The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 1 - Page 12


Tech Talk

Multimodal texts fuse rich, traditional literacy instruction with art-based literacies to strengthen students’ writing through engaging collaborative literacy practices (Lenters & Winters, 2013). Multimodal texts integrate multiple modes of communication (e.g., linguistic, visual, auditory, gestural, and spatial) to convey meaning (Martens, Martens, Doyle, Loomis, & Aghalarov, 2012). Picture books are well-known multimodal texts used in many elementary classrooms because the linguistic, visual, spatial, and gestural modes all work together to communicate meaning (Martens et al., 2012; Serafini, 2010). On this same note, books that are read aloud to students demonstrate multimodality because the verbal, pictorial, and gestural modalities foster meaning making among students (Oliveira et al., 2014). However, 21st century literacies have now expanded multimodality to include the presence of digital- and media-based elements within texts (Lenters & Winters, 2013).

21st Century Multimodal Texts

21st century multimodal texts consist of a variety of elements, including written text, audio narration, images, music, video, and/or sound effects (Jones & Hafner, 2012; Luke, Tracy, & Bricker, 2015). Construction of 21st century multimodal texts requires use of various digital tools, such as computers, computer software, digital cameras, iPad devices, audio recording devices, and scanners (Luke et al., 2015). 21st century multimodal texts are much more complex than traditional multimodal texts and require readers to assume different roles (Serafini, 2012). Rather than the traditional roles of decoder, participant, user, and analyst, readers of 21st century multimodal texts must now assume the roles of navigator, interpreter, designer, and interrogator. Moreover, readers of 21st century multimodal texts must interpret textual aspects beyond the written language system, such as hypertext, visual images, graphic elements, and audio narration.

Similar to differences with reading, there are also differences with writing in relation to 21st century multimodal texts (Mills & Exley, 2014). Dalton (2012) described the digital designers’ workshop, which is a digital adaptation of the writing workshop approach. In the digital designers’ workshop, components of the writing workshop are still implemented (i.e., mini-lessons, writing time, conferencing, and share time), as well as a recursive process approach to writing (i.e., planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing). However, in the digitally adapted version, teachers encourage students to think of themselves as designers, and students often compose 21st century multimodal texts collaboratively

21st Century Literacies.

The National Council of Teachers of English (2013) defined the following as requisite skills for learners within a 21st century global society:

• uses technology proficiently and fluently;

• builds purposeful connections and relationships with diverse people to engage with collaborative inquiry thinking and problem solving;

• creates and shares information for a variety of purposes with a variety of audiences globally;

• directs, examines, and synthesizes a succession of synchronous information from multiple sources;

• designs, assesses, analyzes, and criticizes multimodal texts; and

• attends to ethical obligations necessitated by these complex environments.

Many K-12 teachers use 21st century multimodal texts during instruction to enhance students’ development of 21st

1.Ability to identify and follow a clear instructional goal when integrating digital technology

2.Ability to identify an appropriate instructional approach for the instructional goal

3.Ability to select appropriate digital or nondigital tools to support instruction

4.Ability to foresee how the selected tool can contribute to the instructional goal

5.Ability to identify the potential constraints of using the tool to determine whether they can be overcome

6.Ability to understand how the instruction will need to be delivered or altered due to the use of the selected tool

7.Ability to reflect on the resulting instruction and make changes/ learn more about the instructional tools as needed (Hutchison and Woodward, 2014, p. 459)

Figure 1. Seven critical elements identified by Hutchison and Woodward (2014) that serve as a reflective cycle for teachers and stand to affect the success (or lack thereof) of digitally enhanced instruction.