Dancing and moving beyond traditional literacies: transformative meaning-making in an early years literacies workshop

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Magnus, Jennifer
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This case study aimed to develop a deeper understanding of children’s literacy experiences and to critically think about the culture of literacies workshop through a postmodern, social constructivist lens. The study explored how to include dance and movement as a means of expression and meaning-making within a multimodal pedagogy. The study took place in a multiage grade one, two, and three French Immersion classroom over a six-week period during the regularly scheduled literacies workshop. Influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach, children are viewed as competent, capable individuals who come to the classroom with important life experiences and stories that they express and communicate in a variety of ways. Using pedagogical documentation, I observed, documented, and reflected on the children’s experiences as storytellers, and considered the influence this had on their identities as meaning-makers and on the teacher’s and my own pedagogical understandings of dance and movement as a legitimate means of expression. The literacy experiences shared between the children and the adults are told and critically reflected upon through the stories of dance and movement as they unfolded in the classroom. Through these stories, I argue that dance and movement as a mode of expression supported children in sharing their thoughts, feelings, and connections, and ultimately their growth into more confident storytellers. The inclusion of dance and movement impacted the teacher’s and my understanding of who these children are as meaning-makers; supporting the ongoing development of a multimodal literacy pedagogy in the classroom.
Literacy, Dance, Movement, Writer's workshop, Meaning-Making, Early years classroom, Pedagogical narration