Designing social futures: Adolescent literacy in and for new times
Bailey, Nancy M
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My purpose in this collective case study was to learn how two English 9 teachers integrated New Literacies into their respective classroom practices. I was particularly interested to learn how digital technologies, new representational and communicational texts, and literacy forms that are usually situated in students' lives outside of school---like music videos or Internet play---would influence teaching and learning. This study was guided by three research questions: (1) What factors contribute to the development of a New Literacies stance that allows for real integration of new learning principles with traditional secondary English methods? (2) What characterizes the teaching of two 9th grade English teachers when they attempt to adopt a New Literacies stance and revise their teaching practices? (3) What characterizes the literacy learning of English 9 students when New Literacies are integrated into the literacy instruction they receive? Data for this study were collected through participant observation, interviews with teachers and students, and collection of written work of teachers and students as well as teachers' instructional handouts and student-produced artifacts, many of which were multimodal. The data were analyzed through close reading, inductive reasoning, and categorical aggregation. In this way, naturalistic generalizations emerged from the data. Findings from data analysis showed that: (1) Though both teachers professed a desire to integrate New Literacies into their English 9 curricula, only one teacher was consistently successful in doing so. Institutional and personal constraints and, especially, a teacher-centered, pedagogical stance interfered with the efforts of the second teacher to truly integrate New Literacies into her classroom. This led me to conclude that a New Literacies stance, so necessary for true integration of New Literacies into a secondary literacy curriculum, may not develop until a certain level of teacher knowledge and expertise develops. (2) By successfully adopting a New Literacies stance and constructing a New Literacies curriculum in her English 9 class, one teacher provided her students with many opportunities to learn. This led me to conclude that teachers can integrate New Literacies successfully into a secondary English curriculum if they understand that literacy is a social practice with important connections to students' local, cultural knowledge and that students need explicit instruction in new, as well as traditional, forms of representation and communication. (3) When New Literacies were successfully integrated with an English 9 curriculum, students came to see themselves as possessing new powers brought about by their growing understanding of literacy as social practice and by their growing mastery of literacy as a medium of self-discovery and self-expression. Several implications for teachers' practice and teacher education were drawn from the findings of this study as well as a general conclusion that knowledge and deep understanding of New Literacies, with their emphasis upon many types of representational and communicational languages, must inform the lessons that we teach in our secondary English classes.