Tag Archives: #literacies

So Many Literacies, So Little Time

The title of this post is borrowed from one of the pre-service teachers I’m working with in a Literacies and Technologies Across Disciplines course at my new institution. It’s the beginning of a new semester, and in this course that means, it’s Literacies Log time. In this assignment, I ask students to 201log their literacy activity for just an hour’s worth of time. The results are always interesting, if not mind-blowing as we consider how much of our time is spent engaging with a wide range of texts of various genres and formats mediated by a variety of technologies. As one student remarked, “It’s like we are constantly being literate. Even if you are just thinking, you are making sense of a text of some sort or another.”

literacy-logs

Above is just a smattering of the literacy practices we logged in an hour. And it got me thinking about a few things recent conversations I’ve had about literacies. For instance, we’re all (yes, I am speaking for all of ‘us’) tired of the ‘_________ literacies’ phenomenon. From visual literacies to digital literacies and fitness literacies to friendship literacies, from time to time hyphenating ‘literacies’ happens. (Heck, my work with Amy Stornaiuolo and Nathan C. Phillips is all about transliteracies.) Adding a term can help us to focus in on some aspect of literacy activity that we want to consider that may not—for one reason or another—have been foregrounded.

But it is always my hope whenever I see a ‘________ literacies’ that someday, because of the attention we give it with that prefix, that we’ll be able to talk about literacies, just literacies, and the focal aspect will be an obvious aspect to consider. And from the literacies logs turned in this year, I am even more hopeful that we’ll be able to drop some of those prefixes—like digital, visual, even trans—sooner than later. The everyday literacy practices logged were predominantly digital, involved visual modes, and a few of the students even noticed (without prompting from me) how their varied literacy practices allowed (or kept) them to be mobile across spaces and time.

So many literacies, but maybe someday…


As always, I apologize that WordPress has begun to force ads on each post. Please ignore any ad that follows. I have not vetted and do not support whatever is advertised below.

IAmA LRA Show Guest: Young Adults & their Writing Practices

This post is updated to include a recording of the event...

Tuesday (8/19) at 8PM EST was the second live event in the month-long focus on young adults and their writing practices from #literacies chat and the Literacy Research Association‘s Research to Practice webinar series. I was honored to join Jen Scott Curwood, Ryan Rish, Jeremy Hyler, and moderator Paula DiDomenico and discussant Mellinee Lesley in the live LRA Learning Research to Practice show.

In addition to discussing the kind of research we do regarding writing and young adults, we discussed the current context for teaching young adult writers, and how we typify the young adults’ writing practices. We tackled the reoccurring question: What does it mean to teach young adults how to write? And finally, we discussed what we hope to see in research and practice in regards to young adults and their writing practices.

Continue reading IAmA LRA Show Guest: Young Adults & their Writing Practices

Tweet-a-Read: Kirkland’s A Search Past Silence–The Literacy of Young Black Men

Sometimes while I am reading, I am so struck by the ideas and the prose that I sheepishly begin live-tweeting. On even rarer occasions, when the text is one I can’t get out of my mind, I collect the tweets and recommend the text to you. This time it was David Kirkland‘s A Search Past Silence: The Literacy of Young Black Men. Highly recommended.

Continue reading Tweet-a-Read: Kirkland’s A Search Past Silence–The Literacy of Young Black Men

To DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) or to DREAM (DRop Everything And Make)

20120914-131047.jpgLast weekend, as I was walking to my weekend office (my favorite cafe in El Barrio, East Harlem Cafe), I passed the corner of 105th and Lexington, which had been under construction for the last months. Suddenly, I heard someone calling my name from inside the building. Sure enough it was Manny Vega, visual artist and mosaicist extraordinaire, who is well-known for his restoration of the Spanish Harlem mural on 104th and Lexington and the mosaics in the NYC subway station at 110th street.

20120914-131059.jpgHe was working on his newest project, a mosaic realization of the appliquéd series of public art that runs along the businesses from 104th to 105th in East Harlem (featured in the NY Times). In the renovation of the building at 105th and Lexington, the art there had been removed in pieces, and the folks at 7173 Associates, LLC, and the owner of the long-standing neighborhood perfumerie, Exotic Fragrances, had decided this was not a loss they would let the neighborhood feel. Expected to run 20 feet long and 7 feet high, Espiritu: A Visual Prayer in Glass and Stone for the Here and Now, is Vega’s gift for the streets of East Harlem. It will be unveiled October 6th at 3:00 p.m.

The theme is a celebration of moments in my life where spirit has been the vehicle for living. It has been an amazing experience to share these images with everyone as folks have provided even more meaning to this project with their own association with my art and the realm of the spirit. -Manny Vega

And if I wasn’t already lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with such a vibrant art community, Manny Vega has been kind enough to take me on as an unofficial, part-time mosaic apprentice. We had met at East Harlem Cafe, where a commissioned piece hangs announcing their name. We began to talk technique and tools, and pretty soon, I had my first assignments. I studied, up close and personal, the mosaics throughout the subways stations in NYC (and got a more than a few weird looks as I stood nose to tile) and then on a trip to Russia, the Byzantine style that Vega practices. With pieces of construction paper and scissors, I drew then places tiles in channels, a Byzantine-style technique that creates the movement, depth and life seen in Vega’s creations.

It was a Saturday, and I had a long to-do list awaiting me, but I did what any sane person would do with your mosaic mentor working on a landmark piece. I dropped everything and went to get my pieces and tools. I returned and we worked alongside each other with a stereo blasting the local flavor for hours. Manny showed me a new fastening technique, and let me use a new clipper tool to practice making curved pieces that “fastened” into the next stone. (You can see magnified sections of some of his work here by running the mouse over the image. Watch for the channels and how pieces are cut to fasten into each other.) He told me that as tile and glass becomes malleable and the pieces begin to run as you intend in the channels, the therapy sets in. The mind and body and the creation become one. And, as usual, he was right. I was transfixed and healed. I tweeted and an old student of mine responded brilliantly:

This got me thinking. Just a few nights before during #literacies chat, we had been discussing contemporary digital literacies while listening in to the National Writing Project’s bi-monthly radio program. We had this little exchange:

20120914-131124.jpg Part of Manny Vega’s mosaic mural Espiritu will be a piece that features The Trickster, a mythical creature that shows up across time and cultures. As a mosaic, Vega is afforded the ability to insert actual dominos and dice in his rendition of a modern-day Trickster, who gets around via skateboard. The dominos and dice are physical manifestations of the hustle, of the gamble, of the games today’s Trickster uses to entrap us. This physically-realized aesthetic and referent would not be possible in any other medium.

I think this is the approach we need to take when thinking about digital literacies. What are the affordances of the medium that—if we took advantage of—would result in compositions that could do and be things otherwise not possible? A few of my grad students took to defining contemporary literacies last semester. Some of the results are here. Doug Belshaw, of the Mozilla Foundation, is writing a white paper on web literacies right now, and he is looking for input. What do you think these affordances are that we should be attending to in schools today?

One of the changes I see as necessary, is to stop saying literacy when we mean reading. Literacies in contemporary times (and perhaps always) are equal measure reading and writing/interpreting and composing. In a forthcoming chapter in Critical Digital Literacies as Social Praxis: Intersections and Challenges, I explain (with co-author Glynda Hull):

Via digital means we are now easily able to compose in multiple modes and, with access to the Internet, to do so in response to and in collaboration with international others. Such practices are, in fact, increasingly viewed as central rather than peripheral to literacy (Andrews & Smith, 2011). Critical reading implies a reader’s active response, as Rosenblatt (1938/1995, 1978/1994) long ago taught us. The interpretation of written language and image resides at the intersection of text, the reader’s personal experiences with other texts, and the social world. In a digital age, a reader’s response can become manifest materially (cf. Coiro & Dobler, 2007). When readers engage with a blog, for instance, they are able, indeed expected, to click on links, add comments, and reblog or remix content. Such response is a customary, expected part of the reading experience. Thus, the reciprocal relationship between reading and writing becomes tighter in the digital sphere, making authorship more obviously tantamount to readership, and vice versa.

One way we could do this is change the DEAR program (Drop Everything and Read) and institute a DREAM program (DRop Everything and Make). As my old student Emily implied, this would include making meaning from existing texts, along with making new ones. I know from my Saturday afternoon with Manny, making is not just critical and creative, it can be healing.

(The #literacies chat also led us into another fascinating discussion of the boundaries of writing when considering contemporary digital composition. I’d love to continue the conversation on that topic that started here.)

#literacies chat: The Reboot

Image

As many of you know, after an intriguing semester collaborating across our courses in New Literacies and Content Area Literacies, using the hashtag #literacies on Twitter, Emily Pendergrass (Lecturer at Vanderbilt University and @Dr_Pendergrass on Twitter) and I (@writerswriting on Twitter) wanted to take advantage of the momentum built by having so many of our colleagues think with us about the demands and dimensions of contemporary literacies. Using our course hashtag, we began the #literacies chat which runs weekly on Thursdays from 7:00-8:00 PM EST on Twitter.

The #literacies network of educators, researchers and theorists built quickly and expanded to include international colleagues, grad students, in-service teachers, and many others working related fields. Several of these folks became my shortlist for #FF including: @klbz, @mhall78, @allistelling@Jessifer, @JRRockwall, @linlouj, @mday666, @cjprender@ryanrish. (If you’re a #literacies regular and I missed you on this list, I am sorry! I have been away—see Part I and Part II—and I’m trying to do this from memory!)

Already we have discussed:

  • Our priorities and commitments when it comes to contemporary literacies. (Topic here. Summarized here.)
  • Ideas that frame our thinking about “literacies.” (Topic here. Archived here.)
  • The deceptively simple definition of “text.” (Topic here. Archived here.)
  • Swapping syllabi–a chat that extended across two productive weeks of exchange. (Topic here. Archived here.)
  • The role time plays in contemporary literacies. (Topic here. Archived here.)

We then took a short summer break, and this Thursday we are “rebooting” (thus the reason for the Spiderman image) the #literacies chat with the very important topic #Literacies with Diverse Learners. As Emily Pendergrass said in her chat topic description:

[There are] dumbfounding disparities within our schools and communities. Economic, ethnic, and achievement differences are greater in the US than in other countries. So…

  • How can contemporary literacies help build learning successes with diverse learners?
  • How can we revive the flat line among all our students and promote achievement and understandings?
  • What role does contemporary literacies play in reviving achievement and closing the gap?

In the coming months, we are looking forward to several guest hosts with great topics. We’ll have @ryanrish and his crew hosting about multimodality. @MaryAnnReilly is going to lead us in deep discussion on remix. And the team at @HybridPed, led by @allistelling, is going to host a chat on hybrid pedagogies for these contemporary times.

I hope you’ll join us Thursdays from 7:00-8:00 PM EST on Twitter using the hashtag #literacies! (Directions on how to do that here.) Check out our #literacies chat blog for a calendar and descriptions of upcoming topics and links to archives from past chats.

The #literacies Chat is Born!

Below you’ll find the birthing story of the #literacies chat, a weekly chat on Twitter bringing together educators, researchers and thinkers fascinated by contemporary literacies.

Our first chat will be June 7 @ 7:00 PM EST. Skip down below to read the post I wrote to introduce our first topic or  just head on over to the new home of our #literacies chat: http://literacieschat.wordpress.com/ 

The Birth of an Idea

If you know me as @writerswriting, my Twitter handle, chances are you know that this last semester I have been collaborating with Emily Pendergrass (@Dr_Pendergrass), a professor at Vanderbilt, who was teaching a course in New Literacies. I was teaching a course on Content Area Literacies and together we used the hashtag #literacies to engage the topic with our pre-service teachers and the wider world.

Phase One: Once the semester came to an end, we definitely wanted to take advantage of the momentum built by having so many of our colleagues think with us about the demands and dimensions of contemporary literacies. Monica Batac (@monicabatac) suggested make the hashtag a chat…and thus our new weekly #literacies chat idea was born.

First, we opened a GoogleDoc to brainstorm ideas and within a week and with over 50 contributors, the GDoc was packed with fascinating topics ranging from the seemingly wide gap between in-school and out-of-school literacies to the role of multimodality in the digital age.

Phase Two: Drawing heavily from Meenoo Rami (@mrami2) and the way she moderates #engchat, we made a website for the #literacies chat to call home. At that site we will post introductions to the weekly topic and archives of the chats.

Phase Three: This is where you come in!

Our first chat will be Thursday, June 7 @ 7:00 PM EST. Please join us to discuss, among other things:

  1. What brings you “to the table,” to the #literacies chat?
  2. What are you particularly committed to in regards to contemporary literacies?
  3. What blogs, texts, links, quotes, i.e. persons, have pushed your thinking in regards to contemporary literacies?

Below is a description of our first official chat topic! It is a repost from http://literacieschat.wordpress.com/ where you can find a description of upcoming chat topics and archives of each chat. You can also find a description of how to join us on Twitter, if you are new to the idea. We hope you join us!

June 7, 2012 #literacies Chat Topic: We are Our Relationships

I find nothing more boring than the constant diatribes against everything and anything digital—in the ways they destroy our language, our relationships, our attention, our intelligence, our morals.

If you find yourself here, reading this, you’ve connected, you’ve attended, and I feel pretty confident in claiming that you must be a smart cookie. My experience in practicing my own contemporary literacies has been filled with such connections, articulated quite well by @MaryAnnReilly (who, by the way, I only know through and because of digital technologies and the literate practices that have followed):

On Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 7:00 PM EST we will be hosting our first official #literacies chat. In the following Thursdays at 7:oo PM EST, we will host a series of topics brainstormed by 50+ contributors with whom we’ve crowdsourced and connected to through—again—digital means. For our first week, we’d like to know what brings each of us to the table, so to speak. How do our educational, research and personal interests in contemporary literacies connect and build on each other? We are bound to learn quite a bit from each other as we share insights, resources, interests and concerns, but before we dive in, let’s take a moment to get to know each other. In a blog post about what drove him to study social networks and write his book Social Network Theory and Educational Change, Alan J. Daly, an assistant professor of education at the University of California, San Diego, commented:

Relationships matter in a profound manner, and it seems the more focused we become on the technical elements of our work, the more distanced we become from the idea that the social connections are critical.

I’ve been thinking of the power of these connections for a while. Around the same time that we lost Steve Jobs, a man whose drive made many of my personal and professional connections possible, we also lost critical race theorist, Derrick Bell. It was fitting that at that time I came across a quote of his that captured exactly what I was feeling:

However self-sufficient we may fancy ourselves, we exist only in relation—to our friends, family, and life partners; to those we teach and mentor; to our co-workers, neighbors, strangers; and even to forces we cannot fully conceive of, let alone define. In many ways, we are our relationships. ― Derrick Bell, Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth (emphasis added)

Join us on Thursday, June 7, 2012 @ 7:00 PM EST to discuss, among other things:

  1. What brings you “to the table,” to the #literacies chat?
  2. What are you particularly committed to in regards to contemporary literacies?
  3. What blogs, texts, links, quotes, i.e. persons, have pushed your thinking in regards to contemporary literacies?