An English teacher's design of digital video composing in an urban high school: Impacts on student engagement and learning
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While local and national initiatives now recognize the need for students to learn and communicate in significantly different ways from the past (NCTE, IRA, NAE), traditional school contexts complicate the integration of multimodal literacy practices as authentic practice for curricular and social learning. In a time of unprecedented interest in education for the 21 st century, teachers and students have become disaffected and struggle to find engaging and empowering school learning opportunities, illustrating the disconnect between school policies and social practices and current educational research. In all, research illustrates how teachers can enact multimodal communication technologies as authentic literacy learning tools yet are conflicted about designing multimodal learning spaces and valuing the learning that takes place. This study investigates just such a teacher, who simultaneously learned to integrate digital video composing and responded to the demands of her urban school district. This ethnographic case study focuses on one African-American female teacher, Diane Gorski, in her 5 English classes--two 10 th , three 11 th --and throughout her participation in a curriculum-based Digital Video Composing Project, City Voices, City Visions . The study focuses specifically on how meaning is made and negotiated from curriculum and how changes over time are represented in contexts for learning and teaching, asking: Over time, how does teacher Discourse--roles and attitudes--about and around digital video activities reveal changes in her planning and mediation in the classroom? How do her students respond to the changed activities as revealed by their engagement, transactions with multimodal tools, and curricular learning? Data included observation notes, artifacts, and video footage from classes, professional development sessions, and teacher-researcher meetings over one school year. Interviews with the teacher and students, along with their DV products, were also collected. I analyzed the data recursively, referring to retrospective data from CVCV, and followed the teacher into the next school year to further understand how her Discourse reflected teaching practices and responses to digital video integration. Findings suggest that Diane adapted her pedagogy for integrating digital video as an innovative practice over the course of the study. Over time, although traditional notions of English learning were prominent in her school and teaching contexts, she saw digital video composing as a authentic way to make meaning around literature and ELA content. When she observed and talked with her students as they responded to and composed digital video projects on literature, she began to develop an appreciation for student learning processes and agency. Furthermore, she began to recognize these authentic multimodal practices mediated students' deep, embodied, social, and creative understanding of the English curriculum. Students, deeply engaged in multimodal constructions of their poems, voiced a new appreciation for literature and began to see the curriculum and learning as meaningful and purposeful. For both the teacher and students, DV was a way to construct "meaning that matters " and allowed for new stances towards teaching, learning, and literature within the school. The CVCV professional community helped Diane establish a professional identity for multimodal literacy practices, yet test scores and the constraining school context created tensions that suggest educators and researchers must invest fully in teacher learning and development as multimodal learning facilitators. One-size never fits all and thus teachers need in-class support as they reflect on innovative practices and integrate multimodal literacy learning tools in 21 st century classroom. When teachers are provided with more autonomy and authentic space for making meaning, they can construct more authentic learning spaces for students. Finally, the findings of this study suggest that the current structure and model of schooling will not afford students with access to learning opportunities that lead to social and democratic participation.