Archive for July, 2011

100% Proficient

Posted by tricialauter on July 30, 2011

Recently, several states have raised the bar for students to demonstrate proficiency on state assessments. Michigan has requested a waiver from a law that requires “100% of students be proficient on state exams by 2014″(Higgins, 2011). With this waiver, Michigan’s education departments has increased the standard for students to pass-essentially raising the ‘cut score,’ or  “how well a student needs to perform to pass the standardized tests,” (Higgins, 2011). This new cutoff is thought to be a better indicator of how well a student is prepared to enter college or the workforce, better representing the skills that are needed-the skills that are beyond the “basics.” With this new plan, it is predicted that Michigan will see a drop in proficient students due to the more demanding standards, just as Texas has seen recently.


This change comes in the wake of the Atlanta public schools cheating scandal, as Texas state officials say that they do not want to be accused of inflating the numbers.  The new assessments are “being crafted to ensure that schools are preparing students for college or the workforce,” (Alexendar, 2011). States are feeling the pressure to meet the No Child Left Behind standards, less states, districts, and schools are “punished.” This in turn perpetuates the system of strict accountability driven by standardized tests. While these new assessments put together by Texas and Michigan education departments claim to be more rigorous, to “raise the bar,” and to better prepare students for their future, it leaves me wondering what actual skills are being assessed. Are the skills on a multiple choice test reflective of what a student will encounter after he or she graduates? Do the assessments take into consideration multiliteracies? If students become proficient on these assessments, will they be successful and happy in their lives?

As laid out in previous posts, skills of a multiliterate student go beyond what is acheived through the completion of a standardized exam. It is hard to believe that Michigan and Texas have found the answer to failing test scores.


Alexander, K. (2011). Tally of exemplary schools falls with elimination of controversial measure. The Statesman. Retrieved from

Higgins, L. (2011). Michigan’s education department seeks waiver on federal standardized test goals. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE.


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How To Do Research on Multiliteracies 101

Posted by nicholaspelafas on July 29, 2011

An important part of understanding the ways in which multiliteracies are useful is studying how people utilize them naturally and what they are inspired to do when exposed to them.  As multiliteracy is a relatively new field of study, it is a crucial time to research how multiliteracies are constructed, and to put that into dialogue with how students are taught to utilize them.  It has to do with a number of factors ranging from intuition, attraction, comfort, familiarity, goals, tasking, and inspiration; I have often wondered what a study of the efficacy of newer literacies might look like.

Surfing the web, I came across an awesome 2008 study by Mercedes Sanz Gil and María Luisa Villanueva Alfonso from the Universitat Jaume I in Spain entitled: A Critical Approach to Multiliteracy: Automates Intelligents.  The abstract reads:

In this paper we present and analyse a website with a complex rhyzomatic structure in connection with the results of a cybertask in which students were asked to read various information sources by navigating a range of websites. The results and discussion include issues such as: a) culture of learning and students’ task representation; b) possible relationships between learning styles and ways of navigating and managing information to solve a task; c) criteria students use to evaluate their navigation practices. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Assessment & Policy, Critical Perspectives, Global Multiliteracy, In the Classroom, What is Multiliteracy? | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chauvet Cave paintings; is it literacy?

Posted by rlwalte2 on July 27, 2011

Is the ‘oldest art in the world’ an example of multiliteracy? A little background: in 1994, a hermetically sealed cave in France was discovered by three explorers. Inside this cave exists dozens of cave paints of various animals; cave bears, lions, mammoths, rhinos, horse, bison, etc. Radiocarbon dating pins the paintings at some 30,000 years ago. Recently a documentary surrounding the paintings was released, entitled “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”. The film has been circulating film festivals around the country and as I viewed the film at our local film fest the issue of multiliteracies came to me. I contemplated whether this was or was not considered a facet of our exploration here. Although no text exists, I feel the paintings were a form of literacy. Some animals are drawn with 8 legs as to portray movement, which I found fascinating. Whether they were trying to communicate with each other, paint for religious/sacrificial purposes, or potentially to leave a piece of history for the future, I believe this is a fascinating gem of literacy to debate.

Posted in Global Multiliteracy | Leave a Comment »

Critical Comedy Against Computer Literacy

Posted by nicholaspelafas on July 26, 2011

Comedy has always been an important avenue for expressing criticism and showcasing the redonkulousness of our society, and I can’t tell you how much I have missed Bill Hicks especially during 9/11, the Bush years, and the economic meltdown.  In this clip from our boy ‘The Big Yin’ Billy Connolly, he rejects computer literacy and technology in general, and laments the day when your address was written with a pen on paper, tickets for airlines were assigned manually, and encyclopedias were straight-forward books.

Clearly Connolly comes from a time period when these things did not even exist, and when there was significantly less people, business, and available information out there in the world.  This simply makes me think of how odd it is that children growing up today might not even know what a fountain pen is (let alone how to write their address in cursive with it), have seen a paper seating chart, or heard of Encyclopedia Brittannica.  In fact, I remember how I was floored when I was 17 years old and met a girl my own age and had never learned how to read a non-digital clock. Read the rest of this entry »

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San Francisco Online Museum

Posted by serovy1 on July 23, 2011

Don’t Touch the exhibit please! This website is an example of the arts being transferred to the web and made accessible to all. This interactive museum teaches eductaors and students alike about the history of San Francisco, and its all free! You can “go in”, find what your looking for, and there’s no need to wait in lines. It’s great.

However, it does make one wonder about how social structures in society are changing, now that people can do it all right from their room. The good ole’ class field trip becomes anticlimactic when you can see it from a screen. Taking guitar lessons with your buddy seems like a moot idea, when you can click your mouse and find a youtube video to teach you without having to meet up with you tutor. However, there is something to be said about organic communication that is not aided by a machine. You tube can’t move your fingers to the right chord, but your buddy can. It is simply richer,in my opinion, to work in the realm of face to face no matter what the topic is. However, if you think about it,it is actually impossible to seperate the two ( organic and technological communications), as so much of our knowlegde now comes from the web. What we talk about, who we see and what we know always goes back to our hours spent surfing the waves of html, youtube and wikipedia, but it is in those moments of real face to face interaction and discussion that we have the chance to break it down and talk about it freely “behind the backs of our computers”. There is no editing, or sharing taking place other than with our five senses, and it just seems more real to me, but I’m rambling now. Anyway, this website is great as a starting point for finding out about the city, but San Francisco also has a world of great 3 dimensional museums to visit as well. Check them ALL out, if you can, if not stick to virtual.

Posted in Global Multiliteracy, In the Classroom, Resources, The Arts, The Media | Leave a Comment »

The Semantic Web-Man Vs. Machine?

Posted by serovy1 on July 23, 2011

“The Semantic Web is a “web of data” that facilitates machines to understand the semantics, or meaning, of information on the World Wide Web.[1] It extends the network of hyperlinked human-readable web pages by inserting machine-readable metadata about pages and how they are related to each other, enabling automated agents to access the Web more intelligently and perform tasks on behalf of users. The term was coined by Tim Berners-Lee,[2] the inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”), which oversees the development of proposed Semantic Web standards. He defines the Semantic Web as “a web of data that can be processed directly and indirectly by machines.”- Wikipedia

The concept of the symantic web is SCARY, and confusing, but exciting. This new technology takes things a step further, and allows for the computer to recognize not only key words but also the relationship between data on the web. This has wonderful potential to help people in thier research and in building meanings from one another, because it will automatically filter a search more specifically to the material you are looking for. As explained above in the video and in the definition, the semantic web is not an emerging but actually a current technology that developers are actively working on. With the obvious benefits being stated, one can help but also wonder what other outcomes may arise as computers become more like mind reading research assitants and less like machines that we manipulate.

The symantic web seems like it could perpetuate a spirit of laziness that would enable people to remain within more confined realms of information based on the connectins they already have (although the opposite is also true). In all honesty, I’m still trying to process it all, but the idea that a machine can understand me is a bit jarring. Am I thinking faster than my computer,or is it thinking faster than me, and if so, how will this progressively more intelligent symantic web dictate my decisions even further. Have you ever been on facebook tagging photos, and the computer already seems to recognize the faces of your beloved family members and friends before you even type in their names. It Knows who I hang out with!!! I already feel exposed and like other people can find out anything they want about me with the click of the mouse. Now do I have to worry about a computer “knowing” everything too? Is it going to control my mind? This is SCIFI stuff indeed.

Posted in Assessment & Policy, Critical Perspectives, Global Multiliteracy, In the Classroom, Social Networking, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Networked Literacy and the Next-Generation Book

Posted by nicholaspelafas on July 23, 2011

[Meet Nelson, Coupland, and Alice — the faces of tomorrow’s book. Watch global design and innovation consultancy IDEO’s vision for the future of the book. What new experiences might be created by linking diverse discussions, what additional value could be created by connected readers to one another, and what innovative ways we might use to tell our favorite stories and build community around books? ]

So I pulled this video and the one below from the wordpress blog Preprint (see blogroll for link) and I found it to be fascinating how contextualized and informative the experience of reading a book could be.  The Nelson software allows readers to see different perspectives on what they are reading, and locate referential materials that can assist their understandings of critical arguments, see what kinds of discussions are being spawned by a particular book, and share critical insights.  This is somewhat revolutionary in how it can network the literacy experience of individuals, and enabling people to gain greater critical insight at a time when decentralized publishing means a greater questioning of reputability of sources.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Picture Writing and Image Making

Posted by mariamengel on July 22, 2011

At the Center for the Advancement of Art-Based Literacy in New Hampshire, students are combining visual arts and writing to promote writing literacy.  To get more information and to find workshops, visit the Picture Writing and Image-Making website.  This information, including examples of student work, was extracted directly from their site:

Picturing Writing and Image Making

…”are two dynamic art-and-literature based approaches to writing developed by Beth Olshansky to meet the needs of students with diverse learning styles. Through the use of simple hands-on art experiences, the introduction of quality picture books, and an on-going Artists/Writers Workshop, these innovative approaches give children access to visual and kinesthetic as well as verbal modes of thinking at each and every stage of the writing process. They allow all children to enter the writing process from a position of personal strength and enthusiasm”. 

One Quiet and Silent Night

Picturing Writing: Fostering Literacy Through Art is an art-and-literature-based approach to writing that integrates visual modes of thinking at every stage of the writing process. Picturing Writing utilizes simple crayon resist art techniques and quality literature in a progression of mini-lessons that teach essential literacy skills to students with diverse learning styles.

Sarena and the Beautiful Skies

Image-Making Within The Writing Process is a dynamic art-and-literature-based approach to writing that integrates visual and kinesthetic modes of thinking at each and every stage of the writing process. Students begin by creating their own portfolio of beautiful hand-painted textured papers.

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Teaching “Whole Music” Literacy

Posted by mariamengel on July 22, 2011

In the articleTeaching “Whole Music” Literacy by Kit Eakle, whole-language practice and theory are used to teach elementary students about the flow of the English language by rhythmically notating phrases in the regular language classroom.

This is a great article to read if you are interested in teaching your students to use music notation to help create flowing phrases and poetry.  For example, this phrase is notated two different ways to put stress on certain syllables or words:

Check it out!  Your students can learn about music, notation, fluency, literacy, the flow of language, and have fun at the same time!

Eakle writes, “…They [teachers] would begin to acquire an elementary understanding of music notation. Not only that, we would all begin to gain an understanding of the process of acquiring written language fluency by learning right along with the children. The process would demonstrate once again to us that the process of learning comes as an organic outgrowth of attempting to make sense of the world around us. In this situation music could also become a tool for teachers to experience the “illiterate” condition of being a child again and expose to us the difficulties and joys of learning along with the children. Taken with this attitude teachers could, with no real “work” be exposed to some invaluable lessons on how best to teach their students to read and write language!”

Posted in In the Classroom, The Arts | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Pamphlets, Buttons and Posters at work for civil rights

Posted by rlwalte2 on July 22, 2011

A recent article by CNN makes note of multiliteracies via pamphlets, buttons, posters, etc. to spread civil rights.  I found this article extremely interesting because they discuss how vital of a role visual culture played from the 1940s through the 1970s.  The speeches of the time were of course monumental, but the blending of visual culture became a very strong underlying technique through which to display African Americans in a new light.  This visual culture was distributed in the way of portable items; fans, badges, buttons, posters, etc.  So, as far back as the 1940s multiliteracies were emerging; people were finding ways to mix images with text and incorporate them into something that would travel far and wide, spreading the desired message.  In analyzing this, I feel it was so powerful for the times.  To imprint images on something like a fan, for example that would become to well traveled was ingenious.  Along with the large exposure something like a button or a poster  received came intrigue; people were receiving information in a new way.  Civil rights activists were clever to begin using multiliteracies to get their message out to the public.  Maurice Berger is the curator for a new exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington.  The exhibit is titled “For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights”.  I found it fascinating that Berger states “”The modern Civil Rights movement was the first American political movement to truly take advantage of the new technology of seeing and representing the world,”.  The culture of the 40s, 50s, 60s was still steeped with a very poor, stereotypical image of African Americans, so using multiliteracies to improve that image is fascinating. The African American community used mixed media to highlight the emergence of the Black Arts movement and positive images of African Americans in the community.  They used this emerging idea to educate the world.

Posted in The Arts, The Media | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »