Making Curriculum Pop

Bringing New Literacies in to the Classroom: Reflection on Dr. Kist's Presentation

I really enjoyed Dr. Kist’s lecture for he knew how to engage us in our learning through active participation. Instead of just talking to us through PowerPoint slides he got us to take part in our own learning. He didn’t just teach us about new literacy practices in the classroom but showed us. He kept us on our toes through the whole presentation because we didn’t know what to expect next. We were all confused in where these activities were going to lead as we threw paper balls at each other or lined up in the hallway. The activity was we all had to write down our favorite literary media on a piece of paper then crumple it up and throw it to someone around the room. Then the paper that we caught we had to respond to what was written. Then after two rounds we were asked to go to the hallway, and find the person whose paper you had. It was in a state of anticipation in what was going to happen next that kept us engaged through the whole presentation. Also learning was no longer just about listening to the teacher talk but it was about collaboration where we worked with other classmates. Kist made an excellent point about the importance of getting students to work with their peers. When their peers are the greatest influences and concerns in students’ lives what better way to get students engaged than to have them talk and work with one another. Kist also made you reconsider the possibilities of what the classroom could be like. At one point when everyone was talking to each other after lining up according to birthdays (another activity done in the hallway where we had to line up according to birthdays without talking) Kist stopped and said “this is what you want to hear in your classroom: talking and laughing among students.” It made you think about what the classroom could be like where learning becomes fun. In these activities we saw how using new literacies in the classroom could change the ways of teaching in which learning becomes exciting, engaging, and active. Furthermore I thought Kist made a good point when thinking about bringing “new literacies” in the classroom. In the previous lectures it was all about the moving image and incorporating film in to the classroom but Kist defined new literacies as any tool that promoted connectedness, community and collaboration. What made Kist a great teacher was that he shaped his lecture and teachings based on the interests and needs of his audience. When you center your teaching to connect to the experiences of the student you’ll get them engaged in their learning and empower them to do more.

Kist’s presentation made me think about my own teaching practices. As an art teacher I am always trying to re-engage students with new materials as they bring forth their lived experiences in to their art making. It is all about making connections and students make meaning by being able to connect their experiences with what they are learning in the classroom. When this connection is not made students are detached and disengaged in their learning. So in what different ways can we bring students’ experiences and their voice in to the classroom? As we learned from Kist that bringing new literacies in to the classroom is about “connectedness, community and collaboration,” thus I believe that the Arts is one of the most effective ways to achieve this. As we talked about using film and moving images in the classroom during this conference you can also expand to other art forms such as looking at paintings or sculptures as well as engaging in art-making. Within thinking about the theme of teach, think and play I provided some resources that might help you think about how the Arts bring these three components in to the classroom. I attached some readings that make ties between art, learning and the imagination. Also I provided some links where you can learn to incorporate art in to your teaching practices.

Ways to incorporate art in to your lesson plans:

MOMA Modern Teachers
http://www.moma.org/modernteachers/index.html

Art: 21
http://www.pbs.org/art21/education/index.htm

Great site to learn about artists from all over the world:

Art Forum
http://artforum.com

Some great books on the importance of arts in education as well as in the development of children:

Releasing the Imagination: Essays on Education, the Arts, and Social Change by Maxine Greene

The Dialectic of Freedom by Maxine Greene

Burton, J. (1981). Developing Minds: Representing Experiences: Ideas in Search of Forms. School Arts, January, 58-64.

Hurwitz, A. & Day, M. (1995). Children and their art. New York: Harcourt Brace


Ok I hope that was helpful. If you are unable to check out the books I would recommend reading the articles that I've attached. They are really interesting.

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Hi Elizabeth,
I enjoyed reading your post on William Kist's presentation. I found that his teaching style and approach were so dynamic and energizing! Since I teach Nursery school, transitions, movement, and gross motor activities help my students stay focused and interested in learning. I incorporate a lot of dramatic play, music, and art into my lessons because my students are really receptive and motivated when they participate in an activity that they enjoy. Currently, I am taking Art for Classroom Teachers with Naomi Lifschitz and I have realized how important it is to integrate art into the classroom curriculum. Some books that I found to be extremely helpful and informative about art instruction are:

1. Smith, Nancy (1993) Experience and Art. Teachers College Press, New York.
2. Lord, Lois (1996) Collage and Construction in School. Bank Street College Education, New York.
3. Beal, Nancy (2001). The Art of Teaching Art to Children. Farrar, Stratus, and Giroux, New York.

All three books are great resources for classroom teachers who want to introduce new materials and art experiences into their classrooms. If teachers motivate children to want to explore and discover new topics, learning and acquisition of knowledge will be retained and can be expanded upon. William Kist's presentation demonstrated how teachers need to relate instruction to their students lives. Cooperative learning and collaboration activities will have students view their classroom as a community of learners.
Elizabeth,

I really enjoyed your post! Reading it two weeks after the conference, it vividly brought back to mind all the learning that we did that weekend. When Dr. Kist asked us to line up according to birth dates, I was already familiar with this activity, having done it as an icebreaker during my undergrad. However, it was just as enjoyable and I really liked the twist that Dr. Kist put on it by having part of us move to the opposite wall and demonstrating how the new reader reads web content in a non-linear fashion.

Additionally, both the birth date activity and the paper crunching were ideal for a Sunday morning to get our blood flowing.
I agree! I have been very excited lately about applying multi-modal learning into my lessons. Although I have found this to be very helpful for young children and children with developmental delays, Dr.Kist proves that movement and kinesthetic activities are beneficial for grown ups too- even when we least expect it!
Hi Elizabeth,

What a wonderful post. I loved your comment, "Kist defined new literacies as any tool that promoted connectedness, community and collaboration." I think that is such an important concept to keep in mind. Thank you for all the valuable resources on ways to include art in lesson plans. I love the idea of expanding this notion of new literacies to include studying images, paintings, sculpture, etc. I need to remind myself that art should not just be left for the art teacher (if the students even have one!) and that it can be actively integrated into the classroom curriculum. Thanks for your valuable insights on different ways to bring student's experiences and voices into the classroom. As an educator, it is important to be on the look out for new ways to re-engage the students and tap into different interests and learning styles. Thank you!

-Wynne
A few years ago I attended a talk at the New Jersey Science Convention; its presenter focused on neuroscience to highlight the "brain research" supporting kinesthetic learning. On a basic level, since blood carries oxygen to your cells and organs (including the brain), we need our blood flowing! After sitting in the same position for 40 minutes, as is typical in middle school and high school classrooms, a person's blood has already begun to pool in his or her feet and bottom. I found with my 6th Grade students that even small microinterventions, for example the chance to get up and go to a new seat, a quick "stretch" activity with me, or some kind of movement connected to the content area of the lesson, could make a great difference in getting the children to focus and engage in the lesson.

Also, the comments about the arts as an intersection of teaching, thinking, and playing reminded me of some of my study of the Waldorf educational method. It integrates the arts into curricula as a way to engage students in thinking, feeling, and willing (doing).
Dr. Kist's presentation definitely drove my masters action research in a different way. I was focused on what to teach students, but now I looked at how they are learning and how they're engaged with their peers, so the learning can be exciting and fun. And I think new literacies does not have to be anything fancy, but should be a tool promote community and collaboration.

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