Teaching Literacies in the Middle Years: Pedagogies and Diversity

By Vanthuyne, Adrienne | Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, February 2014 | Go to article overview

Teaching Literacies in the Middle Years: Pedagogies and Diversity


Vanthuyne, Adrienne, Literacy Learning: The Middle Years


Title: Teaching literacies in the middle years: Pedagogies and diversity

Editor: Robyn Henderson

Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2012

With expanding definitions of literacy and the inclusion of information and communication technologies, incorporating a multiliteracies approach to teaching is a continuously changing field of study. This text, Teaching literacies in the middle years: Pedagogies and diversity, offers a series of chapters designed not only for preservice teachers and educators to employ and instruct a balanced, multimodal pedagogy, but also for researchers and graduate students seeking a sociocultural theoretical perspective to literacy education. Though aimed at the middle years student body, this text would be a valuable and practical resource for teachers or future teachers of any year level. Many of the ideas presented are to integrate effective literacy pedagogies into various content areas, demonstrating how literacy is a part of every subject. With eight contributing authors of varied experiences in teaching, learning and research, with evolving characterisations of literacy, the 11 chapters cover a multitude of topics to assist in planning, preparing or researching effective literacy practices in a diverse and digital educational community.

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Part one of this collection of work begins with the Teaching literacies: Principles and practices chapter, written by the editor. She presents the reader with the case study of Ryan, a young Australian student who seemingly struggles with literacy. Through the eyes of Ryan, his teachers and school, Henderson subtly acknowledges the preconceptions and myths often associated with teaching literacies. The beginning chapters prepare the audience for both a research and integrated practical approach to literacy teaching and learning through the reappearance of Ryan throughout the text. Some of the common misconceptions and realities of school literacy learning such as behaviour are identified as well as the important link between home and school literacies.

This first section of the book, Engaging students through pedagogies, focuses on the planning of literacy learning. The sociocultural approach to literacy teaching is evident through teacher-student co-construction of knowledge, highlighting the value of student prior knowledge. In Chapter 2, Henderson and Beryl Exley outline useful frameworks through a description of the four components of multiliteracies pedagogy and the four resources model.

All authors include annotations throughout the margins of this text to ensure the reader is equipped with the background knowledge to fully appreciate the depth of pedagogies required for effective planning for literacy learning. Additionally, each chapter focuses on the importance of teacher reflexivity by providing reflection questions so readers can further contemplate their own teaching practices. Themes included within part one of this text describe the use of digital literacies through a sociocultural approach, with lesson plans explicitly describing the time, resources, activities and assessments needed to teach reading and writing. In Chapters 3 and 4, by Eileen Honan and Leanne Dalley-Trim respectively, popular culture texts are a key area addressed, focusing on student motivation and assisting teachers in choosing authentic texts to engage learners in literacy in a range of subjects, such as English, Science and Geography.

The second part of the text, Ensuring literacy learning for all students, emphasises the diverse student population that exists in many schools. The rise of immigration in countries such as Australia and Canada has resulted in a heterogeneous student body. Embracing diversity as a resource and abandoning the beliefs of cultural and linguistic differences as a deficit is a well timed topic of discussion, not only to prepare pre-service teachers for a multicultural and multilingual classroom, but also to expose and recognise various pedagogical approaches for a diversity of learners (see Chapter 5 by Henderson and Annette Woods and Chapter 8 by Woods). …

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