Trending: Transliteracy


Boston – Freedom Trail: School Street – Boston Public Latin School – City Carpet (Flickr)  by wallyg under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs Generic Licence

In my Twitter feed recently was a list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business 2013. Scrolling through the top 20 I saw titles like “Head of Design Strategy (Samsung), Actor, Creative Director, VP of Consumer Products (NFL), Charity Founder, Director of Concept Design (Starbucks), Research Scientist (Disney), Artist, Futurist (Ford Motor Co.),” to name but a few.

These are the storytellers of the 21st century. They have learned how to use many different media to convey messages of importance and thoughtfulness to our world. They are literate in rich, multidimensional ways. Their ability to create and manipulate ideas allows them to tell their stories in multiple and powerful ways.

One person in the list of 100 is a writer.

As an educator, I find this interesting. When I think about how of much of our school day is spent practicing the single literacy of text composition, this does not seem to correspond with the mutiple literacy skills that are needed to be successful in today’s world.

I am not saying we should abandon the teaching of writing. But it is only one of many literacies that children need to be able to use fluently. I think children would benefit from creative practice moving in, around, and between various literacies. In other words they need to be transliterate.

“Transliteracy happens in the places where different things meet, mix, and rub together. It is an interstitial space teeming with diverse life–forms, some on the rise, some in decline, expressed in many languages in many voices, many kinds of scripts and media. It is a world where print has a place, but not the only place” (Thomas et al., 2007, Really new media section, para. 6).

Making the move away from a text centric teaching space will be a challenge. For one thing, many educators, myself included, are not particularly transliterate. This was not the world in which we were taught. Though I am able to convey meaning easily with text, add images, design, and sound into the mix, and I am at a loss.

Perhaps this is where collaboration between teachers needs to happen. Could science, music, art, and language arts teachers collaborate? Think of the cross curricular, transliterate learning that would happen, not only for students, but teachers.

Thomas, S., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Mason, B., Mills, S., Perril, S. & Pullinger, K. (2007). Transliteracy: Crossing divides. First Monday, 12(12). Retrieved from

About sandralbecker

An educator who is passionate about the creation of a school Learning Commons, which supports inquiry, critical thinking, and collaboration.
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2 Responses to Trending: Transliteracy

  1. Carole says:

    Great Post Sandra. I found it very interesting that the list of the 100 most creative has only writer. The part of your posting that resonated with me the most was when you said, “Perhaps this is where collaboration between teachers needs to happen. Could science, music, art, and language arts teachers collaborate? Think of the cross curricular, transliterate learning that would happen, not only for students, but teachers.” In our school we have been piloting all our middle school 5-9 teachers (well to be honest K-9) teaching as generalists this year. Our teachers have grade teams of 2-4 and divisional PLC’s where they are able to collaborate about practice, look at student work and create critical thinking challenges. It has been interesting to talk with our “junior high” teachers about the change. Many enjoy it, but find it much more work then teaching 2 subjects to twice as many students. My biggest surprise is that the math/science crowd have said if given the choice they would like to teach math and ELA.

    Students do need to gain skills with transliteracy. George Siemens wrote, when speaking of connectivism, “Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today” (2004). As educators we need to give students a variety of skills and teach them how to create. Not knowing exactly what skills they will need in the future is part of the fun of teaching in this way that is so drastically different then when we went to school.

    What skills will you focus on with your students for the next month?


    Siemens, G. (2004) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from:

  2. Pingback: Visually speaking . . . | Inquiring Mind

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