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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Collaborative Writing in a Multiliteracy Classroom: "It taught me to think in the third person while writing in the first person."

Jill McClay.

In this session, we explore implications for teaching and researching in multiliteracy classrooms, focusing primarily upon: (1) the research and teaching processes (the possibilities and perils of depending heavily upon technology in the classroom, stances of authority and flexibility, organization, and public attention for innovative teaching practices); (2) students' learning about literacy (their understanding of narrative conventions, point of view and sense of audience, genre-bending in contemporary writing, and the dynamics of collaborative and individual writing). The session will include website samples of student work and video footage of the classroom.

Gunther Kress (1997) exhorts educators "to explore and implement the consequences of a fully multiliterate environment" (p.150), a call that suggests to us that such a complex and essential contemporary task belongs equally to researchers and teachers. When researchers and teachers work together to understand their students' learning, our work is mutually informing and well grounded in both theory and practice. Kist (2002) is one of many voices calling for descriptions of 'new literacy' classrooms. Though we prefer the term 'multiliteracies' to 'new', we take his point that such descriptions are essential to present and consider.

The research presented in this session is one case study from a multiple case-study action research project investigating the teaching and learning of writing in multiliteracy classrooms. The researcher (McClay) and teacher (Weeks) collaborated to develop the project that Weeks taught to students. This research builds upon McClay's earlier investigations of teachers' practices in teaching writing (2000; 1998) and of young adolescents writing in multimedia forms (2002). The research focus is simultaneously upon the teacher's practice and the students' learning, resulting in a multilayered texture that aims to facilitate exploration of the dynamic complexity of teaching in contemporary contexts.


Jill McClay  (Canada)
Associate Professor
Dept. of Elementary Education
University of Alberta

Jill Kedersha McClay is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, University of Alberta, Edmonton AB Canada. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in language and literacy. Her research programme is focused upon writing theory and pedagogy, with particular interest at the middle level (ages 10-15) and on writing in contemporary literacy environments.

  • Multiliteracy
  • Writing pedagogy
  • Writing theory
  • Literacy
  • Middle level literacy
  • Collaborative research

(60 min Workshop, English)