Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Use of Images in Teaching About Literacy

My Use of Images in Teaching About Literacy
Annotation provided by Kali Frederick

Lalik, Rosary. (2003.) My Use of Images in Teaching About Literacy. In L. Sanders-Bustle (ed.) Image, Inquiry, and Transformative Practice: Engaging Learners in Creative and Critical Inquiry Through Visual Representation (pgs. 87 - 108). New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

Through a descriptive narrative, Rosary Lalik explores the world of teaching and teaching literacy to teachers. This chapter is a brutally honest depiction of the fear and uncertainty that teachers sometimes feel when facing a classroom of students. Her prose reads like a journal and her research is intertwined subtly to support her ideas. Lalik loves photographs and believes that literacy can be defined in many different ways. She uses photographs and other images to intrigue her students and evoke conversations. Their passionate discourse leads them to experiential research and library sources. While uncovering the truth behind the photographs they learn something more about literacy. This article is a must read for anyone pursuing methods that can be used to motivate students to read, research, engage in discussions, or reflect on personal reactions.

Quotes, Connections, and Reflection
This entire chapter was engaging. But what struck me the most was Lalik’s complete honesty about her work and feelings towards teaching. She states early on that her professional focus on literacy is to help teachers understand the multitude of avenues a teacher can use to inspire literacy exploration. Literacy, “involves the use of multiple forms and representation for construing and transforming the world,” (p. 89). Making the world accessible and understandable is a goal for most teachers. By opening up the definitions of literacy, we seek to include all children in the quest to understand the world.

Lalik provides a detailed description of her class and the project that is designed to explore the world of literacy. The project involves looking at difficult images of homelessness, which inspires the students to learn more about the issue. The students design a project around the topic and use many different avenues to better understand the issue. Some use experiential learning, others libraries, others personal interviews, etc. But all come together to gain a better understanding of the issue and provide some solutions. Lilak observes of her stubborn students, “how odd the critical and imaginative in teaching and learning can feel, especially to those of us long stifled in technocratic corners,” (p. 100). As a teacher that works at a progressive charter school, I thought that families who attended our school were enthusiastic about the different atmosphere. But instead, I was faced with a group of people who want desperately for their child’s education to be different, but they are uncomfortable with anything too different. Lilak experiences something similar after her class finishes. The students (who are all teachers) empasize how powerful the class was, but reflect that, as Lalik explains, “the kind of literacy they learned with me is hard to fit into the spaces of the standards lists, although they tell me they prefer it,” (p.101). As parents, educators and community members, we know something is not right with our educational system. Our students are not leaving school ready, willing, and able to take on an ever changing economy and society. And yet we propose and support more testing, as though repeated testing will yield different results. As Joe and I delve more deeply into our classroom practices, we find ample evidence (in the student work and demeanor) that supports the metohds we use in the classroom, but few articles address an integrated, cross-curricular high school classroom to the level that we take it. If we want innovative problem solvers, multiple choice exams will not accurately test for that quality. If we desire collaborative leaders who recognize and utilize other’s strengths accordingly, multiple choice tests and prompted writing, will not highlight those who possess these qualities. We need to embrace imagniation and innovation in the classroom and as assessments. And these practices should make us a bit uncomfortable.

Another aspect of Lalik’s chapter that I appreciated and could relate to is a bit outside of the literacy realm. She is explaining how difficult writing is for her and she says, “I write. I said I like to write. I try to write, but I am mute and grossly inarticulate [...] I vow to learn to speak through courses that I teach,” (p. 94). There are many times that I feel this way. I know what I want to say and do, but it is so very challenging. I can only hope that through our projects and work, I will help our students gain their voice for what they want, hope and dream, and in turn, they can help me find mine in education.

Freire, P. (1985). The politics of education. South Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey.

Giroux, H. (1988). Teachers as Transformative Intellectuals: Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Learning. New York: Bergin & Garvey.

hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge.

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