We have looked at how multimodal texts can enhance literacy lessons before but in this week of Digital Technologies we took a closer look and created our own multimodal texts using the Promethean ActivInspire app.
Multimodal is a term that refers to any text that combines two or more semiotic systems. These are visual, gestural, spatial, linguistic and aural. The children of today are bombarded with multimodal texts more than any generation before them due to the rise of technology. “The increased use of multimodal texts, digital communication, social networking and the other forms of electronic communication encountered by children and young people in their daily lives,” is reflected in the Curriculum for Excellence (Scottish Government, n.d., p.4) with the active inclusion of these multimodal texts.
Multimodal texts have been shown to be effective in classrooms because they allow a text to be understood and engaged with by more individuals. A child who struggles with reading as quickly as their peers may benefit from audio to support the text and vice versa. Multimodal texts in the classroom are a way to present ideas in “a variety of different ways to help pupils understand [them].” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.8).
With a group of other students, I used ActivInspire to create a multimodal text that would be suitable in an Early Years setting. It took the form of a ‘fill in the gap’ exercise. The background of each slide in the presentation was a place such as the jungle, the sea or a house. It asked who lives here, accompanied with an animal name in the form “c_ab,” for “crab” for instance, with a selection of letters underneath to be dragged and dropped into the space to complete the word. In the classroom, children could be asked what animal it is likely to be and what letter is missing from the word. Once the children have worked out the word, or if they are really stuck, there is a picture of the animal beside the word which can be revealed; this reminded me of ‘lift the flap’ books and struck me as very likely to keep children engaged. And of course, with an Interactive White Board, children would likely enjoy being invited up to drag and drop the letters or reveal the animal themselves, creating a “hands-on experience,” (Prandstatter, 2014). If I were to do this task again and able to invest more time in creating, I would include animal noises to increase the multimodality of the text.
Before this session, if asked to create a presentation to support a lesson, I would have instinctively used Microsoft PowerPoint, however a lot of the functions that make ActivInspire particularly engaging for children are not as easy to achieve with PowerPoint. ActivInspire is an accessible app. It is free and quick to download on both Microsoft and Apple computers. My group and I created our presentation on an Apple Mac and I expected to run into formatting issues when opening the file on my Microsoft laptop, but I did not experience any. There was a learning curve with the app when working out how to do more advanced operations but there is an abundance of tutorials available on YouTube to assist with this. My group was able to create our presentation within around an hour of being introduced to the app.
In my opinion, for these reasons, ActivInspire is a very useful tool in the classroom. It is easy to use, accessible and, if you know your way around the app, it can be to create an engaging, multimodal text to support a lesson in a matter of minutes. Following this week of Digital Technologies, I will definitely consider using ActivInspire before Microsoft PowerPoint in the primary classroom setting.
Beauchamp, G. (2012). ICT in the Primary School: From Pedagogy to Practice. Harlow: Pearson. p.8.
Prandstatter, J. (2014). Interactive Displays in Early Years Classes. [Blog: Online]. Available: http://connectlearningtoday.com/interactive-displays-early-years-classes/ [Accessed: 26 January 2018].
Scottish Government (n.d.). Curriculum for Excellence: Literacy and English Principles and Practice. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. p.4.