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Photo credit: Vancouver School Board (2013)

Lord Roberts students participate in SFU research

April 22, 2013
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SFU Education researchers Drs. Kelleen Toohey and Diane Dagenais teamed up with a grade four Lord Roberts Elementary class to explore Stanley Park with their iPads.

The Vancouver School Board's website featured this joint field trip where students learned not only about nature and the environment but also about technology; while Drs. Toohey and Dagenais furthered their quest in examining how students gain language and literacy skills through video making projects.

"Toohey explained that the Lord Roberts class was chosen to participate in the research project that is being funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Standard research grant because many of the students speak a language other than English at home."

Many of the students also shared their enthusiasm about the field trip and research project with one student, Ana Lugonjic, stating "I like the part where we get to use iPads to make short videos and to do the filming."

Read more about this trip to Stanley Park on the Vancouver School Board website.

Read more about the research project below:

Emerging multimodal literacies: Second language learners making videos

Researchers are reporting that globally the education of minority-language-speaking children is a serious concern. Despite widely varying theoretical and methodological perspectives, many researchers agree that school literacy activities present the greatest challenge for minority children learning a second language, and that literacy difficulties become especially evident and consequential for such learners during the intermediate school years (Grades 4-7) when such students begin to experience school failure. Such difficulties persist throughout and beyond schooling.

Our project, guided by recent literacy research that urges educators to examine various paths to literacy, examines the affordances and constraints of video making as a means to augment print and digital literacy learning for intermediate grade (Grades 4-7) second language learners in diverse sites.

Contemporary researchers have a variety of recommendations to improve literacy education, based on conceptualizing literacy as a social practice, situated in particular locales and social relations, and on conceptualizing literacy as making sense of multiple meaning systems (music, images, sound, gesture, space, moving images) in addition to print. Particularly now, many children have developed formidable digital literacy skills, and building on their familiarity with and their interest in such technologies has been seen as a promising approach for bringing children to print literacy.

Our previous research with intermediate-grade second language learners in Canada demonstrated that videomaking has potential to enhance their spoken and written second language usage through activities like collaborative script writing, storyboarding and oral rehearsal. Given the potential of videomaking as a second language literacy learning activity and the lack of research on this topic with young second language learners, videomaking in the context of literacy development needs to be further investigated. To address this need, we are investigating videomaking as a literacy practice by asking: 

  1. Does making videos engage learners in multimodal and print literacy activities and if so, how?
  2. What similarities or differences are there in participation in video making in various sites?
  3. What kinds of representations of themselves do second language learners make in videos?
  4. If video making is a potentially rich path to second language literacy, how might we encourage its use in Canadian schools?