ERG SES C 13, Learning and Teaching
We live in an ever changing world of increasingly complex texts, which put new demands on people’s literacy proficiency. As adults children will be expected to be able to both read and produce complex multimodal texts of high quality. Research shows that literacy teaching in the early school years generally rewards formal aspects of writing at the expense of content aspects (Liberg et al, 2012b). Moreover, according to Marsh (2012) children live and deal with a plethora of different sorts of texts, be they books, films, games, web sites, stickers, bed linen prints etcetera. In order to focus other aspects of writing than formal ones, it is necessary to balance the discussion of how to talk about other aspects of students’ text-making. A more developed metalanguage regarding content aspects of children’s early multimodal writing is much needed, in order for teachers to be able to make and communicate informed didactic choices.
The purpose of this study is therefore to further explore how students use words and pictures when creating texts, and to develop a metalanguage for the multimodal aspects of these texts. In focus is the question of how students through their drawings position themselves in relation to their texts and potential readers. The expressed positions – here called drawer positions – are investigated in multimodal texts, made by students in their first school year. The drawer positions were studied partly in terms of how meaning is expressed in the drawings and partly how the drawn and the written parts of text are related (Westlund, 2013).
The theoretical framework is based on an expanded concept of text and a dialogic perspective on language use. Within the field of social semiotics form and meaning are viewed as an indivisible whole, and cannot in any fruitful way be analysed independently (e.g. Kress, 2003). Together with Brezemer, Kress argues for the need for an expanded view on the concept of text and introduces the concept of multimodality (Brezemer and Kress, 2009), to be used for expressions where many different symbol systems are combined, e.g. pictures and letters. According to Kress (1997) children naturally use many different symbol systems. Of importance for this study is thus the social aspect of children’s writing. In accordance with a dialogic perspective Dyson (1997) describes all language use as a sort of social subject positioning, where children to the same extent as adults are active and creative co-actors. Inspired by Dyson, Smith (2004) further explores how children in their writing appropriate a position; a social role, maybe in the form of an expert, an entertainer, a debater etcetera. Moreover, with the concept of textual movability Liberg et al (2012a) seek to “[…] capture how a reader is positioning him- or herself in relation to the text and its content” (ibid., p. 65, my transl.). As an extension, Holtz (2010) introduces the concepts of writing movability and writer positions, which refers to an author’s own positioning towards potential readers. Linking to this research, the concept of drawer positions presented in this study refers to the subject positions that are appropriated by authors when they are expressing themselves with drawings.
Brezemer, Jeff and Kress, Gunther (2009) Writing in a Multimodal World of Representation. In Beard, Roger; Myhill, Debra; Nystrand, Martin & Riley, Jeni (Ed.). The SAGE Handbook of Writing Development. (pp. 167-181). London: SAGE Publications. Dyson, Anne Haas (1997). Writing Superheroes: Contemporary Childhood, Popular Culture, and Classroom Literacy. New York: Teachers College Press. Holtz, Britt Maria (2010). … så undrar jag varför vi just arbetar med gud och inte med djävulen… - en analys av elevtexter i SO-ämnet ( ... so I wonder why we are working with God and not with the devil ... - an analysis of student texts in social studies). Uppsala: Uppsala University. Hopperstad, Marit Holm (2010). Studying Meaning in Children's Drawings. In Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 10(4), pp. 430-352. Kress, Gunther (1997). Before Writing. Rethinking the paths to literacy. London: Routledge. Kress, Gunther (2003). Literacy in the New Media Age. London and New York: Routledge. Kress, Gunther and van Leeuwen, Theo (2006). Reading Images. The Grammar of Visual Design. London and New York: Routledge. Liberg, Caroline; Bremholm, Jesper; Folkeryd, Jenny W.; af Geijerstam, Åsa; Hallesson, Yvonne and Holtz, Britt Maria (2012a). Textrörlighet – ett begrepp i rörelse (Text Movability – a concept in motion). In Matre, Synnøve and Skaftun, Atle (Ed.), Skriv! Läs! 1, (pp. 65-81). Trondheim: Akademika forlag. Liberg, Caroline, Nordlund, Anna, Folkeryd, Jenny W. & af Geijerstam, Åsa (2012b). Research program: Function, Form and Content in Interaction. Students' Text-Making in the Early School Years. Application to the Committee for Educational Sciences, Swedish Research Council. Case number 2012‐5058. Marsh, Jackie (2012). Early Childhood Literacy and Popular Culture. In Larson, Joanne & Marsh, Jackie (Ed.). The SAGE Handbook of Early Childhood Literacy, pp. 207-222. London: SAGE. Norman, Rebecca (2012) Reading the Graphics: What is the relationship between graphical reading processes and student comprehension? In Reading and Writing, 25, pp. 739-774. Smidt, Jon (2004). Sjangrer og stemmer i norskrommet – kulturskaping i norskfaget fra småskole til lærerutdanning (Genres and Voices in the Norwegian Room – Culture-Making in the Norwegian Subject from Primary School to Teacher Training). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Westlund, Elin (2013) Tio tecknarpositioner. En semiotisk analys av elevers tidiga multimodala textskapande (Ten Drawer Positions. A Semiotic Analysis of Students' Early Multimodal Text-Making). Uppsala: Uppsala University.
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