On Screen: Writing, Images and What It Means to Be a Reader

Abigail Anderson
2009 LEARNing Landscapes |   unpublished
The majority of English Language Arts curricula in North America, if not worldwide, draw on traditional literary texts as their core content. By contrast, the confluence of image and written word on contemporary texts-including the literary-and the impact this evolution has on our comprehension of the changing face of literacy is one of the most compelling issues in contemporary pedagogy. It seems clear that the rise of the new media and its range of textual genres challenge prevailing views
more » ... ut what it means to be a reader and how reading is taught in our schools. Since word and image demand different reading paths and strategies, how can teachers begin to revision their pedagogical practices while taking an active role in addressing the literacy needs of their elementary and secondary students? A World of Texts U nlike writing, we come to images like those on television and the Internet with the understanding that we are reading them-that we do not need to learn the kinds of codes and conventions that are basic when learning to read the written word or ask the kinds of questions we learn to use when interpreting a written text. Too, when we come to the screen, to a communication environment that integrates images, sound and speech, the assumption is that once we learn how it works technically, the rest follows in a kind of natural, logical way. In our work with teachers around the province of Quebec over the last five years, it became quickly apparent that learning to read both images and multimodal texts that incorporate images and print in formal, explicit ways is often regarded as a