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EDX3270 Assign 1!

Literacy in


10 Ann Refs Totally OVERVIEWED

Time To Reflect…


Perry, T. (2006). Multiple Literacies and Middle School Students. Theory Into Practice, 45(4), 328-336. doi: 10.1207/s15430421tip4504_6 Employing the description of a ‘typical’ classroom discussion, Perry identifies the various literacies that students brings to school, and how they are valuable to educational discussions and can enhance students’ understanding of texts. Perry claims it is imperative for teachers to intentionally bridge the gap between students’ literacies and academic literacies by encouraging students to first contribute to discussions, then make connections using new knowledge and finally apply their learning in authentic ways. It is clear throughout the article that Perry is challenging educators to change their values, and in turn their pedagogy, in order for middle school students to be given opportunities to engage in classroom learning that permeates outside of the school walls.

Alvermann, D. (2010). US Middle Years Teaching Education and Youth Literacies. Teaching Education, 14(1), 7-25. doi: 10.1080/10476210309387 Resulting from extensive experience with, and research of, middle years education, Alvermann illuminates the context of middle schooling as it is currently, the nature of middle school learners and the literacies they use, as well as proposing how teacher education should respond. The two case studies demonstrate how pre-service teachers utilized student’s interests, their literacies and their communication methods to promote engagement in literacy learning and build upon their prior knowledge and strategies. Alvermann uses these snapshots, along with relevant theories and research, to recommend a student-centered approach to literacy teaching in the middle years.

This selection of annotated literature is a collaboration of theories, research findings and practical strategies that aim to improve literacy learning for students in the middle years of school. Throughout the readings there were two central themes that emerged: student engagement and multiple and new literacies. The following synthesis outlines the theoretical underpinnings of these themes and how middle school teachers can apply these in the classroom.

Engagement that is required in the middle years is what Meyer (2010) calls ‘substantive engagement’; it involves students remaining actively engaged in the subject matter itself. Dumbleton and Loutain (1999) state that effective middle school teachers strive to present information, and provide opportunities for participation in ways that engage young adolescences. Middle school students need to see connections between school and their outside school world; they want to know the reason why they should ‘bother’ to learn what is taught in school (Perry, 2006). Schubert (2009) provides a list of activities such as KWL and Yes, No, Maybe that actively enlist students’ prior knowledge and help students associate with the task. There are new literacy ‘basics’ that students need to know (Ryan, 2008). Alvermann (2010, p. 7) supports this notion by stating that in America social media, the internet and government policies are “changing what it means to be literate”. An example of this change is that communication in the 21st century necessitates that people have the ability to read and produce multimodal texts (Perry, 2006). Alvermann (2010) highlights the urgency for middle years teachers to appreciate and utilise various literacies, not just academic texts. Gee (2000) argues that literacy is pointless when it is decontextualized and Maclean (2005) suggests that literacy skills and strategies are best taught within the context of a task. Real world projects that require students to apply their literacy skills in an authentic way, and to make choices are recommended by Ryan (2008) and also aligns with the multiliteracies’ notion of ‘Transformed Practice’ (The New London Group, 1996) . Scavenger hunts and investigations that use the internet are also an interactive option (Hoffman, Wu, Krajcik, & Soloway, 2008). Another age appropriate suggestion is that middle school students should set goals to improve their reading and writing (Maclean, 2005). It is important to note that although students in the middle years are becoming more independent learners (Maclean, 2005), research highlights that students are more successful when they receive regular instruction, scaffolding and feedback from their teacher (Hoffman et al., 2008). Meyer (2010) considers discussion the most conducive method that a teacher can use to foster critical thinking. However, the teacher needs to value the literacies and knowledge that the students bring to the conversation (a notion also supported by Queensland Government: Department of Education and the Arts (2006-2008)) and use these as a launch pad into broader areas of learning about, and using texts (Perry, 2006). The classroom discourse can positively or negatively impact upon students’ learning (Pantaleo, 2012), hence teachers need to break away from discussions that are teacher initiated and allow students to safely contribute their perspectives and ideas (Alvermann, 2010). This culturalcritical approach fosters the development of a ‘community of learners’, where the teacher is not the only source of knowledge, rather students collaboratively learn from many sources, such as the community, internet and other texts (Maclean, 2005, p. 109). This also reflects expectations of future workers; they will need to collaborate and communicate effectively for projects to succeed (Gee, 2000; The New London Group, 1996).

Freude, A. (2007). "Team D." Retrieved June 24, 2012, from mendhak (2011). Retrieved July 24, 2012, from hotos/mendhak/6170210 574/ mystical_XVI. (2009). James Dean Collage Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://www.fotopedia.c om/items/flickr3700016592 Nemo (2012). "dance, people, boy, happy, man, guy, kid." Retrieved 2012, June 24, from PublicDomainPictures (2012). "book, bored, college, education, female, girl." Retrieved July 24, 2012, from

VICCI. (2007). Fun with Artist Trading Cards Retrieved August 8, 2012, from VICCI (2009). "Grandaughters are Awesome!!!!! ." Retrieved June 24, 2012, from

EDX3270 Middle School Mag