Focusing on the Learner
A pluriliteracies approach aims at building learners’ meaning making potential in order to help them move along the knowledge path into a subject. This process focuses on enabling individuals to become independent thinkers and autonomous learners within subject communities.
According to our model, learner progress can be measured by how well learners can link the conceptual continuum and the communicating continuum, or, in other words, how well they can demonstrate their understanding of subject knowledge.
From that point of view, the question of
"How do I know you know
until I hear what you say,
read what you write or
see what you show me
in an appropriate way?”
becomes fundamental to literacy teaching and learning and that puts the learner, a learner’s individual needs and talents, and learner development at the core of a pluriliteracies approach.
Rushing through content just in order to satisfy the demands of a curriculum will not create opportunities for deep learning and will not lead to literacy development. Content that has not been processed or conceptualized by the learners is meaningless to them and will soon be forgotten.
Providing students with more opportunities to engage in communicative activities may lead to greater fluency over time but will not automatically increase the quality of the students’ output in terms of complexity or task appropriateness of the language used. Neither will such activities guarantee a deeper understanding of the respective content.
We believe that a purely content oriented approach to learning will fail just as likely as a purely communicative one when it comes to deep learning (defined as internalization of conceptual knowledge and mastery/automatization of target skills).
Learning will not reach its full potential until we take a closer look at students’ actual task performance in terms of the conceptual understanding expressed in appropriate language. In other words, we need to make sure the quality of the learner output is appropriate to the task demands, the purpose of the communication and that it reflects the desired level of content processing and understanding.
So instead of saying “I taught the Solar Eclipse today” teachers will facilitate learning and create opportunities for knowledge construction and meaning making and not move on to another topic until they can be sure that a full understanding of the underlying concepts has been actively demonstrated at the appropriate level by their students.