My high school English class experience reflected an understanding of literacy as simply reading and writing. The new curriculum, however, clearly recognizes the value of a multiliterate approach, and this is the most evident in how the English curriculum and class breakdown has changed dramatically even since I was a student. The fact that what used to be English 11 is now broken down into Composition, Literary Studies, New Media, Spoken Word, and Creative Writing indicates to me that the new curriculum recognizes that students have varying strengths and interests in different forms of literacy.
At Vic High I sat in on an English Composition 11 class that was exploring the topic of biography. The class watched interview videos, looked at online celebrity biographies, read interview questions, and considered how to write their own. This led me to consider a biography, which I would generally only associate with classic written content, is something that we actually read, consume, or experience in a multitude of ways. There are clearly benefits to using a variety of modes of presentation: by incorporating online articles with photos and text, videos, and written activities within a single class, students get a more dynamic experience and an overall more interesting lesson.
Another strength of this method might be that students who struggle to engage with certain materials have the opportunity to take on the same topics and learn the same concepts in a form that works better for them. Students who zone out during a video might engage better with physical materials in front of them and students who may not be strong readers could benefit from having topics reinforced through other modes.
My major takeaway from my school observations and this course so far is that it’s important for lessons to be multimodal because the rest of world is inherently multimodal-and that’s what we’re preparing students for.