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Community-Based Multiliteracies and Digital Media Projects

Questioning Assumptions and Exploring Realities


Edited By Heather M. Pleasants and Dana E. Salter

Within community-based digital literacies work, a fundamental question remains unanswered: Where are the stories and reflections of the researchers, scholars, and community workers themselves? We have learned much about contexts, discourses, and the multimodal nature of meaning making in literacy and digital media experiences. However, we have learned very little about those who initiate, facilitate, and direct these community-based multiliteracies and digital media projects. In Community-Based Multiliteracies & Digital Media Projects: Questioning Assumptions and Exploring Realities, contributors discuss exemplary work in the field of community-based digital literacies, while providing an insightful and critical perspective on how we begin to write ourselves into the stories of our work. In doing so, the book makes a powerful contribution to digital literacies praxis and pedagogy – within and outside of community-based contexts.
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Chapter 8: The Teaching to Learn Project: Investigating Literacy through Intergenerational Inquiry


← 158 | 159 → Chapter 8

The Teaching to Learn Project: Investigating Literacy through Intergenerational Inquiry

Rob Simon, Jason Brennan, Sandro Bresba, Sara DeAngelis, Will Edwards, Helmi Jung, and Anna Pisecny


You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it. That is not generally taught in school. At most, as if your livelihood depended on it: the next step, the next job, grant, scholarship, professional advancement, fame; no questions asked to further meanings. And, let’s face it, the lesson of the schools for a vast number of children—hence, of readers—is This is not for you. (Adrienne Rich, 1993)

Appleman (2009) has argued that literacy teachers should not teach reading and writing as abstract skills, but rather as tools for helping adolescents make meaningful connections to their lives and make critical sense of the worlds they navigate. This is particularly important at a time when “new” literacy practices encourage an ethos of participation, engagement and “distributed expertise” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2007, p. 21), rather than transmission of knowledge. In the midst of far-reaching changes in the nature of literacy in the world, teaching adolescents’ to read literature “as if [their lives] depended on it” (Rich, 1993) can be a means of exploring students’ real world concerns, including broad social, ethical and identity issues (Beach, Appleman, Hynds & Wilhelm, 2006, p. 43). How can teachers approach texts in ways that invite connections to students’ lives, cultivate critical perspectives,...

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