Making Multimodal Moves in the Education World

I remember in elementary school my teachers would always say “make your story come to life!” How could I do such a thing with a pencil and a piece of paper? How could my story become lifelike with two inanimate objects as my only resources?  When we were doing writing workshop in elementary school everyone’s final writing pieces were always on white lined paper after they had written a draft or two on yellow lined paper. Sometimes we could even add illustrations using crayons or colored pencils, but it was never much more than that.

Now that I am familiar with the meanings behind multiliteracies and multimodalities, I can think of so many ways to make my work “come to life.” Just as the world we live in is constantly changing and advancing, literacy is doing the same. Long ago, school used to be very straightforward and only required students to learn the basics. Cope and Kalantzis (2009) recall that school consisted of memorization of grammar, speech, and spelling. There were right and wrong answers that were determined by an authoritative teacher using authoritative texts. With the “new literacy” trend that has been making its way into more and more classrooms each year, teachers are learning to adopt new ways of teaching and defining literacy and slowly stepping away from the traditional, old literacy. Some people may ask why and even use the phrase, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but, there is one simple answer as to why teachers are doing this and that is because it no longer works and it is no longer adequate.  Literacy has transformed into “a culture of flexibility, creativity, innovation and initiative” (Cope & Kalantziz, 2009).


I did a group project last year on oral history and digital storytelling. We went through the different eras of storytelling and saw how it progressed into what it has become today. It was really interesting to see all of the different and creative ways that stories, new and old, can now be told. When I recently visited the article “10 Mind Blowing Interactive Stories That Will Change the Way You See the World” I was blown away. I clicked on the first story, “The Boat” and I was so intrigued by the movement and sound effects that I almost forgot I was reading a text. The whole experience makes you feel as though you are on the refugee boat with the characters from the story.

90% of all information transmitted to our brains is visual. People remember…

Using an interactive story like this one can be a great resource in the classroom. Students will have the opportunity to be more involved in the reading and even be able to better understand the emotions and feelings that the author is trying to convey. Older students can even try creating their own interactive stories rather than just writing a final draft on white lined paper. Another creative way that teachers can integrate multi modalities into the classroom is through the use of comic books. Dousay (2015) shares that “comic books have a unique way of bringing visual culture into the classroom.” Comic books can be a great alternative for students to show their creativity because they “have their own rules and patterns, and the process of creating a comic book involves writing a script, revising the script, selecting an illustration style, selecting characters, building the story, and revising the story” (Dousay, 2015). Other than that, comic books allow students incorporate detailed and descriptive writing, exciting dialogue, and explore different visual components.  I definitely plan on using these multimodal tools with my future students!

For a chance to experience making a comic book yourself, check out this cool, easy to use comic book creator website! Comic Book Creator