Book Trailers: A creative, multimodal reasoning learning experience in the Middle Years

Year: 2017

Author: Di Palma, Stephanie, Edwards, Debra

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Middle Years students often experience disengagement and lack of motivation in literacy and English learning. This remains an ongoing political and curriculum issue despite having been an area of interest for the past decade (Cole, Mahar, & Vindurampulle, 2006; Culican, Emmitt, & Oakley, 2001; Hill, Jane, Mackay, & Russell, 2002). Drawing on Mercer's student reasoning dialogue work (1995-2008), the creative contributions framework of Sternberg (1999-2012), and Magnani's (2001-2013) manipulative abduction theory, an English unit of work was designed to engage students with multimodal reasoning and higher order thinking.

In this paper, I report on students' collaborative problem-solving and decision-making as they interacted and experimented with different modes during the creation of a collaborative Book Trailer. Group-work enabled students to practice multimodal reasoning and provided opportunity for teacher and student tracking of these processes. Students reported motivation and engagement with the unit, claiming enjoyment of the open opportunities to practice multimodal literacies as their favourite aspect. Affording students opportunity to play and experiment with modes to create a multifaceted product enabled engagement and higher order reasoning. The analysis of the data highlighted the complexity and value of tracking the processes of multimodal reasoning for facilitating higher order thinking in English. This study also raises the question of balancing assessment of process and product to promote rich learning tasks in the English curriculum.