Teaching Multimodal Literacies Using Design Elements to Analyze Graphic Novels and Graphic Non-Fiction
Multimodal or Multimodality Examples of different communication modes: • Print/word-based text • Images (still and moving) • Sound (music, audio) • Non-linear and interactive texts • Movement Example: Doll Face by Andy Huang • Which modes does this film use to convey meaning? • What ideas or arguments are conveyed?
What are Graphic Texts? • Fiction and non-fiction texts that use print and visual text to convey meaning • They fall into the category of “non-print” texts (see KSDE Standards for ELA). • They are a form, not a genre
Graphic Texts Can support students, including English language learners, in comprehension of word-based (print) texts But we should not privilege words over images and other modes.
NCTE’s 2005 Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies • We must help students understand, critically evaluate and create texts that feature a variety of integrated “meaning-making systems (alphabetic, oral, visual, etc.).” • A focus on digital (technological) literacy is not enough. • Multimodal texts are more (not less) complex than print-based texts and “add increased complexity” to teaching, learning, and evaluation.
KSDE Standards for English Teachers • The teacher of English language arts demonstrates knowledge of a variety of texts, both print and non-print, and of how learners create and discover meaning in a text.
Creating Meaning from Print/Non-Print Texts • Terminology – graphic texts • Book share: Skim • Design elements of multimodal texts • Analyze Skim together • Book share: Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography • Close reading (analysis) of graphic texts • Each group will be responsible for sharing ideas/responses for assigned design element(s) on SMART Board.
Skim (2008) by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki Kim Keiko Cameron (a.k.a. Skim), whose white father and Asian mother are separated, attends an all-girls high school with her best friend Lisa. The images and text throughout the piece, written from Kim’s perspective, are taken from her diary, where she makes wry observations about her friend Lisa’s attempts to seem above everyone, the manipulative cliques at her school, the suicide of another student’s ex-boyfriend (who may have been gay), her parents, etc. Kim herself explores her own sexuality with her teacher, Ms. Archer, who abruptly leaves the school, leaving Kim confused and hurt. Although Lisa teases Kim about spending so much time with Ms. Archer, Kim doesn’t disclose her attraction or feelings. In fact, Kim keeps a lot to herself, and the reader can understand why, as most of the people in her life, including her mom, aren’t trustworthy.
Malcolm X: A Graphic Biographyby Andrew Helferand illus. by Randy DuBurke In striking black and white illustrations (many of which are modeled after actual photos) and vivid prose, Helfer and DuBurke reveal Malcolm X’s story. Born Malcolm Little in Nebraska in 1925, Malcolm faced institutionalized racism every day of his life, eventually learning to confront/combat it as a high-ranking member of the Nation of Islam. From his troubled youth to his role as an influential activist in the NOI to his shifting perspective on racial tension and harmony after a pilgrimage to Mecca, Malcolm eventually enlisted the help of leaders of other nations in bringing the “case of the United States’ black citizens before the United Nations” (89), prior to his assassination in 1965 at the age of 39.
Perusing Graphic Texts • As time allows, please review available graphic texts, responding to the following questions in the process … • What design elements do you notice as you review these texts? • How might you incorporate these texts into your curriculum?
Resources Carter, James Bucky. “Transforming English with Graphic Novels: Moving toward Our ‘Optimus Prime.’” English Journal. 97.2. (November 2007): pp. 49-53. Print. Hughes, Janette Michelle, Alyson King, Peggy Perkins, and Victor Fluke. “Adolescents and ‘Autographics’: Reading and Writing Coming-of-Age Graphic Novels.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 54.8. (May 2011): pp. 601-612. Print. Jacobs, Dale. “More Than Words: Comics as a Means of Teaching Multiple Literacies.” English Journal. 96.3. (January 2007): pp. 19-25. Print. Karp, Jesse. “The Power of Words and Pictures: Graphic Novels in Education.” American Libraries Magazine. 42.7/8. (July 2011): pp. 33-35. Print. Moeller, Robin A. “’Aren’t These Boy Books?’: High School Students’ Readings of Gender in Graphic Novels.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 54.7. (April 2011): pp. 476-484. Print.
Resources National Council of Teachers of English. Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies. 2005. Web. 04 Nov. 2011. <http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/multimodalliteracies>. The New London Group. “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures.” Harvard Educational Review. 66.1. (Spring 1996). Web. 01 Nov. 2011. <http://vassarliteracy.pbworks.com/f/Pedagogy%2Bof%2BMultiliteracies_New%2BLondon%2BGroup.pdf>. ---------. “What Are New Literacies?” Web. 01 Nov. 2011. <http://www.newliteracies.com.au/what-are-new-literacies?/138/>. Schwarz, Gretchen. “Expanding Literacies through Graphic Novels.” English Journal. 95.6. (July 2006): pp. 58-64. Print. ----------. “Graphic Novels, New Literacies, and Good Old Social Justice.” The ALAN Review. 37.3. (Summer 2010): pp. 71-75. Print.