Archive for the ‘The Arts’ Category

DIGITALIS – web resource of the National Writing Project

Posted by nicholaspelafas on September 4, 2011 is a web forum created by the National Writing Project for educators and scholars to “read, discuss, and share ideas about teaching writing today”.  It is a host for a growing number of resources that form “a collection of ideas, reflections, and stories about what it means to teach writing in our digital, interconnected world.”  The format of DIGITAL IS is such that anyone may sign-up and contribute a ‘resource collection’ which represents different postings, lesson plans, articles, and discussion threads around a common general topic.  The democratic, open-source format of the platform also serves to exemplify the way multiliteracies can contribute to building an inclusive and participatory digital civic culture.  This impressive site is making important contributions to the field of multiliteracies and at the same time actively transforming the use of multiliterary  technology in multiliteracy discussions.

The resource collection topics are divided into four general areas: Art/Craft, Teach/Learn, Provocations, and Community.  Provocations are resource collections that deal with critical literacy and perspectives.  I find the resources in this section particularly interesting and have found many pieces that deal with issues we’ve talked about here.   Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Critical Perspectives, In the Classroom, Resources, Social Networking, Technology, The Arts | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

African Hip-Hop and Critical Multiliteracy Engagement

Posted by nicholaspelafas on September 1, 2011

I love this video because of all the young people in it.  Hip hop, as I have said before, has become one of the world’s most embraced literacies by Youth.  Fortunately, hiphop in other countries, and particularly in Africa and Latin America, tends to usually have a social or political focus, making it much more useable than the majority of contemporary US-based hiphop for critical thinking and literacy exercises.  In addition to describing the realities of contemporary life, African Hip-hop often discusses the historical background to the present situation, includes significant reflection on the present reality, and is often a call to action.  This is more akin to the hiphop of the early 1990s in the United States that included the likes of Public Enemy, KRSOne, Tupac, Common, Tribe, etc., but often even more broadly dissected (in my opinion).  However, as has happened with reggae and dancehall in the Caribbean, money and corporate influence in the more economically influential African nations (Nigeria, South Africa) has thrust African Hiphop music into the Global HipHop Economy (including its digital manifestations), injecting it with violence, consumerism, and other superfluous and destructive lyrics, while spreading its influence as a literacy at the same time.

Besides liking this video and music, I posted it because I thought middle school or high school teachers could use it for critical literacy assignments.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Critical Perspectives, Global Multiliteracy, In the Classroom, Resources, The Arts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

DMLcentral Resource / Beyond The New London Group

Posted by nicholaspelafas on August 26, 2011

The more time I spend on the web exploring this field, the more encouraged I am at the number of people thinking and writing about new literacies.  The field of multiliteracies is in the midst of a transformation that is pulling the discussion closer to our contemporary reality and beyond the original work of the New London Group published 15 years ago (which is eons in techno-time).  In the multiliteracy blogosphere as of late there is an increasingly popular trend to explore the linkages between education, civic participation, and multiliteracies.  It seems educators are simultaneously becoming more aware of the natural participatory potentiality of multiliteracies and the necessity of education to embrace widely used new medias.  This type of thinking comes from the conviction of many young teachers/students these days, namely that education must be the central tenant in the movement to realize social transformation and a civic re-imagining.

A great example of one of these web resources is DML central (, which stands for digital media and learning.  DML central is the online forum  for the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub located at the systemwide University of California Humanities Research Institute.  It is similar to what we were envisioning for this blog, but with much more funding and institutional direction – which is certainly a credit to what you can accomplish without those two things.  DML is a space where we can consciously consider the role of digital media in our society, and how we can best understand it and influence its usage via education.  While clearly digital interconnectivity is only part of the picture when it comes to transforming society and truly reforming education, DML ties it to praxis, stating its mission as wanting “to enable break-through collaborations and evoke illuminating conversations that lead to innovations in learning and public participation.”   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Critical Perspectives, In the Classroom, Resources, Technology, The Arts, What is Multiliteracy? | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lip Dubs: Yet Another Form of Literacy

Posted by mariamengel on August 8, 2011

It seems that the YouTube Lib Dub trend is catching on!  According to Wikipedia, a lip dub is “a type of video that combines lip synching and audio dubbing to make a music video”.

At JCC Camp By the Sea, children two years through grade ten attend summer camp in New Jersey and participate in several projects and athletic group activities.  One of their favorite projects includes a lib dub that all of the participants play a part in.  The students learn about lib dubbing, filming and editing videos, directing, mash ups, playing roles and drama, and music.  Here is one example of a lib dub created at JCC Camps, “The Ultimate Queen Mash Up“:

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Music – the original multiliteracy – an ode

Posted by nicholaspelafas on August 7, 2011

[note on the 2pak track: this is the first lp by these new cats from chicago, with that traditional summertime chi-town boom-bap flav.  some of their rhymes are a little bit juvenile, but their flow is generally on point and production tight.  i chose this track because it came out a few weeks ago and deals with technology and online literacies in a very contemporary way that reflects both the shallow and deep ways youth are relating to these ideas.  make sure you check the 2nd verse @ 1:25 especially]

PEACE! Music, for me at least, has always been the original multiliteracy.  Although we seem to discount music as being less important that other literacies, I have always believed that music literacy could be just as beneficial, critical, reflective, motivating, creative, and complex as any other literacy.  Jazz, Reggae, Funk, Blues, Rock, and especially Hip-Hop have made crucial contributions to progress in the complexity of music literacy.  It is important to consider that, in a fashion parallel to multiliteracies, technology has played a central role in the evolution of music literacy.

I think music literacy in some degree should be required by all students.   Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

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!”

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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.

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