Authors: Lotherington, H., Holland, M., Sotoudeh, S., Zentena, M.
Journal: The Canadian Modern Language Review, (2008), 65, 1 (Sept.) 125-145.
This collaborative action research takes place in a public school in Toronto, Canada. The three teachers involved and the researcher are committed to perfecting pedagogies which support emerging literacy, and value the many home languages that their students bring to their classrooms. Each teacher also tries to incorporate digital technologies into their multi-modal, multilingual, early childhood, story-telling projects. I chose this article, because it fit into the theme of project-based learning, and it intrigued me with its visual documentation of multimodal teaching techniques.
The first teacher describes how she uses the classic story of The Three Little Pigs to work on curriculum standards in art, math, language, social studies, science, and technology in a first-grade classroom. The story was retold in different home languages using parent volunteers. The students use the story as a mentor text to create their own original stories. They create sequenced, plasticine storyboards in a box. The teacher then photographs each sequence, and puts them into an iMovie. The students then narrate their movies in a chosen language. NETS*S 1a. & 1b. are addressed with this project as the students use existing knowledge of their home spoken language to generate a new product/process as a means of personal expression. They create an original digital movie with the help of their teacher. NETS*S 2b. & 2c. are addressed by the sharing of the iMovies with the class, and the fact that the class discusses cultural differences before creating their iMovie’s. NETS*S 4b. is attended to when students manage their storyboard sequencing to complete their projects. NETS*T addressed includes those which focus on creative inventiveness, incorporating digital tools, and participating in a local learning community through the application of technology.
The second teacher uses an Aesop fable as a mentor text for students to create their own Kid Pix stories in small groups in a kindergarten classroom. Each group’s creation is published using either a Kid Pix slide show with audio attachments of students telling their story, or a PowerPoint slide show with text boxes. Parent volunteers and Educational Assistants help translate the stories into three different languages. The NETS*S and NETS*T discussed in the above classroom setting would also be addressed with this classroom project.
The third teacher uses the story of The Little Red Hen to create a multilingual word wall. A digital camera and camcorder are used to document classroom activities which included building the story in many languages, and cooking the foods presented in the story. Parents were encouraged to help translate the story, and view the pictures and video of the culminating activities. The study also discusses the use of on-line translators in the absence of community volunteers.
I found this article of interest, because almost every school has some children who speak other languages at home. The teachers in this study used many modalities to encourage emerging literacy including technology. They also used technology to produce something of value for the parents and to honor the multilingual nature of their community. The school district in which I work has many students learning English as a second language. We have two dual immersion schools which focus on English and Spanish, and many Korean students at the school where I work. This study presents an example of honoring home languages, and incorporating them using technology. Whether simply documenting with digital photos and video, or creating stories and movies with software, the goal is the same. It is important to share projects with parents, and the community. It is also important to honor and respect the cultures, and languages that our students bring to the classroom. I would be willing to try any of these uses of technology.