In 2021, the authors pivoted their university’s Literacy Clinic to online to continue providing literacy services to educators, K-12 students, and families during the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and continuing systemic racism. Alongside of the educators in the Literacy Clinic, they wondered how they would engage students in literacy lessons that would further their agency with literacies in a digital setting while also navigating connectivity, devices and platforms, and the concomitant grief of living in an era of ongoing racial injustices and COVID-19. This paper focuses on a case study of a teacher’s journey designing critical literacies online. Data sources include recorded literacy lessons, artifacts of student and teacher learning, and reflective documents. The extended case analysis attended to emergent and fluid meanings made across texts, interactions, and time. Over the course of 12 weeks, one educator’s pathways with teaching critical literacies online transformed as she built relationships with her student and his mother, centered inquiry, and scaffolded her student to design a public service announcement. In data-rich vignettes that capture the complexity of critical literacy episodes that cross media spaces, the authors illustrate the transformation of meanings across time, model, and space. This case provides a window into an online critical literacy teaching, an experience that has largely been out of focus.
This qualitative investigation examines how teacher candidates enrolled in literacy courses navigated virtual field work experiences during summer and fall 2020. The study is grounded in theories of improvisation as a pedagogical practice and culturally responsive and sustaining approaches to teaching. Data show that teacher candidates took advantage of the affordances of the environment and adapted their practice to suit the new situation by improvising and growing their virtual teaching skillset for culturally responsive literacy instruction. Findings reveal the importance of teacher candidates developing improvisational culturally responsive and sustaining practices, including learning about students’ interests, cultures, and experiences and applying that knowledge to build rapport and curricular connections.
Because ever-expanding opportunities for communication have not been well-represented instructionally, this study investigated the impact of teacher professional development in new literacies on students’ writing achievement. Further, the study considered professional development characteristics that support instructional shifts to include new literacies. Ten teachers and 892 students participated, with a matched control group. Participating teachers received a classroom set of laptops and up to 46 hours of training. Analyses indicate that professional learning opportunities that fostered conceptual understandings included the opportunity to observe in classrooms that were using new literacies and provided opportunities for hands-on practice and social construction of knowledge appear to have supported instructional changes. Students whose teachers were minimally trained did not have significant increases in writing achievement; however, students whose teachers received sustained training significantly increased their scores on high-stakes assessments. Increased scores were more pronounced for students who had been previously labeled as underachieving, a finding that fosters conceptualization of new literacies as transmediational and re-mediational.