my depiction of the four reader roles below), something that was challenging yet resulted in a deeper understanding of the text. I found that condensing the key ideas into pictures to convey their meaning was difficult, however believe that the group presentation allowed me to expand upon and explain my visual cues in order to best convey the points to all the learner types in my group.

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My Reading Reflection:

Winch (2010) highlights the critical learning devices, strategies and components employed to ensure the one is reading ‘effectively’. Winch emphasises the importance of context, postulating that it is only through an understanding of the influences of both the author’s context, and that of the reader that a text may be fully analysed; “‘reading’ changes, depending on the context in which it is being used’” (p. 30). He exemplifies the changing literacy mediums, reflective of Freebody’s (2012) theory of a “literacy-saturated world” (p.4). Winch identifies digital texts as one changing medium, outlining the different approach required to read and analyse, compared to traditional paper-based print. This establishes the critical role of educators who must adapt to the changing nature of literacy and model a wide range of effective reading practices. Such reading strategies Winch suggests, should draw upon the textual form, understanding the context, genre and register of the text, and also the sources of information or “cue systems” (p. 32), identified as the semantic, grammatical, phonological-graphological and visual/pictorial information, which form the foundation of any literary understanding. Furthermore, Winch emphasises the four “reader roles” (Freebody, 1990, 1999), which any effective reader utilises in order to “access, understand, use, reflect on, evaluate, and respond to a text” (Winch, 2010, p. 38), those of analyst, code-breaker, user and participant. These form the continuous reading strategy which Winch postulates is the most effective means of gaining understanding, scanning the text, obtaining an overview of the crucial ideas, utilising the cueing systems to predict and confirm meaning, and finally correcting uncertainty by reanalysing the information (p. 43). It is through a combination of these strategies that Winch believes the reader can obtain the most accurate understanding of any given text and confirms his statement that “effective reading is a complex, thinking activity” (p. 46). (Word Count = 300)

My Group Reflection:

The group activity resulted in a deeper of understanding of the reading as allowing individual analysis of an aspect of the text, before combining, a concept which resulted in a more detailed deconstruction and reflection. My graphic-artist role highlighted the importance of visual cueing systems in creating understanding, although it was challenging to minimise the emphasis on the text. The group’s different roles enabled me to focus on the text’s other aspects in greater detail. The feedback reflected the group’s collaboration enabled identification of weaker areas, allowing us to, as Winch suggests, return to the text for more information (p. 43), thus growing in our understanding. (Word Count = 106)
 
Reference ListWinch, G., Johnston, R. R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L. and Holliday, M. 2010. Towards a Model of Reading. In: Winch, G. eds. 2010. Literacy. 4th ed. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Freebody, P. 2012. Knowledge about Language, Literacy and Literature in the Teaching and Learning of English. In: Simpson, A., Freebody, P. and Comber, B. eds. 2012. Literacy, Language and Literature. 2nd ed. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

 

Library Visit!

With such an incredible array of children’s literature available, picking just two to focus on is a near impossible job! But unfortunately this weeks assignment was to do just that.

This Weeks Two Picks

With the kindergarten audience for next week’s school visit in mind I picked two books which are interesting, humorous, relevant and multi-layered to entrance all readers. ‘What Planet Are You From Clarice Bean?’ by Lauren Child is a beautiful text which inspires the children to think about the environment and community that they live in, whilst Lilli Messina’s ‘Not So Small After All’ creates a connection to the young reader by talking about relevant issues including body image, growing up and bullying.

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‘Not So Small After All’ – Lilli Messina
‘What Planet Are You From Clarice Bean?’ – Lauren Child

Both texts are wonderful examples of children’s literature, demonstrating the amazing range and quality available, hopefully you enjoy these books as much as I did.

References:

Child, L. (2014). What Planet are You from Clarice Bean?. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/242029.What_Planet_are_You_from_Clarice_Bean_ [Accessed: 24 Mar 2014].

Messina, L. (2014). Not So Small After All. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.booktopia.com.au/not-so-small-after-all-lilli-messina/prod9780864617095.html [Accessed: 24 Mar 2014].

What is Literacy and Why is it important?

Kids Book-Review

Children’s Author Alison Lester reading to students at Larapinta Primary School

In order to understand the importance of literacy in the learning process of children it is essential to fully analyse the word itself.

The term literacy opens itself to a variety of interpretations, and, within a modern context has come to apply to technology (computer literacy) in addition to the traditional reading and writing. In the Education and Training Directorate of the Australian Capital Territory, literacy is defined as the ability to read and write and use written information and to write appropriately in a range of contexts’ (MCEETYA, 1997).

Whilst this definition emphasises the diversity of the issue it does not provide a comprehensive and encompassing definition, such as the one provided by Freebody (2012) in his use of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority which states that literacy represents ‘the ability to understand and produce the English language accurately, fluently, creatively, critically, confidently, and effectively in a range of modes, and digital and print settings, in texts designed for a range of purposes and audiences’ (ACARA 2009, p.6).

It can therefore be established that a teacher or educator’s role within a child’s learning is to develop within them the confidence, desire and ability to read, understand and utilise language, not only in school, but throughout everyday life in accordance with the statement by Freebody (2012), ‘language and literacy resources are part of what these people have become, not just what they have‘.

Covenant College teacher Evie Stubbs engages year 1 students in phonetic exercises.

References

Det.act.gov.au. (2014). Literacy – education and training directorate. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.det.act.gov.au/teaching_and_learning/literacy_and_numeracy/literacy [Accessed: 16 Mar 2014].

Mccartney, T. (2012). Kids’ book review: interview: australian children’s laureates alison lester and boori monty pryor. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.kids-bookreview.com/2012/09/interview-australian-childrens.html [Accessed: 16 Mar 2014].

Moloney, J. (2013). Reading program puts school on write path. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/reading-program-puts-school-on-write-path-20130315-2g6f2.html [Accessed: 16 Mar 2014].

Simpson, A. & White, S. (2012). Literacy, language and literature. South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press.