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Abstract

Teachers and students often express an aversion to poetry based on their experiences with printbased poetry texts that typically dominate school curricula. Given this challenge and the potential affordances of new and multimodal technologies, we investigate how preservice and inservice teachers enrolled in a new literacies master's course began to interpret poetry multimodally, through PowerPoint. Using scholarship in multiliteracies, multimodality, and semiotic design, this paper presents an analysis of one student's interpretation of Walt Whitman's "A Noiseless Patient Spider." Through this case, we explore what happened when digital tools were used to create, express, represent, and interpret poetry. We then discuss one student's poetic representations and learning in relation to several other students in the course to explore implications, considerations, limitations and potential affordances of new literacies for learning. (Contains 5 figures and 3 notes.)
Using Digital Media to Interpret Poetry: Spiderman Meets Walt Whitman
Author(s): Mary B. McVee, Nancy M. Bailey and Lynn E. Shanahan
Source:
Research in the Teaching of English,
Vol. 43, No. 2 (Nov., 2008), pp. 112-143
Published by: National Council of Teachers of English
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Using Digital
Media to Interpret Poetry: Spiderman
Meets
Walt
Whitman
Mary B. McVee Nancy M. Bailey
University
at Buffalo/SUNY Canisius
College
Lynn E. Shanahan
University
at Buffalo/SUNY
Teachers and students
often
express
an aversion to
poetry
based on their
experiences
with
print-
based
poetry texts that typically
dominate school curricula. Given this
challenge
and the
poten-
tial affordances of new and multimodal
technologies,
we investigate
how
preservice
and inservice
teachers enrolled in a new literacies master's course
began
to interpret poetry
multimodally,
through
PowerPoint.
Using scholarship
in multiliteracies,
multimodality,
and semiotic
design,
this
paper
presents
an analysis
of one student's
interpretation
of Walt
Whitman's
"A Noiseless Patient
Spi-
der."
Through
this case, we explore
what happened
when digital tools were used to create,
ex-
press,
represent,
and interpret poetry. We then discuss one student's
poetic representations
and
learning in relation to several other students in the course to explore implications,
consider-
ations, limitations and potential
affordances of new literacies
for learning.
The poet Marianne Moore (1969) once wrote of poetry,
"I,
too, dislike it: there are
things that are important beyond all this fiddle" (p. 266). Such dislike for poetry
resonates strongly with our students, who are K-12 inservice or preservice
teach-
ers. The overwhelming majority of them arrive in our literacy
classes with strong
feelings of distaste or ambivalence about poetry as represented
by their comments
in written poetry reflections.
Sara,
for example, wrote, " I remember reading poetry in school. The teacher
would bring in photocopied books of poetry and give each student a copy to read.
We
would take
turns reading
the poetry aloud in the classroom. I remember think-
ing that poetry was so boring! The teacher did not incorporate life into the po-
etry."
Sandy wrote that as a child she loved playing with words and enjoyed the
rhythm and rhyme;
however,
this changed as poetry became an "unpleasant
task"
when teachers
required
her to read for a " deeper meaning."
She recalled,
"Reading
1 12 Research in the Teaching of English Volume
43, Number
2, November 2008
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McVee, Bailey, and Shanahan Spiderman Meets Walt Whitman 113
poetry became frustrating
for me because I could never see what others saw."
Deena's sentiments were similar. She noted that in school she "feared and
despised poetry"
because it filled her with "anxiety."
"How,"
she asked,
"am I sup-
posed to interpret poetry when I cannot even pay attention to it long enough to
get to the end of the poem?"
So strong is this dislike, we once had a student confess that after seeing a
poetry project on our literacy and technology syllabus she considered dropping
the class because she "loathed"
poetry. For these students, the word "fiddle" is far
too weak to describe their feelings about poetry. Instead, their comments more
often reveal
the "perfect
contempt" that Moore voices in her poem. Moore, how-
ever, ultimately reveals her discovery that there is in poetry "after
all, a place for
the genuine" (p. 266). In contrast, many of our students have never experienced
the opportunity to discover this genuine side of poetry
- that aspect which links
poetry to their passions and interests.
What is perhaps most distressing
about this
circumstance is the fact that our students are preservice and inservice teachers in
a graduate education program and that, given their own fears or contempt of
poetry, they are unlikely to foster a love for poets or the genre of poetry.
Although there is currently
a resurgence
of interest in poetry slams and other
poetic celebrations in some communities and schools, for the most part, "poetry
is frequently restricted to the margins of the literature program"
within school
curricula
and within teacher education programs (Warburton
& Campbell, 2001,
p. 586). This marginalization of poetry has only increased as teachers
and schools
are pressured to teach for the improvement of test scores. Content perceived as
merely the arts has given way to a focus on the basics (Eisner, 2003). This stands in
contrast to earlier decades where the study of poetry was a mainstay of the high
school English program (Dressman 8c Faust, 2006). Yet
despite the professed re-
sistance to poetry on the part of students in our classes,
we know from experience
that students, whether children or adults, can be led to greater understanding,
interest, and even passion for reading, writing, and teaching poetry (e.g., Apol,
2002; Strickland
8c
Strickland, 1997;
Warburton 8c
Campbell, 2001).
In this paper we approach poems not as static texts that must be mined for
correct meaning, but as texts with rich potential for multiple interpretations.
Al-
though poets and literary theorists have long appreciated this multi-voiced ele-
ment of texts (e. g., Bakhtin, 1986; Rosenblatt, 1978), most often, discussions of
multi-voicedness have focused on the linguistic mode of communication as ex-
pressed in the print-based texts that dominate formal schooling. More recently,
scholars have begun to examine literary genres constructed digitally in multime-
dia environments such as the Internet or video editing software (e.g., Dettori,
Gianetti, Paiva, 8c Vaz, 2006; Hull 8c Nelson, 2005; Miller 8c Borowicz, 2005;
Warburton
8c
Campbell, 2001
). Given that most teachers
have experienced poetry
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114 Research
in
the
Teaching
of English Volume 43 November
2008
as a print-based,
or occasionally as an oral text, we wondered:
What happens when
digital tools are used to create,
express, represent,
and interpret
poetry?
We are particularly
interested in the multiple layers of meaning that exist in
such compositions. In the move from page to screen, digital tools now allow stu-
dents to layer
visual images, sound, movement, color, font, and print in a multi-
media environment. This potentially
increases the complexity of modes that learn-
ers can use as they interpret or design texts (Kress
8c
van Leeuwen, 2001). While
there exist new combinations of modes leading to potential new interpretations
and complex representations,
we must ask: What is afforded by the combination
of modes? What meaning is layered
on through varied semiotic systems?
What do
students profess to learn in creating poetry interpretations?
What do their poetry
interpretations reveal about that learning?
We consider these questions in the context of a research
project conducted in
a literacy
and technology course for preservice and inservice teachers.
To address
these questions we use a representative
case example from one student, Laura1,
with additional reference to other students and their learning.
Theoretical Perspectives on Multimodality and Semiotic
Design
A part of reframing
the genre of poetry for our students is recapturing
a sense of
the multimodalities already present in poetry. Participants in our course,
especially those who do appreciate poetry, are quick to note that the rhythms,
rhymes, and images of poetry are, in fact, multimodal. In the earliest forms of
poetry,
language
was not a disembodied, print-based construct. Poets or storytell-
ers made use of sound, movement, spatial positioning, and even image as
represented in shadows and masks. Given this, educators are right to ask, "So
what's new?" What is new is that digital media offer new potentials and possibilities
for poetry as performance and interpretation because digital environments
provide tools that allow composers to engage
with the multimodalities of poetry in
new ways. By engaging in what Lanham (1994, as cited in Lankshear & Knobel,
2003, p. 16) refers to as "the rich signal"
of digitally created sound, color, video,
animation, and image, composers can efficiently and quickly create meaning
through layering and combining multiple sign systems.
Educational
researchers and practitioners
have become increasingly
interested
in multimodality and semiotic perspectives in recent years (e.g., Albers, 2006;
Cowan & Albers, 2006; Hull & Nelson, 2005; Kress & van Leeuwen,
2001; Lemke,
1998; Miller & Borowicz, 2006; NCTE, 2005; Pahl & Rowsell, 2005, 2006). While
some educators focus more broadly on creating multimodal texts (e.g., Albers,
2006), many others, ourselves included, focus on new and emerging digital tech-
nologies that make it possible to combine existing design elements. Some design
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McVee, Bailey, and Shanahan Splderman
Meets Walt Whitman 115
elements are already familiar to teachers while others are often neglected as sources
of communication and expression, as Miller and Borowicz (2006) observe:
Available
linguistic
design elements are familiar ones in schools, including oral delivery,
vocabulary,
coherence, organization, genre. Less familiar are elements of visual design
(image composition, page layouts,
screen formats,
spatial
positioning of subjects,
angles
of perception, use of color or black and white, gradations of color) and audio modes
(music to create
mood and enhance tone, sound effects that act as sensory punctuation
marks) orchestrated to communicate meaning effectively, (pp. 8-9, italics in original)
In traditional, school-based literacies, linguistic modes are privileged over other
modes whereas new literacies make use of multiple modalities. One purpose in our
new literacies course is to make participating teachers aware of the privileged
nature of linguistic modes in traditional school settings. By making such
privileging transparent, we prompt students to consider the semiotic limitations
of the linguistic mode. Such limitations have been explained by Siegel (1995) who
remarks that an emphasis upon linguistic meaning making in our schools can
severely limit students' opportunities to construct knowledge and can also narrow
teachers' epistemological perspectives. Albers (2003) concurs: Teachers who place
undue emphasis upon linguistic knowledge construction, she says, may limit the
growth of literate fluency and imaginative expression in students and send
unwitting messages to them by "disregard [ing] the culture from which these
expressions arise" (p. 152).
Numerous scholars (e.g., Siegel, 1995; Smith-Shank, 1995; Suhor, 1984) extol
the benefits of moving beyond verbocentric activity in the classroom and give
reasons for adopting a "semiotic viewpoint" (Suhor, 1
984, p. 248) to reconceptualize
curricula. Siegel (1995), for example, says that when students are encouraged to
make meaning by moving freely from one sign system to another (e.g., from lan-
guage to drawing) and from one modality to another (e.g., from linguistic to vi-
sual), their activity "may foster development of a wide range of cognitive, aes-
thetic, and psychomotor skills which remain untapped in most traditional
classrooms" (p. 461). Their meaning making may be both reflective and genera-
tive in nature. Specifically, Siegel observed students who were confused by linguis-
tic information who turned to drawing to reflect upon what they were reading
and to figure out difficult concepts in a language-based math text. Smagorinsky
and Coppock (1995) give a similar example of students who used dance move-
ments to increase their comprehension of a story they had read.
As books and other media for conveying information change to reflect the
fact that other modalities, especially the visual mode (Kress, 1998; Kress 8c Van
Leeuwen, 2001), are capable of performing functions traditionally carried out in
the linguistic mode (e.g., speech or print), representation is changing to take into
account the influence of these other modal elements - a phenomenon that Kress
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1
16 Research In
the
Teaching
Of
English Volume 43 November
2008
(2003) calls "an inversion of semiotic power" (p. 9). Kress observes that the alter-
native modes accompanying written text play a much greater role than that of
mere illustration, as was seen often in the past, and he emphasizes the importance
of each mode and the specific functions each mode performs during meaning
making with written and visual texts. Written language, he says,
like speech, most
usually conveys actions and events; it records and reports how procedures are
ordered. Information conveyed by the visual mode, on the other hand, can show
and display, and most importantly, the visual mode can be used to show most
efficiently the relationships between and among elements.
Knowing the affordances
of modes
- what they allow us to do
- as well as the
constraints, can give us choices about how we will communicate and represent
knowledge. Through skillful modal choices, we can learn to make meaning more
clearly and creatively,
and in many ways that can give us power. "Cultures
work
with . . . material affordances,"
Kress
says, "in ways which arise from and reflect
their concerns, values and meanings"
(2003, p. 45). The capability
to rapidly
com-
bine modes in complex representations
calls forth a new emphasis on the deliber-
ateness of design, an awareness of design, and a metalanguage for design on the
part of teachers and students (Bailey,
2006; Kalantzis & Cope, 2005; New London
Group, 1996;
Shanahan,
2006). Kress and van Leeuwen note that design involves,
among other things: (a) "issues such as what modes to use";
(b) "how to arrange
content, for instance whether to devise a (largely) sequential structure";
(c) "how
to arrange
the ensemble of modes in the structure";
and (d) "the initial decision as
to the rhetorical and epistemological starting point" (Kress
8c
van Leeuwen,
2001,
p. 5 1
)
. We discuss and elaborate on these points below as we analyze
one student's,
Laura's,
multimodal poetry interpretation.
Methods
Classroom
Context,
Participants,
and Data Collection
Participants in this study were sixteen female preservice and inservice teachers
enrolled in a graduate course in new literacies. The second and third authors
taught the class collaboratively and collected data throughout the fifteen-week
course. They met with students once a week in a computer lab for face-to-face
discussions and technology demonstrations. In most class meetings, after an initial
period of discussion and demonstration, students worked on their projects,
putting into practice what they were learning about literacy and technology.
Outside of class the students and instructors also participated in an online
discussion board.
During the course, students completed three major projects:
a poetry inter-
pretation using Power Point, a WebQuest using Dream Weaver,
and a digital story
using iMovie. The following data were collected from participants electronically:
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McVee, Bailey, and Shanahan Splderman Meets Walt Whitman 117
pre- and post-course
statements
about their beliefs related to literacy
and tech-
nology,
discussion
board
postings,
digital
projects
(e.g., poetry interpretations,
WebQuests,
and digital stories), and written reflections
exploring
the digital
projects.
In other
analyses
(see
McVee,
Bailey,
&
Shanahan,
2008),
we have
looked
across this broader data set. However,
for the purposes
of this investigation
of
poetry,
our primary
data
artifacts were the digital poetry
interpretations
and the
reflections that students
wrote about
the poetry
interpretation
project.
We
relied
on online
postings
and
the technology
and
literacy
statements
(written
at the be-
ginning
of the course
and rewritten at the end of the course)
as secondary
data
sources.
Pedagogical Context for the Multimodal Poetry Project
In the
digital
multimodal
poetry
project, participants
used Microsoft
PowerPoint
to create
a multimodal
interpretation
of a poem2.
Before
undertaking
the
project,
we shared
examples
of poems and poetry interpretations
created
by previous
course
participants.
We also read and discussed articles related to poetry,
new
literacies,
and
technology
that offered
practical
or theoretical
insights
(e.g.,
Apol,
2000, 2002;
Bruce,
1997; Kress, 1998; Roberts,
2002).
As
teachers,
we did not have
requirements
that
poems
be composed
by
"real," "esteemed,"
or
"published"
poets,
but
we did
suggest
that
participants
choose
poems
or
poets
that were
new
to them.
Students
were free to interpret any poem they chose,
including
a self-authored
poem.
We
encouraged participants
to choose
poetry
written for adults as
typically,
although
not always,
the complexity
of these
poems
offers more
opportunities
to
layer
different
meaning
through
different
modes (e.g.,
print,
image,
sound,
etc.).
As students
engaged
with their
poetry projects, they
were free to explore po-
etry
using
their
own ideas
and
insights,
and
they
often conferred with one another
as they
created
personal
meaning.
This
meant that while instructors
guided
and
facilitated
student
learning,
students
were
very
dependent upon one another as
they applied
the theoretical
insights
gained through
readings
or as they
worked
with technology.
As such,
students
drew from the expertise
of their
instructors,
but also
from
members
of their
learning
community
through
distributed knowl-
edge
and situated
practice
(Gee,
2003;
New London
Group,
1996).
Our
learning
community
reflected
the
"pedagogy
of multiliteracies" outlined
by the New Lon-
don Group
(2000) and what Kalantzis
and Cope (2005) have
more recently
re-
ferred
to as "learning
by design."
In learning
by design
teachers attend to "four
processes
of acting
and meaning:
experiencing,
conceptualising, analysing,
and
applying"
(Kalantzis
& Cope,
2005,
p. 72). These are similar
to the four tenets of
multiliteracies:
situated
practice,
overt instruction,
critical
framing,
and trans-
formed
practice.
Because
the language
or discourse of the classroom environment
plays
a key
role
in shaping
learning
environments,
we made a conscious decision
as teachers
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118 Research
in
the
Teaching
Of
English Volume 43 November
2008
to equip students with a metalanguage of multimodal design. For example, in
facilitating a critical discourse around design and drawing learners' attention to
the semiotic nature of multimodal texts, we asked student composers to consider
the following questions:
(a)
What can the
design
elements, visual,
linguistic,
or auditory
[or
other
modes],
do to
convey my message?
(b) What are the limitations
in using
the various
design
elements
to communicate
my
message?
(c) How
can
I combine
the use of the design
elements to
spread
meaning
across the modes when attempting
to convey my message?,
and (d)
How does the use of various
design
elements
deepen
meaning
and
presentation
of knowl-
edge?
(Shanahan,
2006,
p. 155).
As students worked with their poems, these questions served two purposes.
They provided some guidance for students and repositioned students as agents or
designers
of their own learning.
This, in turn, provided opportunities for students
to engage with technology and poetry in ways that often reframed their prior
experience. For example, instead of viewing poetry as something distant (e.g.,
"poems are a foreign concept"), many students acknowledged a pride of owner-
ship in their abilities to interpret and appreciate
poetry (McVee
et al., 2008). This
connection to students' identities and lifeworlds (Gee, 2004; Kalantzis & Cope,
2005) was fundamental to the course design and to student learning.
Data Analysis
While the work of Kress and others on multimodality and design ultimately
figured prominently in our analysis, it was not our original starting point. Our
methods of data analysis
were qualitative
and inductive. Data were examined and
coded, discussed, and re-examined for categorical aggregation (Creswell, 1998).
Through these recursive processes we individually and collectively created
"naturalistic generalizations" (Creswell, 1998, p. 154) that grew into thematic
groupings. Initially,
we identified and refined themes across the broader data set
comprised of all projects and all written reflections (McVee et al., 2008). In this
paper we closely explore the theme related to multimodal design and redesign
(New London Group, 1996).
To do this, we narrowed our analysis to explore the poetry interpretation
project. We focused closely on two specific pieces of data for each student in the
class. The first was a written reflection in which each student described her think-
ing about selecting a poem to interpret
and about creating an interpretive
presen-
tation using Microsoft PowerPoint. Our second primary data artifact for each
participant
was the digital poetry interpretation (Power Point). After coding each
of the written reflections,
we used constant comparative
method (Glaser
8c
Strauss,
1967) to collectively compare the categories that each of us had seen emerge from
the data. In this way, we were able to identify a subset of themes present in stu-
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McVee, Bailey, and Shanahan Spiderman Meets Walt Whitman 119
dents' written poetry reflections. Identified themes were related to the design pro-
cess (e.g., how students thought about using resources and semiotic systems), to
dispositions (e.g., how students felt about using particular modes, technologies,
or types of poetry), and to applications (e.g., how teachers can teach poetry and
technologies with students).
Using these themes, we then viewed individual digital poetry interpretations
in Power Point to refine our analysis.
This preliminary
analysis
allowed us to then
look more carefully
at specific elements of design and redesign (Kress,
2003; Kress
& van Leeuwen, 2001 ). We relied heavily upon analysis of images as modeled by
Kress
(1998, 2003) and his colleagues, but we were also aided by our knowledge of
critical approaches
to discourse. For
example, we drew upon the work of van Dijk
(1993) and Davies & Harre (1990) on how speakers
position themselves or others,
for instance, through use of indexical pronouns.
As we proceeded with data analysis,
we constructed a "telling case"
based on
data collected from Laura,
one of the participants in the class. The notion of a
telling case was originally described by Mitchell (1984) and has been taken up by
others (e.g., Berry,
2006; Putney,
Green, Dixon, Duran, &
Yeager,
2000; Rex,
2001).
Mitchell posits that a "typical"
case may be of less use than a "'telling' case in
which the particular
circumstances surrounding a case, serve to make previously
obscure theoretical relationships suddenly apparent"
(1984, p. 239). To contextu-
alize this in light of our data, Laura's case was not chosen so much for its typical-
ity, although there are aspects in which it is typical (e.g., length of the poem; use of
images, sound, color, and movement to convey meaning) and others in which it is
not (e.g., use of pop culture, use of video). Rather,
Laura's case was chosen specifi-
cally to draw out the theoretical nuances as we sought to illustrate relationships
between theories of new literacies (e.g., Kress 8c van Leeuwen,
2001; New London
Group, 1996) and their application in the context of poetry appreciation and a
learning community. That is to say,
Laura's
work was chosen primarily
because it
allows us to demonstrate, or tell, about the process of design and redesign.
This telling case approach aligns closely with our methods of data analysis
since it is inductive and derived from constant comparison of data. Similar
to Rex
(2001 ), we have found that "telling cases became visible toward the end of a pro-
tracted part-whole, constant comparative
process of question-driven data collec-
tion, analysis, and theorization" (p. 296). As such, a telling case helps to explain
some of the "general
regularities"
found in other data.
We conducted a microanalysis of Laura's
multimodal poetry interpretation
and her reflection of both her process and the artifact that she created. Through
this analysis we were able to better understand some of the theoretical relation-
ships and learning that occurred within the work of one student. By analyzing
Laura's
process of design as revealed through her poetry interpretation and her
subsequent written discussion of her design process, we generated
questions such
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120 Research in
the
Teaching
of English Volume
43 November
2008
as,
"How do multimodal elements enhance the designer's
personal meaning mak-
ing?"
or "What does layering of semiotic elements allow the designer to commu-
nicate?"
These questions allowed us to look at the ways that others in the class
were engaging semiotically with poetry and using multimodal layering to create
personal meaning in their projects.
We then shifted our view to look for support-
ing and contradicting examples in the work of other students.
As we worked to broaden and deepen the analysis, we revisited the themes
that we had developed in the first round of analysis,
combined these with themes
highlighted in our analysis
of Laura's
case, and reworked themes using input from
other students' poetry interpretations and reflective writing. Ultimately, this re-
cursive process led us to surface four additional themes that students demon-
strated in their work: 1) Poetry as meaning and communication, 2) Poetry inter-
pretation as designing and producing, 3) Support from meaningful interactions,
and 4) Classroom connections. These themes are used to frame the discussion
section after we have presented Laura's
interpretation and considered the work of
some of her classmates. As we identified and refined themes, we also examined
secondary data sources such as online postings and technology and literacy
state-
ments to confirm findings and also to look for contrasting or contradictory find-
ings.
In the next section, we present Laura's
interpretation of the poem "A
Noise-
less Patient Spider."
We first consider issues of design and production as Laura
expressed them in her interpretation. We then consider what is afforded by this
digital multimodal exploration of Whitman's poem.
Findings: Issues of Design in "A
Noiseless Patient Spider"
One of the greatest challenges in working with multimedia presentations
is to then
use a print-based mode to explicate design features. To help readers experience
Laura's
interpretation, we briefly narrate some of the major design features. We
also encourage readers to visit a website where they can view Laura's
interpretation
in its original format or with a voiceover analysis (http://multimodalpoetry.org/).
Laura chose to craft her poetry interpretation around "A Noiseless Patient
Spider" by Walt Whitman (1871/2005). We include the original text of the poem
here because Laura did not follow Whitman's
poem precisely.
In Whitman's
origi-
nal, the poem reads:
A noiseless
patient
spider,
I mark'd where on a little
promontory
it stood
isolated,
Mark'd how to explore
the vacant vast
surrounding,
It launch'd forth
filament, filament,
filament,
out of itself,
Ever
unreeling
them,
ever
tirelessly
speeding
them.
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McVee, Bailey, and Shanahan Splderman
Meets Walt Whitman 121
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly
musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
Beginning a Transformation through Redesign
In her rendering
of the poem, Laura
repeated
lines or words;
added
in words,
phrases,
and commentary;
and changed typeset.
To do so, she was still working
within a linguistic
mode. For example,
on Slide 3 Laura included a picture
of
Whitman and information about his family.
She noted that given his circum-
stances,
his family may
not have read or appreciated
his poetry.
Foreshadowing
where her
interpretation
would
lead,
she asked:
"I
wonder
if Whitman ever felt
as
though
he lived
in two different worlds- the sphere
of his poetry
world
and the
sphere
of his family
life? She then
introduced the first line of the
poem (see Figure 1), and in a
simple transformation,
reshaped
the line by spreading
it across
four
different
spaces on the page, by
capitalizing
"NOISELESS,"
and
by
changing
the color of the font for
"NOISELESS."
Over the next few slides she
continued to adapt the poem by
adding images, changing back-
grounds
and fonts, changing
line
breaks,
and
re-positioning
the written text.
In
Slide
7,
she
began
to introduce
more
movement
into the poem. This slide contained the line: "It launched forth
fila-
ment,
filament, filament,
out of itself." The
phrase
"It launched
forth" was
reposi-
tioned to the middle
of the screen whereas the words
"filament, filament,
fila-
ment" slid from
the bottom left and rose
diagonally
across the screen.
After
this,
the phrase
"Out of itself" fades into view in the bottom left corner.
The anima-
tions
mimicked the spinning
of spider
silk,
and Laura continued to play
with this
representation
in the next slide as the phrases
"Ever
unreeling
them
- Ever tire-
lessly
speeding
them"
appeared.
As these
phrases
slid into view from
the bottom
left to the top right,
each pulled
a thread
that remained on the screen.
Laura's
design
moved even
further from Whitman's
original
in Slide 9 as
she used semiotic
modes to layer
on meanings
that Whitman
clearly
did not intend. She
placed
the line
"And
you O my soul where
you stand,"
on the left of the screen.
Originally,
this
line
appeared
in a purple
font but
gradually
from left to right,
the
letters turned to
Figure 1. Slide 4- A NOISELESS Patient
Spider
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122 Research In
the
Teaching
Of
English Volume 43 November 2008
black. The right side of the screen showed a combined image of Spiderman and
his alter ego, Peter Parker
(see Figure 2)\
Figure 2. Slide 9
- Peter Parker and his Alter
Ego
Spiderman
The Shift from Telling to Showing
Such representations reflect the shift from "telling the world" to "showing the
world,"
a metaphor that "points to a profound change in the act of reading, [and
concomitantly, composing] which can be characterized
by the phrases
'reading
as
interpreting'
and 'reading
as ordering'"
(Kress,
2003, p. 140). From
this perspective,
it is perhaps
more appropriate
to term Laura's
"poetry interpretation"
a "poetry
re-
ordering"
as she used various semiotic modes to shape how she read the poem and
to guide how others might read it. In remaking the poem, she was not limited to
alphabetic
writing but made use of multiple modalities, drawing upon elements of
color,
image, spatial
arrangement,
sound, movement and directionality
to draw her
audience's attention to particular ways in which she was reading/reordering
Whitman's poem. Her redesign not only positioned those who read her poem
through image, sound, color, print text and so on, but the redesign located Walt
Whitman, Spiderman,
and ultimately Laura within a wider social context.
Laura was cognizant of the way that she was changing the poem and its mean-
ing. In several
places in her written reflection, she commented on this, saying, for
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McVee, Bailey,
and Shanahan Splderman
Meets
Walt
Whitman 123
instance,
"Combining
the lines of Whitman's
poem
with the
images
of Spiderman
brought
a renewed
relevancy
to Whitman's words."
In her reflection about her
poetry
interpretation
project,
Laura wrote that the project
was "all about connec-
tions  Just
like
the spider
in the poem
I chose,
I believe that
I was able to make
powerful
connections."
One of these powerful connections existed between
Whitman,
Peter
Parker,
Spiderman,
and Laura
herself. Laura commented
specifi-
cally
on how she chose
Spiderman
as an image
and idea for the poem:
In order to find
graphics
for this
project,
I used
Google
and searched for
images.
I agree
with Roberts
(2002)
who considers the Internet
to be a source of inspiration.
Through
this
process
of exploring,
I made
many
connections
between the
poem
and other
things
that I would never
have
thought
of otherwise. For
example,
when I first entered the
word
"spider,"
I saw
many pictures
of various
spiders.
Then
I came across a picture
of
Spiderman,
chuckled
to myself,
and continued the search.
I rejected
the idea of using
Spiderman
for the poem at first because
it didn't seem
to fit with my mental
image
of
Whitman's
poem. But the computer
has a very open mind. Because
Google
cannot
differentiate
between a figurative
meaning
and a literal
meaning,
the Internet becomes
an
interesting
metaphor
machine,
making
connections
in its schema that
I would never
have
thought
of myself.
After
thinking
more about the project,
I realized how
perfectly
the
plot
of Spiderman
2 wove
between
the
lines of Whitman's
poem.
That
night
I
watched
Spiderman
2 again
and
made
many
connections
between
the character of Peter
Parker
and
Walt
Whitman.
Moving from Transformation to Transduction
Introducing Themes of Identity,
Self, and Connection
As Laura
designed
her new
interpretation
and
meaning
for Whitman's
poem,
the
poem was transformed
by how she shaped
the content away
from its literal
representation
of a spider
in a garden
toward themes
of identity,
selfhood,
and
connection.
She
used
the print-based
text
of the poem and her own commentary
on Whitman's
life
in Slide
3 to begin
articulating
these
themes.
By
introducing
an
image of Whitman,
brief biographical
information
about his life, and several
questions
about
Whitman's
relationship
with his family
and poetry,
Laura
used
image
and
linguistic
text
to subtly
shape
the
potential
interpretations
of the
poem.
As Laura continued
to work
with the poem, her shaping
of the interpretation
became
more
intentional,
and
she created
subsequent
slides that
used the
interplay
of multiple semiotic modes to introduce nuanced meanings. When these
additional
modes
(e.g.,
sound,
image,
animation)
were
present,
Laura's new
poem
reflected
what Kress
(2003) has referred to as transduction
or the process
of
adapting
and reshaping
the material of one mode into another mode.
As Lemke
(1998)
has
observed,
this
transformation
does not occur
in a
one-plus-one
fashion
(i.e.,
add a mode
to add a meaning),
but rather:
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124 Research
in the Teaching
of English Volume 43 November 2008
Meanings in multimedia are not fixed and additive (the word meaning plus the picture
meaning), but multiplicative (word meaning modified by image context, image mean-
ing modified by textual context), making a whole
far greater than the simple sum of its
parts (pp. 283-284 as cited in Bailey,
2006, p. 33, emphasis added).
By considering and using the resources available to her via additional modes
beyond print, Laura
was able to create a complex interpretation.
As a print-based text of a particular
time period, Whitman's
original poem is
representative
of the logic of writing in that it is governed by "time and sequence"
(Kress,
2003, p. 152). Laura's
redesign of the poem reflected the logic of image, of
"objects
and their relations"
(p. 154). Whereas Kress
(2003) notes that images are
typically more open in how they can be read (e.g., top-bottom, right-left, diago-
nal), alphabetic print must be read from left to right, top to bottom, and accord-
ing to the manner in which it is sequenced or in which actions unfold. With the
multimedia capabilities of digitization, Laura
incorporated simple images (e.g., a
picture of a spider in Slide 5) and juxtaposed these with images that are rich in
complexity and semiotic layering (e.g., Slide 10).
Slide 10 (See Figure 3) presents Whitman's line: "Surrounded, detached, in
measureless
oceans of space."
Viewers first see an image slide up from the bottom
of the screen. This image is the silhouette of Peter
Parker/Spiderman looking across
Figure 3. Slide 10
- Surrounded in Measureless Oceans of Space
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McVee, Bailey, and Shanahan Spiderman Meets Walt Whitman 125
the
city
at sunrise or sunset with the
word "CHOICE"
written
above his head. The
words
"Surrounded,
Surrounded" then wheel
in, encircling Parker/Spiderman.
A
transparent purple rectangle
slides
up into the center of the oval formed
by
"Sur-
rounded,
Surrounded."
Parker/Spiderman
is visible behind this box and behind
the words,
"In
measureless oceans of space."
Images
and text are
layered together
with
multiple meanings.
For
example,
the Parker/Spiderman
image
is unclear.
At
this moment
are we looking
at Parker or Spiderman?
What is the choice? Who or
what surrounds
us? What are the measureless oceans of space?
Additional mean-
ings
are
layered
if we think back to earlier
images
of the spider
spinning
its web
and of Whitman
writing
his poetry. Additionally,
the linguistic
mode does not
just
evoke
meaning,
but also
the assonance between
"space"
and "choice."
Laura's written
reflection about this slide revealed
yet
another
meaning
to the
images
and text
on this slide as she
linked it to her
own relationship
to technology
in the midst of change:
The present capacity of technology is amazing to me. Every
time I plug my tiny jump
drive into a port and download the project, I feel like Aladdin releasing his genie from
the lamp. Technological literacy has much more denseness than conventional pen and
paper. On each slide of my Power Point presentation are layers and layers of informa-
tion. The graphic files, the lines of text, the custom animations, and sounds can all be
experienced in a few seconds, although they may represent hours of work. This re-
minds me of the Genie in Disney's Aladdin describing his plight: "Phenomenal cosmic
powers. Itty-bitty living space."
In reflecting on her own relationship to technology, Laura connected
Whitman's
line "measureless
oceans of space"
with Lankshear and Knobel
(2003)
who she says
"speak
of the world of technology
as being
almost infinite" and the
Internet as a "virtually
limitless web
of information."
With
reference to the work
of Leu and Kinzer
(2003),
she observed that
learning
how to filter and evaluate
information
and
how to teach students how to do the same is crucial.
Laura continued
her
redesign
of Whitman's
poem
by
transforming
it through
a
variety
of modes.
Slide
12
(see
Figure
4) contained
the
words
"venturing,
throw-
ing"
to which Laura
added
the words "NOISELESS?"
and
"PATIENT?" as ques-
tions we might
consider.
Because
of the layered
meanings
in her presentation,
it
was not clear
if these
questions
were
related to Whitman,
Spiderman,
Parker,
or
Laura.
In Slide
13
Laura included
images
of Parker embedded
in circles
and then
used
a rectangular
box
containing
the line
"Seeking
the spheres
to connect
them."
This box slid
onto the
screen
overlaying
the two
spheres
and
connecting
them. We
were also reminded
here of the question
at the beginning
of her interpretation
where Laura
had asked:
"I
wonder
if Whitman ever felt as though
he lived
in two
different
worlds-the
sphere
of his poetry
world and the sphere
of his family
life?"
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126 Research
In
the
Teaching
Of
English Volume 43 November 2008
Figure
4. Slide 12- A "Noiseless?" and "Patient?"
Spider
In Slide 14 Laura continued to articulate the theme of connection. She used
two pictures of bridges, one in the bottom left and one in the top right to divide
the line "Till the/ bridge/ you need be formed" into three sections. The word
"bridge"
was placed in the middle of the screen and acted as a bridge between the
two images (see Figure 5).
Laura
noted, "By making the word 'bridge'
be a bridge between two pictures,
I felt the structure of the word beneath my feet."
The power of the image and the
theme of connection were further enhanced by another
image fading
in. This image
was excerpted from Michelangelo's
"Creation
of Adam" and showed the hand of
God reaching out to create or connect with Adam. This was not only another
linking image, but also a fitting signifier of the ultimate creative act
- perhaps
Laura's
subtle ode to creativity itself.
"O my soul": Linking Whitman, Spiderman, and Laura
In the final phrase of the poem, "O my soul,"
Laura returns to the movie poster
showing a close-up of a face that is half Peter Parker and half Spiderman (the same
image as in Slide 9). The Parker/Spiderman
slowly shrinks away
and fades into the
middle of the page and the face of Walt
Whitman emerges (the same image as in
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McVee,
Bailey,
and
Shanahan Spiderman
Meets
Walt Whitman 1 27
Figure
5. Slide 14
- Forming
a Bridge
with an Image from The Creation of Adam
Slide 3). Whitman's
portrait transitions to a blank screen before the final phrase
of
the poem is repeated
at the top, middle of the screen. However,
in this last iteration
"MY"
is emphasized by capitalizing both letters and by an animation effect
-
"MY"
unfolds using a pinwheel transition. Laura
then pairs this print text with
images from her life that slide in one at a time
- two hands joined at a wedding
ceremony, a mother and child in silhouette, a university student identification
card,
and a stack of books. Finally, using another pinwheel transition, a spider web
unfolds in the middle of the screen connecting the different images. These images
make it clear that Laura is not just exploring the connections and spheres of
Whitman's life or of Parker/Spiderman
but of her own life. For viewers this ending
unfolds in a familiar movie-like fashion.
These final images also call to mind the first slide of the poem. On this first
slide, Laura
included a cute animated cartoon spider
and a video clip of her daugh-
ter singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider."
It was a challenge to get all these bits to work
together and upon first glance it may have seemed that the intent was simply to
include a cute child, a cute spider, and some cutting edge technology. But by the
time viewers come to the end of the poem and Laura's
autobiographical slide,
they realize that Laura
has foreshadowed this exploration of her own identity and
the spheres
of her life all throughout the poem. Thus, the multimodal poem in the
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128 Research
In the
Teaching
of English Volume 43 November 2008
end was not just a superficial connection of modern popular culture (i.e.,
Spiderman) to the poem of a bygone era;
it was a representation
of Laura's life. Of
this Laura wrote:
I know that
by re-designing
this
poem
through
the lenses of technology,
the poem
has
touched
me on a deeper
level than if I had
only read it in a book.
I began
somewhat
timidly,
with fragile
gossamer
threads,
trying
to attach
meaning
to the poem.
As the
reader-
response
model of literacy
suggests
(Tompkins
&
McGee,
1993),
a reader must
be engaged
at
the
personal
level for
reading
to be understood. The
longer
I worked with
the poem, flinging
thread after thread into various
layers
of the project,
the more the
poem
meant to me personally.
Even in her explanation of the design process, Laura continued to extend the
metaphor of the spider
and its threads.
Whitman's
poem and images have
given her
language
with which to see and explain her own growth. The transactions
between
and among Laura,
the original poem, and the technologies of language, digital
software, and multimodal elements are strong and generative. Laura's entire
project, in fact, is a good example of what can result when a teacher can see the
"mutually
constitutive relation between technologies and social practices"
(Bruce,
1997, p. 303) and, by assuming this stance, push her own thinking. Yet somewhat
paradoxically,
while Laura's use of various modes provided opportunities for her
to discover meanings of this poem, the representation of her ideas constrained
other possible interpretations
and meanings in the poem. We discuss this below in
relation to Laura's
work and then broaden our discussion by including perspec-
tives of other students.
Limitations, Considerations, and Implications: Learning from
Laura and Her Classmates
Limitations of the Reading Path
It is worth noting that Laura
designed the reading path of the poem in ways that
constrain options for readers but that make her interpretation
more apparent.
She
was limited by the meaning she wished to convey,
by her technological proficiency,
and by the PowerPoint
software. She chose to sequence the retelling of the poem
through text and image in ways that mimicked the linear path of writing.
Alternatively,
she could have used hyperlinks within PowerPoint to offer readers
more choices for the reading path, thus allowing readers to navigate the poem as
they might navigate on screen. In this way, Laura's
design was still closer to the
traditional page as it allowed only one entry point, while, as Kress (2003) posits,
the logic of the screen allows multiple points of entry (Kress, 2003). Despite this,
Laura's
poetry interpretation
clearly
exemplified what Kress writes about when he
says that
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McVee, Bailey, and Shanah
an SpldBMian
M68tS
W8lt Whitman 129
Design . . . starts from the interest and the intent of the designer to act in a specific way
in a specific environment, to act with a set of available resources and to act with an
understanding of what the task at hand is, in relation to a specific audience. Design is
prospective, future-oriented: in this environment, with these (multiple) resources,
and
out of my interests now to act newly I will shape a message. In design, resources are
transformed in any number of ways
- whether in new combinations of modes or in the
constant transformative action by signmakers in producing newly made signs (Kress,
2003, p. 169, italics in original).
Interestingly,
Sandy,
another student, also reflected on the issue of how much
or how little the PowerPoint
interpretations
were themselves open to being inter-
preted. In her poetry reflection Sandy wrote that as she viewed the presentations
she felt she was seeing "what the creator wanted me to see" and she wondered if
her interpretation of the poems would have differed if she had read them. She
continued,
These
presentations
are
very
powerful
in that
they
can guide
someone's
thinking
and
easily
make
them see
the interpretation
that
you
want
[them
to see].
That is why
it will
be crucial
to remember
that
good poetry
is open to interpretation,
and a project
like
this
may
stifle
individual
interpretations
if not used
appropriately.
Sandy's caution reminded us that even while multimodal interpretations afford
potential to open up spaces for constructing meaning, they may not always
do so
and could, in fact, constrain options if a creator so chooses.
In an interesting exemplification of this, another student, Tara,
sought to "re-
create"
a representation
of "Ballad of the Morning Streets"
by the poet Amiri Baraka
(1985), whom she described as a Marxist critical of American democracy and a
former black nationalist who espoused hatred of the white race and American
middle class. Tara described her approach:
"As Kress notes (as cited in Snyder,
1998), the maker of a text will 'stretch, change, adapt, modify the elements and
thereby change the whole set of representational
resources with its internal rela-
tions' (p. 74)."
This was essentially
the same process that Laura
engaged in with "A
Noiseless Patient
Spider,"
but the consequences of this reframing
were different in
important ways.
Laura
used Whitman's
poem and her reflections on it to explore themes plau-
sibly related
to her life, Whitman's
life, and the life of Spiderman/Peter
Parker.
In
contrast, Tara used her poem and reflection to make a statement on Baraka's
po-
etry and beliefs as she struggled to reconcile her original peaceful reading
of "Bal-
lad of the Morning Streets"
with the political message present in much of Baraka's
work. Instead of considering or exploring Baraka's
charges
of oppression and rac-
ism that were often so uncomfortable to her, Tara reframed the poem to safer
ground. This move, accomplished through electronic means, mirrors the conver-
sational moves practiced by white teachers in face-to-face discussions where par-
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1
30 Research
in
the
Teaching
of English Volume 43 November
2008
ticipants
often avoid discussions of race or other controversial
topics (McVee,
2004;
Mclntyre, 1997). Tara noted that she felt "violated and angry"
with Baraka and
"defensive and protective toward our way of life in the United States" even though
she felt this defensiveness was an atypical response for her.
Reframing
the poem in
a peaceful and sedate manner helped to deal with (and we would argue, to mask)
her feelings about the controversial message conveyed through Baraka's
writing
and life. Again, the point here is not whether Tara created the right
interpretation
of the poem in keeping with Baraka's
original meaning that might be inferred
from his biography and other writings, but rather that she chose to intentionally
constrain and re-frame the meaning away from topics such as race and oppres-
sion that were uncomfortable to her. In this way, the constrained reading path
might be viewed as a missed opportunity for Tara and others in the class who
could perhaps have benefited from an exploration of the topics of Baraka's life
work
or even from a historical
exploration
of the poetic movement of which Baraka
was part.
Epistemological Starting Points and Poetry Presentations
In working with teachers on these projects over the past few years, we have
observed that a key element for where students end up is linked to the
epistemologies that shape their decisions about which poems to choose, what
interpretations to give the poetic language, how to approach technology, which
modes to apply,
and so on. This is clearly
seen in the example of Tara's
reframing
the voice of a subversive
poet to make his poem
- and, therefore,
her response
-
more comfortable to her as a white, middle class woman. This point is also
reminiscent of the idea noted earlier that literacy practices such as poetry are
"always embedded in socially constructed epistemological principles" (Street,
2003, p. 77). This epistemological stance was visible, although to varying degrees,
in the final poetry interpretations and in the rhetorical frames (Kress, 2003)
present in students' written reflections on their projects. Kress and van Leeuwen
(2001) convey that based on observation of the product (e.g., a lesson, a
multimedia production), it is not always possible to intuit whether specific
elements and modes were
designed specifically
with intent. For
example,
"Teachers
. . . may either design their own lessons or merely 'execute' a detailed syllabus
designed by expert educators"
(Kress
& van Leeuwen,
2001, p. 7).
To be sure, the boundary between design and production is fuzzy,
but consid-
erations of both are especially crucial in teaching. Part of our responsibility as
teacher
educators is to assess
learning.
Whereas
design emphasizes
semiotic modes
and resources, production emphasizes "semiotic media" that is "technical skills,
skills of the hand and the eye"
and so on (Kress
& van Leeuwen, 2001, p. 6, italics
in original). We are used to viewing these products from the vantage point of
consumers. In relation to digital poetry interpretations,
it is possible then that as
teachers we might judge our students solely on their abilities to produce glossy,
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McVee, Bailey, and Shanah an Spiderman Meets Walt Whitman 1
3 1
entertaining,
multimedia formats. The comments of Kress and van Leeuwen
(2001 ),
however,
point to the essentiality of gaining access to a learner's
design processes.
In Laura's
case, her poetry interpretation was impressive,
and we can intuit some
of what we think she may have learned by examining the artifact that she pro-
duced. However, without further insight we cannot assess the intentionality of
design. Laura's
written reflection provided us with additional insights into her
design process and demonstrated some (although not all) of the choices she made
and how she was thinking about the resources, modes, meaning, and about her
own learning. It is absolutely essential that teachers require learners to reflect on
their designs. Interactive
reflection allows teachers
to assist
learners
by asking
chal-
lenging questions while at the same time allowing teachers to monitor and assist
student growth.
By the same token, we must guard against viewing final poetry interpreta-
tions and finding them lacking based only on what we see, hear,
or experience in
those viewings. This point was brought home to us in considering the poem cre-
ated by Valerie.
Valerie chose to represent a poem she could "share with her stu-
dents."
The resulting
composition presented
a children's
poem comprised
of similes,
each matched with an image (e.g., The line "A clock is as white as snow" was paired
with a clock). Initially, we felt this presentation made minimal use of multiple
modalities, trading more upon "naive notions of visualization" (Kress, 1998, p.
55) than upon principles presented to students in class and through course read-
ings. However,
our perception changed as we read Valerie's reflection. Valerie de-
scribed her design process in detail, making it clear
why she chose particular
back-
grounds,
colors, images,
and the like and why she paired
certain modes with certain
text or why she did not. For example, she removed the music that she had origi-
nally combined with the text and images in her presentation because, she wrote in
her reflection, the resulting presentation "just
was not what I intended it to be." It
pulled the viewer's attention too far from her text and images, she explained. She
wanted to emphasize the text and images because she planned to use her poetry
interpretation
as a reading and thinking exercise
for her students. That is why she
used very literal word/image connections on some slides and
- to push her stu-
dents' ability to generalize
- "less concrete"
images on others. Her comments re-
vealed that she had the ability to "produce/encode and read/decode constructed
visual experiences"
and that she was "actively
engaged in asking questions and
seeking answers about the multiple meanings of a visual experience"
(Muffoletto
as cited in Alvermann, 2006, p. 245). The rhetorical frames in Valerie's
writing
(e.g., how often she tied her own learning back to her students) also made clear
that her role as a teacher and her responsibility
to her students were the epistemo-
logical positions driving her design and production. Understanding the vantage
point from which Valerie approached her poetry interpretation helped us to as-
sess her project more fairly.
While we must confess that we feel she limited her
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132 Research
in
the
Teaching
Of
English Volume 43 November 2008
potential growth by thinking almost exclusively
as a teacher and not as a teacher/
learner and by choosing a simple children's
poem, Valerie's
description of design
and production did reveal more intentionality and understanding than we had
originally intuited just from watching her poetry interpretation.
Discussion: What Is Afforded by Interpreting Poetry through
Digital Multimodality?
In light of our research
questions, we have looked closely at Laura's
interpretation
to consider what is afforded
by the combination of modes and what meanings are
layered
on through varied semiotic systems, but it is also important to us that we
look across the course participants
and consider the work of this group as a whole.
Space
will not permit an analysis
of each poetry interpretation,
but as noted in our
data analysis,
there are a number of themes that repeat across student reflections
and poetry interpretations.
Poetry as Meaning and Communication
In looking across student reflections, we found that students who had negative
feelings about poetry repeatedly
wrote about shifting their gaze away from their
emotions about poetry toward communicating meaning. As students began to
think about how a poem could be represented visually, aurally,
or through on-
screen movement, they focused on how to communicate the meanings that they
wanted others to experience. This moved them away from fears that they would
not produce a "correct"
interpretation. Instead, they were intent on exploring
various modalities to communicate meanings they were discovering. Although at
times the technology glitches or learning curve frustrated participants, they
learned to see the computer and software programs not as technical skills they
must learn for the sake of "learning
technology"
but as mediators that helped them
create signs used for communicative purposes. It also assisted them in reframing
their conceptions of reading beyond the print-based modes that dominate
schools, an example of "Critical
Framing"
(New London Group, 2000, p. 35). In
reading images,
sounds, movement and so on, and learning
to compose with these,
students began to understand
what they were reading
about in theoretical
works or
research that espouses that there are new literacies.
Kimberly presented us with a very good example of this in the reflection that
she wrote to accompany her poetry interpretation project. Acknowledging the
influence of Kress (1998) and his idea that "the visual is a vastly more efficient
mode for carrying
and 'processing' great
amounts of information"
(p. 55) and also
citing Gee's (2003) ideas about the prominence of visual images and symbols in
modern communication, Kimberly
wrote that she found herself
"reading
the poem
through the lens of new literacies, using different modes and mediums to create
an image of the poem in my mind and then transferring those ideas using the
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McVee, Bailey, and Shanahan Spiderman Meets Walt Whitman 133
technology
available."
In the end,
she was
proud
of her
project
and also
happy
as
she reflected on what she had learned about
reading
and
interpreting poetry:
Interpreting
a poem using digital technologies
has
shed
a light
on the way
I analyze
a
poem.
No longer
was
I looking
at
just
the word to give
me insight
as to the meaning
of
the poem,
but the sounds,
shape
and movement
of texts,
images
and colors
played
a
major
role
in my interpretation
of "A
Dream Deferred"
 The more
I read this
poem
as a visual
interpretation
the more
I began
"reading"
the photos
I placed
on each slide
and
"reading"
the movement
of the text onto the
page
[sic]
. Each
movement,
each
tran-
sition aids in the understanding
and interpretation
of my artistic
representation
of
Langston
Hughes's
poem.
That
Kimberly regarded
herself as making
"art" is remarkable. For
her,
literacy
in
general
and,
specifically,
the act of reading
poetry
became
generative.
Interesting
too is the way
she referred
to the screen as "the
page."
Kimberly,
it appears,
had
come
to see
the screen
and the
page
as
one,
with the screen as an interactive
"stage"
for multimodal
representation.
As students shifted
away
from
analyzing
a poem
for correct
interpretations
and toward communication
and representation
of
ideas,
they also found themselves
working
in a recursive
process
of design
and
production,
just as Kimberly
explained
above
in working
between
reading
her
poem and then working
with various
modes to interpret
it. Note how Kimberly
referred
to her interpretation
as "my
artistic
representation" (emphasis
added)
indicating
her
feelings
of ownership
of the poem
and also how she was
beginning
to think about the complementarity
of modes, that is, the interplay
between
"sound,
shape,
and
movement of texts,
images
and colors." We
explore
these two
points,
ownership
and
complementarity,
in the following
section.
Poetry Interpretation as Designing and Producing
Fostering
Ownership
As
teacher
educators,
we
encouraged
our students
to privilege
the
process
of design
(i.e.,
the process
of discovering
what a poem meant and how to represent
this in
multiple
modes) over the production
(i.e., making
sure the poem adhered to
contemporary
ideals of popular
media).
We also
emphasized
that
designing
and
producing
are
not always separate.
In some
instances,
for
example,
for a musician
who writes and performs
music,
the boundaries
are
very
blurred
(Kress
& van
Leeuwen,
2001). In like manner,
as our students
focused on designing
poetry
interpretations,
they found themselves
working
recursively
between
design
and
production.
Their
written
comments
revealed
that they understood
and valued
the
design
process
or the interplay
between
design
and
production,
that
they
were
aware
of how
they layered
semiotic
signs
to express
personal
meaning,
and that as
they engaged
in these
processes,
they
discovered
and invented
meanings
of their
own design.
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134 Research in
the
Teaching
Of
English Volume 43 November
2008
For example, in reflecting on her poetry interpretation Kendra wrote that
through the design and production, "my
poem truly began to take form." She con-
tinued, "Through interpreting the poem not only with words, but through find-
ing symbols, I began to not just read, but interact with the poem, and began to
make it my own." Kendra not only used the words "my poem" indicating owner-
ship, but she also italicized these for emphasis. Such discourse markers revealed
subtle, but important, shifts in power. Instead of a poetry expert holding the keys
to opening the meaning of the poem, Kendra and many other students expressed
that they had been given keys (e.g., multimodality, technology) that enabled them
as composers to unlock meaning for themselves. As we observed in class and in
analyzing their written reflections, Kendra
and other students often wrote about
"ownership"
of a poem or referred to "my poem" as they reflected on the process
design and production.
This theme of ownership took an interesting twist in Janie's
interpretation.
As
someone who enjoyed poetry, Janie
first chose a poem that had long been one of
her favorites. In her original multimodal composition she represented
the poem
as she had always
interpreted it, but she was disappointed with the result because
it did not make the poem new to her. Janie described how, acting on her own
initiative,
she chose to "redesign"
her interpretation.
This second time around, she
focused on both design and production, noting in her reflection, "I think that
working with the digital technology made it possible to make the poem even more
my own."
Many student reflections captured a newfound sense of agency from owning
a poem or from exploring language in new ways. Students reacted positively to
this agency
- sometimes even as they expressed frustrations that arose as they at-
tempted to use various technologies to combine modes to express meaning. For
example, Sandy wrote that "Despite its best efforts to aggravate
me, I am begin-
ning to see that technology can be useful. There is no doubt in my mind that a
project like this would not have had the same impact if technology had not been
involved. Using PowerPoint allowed us to bring images, movement and sound to
our chosen text which improved the whole experience."
Deena observed in her
poetry reflection: "This project made it possible for me to enjoy poetry, some-
thing that no one else was able to achieve at any other point in my life. But these
presentations required the use of technology, the same technology that had be-
come so frustrating
for me."
We take this as a reminder of Gee's (2003) observa-
tion that "learning
is or should be both frustrating
and life enhancing" (p. 6) and
that even ownership is sometimes achieved through challenging circumstances.
Fostering Explorations of Complementarity
The media of communication and representation
are rapidly
changing as a result
of the use of multiple modes, particularly the visual (Kress, 1998; Kress & van
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McVfe, Bahey, and Shanahan Spiderman Meets Walt Whitman 135
Leeuwen,
2001
) to carry information once conveyed solely, or in large
part,
by the
verbal mode. As noted earlier in this article, Kress (2003) refers to this phenom-
enon as "an inversion in semiotic power" (p. 9). Kress further emphasizes the fact
that the different modes exist
- particularly
on the computer screen
- in comple-
mentary arrangements, with each mode performing a separate and specific
function. Written language, he says, like speech, most typically names things and
events while the visual mode can be used to show relationships,
as it does in many
textbooks. The point here is that different modalities interact and intersect in
multimodal texts. In this way meaning is not merely added on by using additional
modes, but meaning is multiplicative.
In their reflective writing, students revealed their awareness of how modes
complement one another. For example, Deena, drew insight from Kress as she
wrote and reflected on her interpretation of a poem by Maya
Angelou,
I began to see how the images that I had chosen also enhanced Angelou's words. Kress
. . . asks us to question, "Are
language and image doing the same? Can they ever do the
same?"
(1998, p. 67). I feel that while the words, images, and sounds chosen for my
presentation convey the same meaning, they do not do so in the same manner. Each
word, image, and sound will invoke its own emotion and feeling. Where one image
ends, the next word takes over but they are not the same. There is a constant flow be-
tween the feelings from the words and those from the images and sounds. "The visual
and verbal offer fundamentally distinct possibilities for engagement with the world
they provide, so that my own view is that the translation from one mode to another has
to be seen in the more radical sense - as transformation"
(Kress, 1998, p. 66).
Deena's words were all the more interesting because she wrote in an earlier
part of her reflection that she had always disliked poetry and often did not "get"
abstract language so important for understanding poetry. After designing a
multimodal interpretation
of Maya Angelou's
poem, however,
she was able to shift
her gaze to meaning represented
in various modes. Deena could see the benefit of
a multimodal study of poetry not only for bringing her to a new appreciation of
poetry, but also for providing enjoyment to her own students as she observed:
If our students are born into a multi-semiotic world, what better way to catch their
attention than to use the imagery
and figurative
language
of poetry in such a multimodal
presentation?
An activity such as [the multimodal poetry interpretation] could provide
them with a creative
outlet with which to begin to enjoy poetry while also tapping into
their interests and knowledge of technology.
Like
Deena, Kimberly
found in the literature
that she read
in the new literacies
class a way to explain the power of complementary modes that she discovered as
she worked on a digital interpretation
of a Langston Hughes poem:
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136 Research in the Teaching
of English Volume 43 November 2008
No longer was I looking at just the word to give me insight as to the meaning of the
poem, but the sounds, shape and movement of texts, images and colors played a major
role in my interpretation of 'A Dream Deferred.'
And, why shouldn't I be using these
modes of communication to think about a poem? James Gee makes reference to this
notion in his [chapter], "Semiotic Domains: Is playing video games a 'waste of time?"'
He states, ". . . in the modern world, language is not the only important communica-
tional system. Today images, symbols, graphs, diagrams, artifacts, and many other vi-
sual symbols are particularly significant. Thus, the idea of different types of Visual lit-
eracy'
would seem to be an important one. [. . .] Furthermore,
very often today words
and images of various sorts are juxtaposed and integrated in a variety of ways. If you
can't read these images, you will not be able to recover their meanings from the words
in the text as was more usual in the past (2003, p. 13).
Kimberly also talked in her reflection about design choices that she was able to
make once she viewed her project
and "read it in a multi-modal fashion."
By doing
this, for example, she eschewed one musical selection and chose another that she
felt was better able to "create a sense of urgency and loss" that was more in keeping
with the message of the Hughes poem. Guided by her new understanding of the
complementary relationship of different modes and the affordances of the
PowerPoint program, Kimberly summarized her process by saying, "I found
myself reading
the poem through the lens of new literacies,
using different modes
and mediums to create an image of the poem in my mind and then transfer those
ideas using the technology available."
Drawing Support
from Meaningful Interactions
While we believe that beginning to explore poetry through varied semiotic systems
can bring affordances on its own, the types of learning and the interpretations
created by Laura and her peers would be qualitatively different, if they had not
been involved in a community of "Situated Practice"
(New London Group, 2000,
p. 33). As noted above, as students worked with various modes to interpret their
poem, they took ownership of that poem. The work was individually produced,
but students relied on one another and their instructors for support. Terry
claimed
that her own perseverance
and "a little guidance from others was what made my
project successful." Students also commented on how sharing ideas in class,
viewing others' poetry interpretations, considering their audience, and learning
technical shortcuts or procedures
from peers all assisted them in their own design
and production. For
example, Tracey
shared that
"the levels of creativity,
and poem
creations varied from one person to the next. In fact, while I was pleased with my
overall presentation, I couldn't help but to marvel over other works. I was able to
gain so much learning by viewing the works of others." Part of what students
expressed was learning a discourse or metalanguage of design or multimodality
and putting it to use in talking about and thinking about their work and the work
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McVee, Bailey, and Shanahan Spiderman Meets Walt Whitman 137
of others, an instantiation of the "Overt Instruction" that the New London Group
writes about (2000, p. 33-34). Students moved from being consumers of
multimodality to also being composers and critics of multimodal creations, or as
one student suggested, she learned how to "do"
poetry. Jill
commented on being a
composer in her poetry reflection: "The interesting part of this project is that
through choosing particular images, I managed to add my own meaning to Mary
Cornish's intended meaning. By adding my own images, I may therefore have
transformed the meaning of her written text."
A discourse of design that enabled participants to comprehend and create
multimodality was paired with new understandings of technology and tools. As
students learned to communicate in ways that were new to them, they began to
see the computer or software
programs
as tools that mediated their
learning.
Rather
than focusing on the use of technology as an end in itself, they began to ask:
What
mode can I create by using this program or this function? How will that mode
help me communicate meaning?
In Jill's
written reflection she discussed her deci-
sion making when designing with the aural mode. She wrote:
A major part
of the Power Point
presentation
was choosing
appropriate
music.
I lis-
tened to many
hours of instrumental
music to find the music
I felt
captured
the mood
that
was
being
conveyed
in the poem.
I felt that I needed instrumental music so that
additional
lyrics
would
not interfere with
reading
and
understanding
the words
of the
poem.
However,
I discovered
when
listening
to instrumental music
that
most of it seems
to evoke a somber
mood. The
words of the
poem
seemed to be upbeat,
slightly funny
in
parts
. . .
Instead of discussing the functions within a software program, she focused on
aural communication. This view of tool use is much closer to mediational tools in
the manner that
Vygotsky
( 1
978) and others have written about it. In the best-case
scenario, the poetry interpretations
became representations
of learning that were
"embodied, situated, and social"
(New London Group, 2000, p. 30) and examples
of "Transformed
Practice"
(New London Group, 2000, pp. 35-36).
Making Classroom Connections
Clearly
the purpose of teaching teachers is to affect
practice
and create
pedagogical
change. The preservice and inservice teachers in our course routinely made
connections to classroom practice
and work with students. For
example, they often
considered how they might adapt the poetry interpretations for use in their own
classrooms or how they might draw on students' understandings of different
modes to help support learning in new ways. Teachers also wrote that their own
frustrations and challenges with technology created empathy for their students
who were learning new content or for students who struggled with literacy.
A
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138 Research
in
the
Teaching
of English Volume 43 November 2008
powerful statement in this regard came from Sandy, who wrote that as she
struggled to compose her interpretation, she sat feeling "quite overwhelmed.
Suddenly I realized
exactly how a struggling reader feels when faced with the task
of reading
what you or I might consider nothing more than a simple page of text."
As learners wrote about their own learning and their plans for their classrooms,
they revealed an understanding of the importance of designing learning environ-
ments for discovery and exploration, rather than merely the gain of technical
expertise. For example, Donna commented, "I know while I was working on this
project I would try one animation and while watching it over again I would realize
that there was a better way to get my point of feeling across. This project
was about
trial and error,
a great problem solving experience to go through." Providing space
and time for exploration of multimodal composition was essential within the
classroom context, as was allowing multiple interpretations of poems. Student
comments revealed the recognition that teachers often hold the power that grants
(or denies) permission for students to make meaning out of poems.
Many course participants used their reflections to give voice to their increas-
ing awareness of living in a digital world. They also expressed
that becoming aware
of knowledge diversification and multiplication made them uncomfortable but
also excited about possibilities for the future. For example, after completing her
poetry interpretation Callie reflected on the challenges of using technology in
teaching and learning even though she considered herself an "insider" when it
came to technology. She then pondered some ways
that she could implement some
of her learning in the course in her work as a teacher of French and Spanish. Like
many others in the course, Callie acknowledged that as a teacher
and a learner
she
would continually be involved in creation and re-creation, design and re-design.
These recognitions embody the spirit of "Transformative Practice" and acknowl-
edge that one key to Transformative Practice is "juxtaposition, integration, and
living with tension" (New London Group, 2000, p. 36).
Although we are hopeful that our students will enact their new learning as
they engage in classroom teaching, we are well aware that what occurs in univer-
sity-based settings often does not transfer well into school-based settings (Bailey,
2006; Miller, 2008). A number of studies reviewed by Miller reveal that teachers
need support to continue with implementing technology use. Similarly, Bailey
found that even after they have begun incorporating digital media and compos-
ing texts multimodally, teachers may use these types of activities as rewards or
abandon them when the "real work" of test prep comes around. Such findings
cause us to temper hope with caution and indicate a critical limitation of our
study.
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McVee, Bailey, and Shanahan Splderman Meets Walt Whitman 139
Conclusion:
Changing
Literacies and Multimodality
in a Digital
World
Despite the limitations of this study,
we are
optimistic about digital interpretations
of poetry and how they can be used to further teachers' and students' understand-
ing, appreciation, and even passion for poetry. We also believe that it is critically
important for teachers to access and assess the design processes that students are
using. Just
as a test score does not reflect the meanings that a student can create,
a
digital poetry interpretation may or may not reflect the deeper understandings
that a student is attempting to express. For example, participants in our courses
would frequently
write about what they were attempting to convey, but they also
commented on how their intended meaning was not realized in their final
multimodal presentation due to time constraints or their own technical knowl-
edge. Participants' explicit comments about the design process granted us
important insights that we could not access by viewing only their final digital
products.
The flash and gloss of technology can sometimes seduce us into thinking that
we are seeing real
learning. In contrast,
when viewing a less-than-flashy presenta-
tion incorporating
fewer modalities, teachers
might wrongfully assume that it rep-
resents only superficial understandings. Those of us who were around in the "old
days"
when PowerPoint was first introduced, might recall the PowerPoint Phe-
nomenon - where one's audience became so entranced by the new technology
that listeners forgot to critically
assess the content that was presented.
Others have
also been critical of the way that PowerPoint limits thinking to pre-planned, lin-
ear bullet points (e.g., Mahin, 2004; Parker,
2001). Teachers and students as con-
stant consumers of media can work to harness
new technologies to work for them,
but they will also need to critically frame new technologies and media and the
discourses they embody (Kalantzis & Cope, 2005; New London Group, 2000).
Teachers
will have to work hard at finding ways to access what students are learn-
ing through the design process. For the purposes of education, production, with-
out reflective
insights into learners'
thinking, mimics traditional school literacies
that focused solely on outcomes.
Lankshear
and Knobel (2003) remind us that any school learning, even that
of new information
communication technologies
must be efficacious
learning.
From
this perspective,
the focus
of learning
and
education
is not children,
nor schools,
but human lives seen
as trajectories
through
multiple
social
practices
in various
social institutions.
If
learning
is to be efficacious,
then
what a child or adult does now
as a learner must be connected
in meaningful
and motivated
ways
with 'mature'
(insider)
versions of related social
practices
(Gee
et al. 1996,
as cited
in Lankshear & Knobel, 2003,
p. 48, italics
in origi-
nal).
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140 Research In
the Teaching
ef English Volume 43 November 2008
In composing digital, multimodal poetry interpretations, we are not merely
describing another way to acquire and use technology or poetry skills, but are
interested in efficacious learning. This contrasts with what Knobel and Lankshear
(2003) refer to as "'schoolish' practices that have little or no present or future
purchase on life outside the classroom"
(p. 49).
As such, learning about poetry or learning about technology are not our end
goals. We are striving to explore significant changes occurring in what knowledge
is, how it is represented
and communicated, and what that means to us as teachers
and learners (Kalantzis & Cope, 2005). These "digital epistemologies" (Knobel
and Lankshear, 2003, p. 156) are difficult and challenging for us to grasp,
just as
they are for the teachers with whom we work
- just as poetry is difficult and chal-
lenging for some of us. In the words of poet Marianne Moore (1969) there are
times when we are tempted to respond to these changes with a "perfect
contempt"
(p. 266). However,
recent theories and research studies into shifting digital land-
scapes and new literacies are important not because "high-sounding interpreta-
tion can be put upon them, but because they are useful" (Moore, 1969, pp. 266-
267). And, we would add, they are essential topics of consideration if we are to
reshape curriculum and pedagogy so that it is relevant for children and youth.
AUTHOR NOTE
We would like
to thank the editors,
three
anonymous
reviewers,
Donna
Alvermann,
and
the mem-
bers of the University
at Buffalo New Literacies
Group
for their feedback on previous
versions
of
this manuscript.
NOTES
1.
All student names are
pseudonyms.
2. Students retain
the right
to their own digital
creations. In sharing
student
poetry interpreta-
tions in PowerPoint,
we use pseudonyms
to attribute
authorship,
unless the student has
requested
that
we use her
real name.
3. Spider-Man
2 stills are
used
with
permission.
©2004
Columbia Pictures
Industries,
Inc. ©Mar-
vel Characters,
Inc.
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... Similarly, interpreting poetry through digital composition has enhanced both students' and teachers' appreciation of poetry (Callahan & King, 2011;Cowan & Albers, 2006). According to McVee et al. (2008), students with negative feelings about poetry redirected their emotions more toward communicating their understanding, which moved them away from fears of not producing a "correct" interpretation and promoted a more inclusive poetry education as a result. ...
... Additionally, a multimodal approach to literature instruction has been considered crucial to increasing student agency, supporting them in interpreting literary texts and addressing social issues related, for example, to sexuality and social status (Ajayi, 2015). Studies have reported how responding to poetry through digital, multimodal composition can engender a sense of personal relationship with and ownership of the poem in question (Hirsch & Macleroy, 2020;McVee et al., 2008). These approaches empowered students to critically reflect on and extend their perspectives on themselves and their lives (Curwood & Cowell, 2011;McVee et al., 2008). ...
... Studies have reported how responding to poetry through digital, multimodal composition can engender a sense of personal relationship with and ownership of the poem in question (Hirsch & Macleroy, 2020;McVee et al., 2008). These approaches empowered students to critically reflect on and extend their perspectives on themselves and their lives (Curwood & Cowell, 2011;McVee et al., 2008). Significantly, they also served as a counternarrative for students: a novel critical means to explore, analyze, and "push back against the master narratives" (Curwood & Gibbons, 2009, p. 60) related to, for example, race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, allowing them to (re)present their own identities. ...
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This article contributes to an emerging body of scholarship on multimodal composition in the poetry classroom through a study of Finnish lower secondary students' digital videomaking in response to poetry. The study explores students' use of semiotic resources in their interpretive work in transmediating a poem into a digital video, with a particular interest in their use of sound elements. Based on social semiotic theory of multimodality, the analysis shows how the students in a variety of ways used sound elements, together with other semiotic resources, to explore their interpretation of the poetic text. Sound elements in particular became a key resource in the interpretive work, giving the students the opportunity to elaborate on topical issues of interest and importance to them while reinforcing their social agency. The study demonstrates the relevance of sound elements in students' digital composing and explorations of poetry. Furthermore, it reveals how the students showed a capacity as well as a willingness to act, to have influence, and to make substantiated claims for recognition regarding critical issues related to sexuality and society.
... Such approaches required knowledge and understanding of both art forms (Archambault and Carlson, 2011;Jusslin, 2019;McCormick, 2011). Different art forms could then facilitate, demonstrate and/or change understandings of poetry Haramija, 2015, 2018;Bryer et al., 2014;Curwood and Cowell, 2011;Jusslin, 2019;McVee et al., 2008;Smith, 2019), make students reflect critically about the text (Giovanelli, 2017) and show range and depth in interpretative responses (Bryer et al., 2014;Jusslin, 2019). The implications for expanding and deepening understandings of poetry through arts-based responses mark the abilities to create new interpretations of poetry and explore aspects of poetry that otherwise may be overlooked. ...
... This theme highlighted how arts-based responses included creating, sharing and viewing poetry interpretations through different art forms with other students. In relation to this, students could develop audience awareness when working with art forms in their poetry interpretations (Curwood and Cowell, 2011;Curwood and Gibbons, 2010;McVee et al., 2008) as well as note the value of viewing other students' poetry interpretations (McVee et al., 2008). Consequently, poetry interpretations could invite audiences to interact and empathise with personal experiences and feelings (Curwood and Gibbons, 2010). ...
... This theme highlighted how arts-based responses included creating, sharing and viewing poetry interpretations through different art forms with other students. In relation to this, students could develop audience awareness when working with art forms in their poetry interpretations (Curwood and Cowell, 2011;Curwood and Gibbons, 2010;McVee et al., 2008) as well as note the value of viewing other students' poetry interpretations (McVee et al., 2008). Consequently, poetry interpretations could invite audiences to interact and empathise with personal experiences and feelings (Curwood and Gibbons, 2010). ...
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This study investigates the use of dance and visual arts in poetry education by systematically reviewing peer-reviewed articles published on the topic from 2000 to 2019. The review focuses on empirical results in studies concerned with using dance and visual arts in poetry education and implications for poetry pedagogy in research and practice. The review encompasses 21 articles that were analysed thematically. The thematic analysis yielded seven themes: expand and deepen understandings of poetry; break curricular boundaries; interaction and collaboration; personal knowledge, reflection and experience; increase interest, motivation and confidence; challenges, limitations and constraints; and disciplinary knowledge. With research on this topic having increased in the 2010s, the findings show the potentials and challenges of using dance and visual arts in different ways in poetry education. Still, the research field is understudied, and many questions remain unanswered. Consequently, this study concludes with suggestions for future research on arts-based responses in poetry education. The study adds to the dialogue on poetry education and contributes to raising awareness of the possibilities and challenges of using dance and visual arts in the poetry classroom.
... Studier som på olika sätt väver in den samtida textkulturen demonstrerar hur den här typen av ingångar till poesiundervisningen ofta har haft en positiv inverkan på de ungas uppskattning av poesi. Det kan till exempel handla om att de unga som tidigare uttryckte en viss aversion mot poesi genom den här typen av bearbetningar frångick rädslan att producera en korrekt tolkning vilket gjorde dem mer engagerade i och positivt inställda till poesi (McVee et al. 2008). Eller hur de unga genom att skapa digitala bearbetningar av poesi gavs möjlighet att skapa ett personligt förhållande till dikten vilket gjorde den personligen relevant för dem och gav dem möjlighet att kritiskt reflektera över sig själva och sina liv (Curwood & Cowell 2011;Hirsch & Macleroy 2020). ...
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Vilken poesi, hur och av vilka anledningar läser vi poesi i skolan? I den här essän presenteras några spaningar av aktuella tendenser och trender inom den poesididaktiska forskningen. Spaningarna visar att forskning framhåller betydelsen av att i poesiundervisningen tillämpa en bred syn på poesi och vidga blickfånget för i vilka sammanhang och forum som poesin verkar. Den visar på betydelsen av att med olika medel avdramatisera och göra poesin tillgänglig för de unga, till exempel genom att uppmärksamma tolkningsmångfald och förhandlingsutrymmen. Samtidigt pekar den på betydelsen av att uppmärksamma den emancipatoriska kraften i poesi. Aktuell poesididaktisk forskning understryker att såväl den analytiska närläsningen som den personliga upplevelsen är avgörande i poesiundervisningen – och att dessa två inte ska behöva ställas mot varandra. Den pekar också på möjligheterna som finns i att kombinera poesi med andra konstformer. Sammantaget ger aktuell poesididaktisk forskning viktiga insikter och flera impulser som kan inspirera till nya kreativa angreppssätt inom poesiundervisning.
... Despite these promising results, there are still many unanswered questions about the associations between home literacy practices and children's literacy outcomes in preschool and teaching pedagogies in both settings. McVee et al. (2008) added that teachers are required to foster a learning environment where children can share exploration and problem solving and explore literacy and technology as a transactional process. Despite the significant findings by Gahwaji (2011), with a small sample size limited to a private centre in KSA, which may be not the same case as with a public centre, these findings cannot be generalised to other centres? ...
... Dixon, Green, Yeager, Baker, and Fránquiz (2000) have also used telling cases to show what is "telling" in a particular data set or even in a series of articles (Green & McClelland, 1999). Other scholars have used telling cases to illustrate theoretical insights related, for example, to multimodality (McVee, Bailey, & Shanahan, 2008) or gradual release of responsibility (Rumenapp & Morales, 2019). As Sheridan, Street, and Bloome (2000) have written, "A telling case shows how general principles deriving from some theoretical orientation manifest themselves in some given set of particular circumstances" (p. ...