Exploring New Literacies in a Teacher Education

Exploring New Literacies in a Teacher Education
Course: Developing Conceptions
and Instructional Approaches
Cheryl Rosaen, [email protected]
Michigan State University
Marj Terpstra, [email protected]
Calvin College
MSU Literacy Achievement Research Center
Presentation at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research
Association, December, 2010
This study examined 25 teacher candidates’ written work
produced during an Exploring New Literacies Project. Candidates
learned about new literacies through course readings and their
own research, employed a new technology in teaching colleagues
about a new literacy, recorded notes on their learning, created
and updated concept maps representing their effective literacy
instruction ideas, wrote a final reflection on their learning, and
constructed a new literacies lesson plan. The analysis revealed
that students developed a more comprehensive view of new
literacies, but did not fully employ these understandings in their
instructional planning. Implications for further course project
development and further research questions are identified and
Share our practices and challenges
in preparing teacher candidates for
teaching and learning with
new literacies
We hope to stimulate dialogue among
teacher educators around pedagogical
challenges and promising approaches.
Challenge #1: New Literacies Require New
Approaches to K-12 Teaching and Learning
Teachers need to…
• go beyond teaching
students to engage in
traditional practices of
reading, writing, speaking,
listening and viewing
• recognize the social,
situated nature of multiple
literacies both in and out of
• use technologies to create
multi-modal social
environments for inquiry
and communication
Image: http://blog.bluephoenixnetwork.com/2010/05/27/text-messages-in-the-classroom-educational-tool-or-liability/
Challenge #2: New Literacies Require New
Approaches to Teacher Preparation
• Teacher candidates must learn to…
– help K-12 students develop the required literacies
for using both existing and future digital and print
– engage K-12 students in meaningful literacy
practices in a variety of social contexts
Connecting Past with Present Experiences
• Teacher candidates may view the texts and
genres they read/wrote about in school as
disconnected from the multi-modal or hybrid
texts they are reading and writing in out-ofschool contexts
Our Pedagogical Challenge
• Teacher candidates see few
models of classroom uses of
today’s new literacies
• How can we help them
learn to design instruction
that engages their own
students in reading and
writing multi-modal or
hybrid texts?
• How can tools such as
podcasting, digital
storytelling, or online social
networks become a part of
authentic learning in their
language arts curriculum?
Image: http://buzzsonic.com/category/podcasting/
The New
• Goal 1: expand teacher
candidates’ conception of
literacy and prompt
reflection on their learning
• Goal 2: develop teacher
candidates’ digital literacy
and prompt reflection on
their learning
• Goal 3: stimulate teacher
candidates’ thinking about
how they might use their
insights to teach new
literacies (including digital
literacy) in their own K-5
Image: http://www.networksierra.org/
New Literacy
• Take digital natives quiz
• Use wiki to explore new
• Post an interesting
definition of literacy on
Explore one new literacy
• Use a new technology to
teach colleagues about
your new literacy and post
on wiki
• Blog: take notes on your
Image: http://www.networksierra.org/
Virtual Class
• View colleagues’
• Evaluate and
provide written
feedback to one
• Respond to one
colleague’s blog
• Blog: What does it mean to
provide “effective literacy
instruction” to diverse
learners and how do the new
literacy and new technology
you explored inform your
• Blog: Develop a lesson plan
that helps students at your
grade level learn something
new that would help them be
successful in using the new
technology to teach their
peers about a new literacy.
Image: http://www.networksierra.org/
Excerpts: Visual Literacy Scrapblog
“…self-study is about the
learning from experience that is
embedded within teachers
creating new experiences for
themselves and those whom
they teach” (Russell, 1998, pp. 56)
2 Teacher Educators
• Instructor, senior-level literacy
methods course
• Technology Support Educator
2 Cohorts of Elementary Teacher
Candidates (n=51)
• 46 females
• 5 males
Teacher Educators
• How did our conception of literacy
change over time?
• How did changes in our conception
influence how the New Literacies
Project was designed and supported?
Teacher Candidates
• To what extent and how did teacher
candidates’ conception of literacy
change during the semester?
• To what extent and how were they able
to apply their new ideas about literacy
to lesson planning?
Data Collection and Analysis
Concept Maps (3 per student):
• shape
• depth of details
• levels of connection among concepts
• new literacies conceptualization and integration
• technology conceptualization and integration
Written work of 2 blog groups per cohort (n=12)
• changes in thinking about literacies
• interaction among blog participants
Virtual Class blog reflections and lesson plans (n=51)
• focus area for plans
• presence/absence of integration
Instructor lesson plans, project descriptions, record of correspondence
• changes in thinking about literacies
• changes in content and structure of project over time
Understanding and Teaching
New Literacies
Most teacher candidates reported a broadened conception of literacy
My conceptual understanding of literacy has changed since the beginning of this
class. During one of the first days of classes I made a literacy concept map which
basically was confined to the areas of traditional language arts instruction. For
instance, I thought literacy primarily was composed of the learning of reading,
writing, listening, and speaking.
During the middle portion of this course we were asked to define literacy and post it
on our class wiki. At this time my understanding of literacy had changed to include
critical thinking and new literacies like: cultural literacy, numeracy literacy, digital
information media literacy, environmental literacy, social literacy, political literacy,
visual literacy, and emotional literacy.
As I reflect now, I think that literacy incorporates all of this and so much more. This
became clear to me when using my new technology, scrap blogging. This is
because it made me realize our world is ever changing and that there are always
new mediums and topics to learn and become literate in. It is our jobs as teachers
to filter through all this new material and find out what is going to impact our
students’ future the most and what knowledge they need to function as a
successful member in society (and the world). (Marcy, Blog Entry, March 23)
Understanding and Teaching
New Literacies
Although most candidates could talk about what K-6
students would need to know and be able to do, less
than half developed lesson plans that integrated new
literacies with the new technology
New literacy
No lesson
Cohort 1
Cohort 2
Total (n=51)
Integrated Lesson Plans
 included experiences
that were similar to the
tasks teacher candidates
completed during The New
Literacies Project.
 supported K-6 students
in learning about a new
literacy while they also
learned to use a new
technology to share their
explaining emotional literacy
using LetterPop
using a scrapblog to discuss
characters’ emotions in The
Little Red Hen
creating a short movie to
represent ideas about visual
using a scrapblog to teach
another student about their
creating a collage about
recycling using images from
magazines and the computer
specificity and support in the project
improved as we clarified our own
thinking about new literacies and the
goals for the project
Why did more teacher candidates in cohort
2 develop integrated lesson plans?
Cohort 1
Cohort 2
Blog: What does it mean to
provide “effective literacy
instruction” to diverse
learners and how does the
particular technology you
explored inform your
Blog: What does it mean to
provide “effective literacy
instruction” to diverse
learners and how do the new
literacy and new technology
you explored inform your
Blog: Develop a lesson plan
that helps students at your
grade level learn something
new that would help them be
successful in using the
Blog: Develop a lesson plan
that helps students at your
grade level learn something
new that would help them be
successful in using the new
technology to teach their
peers about a new literacy.
Findings Inform our Future Plans
• The set of experiences was powerful enough to
help teacher candidates expand their conceptions
of literacy and talk broadly about implications for
classroom teaching and learning
• They could select a starting point for planning by
either focusing on a new technology or a new
literacy (with plans to follow up in the other
area), or integrate the two
• Candidates appreciated the ‘learning by doing’
approach to the project
The Journey Continues…
• Make the goals for the project
more explicit
• Emphasize that candidates will
explore two new literacies
– digital literacy is required
– another literacy is identified by
• Provide resources for
exploring integrated lessons
– video examples
– articles describing integrated
– sample lesson plan
• Be more explicit about the
purpose of our modeling the
use of digital literacies (wiki,
blog) in the course
• Ask candidates to reflect on
their use of these Web 2.0
• Promote more social
interaction about how
candidates’ thinking is
changing throughout the
• Include both digital literacies
and other new literacies in all
blog prompts
Future Research Directions
• To what extent and how do new teachers
integrate new literacies into their teaching?
• How do they navigate planning for more
traditional literacies with broader goals for
incorporating new literacies into their
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