Children’s Digital and Visual Responses to Picturebooks in a Primary School Classroom

Submitted by: Angela Wiseman
Abstract: The purpose of this presentation is to explore what happens when primary students in a culturally and linguistically diverse classroom (i.e., transcultural space; see Zaidi & Rowsell, 2017) use digital and visual tools in response to children’s picturebooks. Examining reader response from a culturally and linguistically responsive perspective allows educators to “theorize and examine the possibilities of leveraging students’ linguistic repertoires as pedagogical resources” (Zapata & Laman, 2016, p. 366). These perspectives are fostered as readers experience and relate to others, their cultures, and their languages. In addition, the synergistic relationship between images and text encourage readers to articulate insightful interpretations (Sipe, 2008). This study focuses on children’s expressive engagement with stories (Sipe, 2008) as they respond through classroom discussions, visual sketches and digital tools.
The primary question of this research study is: In a third-grade classroom, how do children use multimodal responses and digital tools to respond to social justice picturebooks? Using qualitative methods of participant-observation and descriptive analysis, we documented children’s visual and digital responses to interactive readalouds. Data were generated from classroom sessions that incorporated interactive readalouds as well as students’ annotated visual images, sketches, and digital responses which included videos, photos, annotated images, and comments using the web-based tool Seesaw. Findings from this study include the following:
-Children demonstrated deep engagement using multimodal and visual tools, drawing on their linguistic resources to respond to literature.
-Family and community experiences were an important component of their responses and became central to the curriculum as a result of open-ended responses and digital tools.
-Children used restorying to question cultural norms and make sense of gaps in the story.
-The classroom community incorporated diverse cultural and linguistic perspectives to create an inclusive space.
Encouraging responses in the classroom, particularly combining visual, digital, and linguistic modes, is one way educators have utilized more expansive approaches for learning, thus creating more inclusive classroom contexts (Author 1 and colleagues, under review). Also, as literacy researchers, it is important to consider how we might theorize visual responses and how research can provide answers to encourages diverse and creative ways of knowing.

Author 1 and colleagues. (under review).
Sipe, L. R. (2008). Storytime: Young children's literary understanding in the classroom. Teachers College Press.
Zaidi, R., & Rowsell, J. (2017). Literacy lives in transcultural times. New York, NY: Routledge.
Zapata, A., & Laman, T. T. (2016). “I write to show how beautiful my languages are”: Translingual Writing Instruction in English-Dominant Classrooms. Language Arts,93(5),