MCLB #2: Multiliteracies

Multiliteracies fit into my conception of literacy because there is a focus on the ever-changing nature of literacy and the technologies we use to communicate. Language is changing constantly, between new text lingo developing and different dialects emerging, and new technologies are developing constantly. I believe it is important for the literate individual to be able to flow with the change of multiliteracies and to develop new systems of communication based on the new literacies formed. For example, it is important for adults and students alike to be in the know about the changing forms of communication in order to keep up with society and relate to what is going on. For example, as a future teacher it is vital for me to be on top of new forms of communication available so that I can relate to my students. I should know how they can communicate with their friends and even how I can use these new types of literacy to relate to my students.

One section of the Cope and Kalantzis that really made me think was when the focus was on what is currently happening in schools. Even though we have all kinds of research and data telling us that schools need to be different and change with the times, schools are still moving backward in their curriculum design. Students are being taught skill and drill and being taught for standardized tests. The curriculum in many schools has not moved forward and has not changed with the needs of the students. Students are being taught subjects unnecessary to their future and educators are so focused on standardized testing that there is no time for students to express themselves in any form aside from reading and writing.

As Cope and Kalantzis wrote, “we are supposed to be creating learners for the knowledge economy, for new workplaces which place a premium on creativity and self-motivation, for citizenship which devolves regulatory responsibility to many layers of self-governing community, and for an everyday lifeworld in which the balance of agency has shifted towards users, customers, and meaning-makers and in which diversity prevails” (p. 17).

As future educators we cannot teach to the test and then expect our students to be ready for the real-world. We need to prepare students to think critically and creatively, come up with their own ideas, and become self-motivating individuals that will excel in their future workplaces. We need to teach students how to become an active citizen and how to speak up against what they do not believe in. We need to teach students to use ever-changing multiliteracies to their advantage instead of instilling in them that they only way they can show that they are smart is to become a proficient reader and writer. In the same way that we would never expect a fish to climb a tree, we should not expect that every student in our class will excel if we only teach to one form of literacy.  (

Students can have literate identities in all forms. In the article, Reinforcing Multiliteracies Through Design Activities, Tonia Dousay wrote that there is reading literacy (“focuses on the ability to read and write”), visual literacy (“focuses on interpreting and using visual elements”), and media literacy (“multiple competences focused on accessing, analyzing, evaluating and communicating information in a variety of mediums”). Through these broad definitions of literacy, students with all different strengths can be identified as having strength in literacy. If we were to stay with the traditional definition of literacy as being proficient in reading and writing, students with knowledge in visual and media literacy would be missing out and would be portrayed as being less intelligent. However, with this new shift in literacy identities, I believe students of all diversities can show their strengths in literacy in different ways. For example, if all 20 students in the class were amazing at reading and writing but no one knew how to work a computer or draw, there would be a lot missing from the classroom. Through using diverse representations of meaning, students can share their knowledge in different forms and in turn, the classroom community will be a lot more interesting. Students can share what they know through their own literate identity and what their strength is and through that, they can teach the others students in the class other options of how to show their own knowledge. By accepting multiple literate identities, the classroom culture will become more inclusive and more welcoming to different representations of meaning. Students will learn that each person learns differently and that there is nothing wrong with that.

These new forms of literacies seem overwhelming to me when it comes to engaging my future students in my own classroom. Because there are so many various definitions of literacy now, how can I engage all of my students in a way that they can show their knowledge through means other than reading and writing. After contemplating this scenario, I turned to google where I found an article written by a teacher that used art in her classroom to allow students to express their knowledge in new ways.( The way she taught her lesson about community using art was more than you could teach using only reading and writing. She even said that she started with just reading, writing, and interviewing and saw that once she added creative elements to the lesson the students were able to extend their knowledge even more. It is inspiring to see a teacher use multiple literacies in a classroom and see amazing results. Similar to using art in the classroom to extend learning, the interactive stories website ( was a prime example of how using new technology can extend knowledge and can be even more moving than written language. The interactive stories were able to engage me through their moving images and audio recordings along with the different ways they could tell a story. This website was another inspiring example of how students can learn and display their knowledge in various forms.



2 thoughts on “MCLB #2: Multiliteracies

  1. Hi Vanessa,
    I like the fact that you spoke about needing to be in the know about new forms of communication due to needing to be able to relate to your students. If we do not know the forms of communication that are going on it will be difficult for us to keep our classrooms up and running in a way that can keep our students interested. You made such a great point about schools moving backward in their curriculum. Do you think that schools will eventually stop moving backward and “get with the times”? The fact that schools are not allowing the time for students to express themselves in forms other than reading and writing is concerning, because expression goes far beyond reading and writing. The quote stated “we are supposed to be creating learners for the knowledge economy” (Cope and Kalantzis, 2009), we are not fully fulfilling what we are expected to do, due to not expanding the expression of our students beyond reading and writing (at least majority). I completely agree with you in the fact that we cannot teach to the test and expect our students to be ready for the real world. Everything that you stated we need to do is so true and teaching only one form of literacy in the classroom is fair to none of our students. Incorporating diverse representations of meaning in the classroom are critical to education, students learn in various different ways and focusing on one way of representation is unjust.


  2. Hi Vanessa! I really like that you stated that literacy is ever-changing and that language is always changing throughout our society as well. I feel that language is something that will always be evolving in the future years. The fact that you stated “I need to be able to relate to my students” really makes a valid point because teachers need to be able to get to know their students on a deeper level and a much more personal level. Teachers want to be able to communicate with their students on different platforms because that is how they are talking to their own friends. Teachers need to be up-to-date on the newest and latest forms of communication in order for students to stay engaged on what is being taught. On another note, your picture was an incredible choice. This shows that not everyone leans the same way and they might not all be able to do what is told to them from the “traditional” way of teaching. Teachers need to be able to use different modes of literacy in order to present information in a fresh and exciting way.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s