Sunday: 10 April 2011

Rethinking assessment in an age of new, participatory, and multimodal adolescent literacies

Lalitha Vasudevan Insight theatre project:

How would we teach if we assumed that all youth were literate?


  • Literacies are not static
  • Literacies are contextual

Reimagined literacy education/identity:

  • "multimodal selves"
  • performative understanding of identity
  • social practices that are multimodal markers of identity (for instance: seeing, photographing, sending a text message of a piece of art)
  • who are adolescents BEING? how are they interacting?

If all of these things are literacy, then adolescents ARE literate. What happens when (pedagogically) you assume this?

Insight Theatre: Literacy practices include...*singing

  • stage directions
  • director notes
  • rehearsal
  • How can we understand this scene on the whole? How can you assess the value of this project / these literacies?

Multiple texts/modes help us shift gaze from texts to the scenes / practices / communities / selves.

Insight theatre begins with youth stories: beginning with improv, storytelling, etc.*An interest in representational modes that are not just speech or writing is central: Looking at LANGUAGE and COMMUNICATION in context.

  • Also writing & rhetoric: "How can what we teach and test be so different from what our students know as writing?" - Yancey
  • We need more open definitions: How can we create opportunities for definitions to broaden?

4 dimensions of new literacy pedagogies: *reimagining pedagogical bodies

  • spaces
  • texts
  • practices.
  • For instance: Physical postures in pedagogical relationships? What's our response to out-of-space bodies? Where do educators locate themselves in pedagogical space?

Kelly Wissman Intertextualities, Multimodalities, meaning making in a reading support class.

THEORY --*Adolescent literacies: Hull & Katz, Alvermann & Eakle

  • Pop culture
  • Narrative
  • Genre

DESIGN --*Middle/Secondary teachers, incorporating multimodal literacies

  • Comic Life software
  • Reading the Outsiders, engaged in discussions, writing scripts, creating comics in comic life software.
  • Narrative/dialogue boxes, images download, etc.

METHOD --*Grounded theory

  • Range & variation of intertextualities, meaning-making, perspectives on their learning.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS -- In these comics, do we see...*Semiotic resources?

  • Intertextuality?
  • Narrative conventions?
  • Cultural models?

Saw a difference btw traditional (rising action, climax, falling action) & postmodern narratives & multimodal narratives.

Looking at ways that student import genres: They assert symbolic meaning, include high emotion/sentiment, and playing with the ideas of playing with convention in popular media.


4 students.

  • Delia: Worked alone bc she was super-invested in it. Idea of image, caught up in the colors, fonts, compositions - creating a symbolic message. Idea of violence, rising violence.
  • Tanya: Other students said that she was smart - she's knowledgeable. Contemplative mood, choosing a resolution scene where the kids are moving forward ("nothing gold can stay"). Central sunset metaphor/background: the sunset is like a character? This is more like a graphic novel than a comic... but she didn't have experience with that genre.
  • Derek: Disliked reading/writing. Very quiet, disaffiliated from school, did school bc knew he needed a hs diploma. Resisted everything including reading the novel, the software, etc. He picks a poignant bleak scene, but presents it with family guy / cartoon characters, and a lot of comic nonsequitars. Very ironic sense. You have to know the family guy giant chicken storyline to understand Derek's comic. The only thing he was interested in was the family guy images.
  • George: Enjoyed "taking a break from desk work" - liked the software, liked the novel, he was the only student who wanted to entertain his classmates. He chose to represent ponyboy as a centaur. Tons of diverse cultural references - subway, family guy intertextual references, unresolved stories, etc. - No dialogue from the novel, looking at characters as detached narrators (again like south park or family guy). "Concept of story" is under question.


-- Inventive presentation of literacies, intertextualities, but these were not valued by state assessments, which are divorced from kids' lives and literacies.

Amy Stornaiuolo (filling in for Glynda Hull). Rethinking literacy and assessment in a digital age.

-- When standardized high stakes assessments are used as a definitive, fair measure of what someone knows (which they are not)... then kids from diverse backgrounds are automatically funneled into situations with less opportunity.

-- "New basics" lead to "new audiences" - flexibility cannot be measured by current tests and standard understandings of literacies.

-- Space2Cre8 project: Idea of thinking about multiple assessments of multiple literacies. Trying to think about self-representation, for instance. What does that MEAN? How do kids accomplish that?

Bakhti's story: Inspired many responses -- how do you assess a movie that presents a story like Bakhti's? What does it mean? What about the response movies?*We can't think about modes or literacies in isolation.

  • Design measures that look at processes and flows. (This is the hardest part!)
  • Trying to understand what kids are going for in their texts / movies / etc what they're trying to achieve through interviews.

What about the idea of genre? Digital story? Music video?

  • Gabriel's story: His intention is to give people a little bit of an idea of his home. It's explicitly an echo of Bakhti's movie: "I saw a movie about a girl in India... I wanted to show people my way."
  • South African films: Dalton, Charlotte - inspired to reveal parents and fraught relationships with them.

-- Digital rubric: categories about voice and flow and audience, trying to take account of what goes into a movie.

-- Assessments shouldn't be divorced from the literacy practices, e.g. using artifacts in daily environments as occasions for assessment and critique and knowledge creation.


What about using comments to assess, like youtube? That's a naturalistic kind of assessment / response: And kids could then self-assess. Based on audience feedback, what do I learn about how to change this?

Is there a difference between the idea of artistic critique (literary mag / MFA) and artistic design (Kress) -- making choices vs/ critiquing a personal story?

WHY do we assess? Thinking about that as well.