Contemporary Literacies

An understanding of language ‘not as a set of rules, but as a “resource” for ‘meaning potential’ (Halliday, 1978: 192).

It is through my engagement in social media, and in particular, blogs that I have discovered some wonderful examples of classroom practice by innovative and passionate teachers. Blogs can be a source of information about different curriculum areas; they can be reflective, informative and educational. Blogging is one way to reflect on new experiences, new learning, new ideas and issues that matter to you. This virtual space creates opportunities to connect with other educators with similar interests, questions and thoughts.
Reflections and knowledge shared through blogging contributes to the social capital of the learning community.

For these reasons, I am writing this post to offer some of my thoughts and ideas about Contemporary Literacies and to also share some of the wonderful classroom practices that I have come across. I invite the CLLC teachers to reflect on Contemporary Literacies, explore some of the practices shared in this post and consider your own learning and how your reflections can impact on your participatory action research and student learning.

It has been emphasised in the Australian English curriculum that texts provide the means for communication. Texts can be written, spoken or multimodal, and in print or digital form. It is expected that students no longer use words alone
when writing; but are effective in communicating across a range of modes, including linguistic, visual, spatial, gestural and audio. Multimodal authoring is about our students creating meaning through the combination of a number of modes. As teachers we need to build our own understandings about what students need to know to create meaning through multimodal texts. We need to find a shared way to talk about these multimodal resources, provide our students with models of effective texts as well as learning opportunities where such texts are deconstructed.

Developing our students’ skills, knowledge and understandings required to communicate and engage effectively in a multimodal world offesr them greater choice in how they use the language resources available. The Contemporary Learning Schema can stimulate dialogue around our thinking.

Take your time to explore the links below and consider how the learning opportunities contribute to:

  •  developing culturally relevant and valued literate practices
  • creating and interacting with print, non-print and multimodal texts
  • engaging critically and effectively in a multimodal world
  • communicating appropriately in a range of social contexts

You might like to also consider:

  1. how are these examples also developing student core knowledge, skills and understanding about contemporary literacies and
  2. the opportunities for explicit, scaffolded and personalised learning

Please use the ‘Connect Extend Challenge’ (A routine for connecting new ideas to prior knowledge) to record your thinking.

Blog Posts on Inquiry Learning and Contemporary Literacies

The following blog posts engage students in authentic learning (senior primary classrooms). These examples illustrate how the learning drives the technology. All three posts are about students engaging in inquiry units of work. As part of an inquiry unit on the environmental conditions that affect plant growth the following post was written describing how students are  moving their learning into the 21st century through an inquiry unit . Enabling global connections is very important at this school and tools such as voicethread are used to enable students to learn more about their geographical neighbours by talking to them. Ongoing work on geographical neighbours these year 6 students continued to engage in a number of rigorous learning opportunites such asskyping‘ that not only enabled them to further develop their understandings of the countries around them but also develop a global perspective.

Langwitches Blog – Blogging

This blog is by an international educator who is passionate about globally connected learning, 21st Century skills and literacies as well as digital storytelling. This site has an enormous amount of resources for supporting teachers. I have chosen this blog because there are many posts on learning about blogs FOR your students. In one particular post Silvia explains how commenting is a great introduction to student writing for blogs provides and provides examples for getting started. This blog has numerous resources on blogging including a great example of a  blogging rubric. The rubric could generate some interesting and focused discussion with students.

Secondary Science blog – Technoscience

A Maths and Science teacher at Hawkesdale P12 College (Britt Gow) uses technology and virtual spaces with her students.  The blog is used to engage students in learning tasks, outline the learning intentions and tasks. The students are expected to communicate ideas, findings and solutions to problems using scientific language and representations using digital technologies as appropriate.

Picture Book – The Island

The Island by Armin Greder is a fabulous picture book and is fantastic for starting discussions for themes such as refugees, racism and multiculturalism. The story takes place on an island where one morning the people of the island find a man sitting on the shore. When he saw them coming towards him, he rose to his feet but he was not like them. The visual images are incredibly powerful. For this task I thought it would be interesting to explore and reflect on this text using a visible thinking activity called  colour, symbol & image. This thinking routine invites readers of the text to represent or capture their thinking using colour, symbol and image. What are the possibilites with such an activity with thought provoking texts?

When reading texts as teachers we often ask students to share their understandings, connections and reflections. A popular tool used by teachers where there are many options for students to share their learning and thoughts are Glogsters. Students create interactive online posters that can be shared.

I look forward to reading your comments on this post.


2 thoughts on “Contemporary Literacies

  1. Hi Sara,

    Thank you for this post. The Langwitches blog was very interesting and I will continue to explore it looking for ideas to integrate into our classrooms. At SFX we have set up Glogstar accounts for our students since learning about them at CLLC and have found the students are very engaged on this program.

    I look forward to using the connect, extend, challenge routine as we are currently looking at different thing routines as a part of our assignment, I will let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again,


  2. Dear Lisa and SFX,

    Your work at SFX is brilliant. It acknowledges that social and educational change cannot be accomplished without collective collaboration among all participants at all levels, and everyone has a role to play.

    I would like to share with you the following words from teachers found in McTaggart, Henry and Johnson 2007 : Traces of participatory action research: reciprocity among educators, Educational Action Research, 5:1, 123-140.This article was downloaded by ( on 17 June 2012. at 20.56.
    The teachers … don’t change the whole discursive, practical and institutional world, but they do work constructively and transformatively on the parts of it which are within their reach… They say they change the education culture of their workplaces for the better, and their action research reports present evidence.

    You need to be commended on your combined efforts to assist our young people to live fulfilled lives.


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