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EDF3151 Assignment 2

Tanya Nguyen

PART 2 CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF IN-SERVICE LITERACY PLANNING


STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
The overall strength of the unit is the variety of theories used to inform it.
This is especially evident in the week 1 plan (which I will be focusing on
for this section).
The use of Blooms Taxonomy (1956) in the digital citizenship learning
tasks shows that the Taxonomy is still as relevant today as it was in 1956.
It is a particularly useful tool that can be used to frame questions that
target different levels of cognitive processing (Churchill et al., 2011, p.
261), and allows the focus to be on the application of knowledge rather
than just knowledge recall (Churchill et al., 2011, p. 396). The Taxonomy
represents the rungs of a ladder, taking students from low-order thinking
to high-order thinking. It is worth noting that the data interpretation
learning tasks also follow along with Blooms Taxonomy, though not as
explicitly.
While traditionally, literacy teaching has confined itself to the forms of
written language (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009, p. 178), the unit does its best
to stay away from traditional forms of literacy, with the exception of one
activity construct a one page summary. Although traditional literacy
does have its limitations (Cope & Kalantzis (2009, p. 166) call it overt
instruction and there is an assumption that it is a dreary part of school
life (Bulfin & Koutsogiannis, 2012, p. 331)), it can be argued that
students must understand traditional communications even as they
practice with new and different approaches (Brown & Tryon, 2010, p. 237,
as cited in Lyons, 2015a). Additionally, Cope & Kalantzis (2009, p. 180)
suggest that written language is open to a wide range of possible
visualisations as the words have to be filled in with visual meaning.
While students write their summaries, they each will have a different
representation, and therefore visualisation, of the program that they have
watched. In doing this activity, students will be making-meaning in a
multimodal way.
Cope & Kalantzis (2009, p. 179) state that much of our everyday
representational experience is intrinsically multimodal and meaning is
made in ways that are increasingly multimodal (Cope & Kalantzis, 1997,
p. 470). The fact that the unit has incorporated so many multimodal
activities is a definite strength. However, it is worth noting that meaning
expressed in one mode cannot be directly and completely translated into
another [for example] the image can never do the same thing as the
description of a scene in language (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009, p. 180). This
needs to be kept in mind, especially with the retelling of the 4 Corners
program.
Lankshear & Knobel (2003, as cited in Carrington & Marsh, 2005, p. 284)
contend that schools need to embrace the 21st century societal changes or
else students will be consigned to a literacy education that bears little

EDF3151 Assignment 2

Tanya Nguyen

resemblance to their increasingly multimodal and multimedia out-ofschool practices. The unit has done that, accepting and implementing
literacy as a social practice. It provides students with skills such a
teamwork, collaboration, communication, leadership, critical thinking, and
problem solving (Graff, 2010, p. 636, as cited in Lyons, 2015b) so that
they can become an active designer of meaning, with a sensibility open
to differences, change and innovation (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009, p. 175).
The use of visual organisers as activities within lessons is particularly
good, as everyone at one level or another is a visual thinker (Dan Roam,
as cited in Nalder, 2009, p. 17). An example of the use of one is in the
remembering lesson, where students are expected to construct a
pictorial flow-chart to re-tell the 4 Corners program, with the choice of
additional captions to reinforce [their] illustrations. Through the visual
organisation of their thoughts and text, students can see the structure
and understand and remember better (Dymock, 2005, as cited in Timms,
2013, p. 22). Nalder (2009, p. 17) suggests that the act of creating the
picture forces us to think in new ways and thinking visually brings some
huge advantages, especially when group/collaborative learning is
concerned. Of course, this may be difficult for students who find they are
not so visually-inclined, however, the addition of captions may help. As
Dymock (2005, as cited in Timms, 2013, p. 22) states, visual organisers
are critical in cognitive learning as [they] provide [students] with tools for
creating order out of text.
In regards to policy, they are (strict) guidelines that the school has to
follow. While the lessons may not have been developed with curriculum
links in mind, a connection to the AusVELS outcomes needs to be made.
The strength of this unit is that there is an abundance of content that
spans across several domains in the curriculum, even within week 1 alone.
Furthermore, due to the (controversial) content of the unit, it may cause
unease and political manoeuvring amongst educators, policy-makers and
parents (Carrington & Marsh, 2005, p. 279) because they may not
understand how important a topic this is for children and early
adolescents.
Perhaps this is so due to the technological (generational) gap between
adults (parents and teachers, in particular) and students. As Buckingham
(2003) contends, it cannot be denied that the experience of young
people growing up in the contemporary media environment is now vastly
different from that of the majority of their teachers. The unit (and its
lessons) is a direct representation of this gap, as it would not have been
around when the teachers themselves were at school. Even though they
will use and interact with technology every day, their knowledge of it is
not as widespread as their students. This places significant limits on
what we can possibly know, and on how relevant our teaching can be
(Buckingham, 2003), which is a problem with a unit that focuses
predominantly on digital citizenship.

EDF3151 Assignment 2

Tanya Nguyen

SUGGESTIONS
Although there are a variety of activities listed in week 1 that allow
students to learn and showcase their learning, I would suggest being
aware of students preference of mode of representation and Howards
Multiple Intelligences (1983). Cope & Kalantzis (2009, p. 180) believe that
some learners may be more comfortable in one mode than another,
such as one person may prefer to conceive a project as a list of
instructions; another as a flow diagram. This connects to the Multiple
Intelligences theory that Howard proposed, which is aware of students
different visual-spatial, kinaesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal,
linguistic, mathematical and naturalistic abilities (Clarke & Pittaway,
2015). Incorporating a range of learning situations allows for
differentiation in the classroom. An example of this would be to allow
students to create the awareness poster on cyber safety, but also allow
for different ways of showcasing their knowledge, such as through
performance, video or writing. By adopting and implementing a range of
teaching strategies, the most desirable learning outcomes are likely to be
achieved, as there is ample evidence that variety and flexibility in
instruction help to maintain learners attention and increase achievement
(Killen, 2016, p. 88).
Additionally, as this is a unit about digital citizenship, perhaps it would be
prudent to introduce and incorporate the use of technology from the very
beginning. This is the case with the student survey in the data
interpretation learning task, which students complete, assumedly, on
paper. Although students will have experience filling out survey type
questionnaires before, through NAPLAN and other school tests,
introducing them to online surveys really incorporates the digital side.
That is not to say that paper and pen methods should not be used, but as
Buckingham (2003) articulates, Funge argues that we are now in a new
phase of representation. Furthermore, to get students to think of their
own questions and to create their own (online) surveys would get them to
build on their own knowledge, as meaning makers do not simply use
what they have been given: they are fully makers and remakers of signs
and transformers of meaning (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009, p. 175).
Overall, while it is not perfect, the unit is an excellent one. It is important
for schools to incorporate ICT, especially in this digitalised word, and to
promote good digital citizenship through the different policies, theories
and pedagogy. However, as teachers, we must remember that this new
literacy is not considered new to students at all, and all these changes
that may be perceived as radical are perceived as normal and
expected for the youth who are coming of age during these years of
rapid technological evolution (Hagood, 2010, p. 311).

EDF3151 Assignment 2

Tanya Nguyen

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EDF3151 Assignment 2

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EDF3151 Assignment 2

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