Youth and Creativity

This is how some of us feel...

The other day, my students were working on their laptops (iMacs). Their job was to create a commercial for a toy that they have invented. I will admit that I am NOT a fan of Macs. I am a PC guy. While most students were proficient and were able to create their commercials effectively (using Garage Band on the iMacs), some approached me for assistance. I admitted to them that I am NOT a Mac guy (and they seemed to accept that and understand) and that we had "experts" in the class who would be better people to talk to and to ask questions of. It worked out wonderfully. As I was circulating and viewing my students' creations (and they were very creative), I spoke to them about the aspects of a good advertisement. Other students, who had completed the assignment already, were assisting others. Everything worked out well!

When it comes to some technology (and how fast everything is happening), I can't help but feel overwhelmed sometimes. Here's some graffiti I created:

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This week's readings...

I opened each article that Dr. Parr posted for this week and I tried to find which one I could connect to the most. At first, I had a tough time; however, one which spoke about CREATIVITY jumped out at me.

In addition to reading "An Introduction to Everyday Youth Literacies: Critical Perspectives in New Times" (Chapter 1), I chose to start my adventure by reading "Creativity as Capital in the Literacy Classroom: Youth as Multimodal Designers" by Christopher S. Walsh.

Walsh explains his journey from teaching using print-based materials to teaching using the latest technology. He speaks of his experiences with Chinese students (of immigrant families) who brought their 'out-of-school' digital literacy practices into his classroom. He as an educator was forced to change his ways to accommodate the shift that was taking place in the world around him. Moving beyond print-based materials allowed for much more CREATIVITY. His students shared their knowledge of new technology with him and he then changed his curriculum accordingly. While many of his students would have struggled with essay-writing because of English being their second language, the many other means of expressing themselves (with technology) was highly beneficial.

Walsh's experience (and the study of it) undoubtedly highlights the importance of making students' school experiences as authentic and as 'real' as possible. Literacy education, as Walsh reveals, "has to extend beyond the school".

...and the second article I chose to read this week was...

"Critical Media Literacy: A Pedagogy for New Literacies and Urban Youth" by Mohammed Choudhury and Jeff Share.

These authors begin their article by stating that the days of using merely print-based materials are long gone and we need to bring forth the new forms of diverse communication that exist in today's world. Doing so will allow for more creativity.

Choudhury's experience working with ESL students was similar to that of Walsh and his Chinese students. Choudhury turned his classroom into a rich, digital learning environment. He blended the "New Literacies" with a critical perspective.

Choudhury's students found his lessons at first to be boring and his students were asking why what they are doing in class matters. The result of this was a change in his teaching style. He encouraged his students to speak out about the issues that were facing them and he tried hard to ensure that their learning was more related to 'real life' situations.

The students became involved in learning outside of their classroom and in the community around them. They were involved in creating multimedia presentations and this incorporated technology (New Literacies) into their learning.

Experiential learning is definitely a way to engage students more fully!

Youth Literacies...

- youth in diverse locations are taking part in literacy activities that are qualitatively different than those of the previous generation

- more attention needs to be given to the ways in with youth work with New Literacy, including the images, media, Internet web pages, and other technologies

- youth literacies are hybrid, diverse, fluid, and multiple

(from K. Sanford et al.)

Dell's advertisement (below) speaks of how the digital era is fluid...

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New Literacies - Understood well by youth, but not necessarily by others...

From our initial reading entitled "An Introduction to Everyday Youth Literacies: Critical Perspectives in New Times", the authors (Sanford, Rogers, and Kendrick) point out that "literacy has taken on a new face" in the last decade. They outline that today's youth are using these "New Literacies" and are taking them in in such a way that was not even imaginable even a few decades ago. These "New Literacies", they say, are not well-understood by parents, educators and other stakeholders today. Further study by teachers, administrators, and parents is needed. Courses like this course (New Literacies) are most definitely a step in the right direction!

Connections to my youth...

Thinking back to my youth, not only did my mother (who was a high school English teacher) provide me with a LOT of books (our house was FILLED with books), but also, she valued other forms of literacy. She ensured that I had access to newspapers, comic books, magazines (she subscribed to National Geographic, Ranger Rick, Highlights, etc.), and understood the importance of keeping up with the new technology. It seems that teachers are REALLY good at that! Not only did I have programs like Pacman, Solitaire, and King's Quest on my computer at home, but also, I had programs like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy that could test (and even increase my knowledge). I was exposed to many types of literacies as a child. She provided me with all of the necessary literacy tools of the time. Many parents today are providing their children with those tools (which are very different, as we know, since everything is much more digital) and teachers are trying to incorporate these new tools into the classroom as much as possible.

After I finished writing this section and logged off, something else came to mind here. The whole idea of students' 'out-of-school' experiences was on my mind (as Walsh spoke of). I thought about all of the trips that I took as a child. One trip in particular came to mind. My dad and I drove to Florida. After reading EVERY road sign (while I was awake, of course) and stopping at every Welcome Centre in every state along the way (at which I am pretty sure I picked up hundreds of brochures), we made it to Florida. Upon my return, I had taken in so many sights, smells, and sounds - and I had been exposed to so much literacy as well. Travelling is definitely an 'out-of-school' experience that is truly beneficial and I am fortunate to have had many experiences as a child.


Choudhoury, M. and Share, J. (2012). Critical media literacy: a pedagogy for new literacies and urban youth. Voices from the Middle 19(4), 39-44.

Sanford, K., Rogers, T., and Kendrick, M. (Eds.) An introduction to everyday youth literacies: critical perspectives in new times. In Everyday Youth Literacies. Singapore: Springer Science+Business Media, 2014.

Walsh, C. (2007). Creativity as capital in the literacy classroom: youth as multimodal designers. Literacy 41(2), 79-85.