READ WRITE EASY: Research, practice and innovation in deaf multiliteracies Volumes 1 and 2 Open Access

https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/51600
https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/52174

We’re delighted to announce the open access publication of two volumes from the project “Peer to peer deaf multiliteracies: research into a sustainable approach to education of Deaf children and young adults in developing countries”. This ESRC funded project, led by Ulrike Zeshan of University of Central Lancashire (ES/P008623/1) ran from 1 July to 30 December 2020 and involved Julia Gillen and Uta Papen of the Lancaster Literacy Research Centre as co-investigators.

Volume 1:  This book is the first of two volumes on deaf multiliteracies based on research with deaf children and adults in India, Uganda and Ghana. Multiliteracies include not only reading and writing but also skills in sign language, drawing, acting, digitally mediated communication, and other modes. The book covers a variety of themes including the assessment of learners’ progress, pedagogical issues as seen from teachers’ perspectives, and issues related to curricula. Authors discuss, for instance, the use of multimedia portfolios for tracking the learning of deaf primary school children, the training needs of deaf teachers, and a collaborative approach to curriculum development. The book is of interest to both researchers and practitioners. In addition to four research chapters, it features four ‘innovation sketches’. These are reports of innovative practices that have arisen in the context of the research, and they are particularly relevant for practitioners with an interest in methodologies.

This volume includes the chapter “The storymakers mini-project: encouraging children’s multimodal writing” by Julia Gillen and Uta Papen, pp. 257-274.

Volume 2: This book is the second of two volumes on deaf multiliteracies based on research with deaf children and adults in India, Uganda and Ghana. Multiliteracies include not only reading and writing but also skills in sign language, drawing, acting, digitally mediated communication, and other modes. The book covers a variety of themes including learner engagement, classroom practice, capacity building, and education systems. Authors discuss aspects of learning such as the sequencing of different multiliteracies skills in the classroom, a gamified approach to English grammar, a sign-bilingual online environment, and the influence of visual materials on learners’ participation. Capacity building with young deaf professionals and a comparative discussion of deaf education systems in three countries also feature in the volume. The book is of interest to both researchers and practitioners. In addition to four research chapters, it features four ‘innovation sketches’. These are reports of innovative practices that have arisen in the context of the research, and they are particularly relevant for practitioners with an interest in methodologies.

Black History Month: Voices from the Changing Faces Project

As part of Black History Month at Lancaster University, the University Library has put together an exhibition of some of the items stored in the Changing Faces archive held here at Lancaster. The exhibition focuses especially on accounts written by black adults of their experiences in the second part of last century of living, working and learning in the UK. There are sections of reflections on the homelands that some people had left, how they were received in the UK and their hopes and ambitions as British citizens.

The Changing Faces project contains a wide range of writing by adult learners and is a unique and special resource of firsthand accounts from ordinary people who accessed adult education between 1970-2000. 

Those of us who were involved in putting the archive together are really proud that it can make a contribution to Black History month and hope this will encourage more people to explore the documents and interviews in the archive. We also want to acknowledge the important role and continuing support of the archivist, Liz Fawcett, who put together this exhibition. The exhibition runs to the end of October and is highly recommended for a visit if you are on campus during this time.

You can find out more about the archive and and browse the catalogue at 

http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/literacy-research-centre/changing-faces-archive/

By the Writing For Pleasure Centre: a response to the DfE’s Reading Framework – review and implications for teaching writing

We recommend this thoughtful, well resourced blog post by our friends at the Writing for Pleasure Centre. They begin:

“On the 10th of July 2021, the Department for Education published its non-statutory guidance document entitled ‘The reading framework: Teaching the foundations of literacy’. It purports to provide guidance for schools to meet existing expectations for teaching early reading and writing (p.78).

“The mission of The Writing For Pleasure Centre is to help all young people become passionate and successful writers. As a think tank for exploring what world-class writing is and could be, a crucial part of our work is analysing emerging governmental policy. It is therefore important that we issue a response to what this document has to say.

Overall conclusion

“If commercial scheme writers and schools pursue the recommendations made in this policy paper in any kind of serious way, we run the very real risk of developing the most reluctant, listless and unmotivated writers for a generation. While some of the recommendations within the policy paper are welcome, it remains grossly incomplete. We therefore urge anyone interested in developing world-class writing teaching to read the cited research within this review before making any changes to their writing teaching or commercial offerings.”

We hope you might read the remainder of this thought-provoking article if you are interested in literacy education in primary schools.

‘Home language’, ‘Main Language’ or no language: questions and answers about British Sign Language in the 2011 British censuses (Mark Sebba and Graham Turner)

This fascinating paper is in press in the journal Lingua here (the link is valid until August 7th).

Abstract:

The 2011 census in the UK was the first to ask questions about the use of languages other than the indigenous Celtic languages, Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic. The resulting broadened inquiry included asking about the use of British Sign Language (BSL), the acknowledged language of the Deaf signing community in Britain. Official and public attitudes surrounding signing – its relationship with spoken/written language; its linguistic ‘validity’; its territoriality or universality; its association with ideologies of disability – are rarely placed on display as they are via the census process. The formulation of questions, their linguistic expression, and the responses elicited may all be seen as indexical of societal positioning.

In the UK, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each conduct their own census, so the question about sign language was differently phrased in each jurisdiction, and placed alongside a different set of questions about other languages. Thus in each questionnaire the sign language question was contextualized differently, and was open to comparison by respondents with the questions about other, more prominent languages including English. Unsurprisingly, this led to different responses to questions which were ostensibly asking about the same thing.

In this paper we describe how the census questionnaire in each jurisdiction asked about respondents’ principal language, and how British Sign Language was positioned in each. A significant difference in the wording of the question – about ‘home language’ in Scotland and ‘main language’ elsewhere – led to a far larger proportion of respondents mentioning BSL in Scotland. We conclude that while the ‘home language’ question produces a more realistic picture of the extent of BSL use, neither question is sufficient to reveal the complexity of the repertoire of many bi- and multilinguals. More generally, the wording of questions about principal language may crucially affect the responses of users of minority languages.

Dancing with Covid: Choreographing examinations in pandemic times

The European Educational Research Journal has just published this article by our Associate Director Emeritus Professor Mary Hamilton with an international team led by Cristina Alarcón López of the University of Vienna.

Abstract:

In this paper, we explore the improvisations made in examination practices in higher education during the pandemic of 2020. Drawing on STS, we start from the theoretical assumption that examinations constitute an obligatory passage point in universities and colleges: a sacred point which students need to pass if they want to gain recognized qualifications. We base our analysis of higher education examinations on cases from six countries around the world: Australia, Belgium, Chile, India, Sweden and the UK. We use the analytical heuristic of choreography to follow the movements, tensions and resistance of the ‘emergency examinations’ as well as the re-orderings of actors and stages that have inevitably occurred. In our analytical stories we see the interplay between the maintenance of fixed and sacred aspects of examinations and the fluidity of improvisations aimed at meeting threats of spreading Covid-19. These measures have forced the complex network of examinations both to reinforce some conventional actors and to assemble new actors and stages, thus creating radically new choreographies. Although higher education teaching and didactics are being framed as a playground for pedagogical innovation with digital technologies, it is clear from our data that not all educational activities can be so easily replicated.