Ideas for Supporting Multiple Literacies

  New communication tools, emerging technologies, and social and cultural forces are constantly redefining what we mean by "literacy." Students now need to use a broad range of literacies to achieve their immediate learning objectives and to recognize and develop their own creative possibilities.
Together for Learning p. 18 (OSLA 2010)

Explore the T4L vision for multiple literacies, including some practical ideas for implementation, on pages 18-20 of the print document, or on the corresponding page in this website: Multiple Literacies

Traditional Literacy
Ideas   Examples & Resources
  • Analyze blurbs on book jackets. Like much other commercial writing and like the writing of some students, they are often rich in rhetoric and impoverished in substance.
  Activity for Secondary Students: The Art of the Blurb
  • Use Goodreads to organize booklists and reviews for student and to solicit input on new selections. Invite students to participate by contributing reviews and suggestions.
  • Feature books on your library website. Include lists and brochures, features about new books, links to author and other websites, search and discovery suggestions and video book trailers. Invite students to contribute content.
  WRDSB Library Reading Lists
  • Help connect teachers with great books to enhance their programs. Use your library website to share ideas. 
  • Use QR Codes on book displays to connect students with your own or other web content (i.e., author websites).
  • Create a web form on your website as your virtual suggestion box.
  • Make a virtual bookshelf display on your website using Shelfari.
  • Partner with the public library for book clubs and book events (promoting public library services & programs, One Book, One Community, Battle of the Books, Kindergarten orientation, etc.).
  • Utilize social media to get students talking and writing about what they are reading or studying, e.g., blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Skype
  • Encourage students to write and publish their own storybooks using Storyjumper.

 Information Literacy
Ideas   Examples & Resources
  •  Teach students how to select the right source for their information need and stage of understanding.
  Find the Right Source
  • Help students understand features of a text or source that help find / decipher / assess / synthesize information. For example:
      • Book: Table of contents, index, illustrations, verso
      • Online Databases: Drill-down categories, subject terms, thesaurus, search filters
      • Search Engines: Basic / Advanced search, search by format, etc. 
  Google Search Features: Improve Your Search Experience
  • Reading for Information: Understand how navigating text features varies depending on formats.
  Reading for Information
  • Focus on language: Learn how to recognize bias, point of view, inference, descriptive language
  • Question everything. Explicitly teach students how to develop deeper questioning skills.
  • Evaluate sources appropriately:
    • Academic sources: Formal indicators of authority
    • Social media: Indicators of community value
  Evaluating Sources
  • Teach Wikipedia. Understand when it is useful and when not, and how to assess authority of articles. Use Wikipedia as a window into how knowledge is constructed. 
  Teaching Wikipedia
Teaching More Than Wikipedia
What About Wikipedia?
Making the Best Use of Wikipedia
  • Infuse inquiry and research learning with deeper understanding of the ethics of information use.
  Academic Honesty / Plagiarism
  • Teach citation: not just how, but also why and when.
  What Must I Cite?
  • Understand copyright. Teach respect for copyright and new ethics for information sharing, i.e., Creative Commons licensing
  Copyright Explained
Copyright-Friendly Sources
  • Teach students how to manage online privacy and stay safe online. Teach about privacy settings in online communities.
  Facebook Family Safety Center

 Media Literacy
Ideas   Examples & Resources
  • Ensure that the library collection is rich with multiple kinds of media texts. E.g., print, eBook collections, online databases, digital video, magazines, newspapers, posters.
  • Engage students in analysis of advertising at every grade level then involve them in creating effective and engaging advertising. E.g., Promoting Media Literacy Week.
  • Compare the book and film versions of a story. E.g., The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.
  • Help teachers to utilize newspapers in classroom and library units. Use resources like the Toronto Star's Classroom Connection
  • Compare news stories from a variety of international newspapers to help gain perspective on how cultural and political contexts frame points of view and influence the impartiality of the media. Use newspaper access from the library's online database collection.
  • Establish a Media Literacy PLC and develop a school-wide approach linked to the Ontario Curriculum.
  • Teach students how to create effective media products such as posters, video, slide shows.
  • Teach students to use media texts like digital images ethically and legally.

 Visual Literacy
Ideas   Examples & Resources
  • Start a reading of a story book with a 'picture walk' through the book, asking students to 'read' the pictures and share what is happening in each picture. An alternative is to ask for questions with each illustration and record questions on a chart to revisit after reading the story.
  • Invest in wordless picture books and teach students how to 'read' pictures.
  • Teach visual analysis by cross-examining images.
  Roland Case: The Questions Pictures Can Answer
  • Collect samples of visual information and teach the special features of each, e.g., different kinds of graphs, charts, maps.
  Steve Moline's I See What You Mean
  • Instruct students about the use and function of different kinds of graphic organizers. Have students create their own organizers based on their need.
  • Make thinking visible. Explicitly model the use of thinking maps to help students shape their learning and organize their written demonstrations of learning. Focus on the purposeful use of thinking maps to structure meaning.
  Thinking Maps: Free Resources for Teachers Using Thinking Maps
  • Teach the use of split page notes. Fold a page in half. On one side students make point form notes from information texts. On the other side they make that information visual, e.g., a sketch, web, chart.
  • Egage students in digital storytelling as a creative demonstration of their understanding following literacy and research units.
  Digital Storytelling: A Toolkit for Educators
  • Offer a workshop on Digital Storytelling for staff.

 Cultural Literacy
Ideas   Examples & Resources
  • Consider the relationship between culturally responsive practice in the learning commons and the goal of creating a caring community culture in every school. Culture includes but is not limited to age, ancestry, citizenship/nationality, colour, creed/faith/religion, disability, ethnicity/culture/linguistic origin, family status, gender, gender identity, marital status, place of origin, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, same-sex partnership status.
  • Build a bank of resources to support cultural literacy in your school. Develop broad understanding of culture as the reflection of each individual's lived reality and experience.
  • Reflect on how cultural differences and similarities between all members of the learning commons community affect teaching and learning, student achievement, engagement and well-being.
  • Commit to culturally responsive practices across the learning commons.
  OISE Centre for Urban Schooling: Framework for a Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy
  • Develop increased understanding of the importance of the lens of cultural responsiveness and reflect this in program and collection development.
  Tyrone Howard: Culturally Relevant Pedagogy
  • Build inclusive collections.
  • Analyze your school library collection through the lens of cultural responsiveness and develop a plan to support renewal of your collection.
  • Create and equitable classroom audit for classroom and school library climate review.

 Digital Literacy
Ideas   Examples & Resources
  • Develop a school-wide plan of continuum for the development of information technology skills, pedagogy, attitudes and ethical practices.
  Toronto DSB: ICT Standards: Digital Learning for KIndergarten to Grade 12
  • Teach students how to manage their own information spaces and networks using tools such as Symbaloo.
  • Establish a Tech Support Team or Geek Squad of students who can coach other students and teachers in the use of technology tools for learning and creating.
  • Post 'how-to' tutorials on your school library website on topics that will help students become more self-sufficient in the effective use of technology tools.
  YouTube Video -Getting Started with Google SketchUp
  • Create 'how to' tutorials for the school library website using screen captures and free tools such as Jing.

Critical Literacy
Ideas   Examples & Resources
  • Explicitly teach critical thinking with a lens on historical thinking concepts.
  The Historical Thinking Project

  Use Leading Learning standard, Cultivating Effective Instructional Design to Co-Plan, Teach and Assess Learning (p. 15) to frame strategies for addressing multiple literacies.
  Use the Leading Learning standard, Fostering Literacies to Empower Lifelong Learners (p. 17) to prioritize instructional strategies.