Wk 6 – Digital Storytelling

Ideas from Jones (2012):

  • Engagement and literacy development – The use of iPads, both in general and as a medium for creating digital stories, greatly increased students’ engagement with their tasks. Using the Play School Art Maker app allowed the teacher to present the lesson in a social, play-based context, which also aided student engagement and construction of meaning through the retelling of stories the students had heard and creating and ordering stories of their own. This strong engagement resulted in greater development of the students’ literacy skills and their ability to use and interact with the technology.
  • Scaffolding and assessment – Through the technology, the teacher was able to scaffold literacy learning, whereby the iPad became “a powerful medium for meaning-making” (p. 36), and also give students access to instant feedback and reflection by way of being able to playback the movies they create. The technology also allowed the teacher to integrate, track and record the students’ learning from lesson to lesson – this information guided the teacher’s formative assessment, highlighted learning needs that might not otherwise have been apparent, and ultimately influenced ongoing planning during the unit.
  • Student ownership – Giving students the opportunity to create their own film narratives in small groups with digital technology shifts the focus of learning away from more traditional teacher-centred models and places students firmly at the heart of the learning process. Digital storytelling apps give students a chance to interact with familiar texts by retelling, reshaping and/or remixing them in a multimodal context, expanding the bounds of how picture books have traditionally been used in classrooms. Interacting with familiar narrative texts at a structural level gives students an opportunity to develop more fluid and hopefully more thorough understandings of how texts work.


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Wk 5 – ‘The Lost Thing’ on the IWB

The Interactive White Board activity developed by Laura E.A. and I.

Develop visual literacy. Students will be able to interpret the sequence of emotion in a text from different perspectives by ‘reading’ angles, vectors, colour, character proximity and salience.

The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan
IWB Notebook file.


  • Reading the text with the whole class and use think-alouds to draw attention to visual features.
  • Model dragging and dropping adjectives that reflect emotion to match appropriate image in the book.
  • Select students to do the same with the emotions/adjectives and ask the class why they think the student has made this choice. Student then drags and drops the technique used as identified by the class.


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Wk 4 – Good Examples

Flat Rosie’s Adventures

This blog follows Flat Rosie – a colourful paper doll from Sydney – on her travels around the classrooms of the world. This blog was part of the Global Classroom Project, that allowed schools and classrooms in different parts of the globe to connect and communicate with one another via the blogosphere. The blog is managed primarily by the Sydney teacher, however other children in the countries Flat Rosie visited contributed to her story with photos, videos, and written work that were then compiled and posted on the blog.

Flat Rosie’s blog was the product of a Year 2 class (age 8-9), however the concept of sending an inanimate “representative” or mascot of the class on a journey around the world could be adapted for middle and upper primary grades as well.

The focus on global communication and interconnectedness that this blog fosters could work really well in an HSIE unit on global connections. The use of various types of digital media and overarching conceit of narrating from Flat Rosie’s perspective also works well to draw the viewer in.

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Wk 4 – Blogging in the Classroom

Three key ideas/activities from Kim Pericles’ article, Happily Blogging @ Belmore South:

  • Integration – The first thing that struck me was the breadth and scope of activities across numerous KLAs that Ms. Pericles was able to integrate with blogging. English and literacy are the first areas that jump to mind when any mention of blogs is made, but the examples given include maths (via football scores and team ladders), drama (through scripting and a recorded performance of Macbeth), art (with photographs and slideshows), and science (in the form of experiment write-ups). Blogs are a powerful tool for communication, and can be integrated not only across the KLAs, but also into the learning process itself, where students integrate “what they are learning to construct meaningful ways to share their learning with new audiences” (Pericles, 2008, p. 6).

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Wk 3 – Muppet Green


Hosted by two charmingly scruffy Muppet-esque puppets, this short video emphasises the misrepresentation, spin-doctoring and general dearth of facts present in advertising. The focus is on campaigns by major companies, designed to convince the public of their commitment to the green movement. This, they achieve largely through image association (eg. happy babies, dancing, sunshine), bright colours, and a positive musical slogan (“a little better”); there is no factual information in the ad at all. This form of company “branding” is referred to as greenwashing. The hosts go on to demonstrate and explain various marketing/PR strategies at work within a typical greenwashing ad, and direct the viewer to websites where more information can be found.

I think the most pertinent point to come out of this video from a teaching perspective, and something that could/should be discussed extensively with upper-primary age children, is that advertising is designed to elicit specific responses in the viewer. Given the barrage of media messages in our everyday lives, it is important that children have the skills to identify how an advertisement is trying to position them. From there, teachers can model the sorts of analytical questions we might ask to determine what a piece of advertising is really saying, for example:

  • What facts does this ad give us? What might that tell us about the company?
  • What do BP mean by “gas stations, a little better”?
  • What is BP actually doing to improve its impact on the environment? Do we know? How?
  • What is this ad trying to tell us? How?
  • What is this ad actually telling us?

By familiarising children with the marketing techniques and strategies present in media and advertising, it is my hope that they will emerge as more critically aware of the media they consume and less likely to be swayed or manipulated by the influx of messages they are exposed to every day.

Wk 3 – Everything’s New Under the Literate Sun

Lanksheer and Knobel (2012) argue for a definition of new literacies that incorporates both “new technical stuff” and “new ethos stuff” (p. 66). With regard to education, new literacies are often discussed in terms of an increased emphasis on digital media and/or visual literacy in classroom practice (Ohler, 2009; Marcus, 2009; Martinez, 2010). This is easy to action and implement from a practical standpoint, but as Lanksheer and Knobel (2012) point out, spending more time on digital media in a classroom will not necessarily challenge the traditional classroom paradigms of “singularity, centredness, enclosure, [and] individualisation” (p. 48), which they argue are not compatible with the shifting social ethos of collective, de-centred creation and intelligence that has developed particularly rapidly in tandem with the rise of digital technology that caters to it. For a literary practice to be considered ‘new’, by this definition, it must adhere to or at the very least approximate the forms of a collective, participatory social ethos.

For Houtman (2013), a definition of new literacies appears to focus more on the transformational characteristics of literacy practices, in response to technological developments in the future as well as the paradigm shifts outlined by Lanksheer and Knobel (2012). Practices that may be considered revolutionary today could be old-hat by next year, and given the speed at which technology and the various platforms for engagement are changing, and the spread of social connectedness, the calls we are seeing now for a shift towards a collective, participatory classroom literacy culture may, within a few years, be realised. However, Houtman (2013) warns against the being overly optimistic. While the Internet may be the current generation’s yardstick to which they relate all forms of literacy, the realities of classroom teaching (ie. resource availability, user capability) also need to be taken into consideration.

In short, new literacies, to me, encourage a broadening of the traditional classroom’s horizons to include the use and study of various media modes, and their related collective methods of involvement. This broadening works to engage students in the business of learning to be literate in ways that are immediately relevant to them and will best serve them in a rapidly changing future.


Reference List

Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2013/new-literacies-learning-and-libraries-how-can-frameworks-from-other-fields-help-us-think-about-the-issues/ Accessed March 17th, 2014.

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2012). ‘New’literacies: technologies and values. Teknokultura. Revista de Cultura Digital y Movimientos Sociales, 9(1), 45-71.  Retrieved from http://everydayliteracies.net/files/RemixTeknokulturaEnglish.pdf Accessed March 17th, 2014.

Marcus, S. (2009). New basics for new literacies. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60(9), 1933-1938.

Martinez, M. (2010). New literacies for a new era. The Phi Delta Kappan, 92(3), 72-73.

Ohler, J. (2009). New-media literacies. The Education Digest, 75(3), 31-36.