“Lend me your ears…”

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash
Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

Blog #1 Response

  • “Lend me your ears…”. Here is the advice that I will give to my colleagues to support their literacy teaching in contemporary times.

The word literacy can conjure images of libraries full of books, newspapers, and magazines for all ages. Yet, in the past twenty or so years, libraries have expanded to include DVDs, audiobooks, and ebooks. The way literacy is viewed now is much broader than reading words on paper, and keeping this in mind in your classroom will help your students prepare them for the changing world around them. In EDCI 410, my class discussed what literacy is, and one of the definitions that resonated with me is that literacy is understanding and responding to communication, but communication can come in many forms.

In 1996 the New London Group published articles and books, where they laid out their ideas around a “pedagogy of multiliteracies” (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009). Cope and Kalantzis (2009) explain that the group wanted to emphasize that these ‘new’ literacies exist and are changing social practices everywhere. This is why, as teachers, it is important to be aware of the six design elements of multiliteracy. Linguistic deals with vocabulary, text structures, and grammar (Manning-Lewis, 2021). Visual is items such as photographs, images, and design (Manning-Lewis, 2021). Audio is sounds, voice-overs, and music (Manning-Lewis, 2021). Next is gestural, which is the interactive or physical actions that take place in text (Manning-Lewis, 2021). Then spatial, which is virtual spaces or interactive elements in texts (Manning-Lewis, 2021). Last is multimodal, which is when two or more design elements are used in communication (Manning-Lewis, 2021). With the knowledge of these six design elements of multiliteracy, people can recognize situations that occur in daily and classroom life. Yet, how can teachers prepare students for new types of literacy like media, data, ethical, or all other types of literacy?

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

In a small group, and again as a class, I was involved in a discussion about how we see the “changing landscape of literacy” (Manning-Lewis, 2021). My group decided that since there are so many ‘new literacies’ that rather than focus on some, teachers should instill skills that will help students navigate literacies as they encounter them. You can prepare students for the 21st century by focusing on the skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, creativity, and innovation (Manning-Lewis, 2021); teachers are equipping students to enter into new situations with confidence. Connecting to O’Rourke when they spoke about how there is a human dimension to literacy in that our choices are “shaped and influenced by the individual sense maker and communicator and the sum total of his or her knowledge and life experience” (2005). As teachers, we have a “responsibility to support learners to have a creative and critical mind” (Bourgatte, 2015) and should embrace the concept that we are teaching students to be ready for the next undefined fad, app, or career. By focusing on 21st-century skills and multiliteracy, teachers will prepare their students for the new literacies they will come across in this digital age.


Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2009). “Multiliteracies”: New literacies, new learning. Pedagogies: An international journal, 4:3, 164-195. DOI: 10.1080/15544800903076044

Bourgatte, M. (2015). Teaching and Learning to Read Images and Movies in the Digital Age. КУЛТУРА / CULTURE. Vol. 5, No. 12. From http://journals.cultcenter.net/index.php/culture/article/view/186 

Manning-Lewis, T. (2021, July 16). Literacy in a Digital Age [PowerPoint]. https://bright.uvic.ca/d2l/le/content/128692/viewContent/1170805/View 

O’Rourke, M. (2005). Multiliteracies for 21st century schools. ANSN Snapshot. Vol. 2, 1-12.From https://bright.uvic.ca/d2l/le/content/128692/viewContent/1140051/View

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *