New Literacies

& Classroom Community by Katherine Gillespie

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“The old days of print literacy are no longer sufficient in this age of countless communication systems and increasing linguistic and cultural diversity,” (The New London Group, 1996). I think this quote has great power in stating that literacy and the way it is taught is needed to be modified in the 21st century. By incorporating multimodals of literacy, it gives opportunities for students to be engaged and create more of a sense of community within the classroom. Students can develop their identities and perspectives by exploring different avenues to display their knowledge about what they have learned.

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Mohammed Choudhury (2012) used a critical inquiry approach that includes five key ideas about students questioning the social construction of messages. This can help students develop a ‘sense of self’ and create a classroom community where everyone is heard and respected.

Mohammed Choudhury and Jeff Share (2012) state these five key ideas:

· “Students need to question who created

the message as a way to understand that

all messages are constructed by people.

This knowledge can be empowering when

students realize that in the construction

process, people make decisions that could have

been made differently or can still be


· Questioning how messages are created helps

students learn about different types of codes

and languages, such as visuals, sounds, and multimedia.

· For a pluralistic society, it is essential that

students understand that everyone can interpret

media messages differently based on the

many human differences we bring with us.

While certain readings of texts dominate,

there are many ways any message can be

understood (Hall, 1980).

· Through questioning the bias, values, and

points of view of media messages, students

recognize that messages can never be completely

objective and neutral; they always

involve relationships of power.

· Students are encouraged to ask why a message

was created and/or sent in order to

examine the motivation behind the message.

When most media messages are created by

profit-driven corporations, it is important

for students to understand the economic

structures that shape the majority of their

entertainment and news,” (p. 39-40).

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Choudhury and Share (2012) discuss how he started setting up times for classroom discussions because his students were quite negative towards their assessment of their own abilities. This reminds me of Tribes training and how in a structured manner, open classroom discussions can create a great community environment. Having open class discussions can allow for all students' perspectives to be heard and listened to respectively. Some of these discussions can lead to creating projects or classroom learning activities that the teacher can follow through with after such discussions. Students can be in charge of their own learning by demonstrating ways to show their knowledge.

Technology in the Classroom: Digital Media

This video demonstrates that technology in the 21st century has changed how the classroom should be. There needs to be a curriculum that is developed that incorporates technology more on a regular basis. By using various literacy multimodals in the classroom, the sense of community within the classroom can increase. Students can share what they can do and teach/learn from their peers.

Digital literacy has the power for:

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Valerie Kinloch (2009) shares a conversation that is between a teacher and a student. “They are the same eyes that oftentimes have a glaze within them when he is asked to perform routine academic tasks in many of his classes. When I ask him about that glaze, he is quick to tell me, "I know this stuff already. We all do. This is nothing new or revolutionary. I'm thinking I learn more from the community, like things about history, protests, and different experiences than from school. What does that tell you?" He also said something to me like, "What does that say about disconnects between where I go to school and where I live?” (p. 317). Students can start to create their own identity and interests by having various ways to represent their knowledge by exploring and demonstrating their learning through different means.

Kinloch (2009) shares that it can be beneficial to “explore the value of drawing on students' out-of-school activities to enhance their school-sponsored work,” (p. 319). By incorporating multiple settings into discussions within the classroom, this can create moments and experiences where students can discover similarities and can hear other’s perspectives about their life outside of the classroom. This can allow for students to explore with creating their own identity and perspective by participating in literacies that take on different modals. Giving students the freedom to explore and create can give opportunities for peers to see each other as unique, individual human beings.

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Article References:

Choudhury, M. & Share, J. (2012). Media literacy: A pedagogy for new literacies and

urban youth. Voices from the Middle 19(4), 39-44.

Kinloch, V. (2009). Literacy, community, and youth acts of place-making. English

Education 41(4), 316-336.

The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures.

Harvard Educational Review, 66, 60–92.