Sunday, February 15, 2009

Engaging the Eye Generation: Visual Literacy Strategies for the K-5 Classroom by Johanna Riddle

Author Johanna Riddle has written a new book titled Engaging the Eye Generation: Visual Literacy Strategies for the K-5 Classroom (2009) published by Stenhouse. I have come across some of Johanna’s work throughout my graduate studies and enjoy reading her thoughts, as a media specialist, on Web 2.0 tools, 21st literacies, and technology integration. Johanna has over twenty years of educational experience as a teacher, media specialist and arts administrator. She takes readers on an educational journey emphasizing the power of visual literacy with today’s learning generation. This book is a great resource for grades K-5 teachers (and probably beyond) as we all must forge ahead not only recognizing 21st century learners, but how to best teach this multidimensional generation.

Browse all of Engaging the Eye Generation online!

The way that students are learning today is an ever-evolving process. Johanna opens with an introductory question asking “How do we change the way we teach to best reach today’s learners?” (p. 1). Engaging the Eye Generation answers that question and more. To genuinely reach students with meaningful, authentic learning experiences, educators must prepare them to “navigate life in the twenty-first century” which in turn means we “can’t keep looking at teaching through twentieth-century lenses” (p. 1).

The introductory section is particularly interesting as it lists eight fundamental categories of literacy found in today’s information-based society identified by the North Central Regional Education Laboratory from work already established by the International ICT Literacy Panel.

  • Basic Literacy
  • Scientific Literacy
  • Economic Literacy
  • Technological Literacy
  • Visual Literacy
  • Information Literacy
  • Multicultural Literacy
  • Global Awareness

“Rather than merely “new”, today’s literacy is multidimensional, incorporating many different ways of receiving and expressing information and often involving creative collaboration. Visual literacy is central to such communication” (p. 4). Johanna starts at the beginning by setting the stage to introducing 21st century literacies and visual skills by comparing them to the beginning stages of reading in young children. The process is a slow sequential one that gradually becomes learned and more complex taking students beyond traditional literacy boundaries.

Chapter 3 begins by saying
“When we embrace the notion that how we teach is as relevant to the learning process as what teach, we naturally begin to expand our instruction to address a wider range of learning styles and literacies. We continue to work within traditional disciplines, but our approach to teaching those disciplines broadens. The inclusion of art, technology, and imagery adds power to traditional tools such as books, paper and pencils. Our students become actively engaged in visual, auditory and kinesthetic interpretation and production of information. As we reach into their world, we transform the everyday business of teaching and learning into a shared, creative journey” (p. 55).

With the advent of all of the new literacies weaving their way into educational instructional environments, developing these literacies is important because it nurtures active engagement through a shared educational journey.

Johanna carefully details her experiences with visual literacies. I think this will remind educators that developing visual literacy skills not only differentiates learning but recognizes that there are a number of ‘multiple intelligences’ that need creative inspiration in the learning environment.

A blog book tour will be taking place here, more details to come. If you have questions you would like to ask Johanna, please post them in the comment section of this post.

Happy reading!

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