Recognizing the "Literacy Education" in Media Literacy Education: Key Points Gleaned from a Trained Media Literacy Educator
by Kathy Garland
For three separate qualitative research projects, I had observed a veteran teacher use literacy pedagogy to support students’ media literacy (Garland & Marlowe, 2006; Garland, 2007; Garland, 2010). Marcie, now retired, used teaching practices centered on contemporary theories of literacy that she had studied for her Specialist degree in Media Literacy Education. In her university classes, Marcie had learned to integrate various multimodal texts, such as television shows, film, and advertisements to support her secondary students’ literacy practices. In addition to reader response theory (Rosenblatt, 1994), Marcie’s teaching was undergirded by Vygotsky’s (1978; 1987) theory of sociocultural learning and pedagogy that centralizes multiple forms of texts, such as media in literacy pedagogy (Buckingham, 2003; New London Group, 1996). Marcie not only studied these theories, but she also created and established a way to teach a high-school English language arts class elective centered on examining media from a sociocultural perspective.
Marcie named the Florida DOE approved elective “Literature in the Media.” Because of its elective designation, she had curricular freedom that might not be found in “traditional” language arts classes. Therefore, Marcie relied on her prominent theoretical background to plan lessons and units for the course; she understood that certain aspects were distinct for formal learning in social settings, and she believed that classrooms should mirror the ways that children naturally learn (Buckingham, 2003; Heath, 1983; NLG, 1996; Vygotsky, 1987). Subsequently, conducting several observations of Marcie’s pedagogy over the years revealed the following four components of sociocultural learning that were consistent in her use of media literacy education:
The remainder of this post describes how Marcie’s practice was driven by these theories so that students would formally learn about media.
by George Boggs
As Spring gives way to testing season and then to Summer, I take stock of another school year passed. This year was special because of surging public comment, local protest, and political action around the Common Core State Standards Initiative and testing. Mainstream news outlets run article after article playing up one “side” or another of the debate about a nationally standardized set of educational guidelines and the assessment infrastructure used to monitor systemic change. Several times this past year I met with one of the architects and advocates of Florida’s version of educational reform through assessment and value-added measures of teacher performance. With a background in activist literacies, I suddenly saw social connections crossing boundaries in the struggle over school reform. But the sides don’t exactly exist in the way we usually think about things existing. Instead, they are constructed in the arguments relating to the issues of testing and reform.
A new book called Digital Networking for School Reform compiles first-hand accounts of parents and teacher’s using digital literacies to get involved in the early stages of resistance to high stakes testing. A chapter I wrote with a colleague opens the book and offers a lens for seeing and studying responses to educational reform as critical digital literacies. Under the tile “Critical digital literacies and the struggle over what’s common,” we discuss online activist writing as composing community, making arguments in ways that not only take sides but make them. To bring out the critical element of these digital literacies, we argue that all communication marks an effort to make something common—a fitting model for discussing the educational reforms clustered around the Core standards initiative whose widespread acceptance or common-ness was one of its best selling points. Because language carries with it remembrance of former uses, history, and ideology, the process of making something common is inevitably political, with real winners and losers. So as we examine the landscape of the educational reforms under discussion today, we see the arguments and the provisional sides they construct as an exciting object of study.
The literacies that develop around online communication that enable people to change their world we are calling critical digital literacies. Looking at school reform composition as an area of research has led from the book chapter to an LRA paper proposal to explore critical digital literacies and the analytical tools for understanding their role in educational reform. In the paper we use systemic functional grammar and visual literacy models to observe the communicative processes that project commonality and make sides in these complex conversations.
The book is available through Amazon and other outlets (http://goo.gl/bhR2xL).
by Raúl A. Mora, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Medellín (Colombia)
While there has been research related to reading and writing in language teacher education in Colombia, research on 21st century literacies (Morrell, 2012) is a rather new field. Presentations related to topics such as multimodality (Kress, 2010), new literacies (Lankshear & Knobel, 2011), or multiliteracies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009) are still scarce. That has been my main motivation to pursue this particular line of inquiry about the new ways to understand literacy (Mora, 2011), both in English (Mora, 2009) and Spanish (Mora, 2012). Since I returned home in 2010, I have been working with my students at the undergraduate and graduate levels to develop lines of inquiry related to 21st century literacies. At present, there are a number of initiatives related to this area, which I would like to share with other colleagues and scholars.
Second Language Literacies in Medellín – Physical, Cultural, and Virtual Spaces as Language Interplay
The Literacy research line of the Student Research Group on Second Languages (Twitter: @srg_l2_upb), which I currently chair, intends to inquire how people in Medellín are appropriating and playing with second languages (Mora, 2013) in diverse spaces. To do this, we are relying on a framework we call “City as Literacy” (Mora, Castaño, Gómez, & Pulgarín, 2013), which draws from New Literacy Studies (Hamilton, 2000; Street, 2013), multimodality (Kress, 2010), polylanguaging (Jørgensen, Karrebæk, Madsen & Møller, 2011), and metrolingualism (Otsuji & Pennycook, 2010). With this framework, we are looking at, in this case, English, as a resource that emerges in different spaces in the city.
In our first research study, we have been exploring how people in physical (i.e. related to actual edifices, such as restaurants) and cultural (i.e. related to social interactions, such as the culture of tattoos) spaces (Edwards & Usher, 2008) are using English and what kind of messages emerge. Our findings (Mora, Castaño, Gómez, Pulgarín, Mejía-Vélez, & Ramírez, 2013; Mora, Gómez, Castaño, Pulgarín, Ramírez, & Mejía-Velez, 2013; Mora, Ramírez, Pulgarín, Mejía-Vélez, Castaño & Gómez, forthcoming are showing that people are playing with English as a way to promote their own identity as members of the city, as a space to break taboo norms in language use, and as a way to affirm certain personal stories and narratives. We have also discovered that use transcends the traditional use of English in names of establishments (Velez-Rendon, 2003) to offer more complex messages ranging from inspiration to irony, to name two.
We are at present on the early stages of a second study, where we will look at English literacies in the context of video games. In this study, the affiliated researchers are exploring both how other youth use English as a resource in these gaming communities and how they themselves rely on gaming to enhance their appropriation experience (Mora, Peláez, Jaramillo, Rojas-Echeverri, Castaño, & Zuluaga, forthcoming).
Multimodal Texts as Interplay of Academic and Colloquial Discourses
The notion of multimodality (Kress, 2010; Serafini, 2011; Vasudevan & Reilly, 2013) and its intent to integrate modes as communication resources (synaesthesia, Kalantzis & Cope, 2012) creates a space for the development of very interesting texts, full of more complex meanings. Both my preservice teachers and master’s students have been exploring the development of multimodal texts to describe different issues related to education.
With my graduate students, in the context of my graduate-level seminar on “literacies in second language contexts”, one of their assignments is the creation of multimodal essays to describe how they begin to see literacy practices and multimodal messages in a different light in their own teaching and their schools. With my undergraduate students, in one of my courses we introduced the development of multimodal texts first to discuss how they begin to create their identity as teachers. This semester, some of my students will create multimodal texts to present their first version of a philosophy of teaching statement whereas others have been playing with multimodal texts to create their performances of slam poetry they composed.
These are just two examples of some of our efforts to introduce 21st century literacies in our teacher education programs. Our early successes give us hope that we are in the right direction. I am optimistic that we will be able to engage in larger conversations about this topic and be active participants in the worldwide debates and directions for the field of 21st century literacies. This short text, then, is a solid first step in that direction.
Cope, B. & Kalantzis, M. (2009). “Multiliteracies”: New literacies, new learning. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 4(3), 164-195. doi:10.1080/15544800903076044
Hamilton, M. (2000). Expanding the New Literacy Studies: Using photographs to explore literacy as social practice. En D. Barton, M. Hamilton & R. Ivanič (Eds.), Situated Literacies: Reading and Writing in Context (pp. 15-32). Londres: Routledge.
Jørgensen, J. N., Karrebæk, M.S., Madsen, L. M. & Møller, J. S. (2011). Polylanguaging in superdiversity. Diversities, 13(2), 23-38.
Kalantzis, M. & Cope, B. (2012). Literacies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London, UK: Routledge.
Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2011). New literacies: Everyday practices and social learning (3rd Ed.). New York, NY: Open University Press.
Mora, R. A. (2009). It’s not how literate we are, but how we are literate. ASOCOPI Newsletter, August, 2-4.
Mora R. A. (2011, September). Understanding what literacy is and where it comes from: lessons and Implications from a study of teachers and teacher educators. Keynote Presentation at the 14th National ELT Conference, Bogotá D.C., Colombia
Mora, R. A. (2012b). Literacidad y el aprendizaje de lenguas: nuevas formas de entender los mundos y las palabras de nuestros estudiantes (Literacy and language learning: new ways to understand our students’ words and worlds). Revista Internacional Magisterio, 58, 52-56.
Mora, R. A. (2013). The notion of second languages: Responding to today’s linguistic ecologies. The Journal for ESL Teachers and Learners, Vol. II, 53-61.
Mora R. A., Castaño, M., Gómez, N., & Pulgarín C. (2013, May). The City as Literacy: A Study of English Practices in Medellín's Urban Spaces. Paper presented at the Ninth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Mora, R. A., Castaño, M., Gómez, N., Pulgarín C., Mejía-Vélez, M. C., & Ramírez, N. (2013, August). Repensando las lenguas y lenguajes en la ciudad: Un análisis de prácticas en segundas lenguas en espacios urbanos en Medellín (Rethinking language and languages in the city: An analysis of second language practices in urban spaces in Medellín). Paper presented at the XXX Social Science Symposium – International Seminar, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Medellín, Colombia.
Mora, R. A., Gómez, N., Castaño, M., Pulgarín, C., Ramírez, N., & Mejía-Velez, M. C. (2013, November). Urban Englishes in the (still?) Expanding Circle: An analysis of English literacy practices in urban spaces in Medellín. Paper presented at the 19th Conference of the International Association for World Englishes, Arizona State University, USA.
Mora, R. A., Peláez, S., Jaramillo, M., Rojas-Echeverri, B. E., Castaño, S. & Zuluaga, A. (forthcoming). English literacies and video game communities: A digital ethnography. Forthcoming paper presentation at the Tenth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.
Mora, R. A., Ramírez, N., Pulgarín, C., Mejía-Velez, M. C., Castaño, M., & Gómez, N. (forthcoming). An ethnography of English literacies in the city: Discoveries and pedagogical implications. Forthcoming paper presentation at the Tenth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.
Morrell, E. (2012). 21st-century literacies, critical media pedagogies, and language arts. The Reading Teacher, 66(4), 300-302. doi:10.1002/TRTR.01125
Otsuji, E. & Pennycook, A. (2010). Metrolingualism: fixity, fluidity and language in flux. International Journal of Multilingualism, 7(3), 240-254. doi:10.1080/14790710903414331
Serafini, F. (2011). Expanding perspectives for comprehending visual images in multimodal texts. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(5), 342-350. doi:10.1598/JAAL.54.5.4
Street, B. (2013). New Literacy Studies. In M. Grenfell, D. Bloome, C. Hardy, K. Pahl, J. Rowsell, & B. Street (Eds.), Language, Ethnography, and Education: Bridging New Literacy Studies and Bourdieu. New York, NY: Routledge.
Vasudevan, L. & Reilly, M. A. (2013). In the middle of something: Reflections on multimodal inquiry as artful bricolage. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 56(6), 455-459. doi:10.1002/JAAL.165
For examples of our current projects related to multimodal texts, visit:
http://contentareaenglishupb.wordpress.com/ (Examples coming in May)
Ekaterina Rybakova and Shelbie Witte
As much as we want to teach a majority of young adult literature in the 6-12th English/Language arts classroom, the reality of teaching a canonical text, whether by choice, by district or school requirement, or by curriculum, isa challenge for many of us who strive to engage our students in text as mirrors experiences. We make this clear as we challenged our pre-service teachers taking a class on adolescent young adult literature to create reading ladders culminating in a complex, canonical text. Ideally, a teacher wouldn’t jump directly into Romeo and Juliet in the 9th grade without scaffold. The idea of reading ladders, stemming from Lesesne’s (2010) research on the concept, allows gradual development of reading strategies and motivation that closes a theme with a complex text.
Lesesne’s (2010) book Reading Ladders highlights issues with incorporating young adult literature in the English classroom, and focuses on how to do so in a way that doesn’t overwhelm students. There is a misconception, she says, that YAL is less literary than canonical texts taught in the classroom (Lesesne, 2010). We need to incorporate books that are not written by “dead white guys” (Wolk, 2010) and instead that speak to today’s students, to real life (Lesesne, 2010).
We challenge our pre-service teachers, then, to create a ladder, or a series of books or materials that relate to a specific theme, time period, or even author, with the end text being a different canonical text for every student. The caveat is to utilize such text that both prepares students for the complex canonical text while still engaging students and motivating them to engage in the text they provide. As Lattimer (2010) suggests, texts that motivate students are first and foremost an authentic experience, an experience that connects the text to the real lives of students. Authentic texts, Lattimer (2010) suggests, include everything from scientific research articles to ads to websites to poems to media to song lyrics.
After suggesting ways of tying in texts from different avenues into their reading ladders, the pre-service teachers in our class embarked on the journey to make sometimes dry texts more engaging, and the experience with them both useful and informational. We are pleased to share our students work, of course with their permission, with you, and hope that these can be useful tools for all teachers trying to break the mold, scaffold and motivate, and continue to find ways to engage their students to become lifelong readers.
To see the Reading Ladders, look under the Theory to Practice Connections section of this site.
Lattimer, H. (2010). Reading for learning: Using discipline-based texts to build content knowledge. Urbana, Illinois: NCTE.
Lesesne, T. (2010). Reading ladders: Leading students from where they are to where we’d like them to be. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Wolk, S. (2010). What should students read? Phi Delta Kappan, 91(7), 8-16.
Enhancing literacy and 21st Century Skills: Attending to 'practices' and 'events' in English teacher education
Barbara G. Pace
English Education & Media Literacy Education
University of Florida
As a scholar and teacher at the University of Florida, I have developed face-to-face and online courses that are designed to increase educators’ awareness of how technology and literacy might intersect. These courses promote a sociocultural view of learning and focus on expanding teachers’ perspectives of literacy. Content is based on teaching media literacy and on using popular culture to anchor literacy events.
One of the courses, Technology and Media Literacy, is the capstone course in the graduate English Education program at UF. Because it was designed for future English teachers who will work specifically in the area of literacy, the focus on understanding the nature of literacy is robust. Future English teachers are challenged to re-vision literacy and to think of the various ways it might be practiced or displayed. We talk specifically about the teacher’s role as a “designer” of literacy events, and we identify the kinds of literacy practices that make up the English language arts.
The most recent offerings of Technology and Media Literacy have included the use of Web 2.0 applications and of iPads. During each assignment, students analyzed how literacy events and practices were embedded in the use of technology. For example, when they used Xtranormal to render their favorite literary passage as an animated short, they deconstructed the process to identify literacy practices and to relate those practices to standards. Similarly, when they used iPads to create a “Media and Me” comic book, they evaluated 21st Century literacy practices (Leu et al, 2004) that had been part of the project, such as locating and collecting information, evaluating and filtering information, redesigning content/information, and composing/communicating information.
Prospective teachers enjoy these classes and engage enthusiastically in these classroom literacy events. Furthermore, two empirical studies have provided evidence that many of these teaching candidates do develop a more nuanced understanding of literacy. In an initial study, (Pace, Rodesiler, & Tripp, 2010), we found that most students had developed a view of literacy as more than reading and writing. They also demonstrated a beginning awareness of the usefulness of Web 2.0 and included web-based applications in lesson plans for the final project though they were not required to do so. All of the students were energized by the ideas for using popular culture in their classrooms.
Despite the general success of these classes, the above study and a second study (Pace, Krell, Rodesiler, 2012) sounded a cautionary note by exposing the challenges of pressing prospective teachers to think more fully about “literacy” and its realization in practice. In each study, a small group of students identified a troubling gap between the understandings of literacy that we proposed and the forms of literacy that dominated field placements. Many students also claimed that technology was not a viable option in most classrooms.
Given the climate of schools and the pressure on teachers, we were not surprised by the distress these students voiced. We are still working to respond, to consider how we might make a more hybrid space for talking about the constraints that shape and redefine teacher work, the English language arts, and literacy.
Leu, D. J., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J. L., & Cammack, D. W. (2004). Toward a theory of new literacies emerging from the internet and other information and communication technologies. Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading, 5, 1570-1613. Retrieved from Google Scholar.
Pace, B.G., Rodesiler, L.B., & Tripp, L. (2010). Pre-service English teachers and Web 2.0: Teaching and learning with digital applications. In C. D. Maddux, D. Gibson, & B. Dodge (Eds.), Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education (pp. 177-187). Chesapeake, VA: Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education.
Pace, B.G., Krell, D., Rodesiler, L.B. (2012). Negotiating troubled fields: Hybridity and opportunity in English teacher education practicums and internships. Presentation at the National Council of Teachers of English Research Assembly Conference, February 25, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Research, 15(2), 4-14.
by Kathy Garland
Mrs. T.: Have you seen the Halle Berry version of Their Eyes Were Watching God? Just wondering about your thoughts…
KG: I haven’t, but I think I might use that or Gatsby movie this fall with undergrads. What did you think?
Mrs. T.: It [Their Eyes] is the worst movie I’ve ever seen. I literally threw the book at the SmartBoard today while we were watching it in class. They change and re-write metaphors and key scenes. It’s just torturous. Anyway, I did show Gatsby and I am absolutely in love with it. It does have some differences from the text, but it makes you love the text even more.
I immediately located the film, which you can view for free via YouTube. My teacher friend was right. The made-for-TV movie is not an ideal version of the iconic novel. Several key parts are diluted, and as a result make integral chapters and themes seem irrelevant. However, no matter how terrible, I would still encourage language arts teachers to show the film. But I’ll get back to this point in a minute.
This recent and timely conversation about how and when language arts teachers should use popular culture is where my past and current work is situated. For four years, I had the opportunity to observe one high-school English teacher’s use of media literacy education (the formal study of media). One important part of the class required that students learn film language as a means for analysis and evaluation; the teacher’s purpose was to help them attain media literacy, “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a variety of forms” (Aufderheide, 1993, n.p.). However, close examination of her class demonstrated that students were not only becoming more proficient with “reading” media, but they were also developing and using literacy practices that closely resembled what many teachers expect in traditional English classes (Garland, 2010). More specifically, these students exhibited the initial phases of critical literacy.
My study (2010) and others (Boske & McCormack, 2011; Hobbs, 2007; Kist, 2005; Morrell, 2004) have shown that examining the nuances of popular film is a culturally relevant way for teaching secondary students to pay close attention to their mediated worlds. Whether we deem films “good” or “bad,” students can learn to critically think about movies that they may otherwise passively view. If we continue with Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005) as an example, students might benefit from a conversation about the similarities and differences between director’s purpose versus author’s purpose. Why would the director choose to exclude scenes that advance the plot of the written novel, especially when those scenes support a feminist lens? Does the director’s gender influence such exclusions? Whatever the answer, these types of questions about director’s omissions of texts can help students develop a critical view of movies and literature. Other publications I’ve written also provide research-based methods that would help frame lessons centered on directors’ decisions (Garland, 2011; Garland & Smith, 2013). These lessons demonstrate how literature-based films, such as Percy Jackson (2010) and The Lorax (2012) omit and add texts that subsequently affect plot, characters and message.
One current movie that many language arts teachers seem to agree upon using is The Great Gatsby (2013). Mrs. T. and I concur. She and I both appreciate it as a “good” film version of a novel; however, our love is based on two different reasons. According to her, “it makes you love the text even more,” which is a common rationale language arts teachers use for showing movie renditions of books (Day, 2010; Jolley, 2009). But my love of the popular film is due in part to the purposeful way that Baz Luhrmann weaves rap music and jazz into the movie’s text and narrative. What might high-school students’ opinions be? After reading the novel, students could also consider other pertinent questions. For example, should a movie strictly follow the author’s written text? How important is it for a movie to reflect aspects of current society (e.g., Gatsby)? The questions asked are bound to promote student thought and initiate critical perspectives.
How are you integrating film with language arts? No matter if you’re showing the movies that make English teachers cringe (e.g., Romeo and Juliet, 1996) or the ones that we anticipate viewing with students, feel free to share the experiences that you’ve had with teaching, studying or using popular films in academic settings. I’d love to hear about the film choices that you’ve made or are thinking about making.
Aufderheide, P. (1993). Report on the National Leadership Conference. Washington, DC: Aspen Institute.
Boske, C., & McCormack, S. (2011). Building an understanding of the role of media literacy for Latino/a high school students. High School Journal, 94(4), 167–186.
Day, J. (2010). Of mice and media. English Journal, 100(1), 70–75.
Garland, K. E., & Smith, S. (2013). Exploring the core with in-depth popular film analysis: How students can create a film review using a critical media literacy framework. Florida English Journal, 6-12.
Garland, K. (2011). Re-viewing popular film adaptations of young adult literature using
three contemporary literacy strategies. Signal, 34(2), 19–24.
Garland, K. (2010). Literacy practices in an English language arts elective: An examination of how students respond to media literacy education. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (Publication number 3436333).
Hobbs, R. (2007). Reading the media: Media literacy in high school English.
New York: Teachers College Press.
Jolley, S. A. (2009). Connecting to conscience: Shakespeare and Woody Allen. English
Journal, 98(3), 73–79.
Kist, W. (2005). New literacies in action: Teaching and learning in multiple
media. New York: Teachers College Press.
Luhrmann, B. [Director], & Wick, D., Fisher, L., Martin, C., & Knapman, C. [Producers] (2013).
The Great Gatsby. United States: Warner Brothers.
Luhrmann, B. [Director], & Luhrmann, B. and Martinelli, G. [Producers] (1996). Romeo and
Juliet. United States: 20th Century Fox.
Martin, D. [Director], & Carlisle, M., Jones, Q., & Winfrey, O. [Producers]. (2005). Their eyes
were watching God. United States: ABC, Harpo Films.
Morrell, E. (2004). Linking literacy and popular culture: Finding connections for
lifelong learning. Norwood, MA: Christopher Gordon-Publishers, Inc.
Renaud, C. and Balda, K. [Directors], & Meledandri, C. and Healy, J. [Producers] (2012). The
lorax. [DVD]. United States: Universal Pictures.
*Special thanks to Mrs. T. for allowing me to share our personal conversation.
by Amy Piotrowski
Marc Prensky (2001) refers to students who have grown up in the early 21st Century as “digital natives,” claiming that, “students today are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games, and the Internet” (1). Digital natives are now in teacher education programs, seeking to become the next generation of classroom teachers. Do digital native preservice teachers come to teacher education programs fluent in technology? Do digital natives already know how to use technology tools and know how to integrate technology tools into their teaching practices? Have digital natives made educational technology coursework obsolete?
No, a review of the research literature suggests.
I conducted a review of 12 empirical studies examining the perceptions and beliefs of preservice teachers regarding technology integration. I was interested in how preservice teachers learn about technology tools and how to use these tools in the classroom with students. Since several studies use the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge framework as a theoretical basis (Jordan, 2011; Koehler, Mishra, & Yahya, 2007; Koh & Divaharan, 2011; Schmidt, et al., 2009), I included in the review Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) and Koehler and Mishra’s (2009) explanations of the TPACK framework.
The research shows that preservice teachers benefit from instruction in technology tools and technology integration. Jing (2009) as well as Kumar and Vigil (2011) found that preservice teachers spend lots of time using social networking tools, but that preservice teachers have little experience with other Web 2.0 tools. In other words, many preservice teachers report using Facebook, but few preservice teachers have used potentially useful tools such as Wikispaces, Wordpress, or Diigo. Anderson and Maninger (2007) concluded that teacher education coursework that included instruction in technology tools and technology integration raised preservice teachers’ measures of self-efficacy and confidence in using technology in their future classrooms. Jordan (2011) found that preservice teachers were concerned about solving technical problems in their classrooms, suggesting that education technology courses should prepare students to troubleshoot issues with technology when they arise. Pasternak (2007) reports that her preservice teachers “want to be comfortable with the technology with which they intend to practice” (p. 151). Preservice teachers report a need for experience using technology tools before using these tools in the classroom.
The findings of Mishra and Koehler (2006) and Schmidt, et al. (2009) suggest that technology integration should be taught in content area education courses, not stand alone educational technology courses. Mishra and Koehler (2006) argue, “Quality teaching requires developing a nuanced understanding of the complex relationships between technology, content, and pedagogy, and using this understanding to develop appropriate, context-specific strategies and representations” (p. 1029). In other words, technology integration is “context bound” and depends on the content being taught (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p. 1032). Young and Bush (2004) argue from the viewpoint of English Education that technology integration should be purposeful, based on the pedagogical goals of English Language Arts courses and that English Language Arts teachers should critically think about which technologies will enable their students to develop needed literacies.
It would certainly be problematic for teacher educators to assume that preservice teachers already know technology tools and how to teach with them. Knowing how to teach effectively with technology is not something preservice teachers are born with or pick up from today’s digital culture – it’s something preservice teachers need to learn in teacher education programs.
Anderson, S. & Maninger, R. (2007). Preservice teachers’ abilities, beliefs, and intentions regarding technology integration. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 37(2), 151-172.
Beach, R., & Doering, A. (2002). Preservice English teachers acquiring literacy practices through technology tools. Language, Learning, and Technology, 6(3), 127-146.
Jing, L. (2009). Digital natives as preservice teachers: What technology preparation is needed? Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 25(3), 87-97.
Jordan, K. (2011). Beginning teacher knowledge: Results from a self-assessed TPACK survey. Australian Educational Computing, 26(1), 16-26.
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (CITE Journal), 9(1), 60-70.
Koehler, M. J., Mishra, P., & Yahya, K. (2007). Tracing the development of teacher knowledge in a design seminar: Integrating content, pedagogy and technology. Computers & Education, 49(3), 740-762.
Koh, J. H., & Divaharan, S. (2011). Developing pre-service teachers' technology integration expertise through the TPACK-developing instructional model. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 44(1), 35-58.
Kumar, S., & Vigil, K. (2011). The net generation as preservice teachers: Transferring familiarity with new technologies to educational environments. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 27(4), 144-153.
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M.J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for integrating technology in teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.
National Council of Teachers of English. (2008). Position statement: The NCTE definition of 21st century literacies. Retrieved November 27, 2012, from http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/21stcentdefinition
Pasternak, D.L. (2007). Is technology used as practice? A survey analysis of preservice English teachers’ perceptions and classroom practices. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 7(3), 140-157.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.
Schmidt, D., Baran, E., Thompson, A., Mishra, P., Koehler, M., & Shin, T. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK): The development and validation of an assessment instrument for preservice teachers. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(2), 123-149.
Young, C.A., & Bush, J. (2004). Teaching the English language arts with technology: A critical approach and pedagogical framework. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. 4(1), 1-22.
by Sergio Yanes
There’s no doubt that technology has increased the pace of our world. With the automation of menial tasks --- such as remembering a phone number --- we find ourselves trying to accomplish more things, master more subjects, consume more information. Social media evolves daily to find more effective ways of communication, as if 160 characters is really all we need to say everything we have to say. Our to-do lists grow longer, and soon, our lives are reduced to a series of checkboxes we are desperately racing to finish. In this light-speed world, we often have to remind ourselves that there is a world to experience. That we need to slow down and see, instead of just look. We find ourselves in a world that is only an inch deep.
Our students find themselves in a more chaotic predicament: They are natives in a world that changes vastly every 5 minutes. From a teacher’s perspective, this can be a logistical nightmare! I’ve heard fellow teachers complaining about everything from students’ shortened attention spans to their lack of motivation in completing even the simplest of tasks (Perhaps that simplicity is the problem…). But, aren’t these all criticisms that have been flying out of teachers’ mouths since the dawn of public education? It’s about time we take a look at ourselves and our practices. We need to stop blaming our students for not living in the world we grew up in.
First, we need to come to terms with the fact that the world is changing. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the US has been speeding towards some unknown goal. So, what can we do? Students process information; it’s an adaptation to a faster world. They need to understand themselves in order to understand the world. It’s up to us, the teachers, to slow them down and help them understand what they do. I’m not talking about procedural tasks or specific information they need to know. I’m talking about taking that information or skill and putting it to use. I’m talking about destroying their inner automatons and making act and live deliberately (Thank you, Thoreau). Slow down. Take a look around. Question why the world is the way it is.
Second, we need to forget everything we know about traditional teaching. Vygotsky wasn’t kidding when he said that learning is democratic. Dewey wasn’t lying when he wrote that students need to experience life from within the schoolhouse. The classroom isn’t a reservoir of information anymore. Then again, was it ever? In this world where every byte of information is available at the swipe of a thumb, we need to teach students to screen through information. Play with it. Shake it up. In other words, the classroom needs to be the sandbox of information. Students need to manipulate and reshape—sometimes, just to see what could happen, but often to be able to make sense of their reality.
We have learned to adapt, and so should our students. We do that by mirroring and replicating the tasks they will be asked to complete when they leave the sandbox. Instead of telling students that “this skill will help them out in the ‘real world,’” we need to accept that this already is the real world. So, instead of preparing students to live in the race toward some unknown future, we need to prepare them to live now.
by Amy Piotrowski
As technology has advanced, new tools for learning have made their way into the classroom, along with strategies for how to teach with these tools. School districts and principals expect new teachers to be prepared to integrate technology in ways that increase student engagement and academic achievement. Two teachers in Colorado decided to use Internet technologies to post lectures online for their students who missed class. The strategy of the flipped classroom took off from there and has gained popularity the past few years. Preservice teachers may find themselves working in a school that wants to flip classroom instruction, and that’s where teacher education courses come in.
The flipped classroom is defined by high school chemistry teachers Bergmann and Sams (2012) as a classroom in which “that which is traditionally done in class is now done at home, and that which is traditionally done as homework is now completed in class” (p. 13). They have their students watch video lectures at home, freeing up class time for practice with the concepts introduced in the lectures. Because the flipped model changes what is done in class, it also changes the teacher’s role. Bermann and Sams (2012) explain that “We are no longer the presenters of information; instead, we take on more of a tutorial role” as they go around the classroom, helping students who have questions or need additional instruction (p. 14). Other benefits of the flipped classroom, according to Bermann and Sams, is that the videos allow students who are absent to avoid falling behind and that the videos allow for mastery learning, in which students move through learning objectives at their own pace.
English teachers have been flipping their classrooms in low-tech ways for years. Many English teachers assign reading to be done at home so that the next day can be spent discussing the novel or play that the class is studying. But how can English teachers take advantage of Internet technologies in their teaching practices? Because there is so little empirical research on the flipped classroom and on preservice teachers learning to flip their classrooms, I conducted a qualitative case study focusing on four preservice secondary English Language Arts teachers. The study was guided by the following research questions: Do preservice teachers who have been introduced to flipped lessons in an education course plan on implementing flipped lessons in their classrooms? If so, how do preservice teachers plan on implementing flipped lessons in their classrooms? What benefits and drawbacks do preservice teachers anticipate when they consider implementing flipped lessons in their future classrooms?
The preservice teachers in this study took an online English Education course called Enhancing Teaching With Technology during the summer of 2013. I collected three sources of data: interviews with participants, the online posts participants wrote for the class, and participants’ Flipped Classroom/Digital Media Projects. For the Flipped Classroom/Digital Media Project, preservice teachers created a series of three flipped lessons on a topic of their choosing and then posted their flipped lessons online.
Participants reported a positive impression of the flipped classroom after learning about it in Enhancing Teaching With Technology. All four participants reported that they plan to teach flipped lessons in the future and that the experience of creating their own flipped lessons was valuable. They saw how students benefit from having the teacher present and available to help as students work with new concepts and information. One participant called the practice of presenting material in class and then sending students home to complete an assignment “useless” because the teacher isn’t there when she’s needed. Another participant said that flipping the classroom “allows students to be more active in the classroom, rather than passively sitting and listening to the lecture during class time.” Participants also reported that the flipped classroom makes learning relevant by affording active learning using technology. For students who may need some information repeated, they can watch the video lessons as many times as they want.
The participants also discussed advantages to flipping the classroom for teachers. Since teachers can film multiple takes, they can edit and perfect their lessons before posting them online. Teachers can also go back and watch their videos as a way to reflect on ways to improve their teaching. One participant pointed out that teachers “can go back and evaluate yourself in a more concrete way than just thinking back, ‘Well, a couple of years ago I did a lecture on this. I don’t know how it went.’ You know, you can actually look at your flipped classroom lessons and get better and better.”
Study participants saw some potential drawbacks to flipping their classrooms. Some students may not have a computer or Internet access at home to watch the videos. Students may not watch the videos at home even if they can watch them, so flipping the classroom may not be a cure-all for unmotivated students. Parents and students may be wary of a new way of teaching and learning. One participant told me that “some people are afraid of change, and parents may become concerned that this style of learning would not be as effective for their children as the original style they may have had when they were students.”
One of the flipped classroom’s most concerning drawbacks is that while the teacher is there when students are working in class, the teacher is not there when the student watches the video lesson. What do students do when they have a question while watching the video at home? Two participants addressed this problem in their Flipped Lessons/Digital Media Projects. At the end of each video lesson, the preservice teachers directed their students to the class blog. On the class blog, students were instructed to post a summary of the lesson, a response to what they learned, and any questions they had after watching the video. Blogging can be a way for a flipped lesson to be more interactive, for students to ask questions while those questions are still fresh on their mind after viewing the lesson, and for teachers to check that students are watching the videos. The participants said that they believed that flipped lessons should be interactive. Blogs provide a way for that to happen.
I found that the participants created lessons about a variety of topics using a variety of tools. Their lessons were about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the novel Mansfield Park, the Hero’s Journey, and grammar. To create their lessons, they used Prezi, Power Point, SooMeta, screencasting tools, and clips from YouTube. By using these various tools to teach lessons on various topics, these preservice teachers built their Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, or TPACK (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). It seems to me from watching the participants’ flipped lesson videos that it is not enough to just make a film or screencast of the same old lecture that teachers have done for years. By using images and video clips from popular culture, the participants used technology to bring in material they otherwise could not have brought into the lesson. How can teacher educators work with preservice teachers to make flipped lessons not just viewable, but relevant and meaningful? How can different technology tools be used to make lessons engaging?
Participants said that they enjoyed creating their own flipped lessons. They reported that they would like to see a flipped classroom in action so that they can better understand how to handle the daily logistics of teaching flipped lessons. One participant said that flipping his classroom is “actually enhancing my teaching because I can focus on what’s really important in the lessons in the classroom.” Flipping the classroom allows teachers to spend class time on what’s best done in the classroom while using Internet and digital technologies to deliver content that students can review outside of class. Teacher education programs have the task of preparing preservice teachers for classrooms where technology will change how teaching is done.
For more on this research, go to http://www.amypiotrowski.com/preservice-teachers-and-flipped-classroom.html
For more on TPACK, go to http://www.tpack.org
Bergmann, J. & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. Eugene, Oregon: ISTE.
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (CITE Journal), 9(1), 60-70.
by Jose Paco Fiallos
I am an average 30-something living in 2014: I upgrade my smart phone at the earliest chance; all of my devices in my home are connected to the internet, even my air conditioner; I am part of many social media networks. I was raised with technology, from video games to personal computers to A/V equipment. But in my classroom I am something of an anachronism. Most of the technology that I am fluent with in my life gets checked at the door.
I have been to many presentations advancing this or that tech tool that would revolutionize the English classroom. I work with many teachers who live and die by their class social network, their smart board, their tablet computer, or their students’ use of apps on their cell phones. I, too, use these tools at various times in my own class, but never as the centerpiece.
I think I might be a little biased against technology when it comes to instruction. Maybe it comes from observing counties and school administrators using funds for new technologies that they then don’t provide training for, or that don’t have any immediate purpose in the classroom and so become little more than expensive toys gathering dust. Or maybe it’s because our textbooks are out of date and class sets of novels are constantly deteriorating. And as the debate over whether to convert to entirely digital textbooks and assigning each student their own tablet computer continues, important decisions about texts get pushed back.
Education, as a system, is a little too reactionary, I think. Or maybe impulsive is a better word. As educators we know that there are problems with some aspects of the system, from curriculum, to instruction, to assessment. And wouldn’t it be simple if there was a single piece of technology, or even a suite of tech tools that would address those problems and just make everything better?
There are tools being used effectively by teachers. I know it happens. And so I guess I am just a stodgy old English teacher who is tied to books and pen and paper; ink on the page, so to speak. And as such, I think that any tool, whether it be high or low tech, should not impede access to text in any way. Rather, technology should only serve as a means of increasing access, or even better, broadening the definition of what text is.
So maybe this will serve as a new beginning for me. It is helpful to state in concrete terms, putting digital ink to digital paper, what my own tech goals are.