Critical Literacy: Using Picture Books to Read The World



okay so as Eric said we are presenting some of the ideas from our event graduating paper we do come from the perspective of elementary school teachers so the theory that we're drawing on its religious support artwork in the classroom the title of our paper is critical ITER's to using picture books to read the world okay so we recognized that our role as teachers is sort of changing due to a changing educational climate and we don't see our role as teachers simply to fill our students with knowledge or to give them information and as PR discipline as they said we don't see our students as empty vessel is waiting to be filled what we do see as important is teaching our students how to engage with all this information that's presented to them and then is so readily available to them now due to changes in technology we want to teach our students to question and challenge the world around them we want as well to empower our students with this ability to question dominant ideologies to critique social constructions that are present in our everyday life so we don't see schools as a place to just learn facts particularly with our really young students we see schools in the place to create critical awareness of the social strong an institution is that shape everyday thank you and we want to teach our students how to sort of deconstruct these social constructions that are presented to them on a daily basis through skills such as inquiry pressure questioning and critique so we're looking for a pedagogical framework that really reflects these ideals and we looked at Paulo Freire who sort of been labeled as the the father of critical literacy who was rural literacy education Rovers oh and he states that quote the goal of education should be to develop the students power to perceive critically the way of they exist in the world when looking for a pedagogy to support what we want to promote in our classroom as much from the identified with the ideas of theorists such as prayer in addition some of the work of McLaren like Shearer and noble to name just a few but as teachers were left with the question of how do we implement such a complex framework as grand ideas into our classrooms with young students so we then looked for work that other teachers have done in this area in elementary schools and we came across teacher researchers Vivian Vasquez and Wendy Morgan who have done critical literacy work and then implemented critical literacy practices in elementary school classrooms and typically report back their findings through case studies so I think that looking at he says that these two research teacher researchers presented really helped us try to answer this question is how do 18 critical literacy theory and actually put it into practice in elementary school so these researchers in their key studies really emphasize the fact that texts aren't simply limited to fictional picture books but they can also be everyday text so for example magazine articles or advertisements commercials things that they're presented with on a daily basis where there are social constructions presented within them but you don't necessarily always notice it so this is an example of an everyday text it's an advertisement for every day is Mother's Day and you ask them the questions such as who is this next made for who made this text what is the message how is the woman portrayed in this text does this text reflect your household and how would you change this text whose voice isn't heard in this so the teacher researchers that were drying on emphasize the role of the teacher as a facilitator through questioning and guiding your students through a certain type of inquiry and a way of thinking about a piece of text the teaching framework we're going to share with you today does rely on picture books as the tool to facilitate critical literacy so we've pointed out that this is not something limited to picture books but for the purposes of today we're going to share some of things we have done with picture books it's been mentioned already in this room that picture books are widely available in all the improvers teaching context course maybe iPads or not so it's something that we are able to use as well they address multimodal learning which we've heard about and because of the on visuals and they're also an accessible literacy for readers with the range of reading levels as similar to what Kathy was actually saying we also have a very specific definition of what you picture book is the picture books that we selected for our classroom they're ones that deal with social justice issues so for example things such as tutoring for immigration than a phobia equality they cover a range of reading abilities because the text can be accessed from a variety of levels in the sense that it can be looked at from the multiple layers of their book so a more advanced reader could look deeper into the book or as an emerging reader could use the visuals to help assist and include the print in that sense and finally most importantly is that the picture books that we select our multimodal so to quote Lewis the key to understanding what makes a picture book multimodal it's the recognition that within each picture book The Prince and the visuals were simultaneously to create meaning and to create overall meaning so for example this is taken from Anthony Brown's voices in the park and SMU grounds a master as the true picture book in our sense and it says you get some fretful types in the park these days I called his name for what seemed like ages so that without the image has a completely different meaning when you this is the person speaking alright so I'm going to go into some of the work I've done in my classroom of grade three students using the book the rabbits very well-known picture book by John Marston and Shawn tan so I was teaching my grade threes about the traditional culture of Pacific Northwest Coast personation z– when some of my students asked me if First Nations people were still around and asked where are they instead of answering the question or trying to just move on to what I actually was supposed to be teaching I took that as an opportunity to kind of push our thinking further and question why are you asking this where are you getting these ideas from and it's the act of the questioning that is really where this deep thinker instant learning is coming from they're questioning the world around them so I'm familiar with this book this is a story its colonization tale of a group of prophets arriving in a new place and slowly taking over the land from its original inhabitants the text in this picture book is very minimal and much of the story is told through the illustrations I worked with my grade three students in deconstruction deconstructing this text around the themes of colonization that they had already begun to ask questions about I after reading the book with the students I had my students create a tableau of a scene that they thought would capture this story 50 years to the Future Passed the ending of the book the prior to doing that some of the critical questions that I posed to them and keeping my user rates through these services big stuff for them and they are interested in motivated to do this so we talked about whose perspective might you want to represent if you were going to take this story and continue in 50 years into the future whose perspective wasn't in the story that you may need to include what was the message that the author of this story was trying to tell and how may you try to capture that in your tableau the role of Technology was brought up as well not by me but by the students how did the relationship between these two groups change over the course of time how are our original people they were making these connections between the original inhabitants and Aboriginal people these are the terms that they were coming up with how our Aboriginal people shown in this book are they represented how are the invaders as they became called in my classroom represented and how would you feel about these two groups over the course of time so my students when they got in their groups and they created these tableaus presented to them the class then we moved on to talk about where their ideas about the way they represent the story 50 years later came from because we had some groups who obviously had some understanding that you know this story did not end up well for Aboriginal people there there was no peace they did not get their land back so I'm drawing out of the students where your understandings yes come from there were other students who gave an alternative construction of this colonization tale where they didn't tableau of some type of peace treaty between these two groups and the students were able to connect their constructions of the situation's to real-life events and things that they saw going around open the world thinks that they saw on the news so it was really interesting to see how they would reflect these realities and then where they thought that their ideas came from another activity we did was writing in roles so the students were required to take on the point of view of either the rabbits or the original inhabitants or vice versa and they were to write to the other brain so here's an example so this is one great leap boy he is a struggling nomad a struggling writer yet here's the thinking be able to come up with so dear people of this country he's writing from the point of view of a prophet why do you live in a tree because it's fine convenient easy to live in I wonder what she eats here taking your kids in your community because we don't have enough resources and food back where we live we feel sort of bad for you people but it's where you're all good from so this is a student who's thinking about colonisation from the colonizers point of view I think it would be very easy read a book like this and decide that the rabbits were wrong they're bad they're bullies however we all know that issues around colonization's are not that simple and to have children start looking at it from other voices and multiple perspectives I think is quite profound you can also see in this voice butter that he's questioning cultural difference and is questioning the lack of understanding that one group has about the other group so through both these activities the grade three students were delving into themes around colonization and power hierarchies they enquired into multiple perspectives of the groups involved they questioned their own identity from their own understanding in connection with this colonization tale I'm going to be presenting in a book titled 10,000 dresses it's been Marcus awareness illustrated by Rex ray and I found this book to be quite useful to deal with issues of gender hierarchy and transgendered youth so stories about each Halloween Bailey Bailey is biologically a boy but identifies as a girl and baby's family doesn't support him his identity as a girl and this really weighs on Bailey throughout the entire story and although I teach great to use most of my students years old and well the idea of talking about gender roles and gender stereotypes and those social constructions and transgendered youth might some of it to heavier mature I found that with my students they already had a very strong sense of what is boy and what is girl even at the age of seven and these are all social constructions that they have been presented with and to have internalized and the point of doing a book like this is to really address the fact that there is nothing biological inheritance about what makes you behave or to be a lawyer to be a girl but these are all social constructions and it's very important to be aware of us it is not necessarily right or wrong but it's just important to be aware of how these social constructions sort of achieve your thoughts so prior to reading the book I presented the students with a picture of Bailey on the front cover where he's wearing a crystal gown I should say she's wearing a crystal accom and the idea of it was I wanted them to write down what they were one.beautiful some questions they had what was picture and then to maybe draw some inferences so what would be information on this picture and before I had had to know all the pictures immediately some kids said to me can I draw hair on this girl and where's is this girl wearing a bun can I draw hair on it and they were very curious about this boy is this a girl it was very very important for them to be able to label if it's a boy or a girl and I could see immediately that they had been strongly developed ideas of what it means to be a boy or a girl and that this doesn't necessarily fit in with their understanding what a boy or girl is yeah so I raised a lot of questions about what how does this fit in with your idea of being a boy or being a girl and they did some rain I'm not sure if you can see it but what one of the children I teach in an all-girls school so what she inferred is I inferred that he's crazy because boys don't wear dresses so automatically that sort of represents what her understanding of what it means to be employing what it means to be a girl and we did some other activities I'm just gonna wrap it up quite quickly where I had two silhouettes one of the things all in one of Bailey and well we read the book for a second time I asked him to come up to the board and to jot down some feelings that they thought either of these characters would have and what was really interesting was where they got these ideas from the father's perspective so he was embarrassed because he thinks poor should be wearing dresses but at a friend's a boy he likes paint not serving the same thing he wants a son to grow up very strong and she mounts a son to me girls are weak he wants girls who like his tie and they want a few wears dresses and maybe he's worried because he wants to protect his son he is mom to get bullied so these are all sort of ways for them to understand the father's perspective so just like with the colonizers point you think about other boy oh really all right so to wrap up we have found that children are highly capable of deconstructing texts and they're also very motivated and interested into inquiring and questioning larger social justice themes that they might not otherwise talk about we think that like the idea that the picture books is to be a stepping stone to greater in terms of digital technology and to be able to read and interpret other texts that are out there

5 thoughts on “Critical Literacy: Using Picture Books to Read The World”

  1. This presentation was five years ago, I am from Brazil and I am glad to see Paulo Freire as a reference for their work but what makes me sad is that in Brazil Paulo Freire is considered a leftist and some people do not considered him as a great educator. Such a pity that a vague an empty ideoly blind the majority of a nation, what they just need is trully acquaire a critical thinking …

  2. Hallo, I'm an undergraduate student in English department specially for foreign language. And I'm a foreigner. I'm interested in both of the speakers, and if I deserve, I would like to join you with the aims to develop knowledge and to share experience. Please, if you would like to help me, you can do it by telling your contact such as the social network (Facebook, twitter, email or Skype). I do really want to learn more and to teach well later. Thank you.

  3. Hi Marcus! I just wanted to let you know that Lindsay and I will be presenting 10,000 Dresses again at the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable on October 19th alongside author Kenneth Oppel.

    I've added the link to the event in the video description above.

  4. Hi Marcus! "Wow!" is what I thought when I saw you responded!! Lindsay & I did a Masters thesis paper on critical literacy. Your book was one of six we developed a teaching framework for. I emailed your editor, who was super lovely- I'll email her our paper. My students loved your book & I'd love to share some of the things they said about it! We are presenting this again at a conference for teachers in October & I'll tell you more closer to the date. Can you please like & favorite our video? 🙂

  5. Um- wow!
    This is Marcus Ewert, author of 10,000 Dresses.
    YEEHAW and thank you both!
    Bailey thanks you too!

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