Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Do you think the “digital story” can be a doorway to writing in a classroom? What would you add to my lesson idea? What would you change?
I absolutely think this is a doorway to writing, especially for middle school and high school kids. I had a similar experience in my senior year English class in high school. Instead of digital storytelling, we had to compose a "senior book." It was basically a scrapbook that we designed about our personal lives that could contain personal documents, photos, cards, etc., but for every page we created we also had to write an essay. Our teacher explained that it was a challenging project, even more so because the year my class entered our senior year was the same year Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast and our hometown was essentially wiped out. It was amazing to see the stories we managed to tell strictly through creativity, especially taking into account that majority of us had lost our homes, photos, and memorabilia. Instead, we had to create new narratives.
The only caveat that I have with the project is that, other than motivating the kids to become more active in the classroom, how can we spin this to prepare them for a post-secondary education? They've learned a lot of cool techniques that can be applied to a professional career as a videographer and/or designer, but how does this prepare them to succeed the stodgy 200-level literature requisite coursework in college? It's a great idea, so long as it doesn't become the central focus and purpose (read: main/final project; read: abandoning the "research paper") of the class.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Hi everyone - been trying to comment for a day and half. Can't comment (another big to figure out), but I guess I can post directly onto the blog. Sorry for the delay...
Hi Nicole – great post. So many things to consider!
I can’t help but start my response with thinking about Bolter’s use of the term “interpenetration.” He states, “On the screen, as on medieval parchment, verbal text and image interpenetrate to such a degree that the writer and reader can no longer always know where the pictorial space ends and the verbal space begins” (66). Your comments about the illustration used in “Is Google Making Us Stupid” made me start thinking about how this word and its occurrence is happening as we all start to experiment with new technological tools inside and outside of our classrooms. Imagine what “interpenetration” might look like…I immediately picture a Venn diagram. That middle area where two (or three) sides or ideas get intertwined and may get mixed up…that’s what’s happening here as we start to consider how illustrations like the one you commented on affect us as readers. On one side we have the actual text, the words, and on the other we have the illustrations that are supposedly present in order to heighten our understanding or awareness of what’s being said in the text. But perhaps now the illustration, as it’s listed at the top of the article, is there in order to better introduce the text, as a preface, per se. I have to admit, I might not have even considered the image had you not commented on it. For me, I was more concerned with absorbing the text and making connections with the other readings – though now that I’m thinking about the message of the image, I do feel as though the information and overall story of the article as a whole, as I’ve considered both sides more completely, displays interpenetration. They are reciprocating, in a way, in their messages related to the topic, or better yet, it’s like the two sides are not even as separated as I might have once thought…or at least, that’s why the image is present present most likely, to be a part of the text. To stick with the Venn diagram image, the intention, as I picture it coming together, is to have the words as one image and the illustration as the other. Within the middle section of the Venn diagram, the words and the picture become muddied, in way, creating an entirely new vision, or meaning. I wasn’t as curious about the image as perhaps I should have been given the nature of our discussions.
This leads me to think more about your comments on “good reading.” I love your claim in how such simple reading as following a recipe can provoke higher order thinking. Perhaps good reading is about meaning making, as is most of our classroom lessons. We want students to somehow connect with whatever point we’re trying to illustrate, whether it be critical reading, peer editing, or citing resources (okay, this is a stretch, but still, it IS about following directions, in a sense, the same way you would a recipe). We want to students to somehow make the lesson their own so they can take it, run with it, and in some way incorporate the heart of the lesson into their academic and/or personal lives. If teachers can foster the curiosity or the real-to-life application of ideas, perhaps that may lead to more “good reading” where not only are ideas and concepts consumed, but they are retained and used in application in the future. (This is a goal I strive for in my classroom, although now that I’m thinking about my methods and use of the texts, I’m not my approach is effective. Oh dear…!) And perhaps if the students know the methods are deliberate and purposeful, perhaps that creates more buy-in on their part (even though the methods might be a departure from what they’re used to). Sadly, I do have to keep in the back of my head somewhere that my students are consumers; as much as I loathe the idea, it’s true. I must foster buy-in so they stay at my university. Also - As we consider Kajer’s encouragement to “open our curricula to include new options” (10), maybe this means fostering the curiosity somehow to match the students’ deliberate reading that is mentioned, the reading they do for “authentic purposes” (11). In order to do this, I’m with you Nicole, I think new technologies can help our daily lives, and as teachers we can use these technologies to bring the students’ fun and “good reading” into our classrooms and use it to even further expand their knowledge sets, and generate further curiosities.
This is a response to Nicole Sanford's blog entry, “Reading the Visual and Preserving the Individual." I cannot, for some reason, post a comment.
When we say “good reading,” we almost have to qualify how we are using the term. Good reading might refer to the content and subject matter we choose, physicality of the medium, or how we go about taking on a reading project, such as through a critical lens. Lately, it seems that how we read is more important than what we read or through which means we read it. So it isn’t a question of whether reading images is less valuable to us than reading texts, or if it’s potentially harmful to literacy when the literate are to be faced with more images than texts. It’s a question of whether or not the act of reading images lends itself to challenges, questions, dialectic engagement, and any other activity that good readers of the world already participate in. I say images do lend themselves to such curiosities.
Sometimes I feel we are holding onto relics as if this isn’t an exciting time to witness things unfold. And it may be as Jay David Bolter says: “the relationship between image and text is unstable” (48). But “unstable” may have unnecessarily bad connotations. As long as there are decoders of information, i.e. consumers, there will be those of us who encode. And until this ceases to be, the human race will write. Perhaps we will not “write” as we do now, which of course is not how we have always written, but we will write. To say that “writing itself is threatened” by a reemergence of communication through images is premature at the very least (48). We’ll still encode meaning and transmit meaning, and as natural processors of the raw data we find within the world, we’ll try to decode meaning. And maybe we find ourselves encoding and reciprocally decoding just as many--if not more for some of us--images than texts these days, and increasingly so as we become more receptive to these new options of making sense of things. But is this in itself bad?
It’s ironic that we developed alphabets from images we once used to represent what we knew of the world, and at our apex of literacy we can see reversion back to the image. Who are we to say we are not achieving the highest level of literacy, to eventually make sense of things through just image alone. We fill in ellipses from what we know of the world whether the holes are found in texts or graphics. And isn’t this the type of work, the type of dialectic ability we are worried about loosing? This type of work will continue for those of us who challenge the world--which is not now, nor has it been a hobby of the masses. And if this is a digression, let’s take a moment to let it bridge us with the realities of how literacy works. Literacy does not sit still: it cannot be contained in rule books, and held captive on the page as if it were ink. Literacy is not the medium, it’s the process. So I must ask, has the process really changed?
What’s important now is how we consumers of mass media choose to take in the deluge of data we are faced with. What we need to worry about in this age of the fragment, while navigating through a world of interruptions and distractions, is how we stay active participants in experiencing our world. Nicole, you ask if “the visual...mak[es] [us] less likely to analyze the printed word,” and I want to answer with a humbly-affirmed “maybe.” But I want to follow up this maybe with another hypothetical: maybe this doesn’t mean we are collectively heading towards illiteracy, but rather we are absorbing new literacies because of the options technology affords us. And luckily for us, we have all these options when setting out to unearth new things. Not only do we have more options of what we read--and I mean not only genre and form but wether we want to read words or images or both--but the mediums through which we read it. It’s all becoming physically and intellectually accessible. Beyond conjecture, this is what we know has truly changed, our options. Perhaps neurologists can pinpoint how new media “re-wires” our brain, but has it changed the type of work we do when we manipulate meaning from images and texts and between images and texts? Do we not still compare and analogize, sort and categorize, and reflect and relate what we know of the world to new information we come across? This is the type of intellectual work that’s important for the future of literacy, and fortunately enough, it’s what we naturally do.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Reluctant readers…Recalcitrant Teachers?
Monday, September 19, 2011
Through the opinions offered in this week’s readings, it seems that people have varying interpretations of what reading is and whether or not electronic texts, whether they be electronic books, blogs, or text messages, count as “good” reading. Kajer’s example in her book, Bringing the Outside In, about her student, Gus, who tells her that he likes to read gamer codes and blog postings but states, “I know that stuff doesn’t count” (Kajer 5), poses the question, “ What is “good” reading and should we stem away from the idea that some reading is better than others?.”
In trying to state what “good” reading is and dismissing electronic writing that hasn’t appeared in printed form as bad, we seem to be isolating students from seeing themselves as good readers or readers at all. Gus’s response resembles Nicholas Carr’s acknowledgment in “Is Googling Making Us Stupid” that we are reading more than we did in the 1970s or 1980s but he calls it a “different kind of reading.” The word “different” makes it seem like it is not as good as what was done in previous years, making students like Gus see themselves as non-readers even though they may read in some capacity every day.
I was concerned with Gus’ response and asked my MCAS prep class, comprised of 9th to 12th grade students, if they struggled with reading and what they believed constituted reading. They had a hard time even telling me a name of a book they liked or disliked and told me that when they are told what to read, they become disinterested. I tried telling them that books are like people and that you may not like them at first, but when once you communicate with them, you may realize that you have something in common. But in thinking about my analogy later in the day, I realized that even I said books, subconsciously seeing that as the main form of reading and disregarding online postings and newspaper articles. Similar to Kajer, who points out in her book that she only saw reading as pertaining to learning how to pronounce words, some individuals associate reading with printed books that are part of a literary canon and have been deemed as classics. So again I return to the question, what is “good” reading and should this idea even exist in today’s world with students who struggle with reading comprehension (and do not need people telling them that what they read isn’t valid even though they’re reading)? Reading at even a seemingly low level, like that of reading a recipe, can provoke higher level thinking. As an individual reads the list of ingredients and thinks about which comes first, considering what would happen if step 5 came before step 3, or if the food was left in the oven too long, he/she is putting information together and thinking about relationships to one another. This meaning making process is what we ask students to do on a daily basis. If we encourage students to read, regardless if it is in printed or electronic form, we may allow them to see that reading is something they do for fun and do it without realizing it in their everyday life.
While there is the question about what good reading is, there is also the concern about how influential the visual is in reading and whether the text is being overlooked. Bolter states in Chapter 4 of Writing Spaces that the visual is becoming primary and the text becomes secondary with the addition of new electronic technologies. Newspapers now resemble web pages and include images at the forefront and brief summaries for the table of contents. This is evident in papers such as The Boston Herald that display a cover picture in color that is almost as big as the actual page, leaving little room for text. The reader’s eyes are drawn to the picture, pulling them into the cover story. But even though the picture is obviously large and in the reader’s face, is the visual taking away from a reader’s experience with reading text or making him/her less likely to analyze the printed word still?
Both articles that I read for this week’s reading included images that occupied a fair amount of room and came before the text of the article, but I did not find myself drawn to the pictures and forgetting about the text that I wanted to read. Below is the image from Jamais Cascio’s “Get Smarter” article and my reactions to the photograph:
Although I note my reaction and realize that others may have spent more time looking at the image, especially those who are attracted to art or digital manipulations, I wonder how much images influence us or if we take images for granted. Nicholas Carr writes about the numerous Google ads that pop up as we surf the web and move from site to site, but when the ads are off on the side of the screen, the words and titles of web pages are directly in the viewer’s eyes. How many of us have clicked on one of the feature ads because we were drawn to them on the side of the page? Occasionally, I will click on an ad accidentally, but find myself closing out of it before I even have the chance to take a good look at it.
Friday, September 16, 2011
I was excited when I heard we were witching to blogger! That meant not having two different blog accounts to look at since I was already using blogger for other things...but I forgot that my blogger user name is ShatteredSmooth, not sara or sara.codair or really anything with my name in it. Will that bother or confuse anyone? I can always make a second account...
Let me know,
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
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After completing the reading with this week, I am left with one question: Does digital writing or digital literacy really matter? For my st...
For this week’s readings I’ll be focusing primarily on Gunther Kress’s “Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning.” In ...