literacies log

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


Things you can do with digital literacies:

Create instant art from your web page.

Wordle: Lancaster Literacy Research Centre website home page


Friday, 31 October 2008


Passion and politics: Academics reflect on writing for publication by E. Carnell, J MacDonald, Bet McCullum and M. Scott. London: Institution of Education, 2008.
This fascinating book, which has just been published contains interviews with 18 academics at the London Institute of Education about their writing practices. What they say is strongly framed by the editors in terms of themes like: becoming a writer, managing time, imagining the reader and the two themes of the title, their passion for writing and the politics of writing. Gunther Kress and Jan Blommaert are two of the academics who provide glimpses into their lives. The editors, who unfortunately reveal nothing about themselves, provide lots of ideas on how to carry out such interviews and for further projects.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Geisel library

Images from the wonderful Geisel library at the University of California, San Diego, visited for the ISCAR conference (Intl Society for Cultural and Activity Research).

Thursday, 17 July 2008

more on literacies and place

Barbara Comber played with the phrase 'know your place' when she began the special focus day on literacy and social class at the UK Literacy Association conference last Thursday. She argues for a hopeful take on critical literacies with place pedagogies, suggesting that the notion of 'knowing one's place' can be an inclusive educational resource, getting away from the implication of 'accepting' one's (lowly) position.

This urban renewal project brought together primary and preschool children with architecture trainees to transform their setting. It was so clear how the project, being so real, engaged the children in authentic processes of planning, consultation, design and so on, in which their literacy skills flourished. Above is a photo of Ridley Grove school grounds early in the project.

I'm currently reading 'A mobile century? changes in everyday mobility in Britain in the twentieth century' by Colin Pooley, Jean Turnbull and Mags Adams. It turns out that the question mark is fundamental to their argument. Although the opportunities for long distance travel are far greater now than they were a century ago most people only do this once or twice a year and many never have - or take - the opportunity. '...for many, everyday mobility consists mainly of local travel connected to essential everyday tasks and ... this aspect of mobility has changed little over time.' (p. 1) The book includes some fascinating interviews with older people who reflect on their changing travel patterns over their lifespan; many move around more in their 60s than every before.

I take from this a strengthening of Barbara Comber's argument; that relating literacy pedagogies to the locality can be fruitful and empowering in many ways. Here is another gorgeous image from her Centre for Studies in Literacy, Policy and Learning Cultures

Monday, 14 July 2008

UK Literacy Association conference

I've just returned from the UKLA conference at Liverpool Hope University. One theme that came across very vividly to me was the experience of place in people's formative experiences of literacy. David Almond, the author of Skellig, was convinced - and really very convincing! - that his lifelong love of literature and determination to write that lasted over several decades before he attained any success - began with his first encounter with his uncle's small printworks. OK sounds reasonable - but he was 9 months old at the time! (I also loved the way he talked about using word processor software - how he occasionally turns the view down very small so that just the shapes of the paragraphs are visible, not the words themselves). In this interview he explains how he uses a sense of place in his writing. Steve Martin, a historian who works with children and recently published his first children's novel (Jupiter Martin) explains how he uses visits to local archives and walks around their locality to stimulate children's imaginations and writing work through revealing some occluded aspects of history including the presence of black people in British cities even centuries ago.

Monday, 30 June 2008

writing, technology and teens

JG writes:
I'm reading a fascinating report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project & the National Commission on Writing: 'Writing, Technology and Teens'. Its two sentence summary is: 'Teens write a lot, but they do not think of their emails, instant and text messaging as writing. This disconnect matters because teens believe good writing is an essential skill for success and that more writing instruction at school would help them.'

Small wonder really that US teenagers are thinking in this way, given the narrow view of new literacies so prevalent in much mass media. Although having written that sentence I wonder if I'm being fair? It's now 5 years since the story reproduced in so many places about the Scottish girl handing in an essay written entirely in text messaging abbreviations (which I think I remember was exposed as a myth). So perhaps it's not that simple...the report should be interesting, I'll read on.

Thanks to Guy Merchant's blog for alerting me to the report. It's good to see that the Pew Project is continuing to produce such fascinating stuff.

Thursday, 22 May 2008


Several members of the LLRC are looking forward to attending the annual conference of RaPAL ( )which will be held outside the UK for the first time this year. The conference will take place in Galway, Ireland from 19-21 June and is being organised by Kieran Harrington who works at City of Galway VEC. Kieran has written an article about RaPAL and literacies learning in Ireland, which was published on 20 May in the Irish Independent. Please follow this link to read the article: