Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group

2010 Workshops

RaPAL 2010 Conference Workshops

Chris Aldred

Learning from ordinary practice: learning communities and their impact on articulation of practice

How do we find a voice to describe our practice out loud to each other and as published material? What kind of stimulus makes us able – or unable – to reflect critically, develop understandings, and confidently articulate and share what we learn from ‘ordinary’ work in progress? How can we learn more from work which is not necessarily ‘best practice’? This workshop draws on the experience of practitioners in the north of Scotland who worked together, initially as participants brought together on a course, and later as members of a developing community of practice.


Carol Azumah Dennis

What do we mean by literacy?

I would like to explore ideas about literacy. I aim to compile as many different definitions as possible. I then want to compare and contrast these ideas. I’d like place the different ideas within an overall analytical framework. With this framing in mind, I aim through discussion to explore the significance of these differences. It may be that participants draw towards the idea of literacy as skills in contrast to literacy as social practice; literacy as a single thing as oppose to literacy as multiple. The point I want to reach is an understanding of whether it is it possible for these ideas to co-exist comfortably or does difference on something as fundamental as definition demand resolution?

Phil Bird

Developing web literacy for literacy and language learners

British society is a highly web literate society; as a consequence there is a need for literacy and ESOL practitioners to develop learners’ web literacy in order for them not to be disadvantaged. The workshop will include a demonstration and discussion of how Moodle forums can be used to facilitate learners accessing simple information relevant to their needs and how this can be used to develop learners’ use of straightforward linguistic structures used in these contexts. Participants will explore how learners working at a higher-level can use websites as a stimulus for expressing more complex ideas.

View presentation here

Amy Burgess and Karin Tusting

Changing lifeworlds, changing writing: how adults take on new writing practices at times of change

In this workshop, we will talk about our research into how adults learn new writing practices in their everyday lives. We have carried out interviews with people who have talked to us about various learning strategies, including drawing on previous life experiences, finding models, calling on peers or family members for support, or using new technological resources.
We will facilitate small group and plenary discussions to share:
– responses to the themes emerging from the interviews
– reflections on their own experiences of learning new forms of writing
– implications of this for literacy provision and further research

View presentation here

Priti Chopra

Multimodal meaning- making: A critical engagement with the use of LAMS for teaching

Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) is a free web based learning design resource for managing and delivering online collaborative learning activities. LAMS is currently being used to teach in 80 countries and has been translated into 28 languages. This workshop will aim to introduce and discuss whether the learning design system LAMS can: support the contextualised development and integration of ILT; support active and reflective online learning practice; encourage reflective thinking and support differentiated, self-paced and collaborative online teaching/ learning practice.

Genevieve Clarke & Michelle Treagust

Gaming for Reading

The Reading Agency inspires more people to read in the belief that it can be a life-changing experience. In early 2010 they carried out a feasibility study into how the scale of the engagement and enjoyment achieved by the gaming industry could be extended to supporting adults with low literacy in reading for pleasure. During the hands on workshop delegates will explore the potential of games on their practice through playing games and discussing the study’s findings.

Julie Collins & Joe Malone

Celebrating Stories – multimedia practices and multimodal responses – Part 1

Digital storytelling was introduced by the BBC to give viewers the skills to make their own two minute film for broadcast. Using personal stories and photos is fascinating and revealing. Working with students on storytelling workshops produces outcomes that far exceed the individual skills that are taught. Learners start to see the power in their own story and become intelligent critics. The workshop will involve story circles and looking at the use of clay, silk, metal, photography, voice, family objects and digital media to share stories students want to tell.

This is the first of two sessions and will be an opportunity to experience the processes and celebrate people’s stories. Please bring with you an object, article or picture that says something about ‘families’.

Julie Collins & Joe Malone

Celebrating Stories – multimedia practices and multimodal responses – Part 2

This workshop will continue the process of constructing digital stories using a range of media. You can participate even if you have not been to the first workshop. Participants will create a group story using a range of digital media on the theme of ‘families’. This is a hands-on workshop to create a digital story by using poetry, sound and/or images. Group members will explore how these processes can be used with learners.

Henrietta Cullinan

Multiliteracy Walk step 1: To the Meridian

The multiliteracy walk responds to the desire to take literacy and language out of the classroom and into the street. Digital media and equipment can enable students to record and access mulitliteracies present in their neighbourhood. In one road, 5 different scripts and 8 different languages can be seen from one pavement. These two sessions will start with a multiliteracy walk, followed by a digital workshop on Saturday at 10.00.

After a short introduction, the workshop will take the form of a psychogeographic walk in Greenwich. Delegates will work together recording and mapping thoughts, history, sights, especially ‘found text’.

Henrietta Cullinan

Multiliteracy Walk step 2: To the Meridian

Using the material gathered in Multiliteracy Walk step 1, this session provides a chance to be creative and think how you could use similar techniques with students on literacy and language programmes.

We will be using the material to make a digital story (similar to a tape slide show). Digital storytelling has been used by a wide variety of community groups in the United States as a way of looking at memories, experiences and life stories.

The session will begin with some examples of digital storytelling followed by a chance to make our own. This will be followed by a discussion on how literacy and language learners can benefit from a similar walk and story-telling exercise.

Sam Duncan

Reading circles, novels and adult reading development

This workshop will examine case study research which used a reading circle within a London adult literacy workshop to investigate what a reading circle approach can offer adult emergent reading development, as well as what adult literacy learners can tell us about novel reading. In this workshop I hope to share extracts from my data as well as some of my findings as part of two larger, intersecting discussions: how can we help adults who want to develop their reading and what exactly are we doing when we read novels?

View presentation here

Bex Ferriday and Alison Wedgbury

Digital literacies, online identities and teachers

In May and June 2010, RaPAL members and guests met three times in the online world Second Life on the Cornwall College island – first in a virtual auditorium and then on a virtual beach by a campfire while the moon rose over the sea. We did this from USA, Canada, Cornwall, Lancaster, London, Belfast and Cambridge. We discussed learner voices, online identities, the role of the teacher, what it means to be digitally literate and the effects of online identity on the ‘employability’ of learners. We videoed the meetings, took snapshot photos and summarised the discussions in written text.

In this workshop, members will explore the implications for practitioners of using virtual worlds for professional exchange about literacy. Everyone will be given an avatar (an online persona) to experience being ‘in another person’s skin’. We will draw on multimodality theory to look at the meanings made through image, speech, writing, gesture and sound in a virtual meeting of literacy practitioners.

View presentation here

Tracey Mollins

Learners Speak: Online Communities and Literacy Learners

How do literacy learners create online communities? In this workshop you will see how this happened in an online learning environment called Alpharoute from Ontario, Canada.
At Alpharoute, an online community of learners grew up around the learning activities. As this community developed, some literacy learners took on the role of facilitating forums and designing curriculum.

You will use the same online learning platform (Moodle) that we used in Alpharoute to explore and discuss our experience at Alpharoute, your own experience with online learner communities, and how we can bring what we are learning from each other to our work. No computer experience required.

Pauline Moon

Visual thinking, and literacy and language education

We will explore what visual thinking is, drawing on research, and participants will be invited to relate the ideas to their own experience of thinking. We will discuss why literacy and language teachers, and teacher educators, might recognise the role of visual thinking in learning in a multimodal world. Participants will be able to consider whether their learning and teaching approaches support visual thinking. We will consider strategies for creating a learning environment in which visual thinking can play a deep and significant role in the learning process. View presentation here

Linda Quinn

Improving Literacy Through Creative Writing: Receiving and Creating Text

This is a practical workshop that looks at and discusses the value of using Creative Writing, as a subject, to develop literacy skills and knowledge to prepare students for mainstream writing courses, as well as preparation for literacy accreditation. ‘Improve your Literacy Through Creative Writing’ at City Lit (an adult education centre in London) has motivated a wide range of students to work together to achieve, and exceed their learning goals. We will look at practical exercises, the use of mentors and the impact of a residential learning experience that enable students to not only receive text passively, but also become active creators making choices about language.

Mary Rhind

Gaelic literacy – a study

This workshop will look at some of the work which has been done in the Scottish Highlands to develop a course that can deliver literacy in Gaelic for Gaelic speakers. It will briefly cover the current situation for Gaelic speakers to set it in context.

We will look at a case study of a woman in her thirties whose first language is Gaelic and who picked up English by immersion when she went to school. What have been the main challenges for her?

As an activity we will look at the Gaelic alphabet which only has 18 letters and see, using examples, how the full range of sounds available in English and more (think loch!) is produced. There are also some similarities to Welsh in the process for using a dictionary.
We will also look at code-mixing and code-switching and the complexities of multi-lingualism.
Discussion groups will look at literacy skills that are transferable between languages, what assumptions might be being made and what lessons we can all learn for our own practice.

Anthea Rose

Parental use of, and attitudes towards, technology to help with their children’s learning

This workshop will explore the potential for parents to help their children learn and have their voices heard through new digital technologies. It considers the challenges facing parents with low ICT literacy skills and pressures faced by families with limited or no home internet access; particularly in relation to children’s homework. Research by IPSE (for Becta) found some families do not have all the resources needed to adequately engage in technology for learning, leading to a digital education divide. This interactive workshop explores how such families can be supported to help their children’s learning in a growing technologically-focused education system.

View presentation and vignettes.

Philida Schellekens

Fair game? Reflecting on the acquisition of language and literacy skills

Recent research on language acquisition gives new insight into how adults acquire English as an additional language. In this workshop we shall review, among others, the effectiveness of teaching to skim text, read for gist etc.

We shall test the supposition that, while first and second language speakers have the same end goal: to use English which is appropriate for the occasion and with fluency and accuracy, their learning trajectories are by no means identical.

We shall explore the possible implications of these research findings for both categories of learners, for classroom practice and for standard setting and exams.

Shelley Tracey

Creating and responding to textpoems: developing an inclusive literacy practice

The workshop will draw on the researcher’s collection of textpoems and recent writing on poetic enquiry. She will discuss the potential for texting to enhance communication between poet and reader. In this experiential workshop, we will explore the making and receiving of textpoems as an inclusive literacy practice for literacy learners of all ages. To support this process, we will draw on current literature which contradicts the view that the use of mobile phones in general and texting in particular are having a negative impact on young people’s use of language. We will also challenge the notion that texting as a literacy practice exists primarily within youth culture. In the last part of the workshop we will focus on identifying ways in which mobile phones and texting can be used in adult learning settings. We will also reflect on the place of textpoetry in literacy learning and its capacity to support the development of a community of writers, using new technologies.
Please bring your mobile phone to this workshop.

View photo 1 and photo 2.

Sandra Varey

ILPs and biographies: personal and political representations of adult literacy learners

This workshop focuses on a PhD project currently being carried out with adult literacy learners in the northwest of England. You will be introduced to the rationale, research methodology and initial findings of the study which addresses the following questions:
1. What identities are constructed within biographical narratives and ILPs?
2. What meanings are assigned to adult literacy programmes within each of these representations?

Along with gaining an overview of the study, there will be opportunities to engage with case study data and to consider how the emerging themes relate to your own professional context.

View presentation here

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