Transcript of "How to improve multiliteracies in the classroom using new literacies"
How to Improve Multiple Literacy in the Classroom Using New Literacies
HOW TO IMPROVE MULTIPLE LITERACY IN THE CLASSROOM USING NEW LITERACIES 2
Table of Contents
Literature Review 3
Data Analysis 11
Literacy Questions 11
What, and how, do my students write each day? 11
How do I model writing? 12
Do I use critical literacy in my classroom? 13
Digital Tech in the Classroom 13
HOW TO IMPROVE MULTIPLE LITERACY IN THE CLASSROOM USING NEW LITERACIES 3
In contemporary society technology and use of digital tools have become a way of
life as evidenced by the ever changing, rapidly expanding world of digital
technology.Digital technology is used not only in the social media world, but also in the
work place, and increasingly in education as school districts strive not to be left behind.
School districts are striving to equip their schools with adequate computers to foster
relevance between the technology inundated society and the education system that
prepares students for the workforce. Technology applications and soft wares designed to
facilitate classrooms content area instruction, are becoming more numerous with tools
like class web 2.0 for teachers’ digital instruction and students’ digital products. There is
a proliferation of digital web tools, media applications and interactive technology.
Students’ preoccupation with them outside the classroom through social media
networking, gaming, and access to a wide range of content and connectivity, emphasize
the urgency of harnessing these tools for education. Students are writing more than ever
before, but the irony is that the students are writing more outside class, in what they see
as unrelated to their education, than they are writing in class. The explosion of digital
communication makes it imperative that teachers step up their roles as teachers of digital
writing. They have to provide support for students in understanding the complexities of
communicating in our contemporary world, because students’ exposure to and interaction
with the wide array of digital content on the world wide web does not mean that
reflection and learning takes place.
Research shows the preoccupation of education professionals with making
technology an integral part of educational instruction. There is a move from the initial
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focus of integrating technology into instruction, to using technology as instructional tool
and medium of students’ multi literacies learning product across content areas. DE Voss,
AaDahl and Hicks (2010), noted that according to the Writing in Digital Environments
(WIDE) research, “Networked computers create a new kind of writing space that changes
the writing process and the basic rhetorical dynamic between writers and readers.
Computer technologies have changed the processes, products and contexts for writing in
dramatic ways,” (p.5). This change demands that teachers equip students for higher
education and future workplace experiences by teaching them to work across and within
networked places using different modes of multi literacies. Students interact and engage
with different digital tools as they write,using different modes and across genres, to
communicate with local audiences within their classrooms/schools local intranet and the
wider audience on the internet. To this end, this study explores the current level of digital
technology knowledge of teachers, their use of technology in writing instruction, research
into available digital multi-media tools that will enhance technology based instruction
across the content/subject areas, and findings to propel more informed usage of these
tools in instruction and student digital products.
The digital age is among our society and students are engaged in technology more
than ever. Paper and pencils are becoming old-fashioned; therefore, in order to practice
literacy in the classroom, teachers need to incorporate technology in every room. By
integrating technology, teachers are creating digital environments and experiences for
their students. Using multiliteracies and technology within the classroom helps ensure
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students are receiving the most up-to-date lessons to prepare them for the twenty-first
Al-Hazza, T., & Lucking, R. (2012). An Examination of Preservice Teachers' View of
Multiliteracies: Habits, Perceptions, Demographics and Slippery Slopes. Reading
Improvement, 49(2), 59-72. Retrieved from:
Al-Hazza and Lucking offer an outlook on how new literacies must be
incorporated into education. They suggest that teens today are extravagantly enthralled in
the world of technology. The authors express that reading materials are no longer just
print sources, but also include other forms of electronic reading. Our youth are now
spending great quantities of time immersed in technology. The Pew Research Center’s
Internet & American Life Project found that 93% of teens, age 12-17, use the internet.
Additionally, “while online, a total of 78% play online games, 73% use social network
sites, 73% use email, 62% get news, 49% read blogs, 48% buy products, 31% look for
health info, and 14% create blogs” (60). Al-Hazza and Lucking further suggest that the
movement to utilize technology so frequently has begun to change society. Technology
has grown to be a normal part of people’s lives. Since society is changing to use more
and more technology, educators must be able to keep up with the general public. Literacy
is no longer the same as it was approximately ten years ago. The National Council for
Accreditation of Teacher Education and the International Reading Association have both
acknowledged that it is imperative to incorporate technology into the curriculum.
Furthermore, teachers must be comfortable instructing and assessing students using
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technology. This is necessary in order to close the gap between traditional print and new
multiliteracies. Al-Hazza and Lucking reviewed a pilot study of 63 prospective teachers
and their views on technology and new literacies. From the study, 83% of the prospective
teachers believed that “teachers should be held accountable for mastering these new
technologies” (65). The findings indicated that future teachers will be starting work with
a great deal of technological experience; however, “being an avid text-sender may not
lead directly to a higher level of understanding of how to best teach literacy skills or plan
for other forms of literacy expansion” (69). The others concluded their findings with this
statement: “Many of the issues involved in understanding the new literacies are esoteric
and complex” (70) Somehow, these inner circles of thinkers that grasp the knowledge and
comprehension of integrating technology into the curriculum will be able to share with
Borsheim, C., Merritt, K., & Reed, D. (2008). Beyond Technology for Technology's
Sake: Advancing Multiliteracies in the Twenty-First Century. Clearing
House,82(2), 87-90. Retrieved from:
Borsheim, Merritt, and Reed made the bold, yet brief, statement that “literacy is
changing” (87). This article discusses the shift from traditional literacy to multiliteracies.
Multiliteracies has been “based on the well-established assumption that technologies
(including computers, cell phones, PDAs, the Internet, and Web 2.0 applications such as
wikis, blogs, and other social networking sites) have impacted the nature of texts, as well
as the ways people use and interact with texts” (87). The authors suggest that teachers
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with a multiliteracies pedagogy are more likely to prepare their students for what is to
come in the twenty-first century. Borsheim wrote first on multiliteracies and traditional
curriculum. Incorporating multiliteracies into the curriculum helps in three ways: students
can gain knowledge through “authentic experiences;” can “support traditional curriculum
objectives;” and will go beyond those objectives in order to further the development of
multiliteracies (88). With traditional texts not being used as often and technology being
used more and more, students are even researching differently. Technologies support the
students’ research in ways never explored before. Also, technologies help connect
students to real audiences. Next, Reed gave her intake on multiliteracies beyond the
classroom walls. Reed began by stating that she disagreed with those who believe that
students are not engaged in reading and writing anymore. She maintained that students
are still reading and writing; it just looks differently than a traditional setting. By
integrating technology in the home and school, Reed has seen a significant increase in
participation from her students. Reed summarized by suggesting that teachers must
always be looking into the future in order to keep up with technology and the changing
society. Next, Merritt expressed her thought on multiliteracies for preservice teachers.
Merritt spoke about how important it is for teachers to model their technology uses with
their students. By modeling, students will engage on a different level and will be more
motivated to try some of the new technology in the classroom. She ended with stating
that technology also helps the preservice teachers know how to utilize literacies in this
century and how it benefits the language arts. By keeping up with future technologies,
teachers will be more knowledgeable in keeping their students on track with the skills of
the twenty-first century.
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DeVoss, D.N., Eidman-Aadahl, E., & Hicks, T. (2010). Because Digital Writing Matters:
Improving Student Writing in Online and Multimedia Environments. San
Since technologies have been altering society, it has also begun to impact the
classroom. Students are enthralled in technology on an almost non-stop basis it seems,
but can they learn literacy this way? Teachers must begin to incorporate technology into
their classroom. The atmosphere of writing is changing, and the new ways of writing
instruction must be included into curriculum. This book encompasses the importance of
digital writing, how to incorporate digital writing, discusses the rapid growth of the
digital age, and offers help in directing teachers how to grow in their technology
knowledge in order to progress the writing of their students.
Peterson, S., Botelho, M., Jang, E., & Kerekes, J. (2007). Writing Assessment: What
Would Multiliteracy Teachers Do? Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 15(1),
29-34. Retrieved from: http://www.alea.edu.au/documents/item/127
This article discusses multiliteracies theory and writing assessments.
Multiliteracies theory was defined as viewing “literacies as social practices that help us to
achieve social intentions within range of social contexts of our daily lives” (29). Since
teachers are always trying to bring the students’ outside experiences into the classroom,
writing and the multiliteracies theory work very well together. The multiliteracies theory
allows the students to go beyond the traditional writing workshops by encouraging
students to bring in information from the Internet to support their writing. An original
writing assessment model by Spandel (2005) included six traits: ideas, organization,
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voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions and layout (cited in Peterson et al.
2007, p. 30). Multiliteracies teachers would use this model but add in the social aspect to
writing in the new digital age. When assessing writers through the multiliteracies theory,
“teachers have to see students differently” (35). With the extension of technology,
students will engage in a wider audience than just the walls of their classroom; therefore,
modifications should be made to the current assessments.
Unsworth, L. (2008). Multiliteracies, E-literature and English Teaching.Language &
Education: An International Journal, 22(1), 62-75. Retrieved from:
Unsworth compiled this article to help teachers use digital resources to further
educate their students in “literary understanding and literacy learning” (63).With the
increase of reading tools available online, students can be more connected and find
additional information on the texts they are reading. Through organization, interpretive,
and pedagogic frameworks, teachers can help students connect traditional literature with
the World Wide Web and digital technology.
"Victor" Chen, D., Wu, J., & Wang, Y. (2011). Unpacking New Media Literacy. Journal
Of Systemics, Cybernetics & Informatics,9(2), 84-88. Retrieved from:
Chen, Wu, and Wang opened this article with a great introduction stating that
“literacy has evolved historically in stages: classic literacy (writing-understanding);
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audiovisual literacy (mostly related to electronic media); digital literacy; information
literacy (mostly related to computer and digital media); and recently new media literacy
(mostly related to internet and the phenomenon of media convergence)” (84). The
development of new literacies has grown through a societal process which has developed
a unique framework. In the authors’ interpretation, new literacies include four
mechanisms: functional consuming, functional prosuming, critical consuming, and
critical prosuming. Their take on the pros and cons of functionality and criticalness was
an interesting thought. The article is ended stating that for a person to be an effective
participant in the twenty-first century society, students must obtain the new media
A group of Masters of Education Literacy Studies students got together to research the
use of technology in the classroom and how it can be used to promote multiple literacies
across the content areas.
A researched look into new literacies and the use of digital writing in today’s classroom
We created a list of questions for teachers from various backgrounds to answer and
discuss. After the discussion began we narrowed our topic to the use of technology in the
classroom. Ultimately coming up with the question, How can we improve multiple
literacy in the classroom using new literacies? We created a set of goals for teachers to
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strive for when trying to implement new literacies and improve multiple literacies in the
• What constitutes a student as literate?
• Can you be literate in one subject and not another?
• Is literacy a natural trait or one that is taught? How does your view affect
your literary teaching?
• How do you promote literacy in other subjects, such as math?
• Are you happy with the amount of writing that is done in your classroom?
How can you add more?
What, and how, do my students write each day?
• What kind of writing happens daily in your own classroom?
• How long does it go on?
• How is it organized?
• Who is involved?
• What content areas are involved?
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• What is produced?
• How much writing goes through the stages that real writers go through:
drafting, reviewing, editing, rewriting, and publishing in some way (going
• How important is the writing process in your classroom? How can it be
promoted in informal writing?
• What digital resources do I have available in my classroom or school?
How do I model writing?
• How often do your students see you write?
• In what situations?
• Do they see you go through the stages?
• Do you talk about your writing?
• Does this help or hinder?
• When it comes to digital writing, how do I show my students that I as well
write in this manner?
• Do you share your writing with your students?
• Are your students encouraged to offer suggestions or comments about
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Do I use critical literacy in my classroom?
• Do I ask my student “Why did you have this character say this thing?
What does it show about the relationship between him and the rest of the
• Do you talk about text structure and how it impacts a reader’s
• Do you talk about why writers use certain effects to impact the reader’s
interpretation of an event?
• Do you talk about how language can be used to include or exclude
• Do you ask questions about the author’s choices with the text and how it
might affect the meaning?
• Do you ask students what the underlying view of the author is and how it
affects the text?
Digital Tech in the Classroom
• How do I use digital technology within my writing instruction?
• What are some ways I can teach my students to utilize digital product in
both LA and content area writing?
• How can my students use digital research in the content areas?
• How are the digital enrichment materials evaluated?
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• What do digital enrichment materials add to my lessons?
• How are the digital tools perceived by the students?
From our research within the topic and our discussion with teachers from various
backgrounds, we developed the following goals for improving multiliteracies using new
literacies and digital technology in the classroom.
Students are defined as literate in multiple ways
To be literate means to be knowledgeable in a particular area. When we think of
being literate, we often think of being able to read and write, which are aspects of
literacy. However, it's also about understanding and truly comprehending the material.
Literacy encompasses so much more than just reading and writing, especially now with
the definition of literacy ever changing and the continuous introduction of multiliteracies.
In the article Writing Assessment: What Would Multiliteracies Teachers Do by Peterson,
et al. (2007) states, “Multiliteracies theory also expands the symbol systems we associate
with literacy from an exclusive focus on the printed word to visual images, multimedia,
and digital technologies such as the Internet” (29). Literacy involves how we gain
knowledge, interact with it, and communicate it. Literacy should not be taught only in
Language Arts, but instead be present in all academic areas. Within these areas media
literacy should also be present. Chen, Wu, and Wang (2011) concluded, “Media literacy-
an essential skill that no one in the 21st century can afford not to have” (par. 23). By the
time a student enters school, their exposure to literacy greatly influences their literary
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skills and this range of skills is vast among those students. No matter the literary skills of
students, literacy can be promoted and an envisionment classroom created. A student
does not need to know how to spell correctly or even write in order to begin their
exploration with writing. Literacy can be integrated into every subject and topic.
Furthermore, reading can be implemented into many different academic disciplines and
You can be literate in certain subjects and aspects while not in others. Being able
to read situations or feelings is being literate while being able to read text and words is
also considered being literate. There is the aspect of fiction and non-fiction literacy, they
are very different in the way you process them; also expository versus narrative literacy.
Students can be wonderful readers when it is something of interest to them, but when
they come across text that is not of interest; they can become very poor readers. This can
affect students because much of standardized testing is reading short passages not of
interest. Having a multitude of assessments for students to demonstrate their skills and
especially their literacy is important. Miscue analysis is a great tool in showing how
students are literate in certain aspects of reading, but can still be a poor reader. Literacy
is natural. Some subjects and concepts come easier to us than others, which goes back to
how we can be literate in some areas than others. Of course, we teach, we are taught, and
we learn, but this goes back to the natural part of it. We all have the capabilities, but it's
what we do with the knowledge and what we make those experiences into.
Digital tools should be incorporated into classroom writing
Digital writing and tools add a new dimension to lessons and activities. They
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help to motivate students and capture their attention, but digital tools also allow for
students to interact with the material in many different aspects and ways. The article
titled, Beyond Technology for Technology’s Sake: Advancing Multiliteracies in the
Twenty-First Century written by Borsheim, Merritt, and Reed (2008) suggests, “Teachers
who employ a multiliteracies pedagogy offer their students ample opportunities to access,
evaluate, search, sort, gather, and read information from a variety of multimedia and
multimodal sources and invite students to collaborate in real and virtual spaces to
produce and publish multimedia and multimodal texts for a variety of audiences and
purposes” (87). For someone to truly grasp information they need to be exposed to it
multiple times and in multiple venues. Students today write more than they realize.
Texts, emails, IMs and blogs are just a start to the everyday writing students use outside
of school.Borsheim et. al. (2008) states, “Technologies taught in the classroom enhance
students’ abilities to use them as well as understand the complex ways they challenge us
to participate in the world” (90). Creating a digital environment within the classroom
where students can utilize their expertise in digital technology such as this and expand
their writing knowledge is what the teachers interviewed all wanted to achieve.
Technology is a motivating force with students; writing is not. If we as teachers can
combine the two, we will create a motivating factor for writing in students. The National
Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the International Reading
Association have both acknowledged that it is imperative to incorporate technology into
the curriculum. (Al-Hazza & Lucking. 2012) Digital technology can be used with
writing instruction in a multitude of ways. By showing students different ways to utilize
online tools, they too, can explore and try different digital writing that they have never
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explored before. Students receive digital tools very well; therefore, they are motivating
and encourage them to do things they are interested in while making it seem as if they
aren't doing classroom work.
There are many tools to promote digital writing within the classroom. See Figure
1 for a unique representation of a few of the tools we came across during our research.
The figure was created using info graphics. There are also tools that can be used to
present concepts to students. See Figure 2 to view a Prezi that is used to present digital
writing in the classroom.
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Digital tools should be evaluated and assessed
More than just integrating technology into the classroom is the importance that
the technology is actually useful to the classroom.Borsheim et. al (2008) suggests,
“Searching, gathering, managing and evaluating online resources, composing multimodal
texts for a variety of purposes and audiences, and developing a critical consciousness
about how we produce and consume texts highlight some of the pedagogical challenges
that twenty-first century technologies can help us integrate into instruction” (90).The
technology a teacher chooses to utilize can supplement the material or draw attention
away from it. To ensure the digital tools and enrichments are holding up to the teaching
goals, teachers must assess their usefulness. The standard trial and error approach will
help to try out tools and weed out the technology found to not fit the curriculum. A
survey used by the students to evaluate the materials is also helpful. Student feedback on
how they feel the materials affected the lesson can provide insight into what they are
thinking and allow for the teacher to better find what motivates their students. The mark
of an excellent teacher is the ability to select what is needful and utilize it, blending
resources to meet students' needs. A survey from the students would be a tool to gauge
their attitude on the digital tools as well as how the students perceive them. Additionally,
student feedback can help teachers to choose appropriate tools as well as learn other ways
to utilize told they already use. Technology is every changing and students always seem
to be the first to master it and be up-to-date on it. Having their input into the tools used
and how to use them will help us as teachers to stay technologically integrated. Another
helpful evaluation tool is a checklist. Teachers can create a list of what they want to
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accomplish with the lesson and then find the tools that fit the goals. One tool might not
meet all of the goals on the checklist; so many tools might be needed.
Technology should be a tool and not a driving force
Of all the goals we have discussed for teachers to strive for when implementing
digital technology into the classroom to improve the multiliteracies of students, this is the
most important to us. Educators must have the understanding that technology should be
used as a tool within the lesson and not a driving force of creating the lesson for the sole
purpose of utilizing technology. Creating a digital classroom is about creating an
environment where technology is incorporated as a supplement to the curriculum and not
as a driving force for the curriculum. A digital tool should be just that, a tool. It should
provide reinforcement for the lesson, a new medium for students to explore, as well as
expose students to new ways of seeing information. In a study by Al-Hazza and Lucking
(2012), if found, “Educators and various Accrediting agencies such as, The National
Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE, 2002) and the International
Reading Association (2009) have recognized the importance of integrating technology
into the curriculum and have placed an increased emphasis on incorporating new
technology into the schools” (63). Technology should not be integrated into only one
lesson to meet the goals of technology integration. Instead, it should be incorporated into
the curriculum on a daily basis. Integrating technology goes beyond showing power
points during lessons or having students use computers during stations. Students must use
digital tools to create and publish product. Devoss et. al (2010) found, “For teachers, it is
not simply a matter of “integrating technology” into the school day, but rather a matter of
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uncovering the most powerful uses of technology to accomplish learning goals for
specific students. To do this, they can create digital environments and experiences to
extend their most effective practices into even more powerful learning opportunities for
Educators have moved from integrating technology into the classroom into using
technology as a learning mode in the school. Lessons must connect students’ knowledge
and use of digital tools as they work towards goals and objectives. Content area literacy
and technology can be used to create a curriculum across all subjects that encompass the
same important technological skills and tools.
As stated by Borsheim, Merritt, and Reed (2008), “When I keep the objectives in
the forefront, my students do as well; therefore they do not get carried away with the
technology we are using to complement the writing” (89). Together educators and
students create authentic learning experiences for everyone.
Technology should supplement the lesson, not hinder the learning. Using digital
tools both for instruction and student products take learning beyond the classroom.
Creating a running record of student work within the digital tools and technology
integration is a digital running record. An informal look at not only how a student has
grown in their knowledge and skills, but also at how technology has advanced.
Technology is ever changing and present in all that we do. Students need to be kept up-
to-date on these advancements to stay competitive in a global world. Allowing students a
chance to see how their skills have grown is a powerful motivator for knowledge.
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Publish student work
Another motivating force for knowledge is acknowledgment. Studentswork hard
and that work should be shown not only to other classmates, but also other classes and
teachers. By providing positive acknowledgment in a student’s work, students feel
pride. Amongst the pride a hard working student feels, published works also provide
other students with real life examples of the skills and information they are using. They
show what exactly can be done using technology and digital tools and hopefully will
demonstrate new ways and ideas for using technology in the classroom.
Writing should happen every day in the classroom
Writing should happen every day in the classroom and incorporate a variety of
mediums. With the digital age upon us there are more unique and creative ways to
incorporate writing into everyday tasks. Peterson et. al. (2007) noted,“Writing is not
viewed as a set of skills that children can master and then perform on demand. Instead,
writing is viewed as one of many social practices that use language to accomplish
particular ends within particular social contexts” (30). Writer’s workshop and journals
can be created on the computer and a creative story writing assignment can come to life
using an app on the Ipad. Borsheim (2008) stated “Technologies scaffold students’
development of these traditional skills and make the purposes and processes more
authentic than they were in the past” (88). Many of the classrooms evaluated had a set
writing time for their students. Included in this time were free writing, project writing, as
well as informal journaling. The need for more time was an issue with many. Time is
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limited and the writing process definitely takes time. Creating a classroom where writing
is a dominant presence is the goal. Teachers are finding that informal writing can be
beneficial and that informal writing is just as important as writing that follows the
traditional stages of drafting, revising, editing, and rewriting. Informal writing can still
help promote better writers.
Teachers should model writing and allow for student feedback
An important tool for teachers that is often overlooked is the importance of
modeling for students. Students should see teachers writing in the classroom on a
multitude of levels; modeling writing for students so they can have an example to work
off. Showing them some of your work and the stages you went through in correcting the
paper will most likely help them in working through their current and future papers. By
writing along with the students and making your struggles with the writing visible,
students are encouraged to persevere with their writing. Every student has seen their
teacher write on the board or overhead, but have they all seen them write for themselves
or ever had a chance to review what was written? Teachers make mistakes just as
students do in writing, but the biggest mistake is not embracing this opportunity to share
with students. It is with this modeling that students are exposed to tools, which they can
utilize in their own writing when they themselves make mistakes. If teachers can make a
special intent to remember to model writing, their students might have different
experience outcomes. In modeling, talk about the writing, explain what it is you are
doing, and discuss the why of it all. It is the piecemeal modeling of each part of the
process; not the authentic writing modeling that is the goal. Let them help with the
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writing during shared, interactive writing. Students gain knowledge and writing skills by
seeing an active model of the process, and to hearing thinking out loud while making
errors as well as making corrections. This helps them see the process and what it might
be like for them. Discuss struggles with students. Talk all the time about struggles with
writing. Students should see that teachers do not know everything and everyone has
struggles of their own. Modeling helps to discuss the mistakes made and the possible
reason behind them and also how to fix them. Students can relate to this and by
discussing and modeling the process they are seeing the tools they are learning in action.
Also, by discussing how writing makes us feel helps students to see that writing can be
for enjoyment as well.
Share your writing with students
Knowing how to accept criticism and how to give it are tools that good writers
need. Being able to critique others helps us improve our own skills and shows students
how writing is an ongoing process. Modeling how to accept critique is a great skill to
pass on as well as the ability to give constructive criticism and be able to look critically at
another's writing. Learning how to be positive even when being negative. Allow
students to provide feedback on your writing as well, and discuss critically the choices
you made and how they affected the final product. The choices in writing are solely
those of the author. Demonstrating how these choices can dramatically change the text is
vital in teaching writing.
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Digital writing encompasses all subjects, not only Language Arts
Every subject should include writing. Incorporating writing into all areas of
education is important. Digital writing can be incorporated in the same ways as
traditional writing. For example, creating assignments that utilize digital tools instead of
the traditional pen and paper writing we are accustomed to incorporates digital writing
into the classroom. In other subjects, teachers can give students a journaling assignment
at the end of a lesson to incorporate writing. Also, as a way to create a digital aspect to
the assignment, students can create a blog in place of a journal. Science classes could go
to the computer lab after participating in a scientific lab and write it up. Social studies
classes can use all kinds of different online tools to make a report or to further study a
certain topic. Math is now even becoming friendlier to use online with certain places
having easy ways to enter fractions and so forth. To use digital research in the content
areas students can research any topic using Google and the Internet as well as have access
to numerous academic journals and articles they would not normally have access to prior
to the Internet. Most academic texts now have not only hard copies of texts, but also
digital copies and supplementary activities to engage students online, providing digital
access to information 24/7 both at school and at home. Students can read digital texts
online, review commentaries, and follow hypertexts to get additional information and
critical explanations as they read. Furthermore, students can engage in classroom and
grade level blogs and blog classmates as they collaborate/share/bounce ideas off each
other to attain a deeper level of understanding of texts, expanding their knowledge base
and become more versatile with information technology tools across content areas. The
more they engage in online transactions with texts, the more exposure they get for
HOW TO IMPROVE MULTIPLE LITERACY IN THE CLASSROOM USING NEW LITERACIES 25
creative ways of presenting information in their different academic disciplines.
Engagement with digital tools helps students take charge of their learning under the
skillful guidance of the teacher. Learningbecomes an adventure in which the students
take the initiative and responsibility to achieve the predetermined learning objective in a
fun, intellectually and socially satisfying manner, making learning fun and not a chore.
Digital materials allow for automatic differentiation with students choosing what works
best for them. They also add real world application to lessons and product.
Use critical literacy to drive a better understanding
Critical literacy is a way to connect students to a particular text as well as the
social issues that might be involved. Talking about the why's and how's, text structure
and impact, certain effects of a story or topic, and the language the author chose to use
are all ways to use critical literacy in the classroom. Critical literacy helps the student to
start thinking more broadly and specific about the book or topic and help them
understand how to become life-long learners. Talk about why writers use certain effects
and how we read/interpret/understand the text based on those effects. Focus more on
how language can be used to include or exclude readers and questions about author’s
choices with the text and how it might affect the meaning. Engage in class discussions
about the whys and hows of the authors' portrayal of characters, or the point of view of
non-fiction texts; showing that how events are portrayed and interpreted will differ based
on the narrator. Guide students to look at a text holistically and determine how the
writers' presentation of the text information-structure affects ease of reading and
understanding. This is especially important in non-fiction texts where text structure and
HOW TO IMPROVE MULTIPLE LITERACY IN THE CLASSROOM USING NEW LITERACIES 26
vocabulary has to be understood for students to decipher the information effectively.
Word choice and plot selection are all up to the author. What do they want us to
believe? How do they want us to feel? Taking a critical look into writing and how an
author's decisions and views affect the text itself. Critical literacy helps teach students
understand how to view text from many variable viewpoints.
After exploring the use of digital technology in writing through research, previous
literature, personal and professional experiences, discussions, and collaboration, it was
determined that digital writing and technology can improve multiple literacy in the
classroom. Kathrene says, “I feel that we as a group have a better grasp of what it means
to teach in the “now” (as well as prepare for the future). By keeping up with the interests
of students and the ways that society is progressing technologically, we can hope to instill
greater learning patterns for our students. Additionally, we can help train them better for
college, the workforce, and the community by including digital technologies in their
lessons. A top goal is to help the students become life-long learners as well.”
Mishelle shares, “I now understand how important it is to plan using technology
from the beginning and within all content areas as opposed to waiting to use it for a
specific project. I know that I have not used digital writing tools or technology nearly
enough in my classroom, and I believe this will be one solution. I also know that more of
my focus needs to be on students' use of technology and creation of digital product within
all content areas. Yes, I will continue to find engaging ways to use technology for
instructional purposes, but my main goal is student learning and use of the tools. I also
HOW TO IMPROVE MULTIPLE LITERACY IN THE CLASSROOM USING NEW LITERACIES 27
know that I need to engage my students in more digital writing. My experience has been
a bit limited up until this point, and I now feel I have the knowledge to bring more digital
writing into my classroom.”
Tiffany explains, “I now know the importance of modeling writing and literacy
for my students as well as the importance of showing flaws. I was always trying to hide
my flaws to my students instead of embracing them and showing them how to overcome
mistakes. I relate more to teachers who I see as real people and I think that my students
would relate to me more as a person if I showed I too make mistakes. I also now believe
that by modeling to my students how to work through mistakes will help give them the
tools they need to work through their own mistakes.Incorporating literacy into every
subject and using technology, as a tool is the basis of the research we did. I learned the
importance of using technology as a tool to serve my lessons over creating lessons for the
sole purpose of utilizing technology. Technology should be used to supplement
information and lessons instead of be created.”
Kennie says, “We now know that usage of digital tools should be a normal part of
our instruction, not something to be added periodically. Digital tools should be
systematically introduced to the students with direct instruction on usage and internet
safety, so that they acquire a toolkit they can select from as needed for assignments.”
Britney shares, “I feel like I have learned so much about how to be a better
teacher through how I can incorporate the tools we have found and the ideas we have
established to have a more technology driven classroom. I also feel that I better
understand how to incorporate digital writing into all subject areas as well as literacy and
HOW TO IMPROVE MULTIPLE LITERACY IN THE CLASSROOM USING NEW LITERACIES 28
have learned some fun, engaging ways to do that in my classroom. I feel like I have a
better understanding on what it means to be literate and how to implement strategies that
will help my students do this.”
In “Beyond Technology for Technologies Sake” the authors refer to incorporating
technology as “a multi-literacies pedagogy”. Adopting a multi-literacies pedagogy in the
classroom allows students to learn through authentic experiences, supports challenging
and engaging aspects of reading and writing, and goes beyond “traditional literacy
objectives to support and advance the development of multi-literacies” (Borsheim,
Merritt, & Reed, 2008).
In order to establish multi-literacies pedagogy we must step away from the
mindset of occasionally integrating technology. We must instead think about our
objectives and how technology can influence the writing opportunity (Borsheim, Merritt,
& Reed, 2008). Through research and shared experiences we have seen how students
throughout all grade levels can utilize digital writing tools. There are many engaging
methods that students can use to share their writing, ideas and knowledge within all
subject areas, such as Wordles, Wikis, Blogs, digital research, Story/Book creator
applications, comic strip writing, and educational/social networking sites. As educators
we must allow our students the opportunity to utilize and explore a variety of these tools
to help ensure their success in our digital world.
HOW TO IMPROVE MULTIPLE LITERACY IN THE CLASSROOM USING NEW LITERACIES 29
Al-Hazza, T., & Lucking, R. (2012). An Examination of Preservice Teachers' View of
Multiliteracies: Habits, Perceptions, Demographics and Slippery Slopes. Reading
Improvement, 49(2), 59-72. Retrieved from:
Borsheim, C., Merritt, K., & Reed, D. (2008) Beyond Technology for Technology's Sake:
Advancing Multiliteracies in the Twenty-First Century. Clearing House, 82(2),
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NWP, DE Voss, D., AaDahl, E., and Hicks, T. (2010)Because digital writing matters:
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"Victor" Chen, D., Wu, J., & Wang, Y.(2011). Unpacking New Media Literacy Journal
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