Sunday, February 19, 2012

Increasing Vocabulary through Transmediation: Newspaper Reading & Collage Journal

"Democracy in Turmoil" (Collage made in response to NY Times, 2.18.2012)

In this post I want to share what I have been doing lately with a collage journal and how I think it can be an excellent method for increasing students' interest in reading a daily newspaper which in turn will increase vocabulary.  Three things to keep in mind:

  1. Vocabulary is acquired through direct and indirect methods, although the majority of one's vocabulary is acquired through heard and read texts. 
  2. Rare words are often the type of words that learners have difficulty knowing. Newspapers are an excellent source of rare words.
  3. Transmediation helps to deepen learning as the meaning made in one symbol systems often does not translate intact to another symbol system. This requires the learner to 'reread' and interpret.

During the last week, I have composed a daily response to what I have read in the newspaper.  In my case, that paper is The New York Times. What I have found is that how I read the newspaper has altered as I am reading across articles, advertisements, letters, and images. Further, I am attending to single words and headlines in ways I simply did not do prior to keeping the journal.

In this Slideshare I explain about vocabulary acquisition, transmediation, and the specifics of creating a collage journal.

Creating the e-Collage Journal
  1. Another way to create the collage is to access an online newspaper and to read and/or listen to articles and to peruse images.  
  2. Make screen shots (command + shift + 4 keys on a Mac; home key and power key on an iPad, iPod touch) of the images and text you want to use in your collage.
  3. Import images into a graphics program. I use Adobe Photoshop, although Illustrator would work as well.
  4. Create the collage and upload to an e-journal.
  5. This is an example of a collage I made in this manner.

"An American Crisis of Identity" Collage made from NY TIMES, 2.17.2012

If you try this, please let me know how it works for you and I hope you'll share any collages you compose.


  1. I absolutely LOVE this! I will be using it in a class I will be teaching this summer for high school students...

    1. Dee, great. Please let me know how it develops. Would love to see samples. I am thinking about an article...

    2. Mary Ann I posted a response on FB as well. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. I am going to share this with our librarians. Helping students become better readers is something I'd like to focus on (and would like to make it a district-wide focus for all of the media specialists).

      Wondering if you had a really reluctant reader if you could use the Sports Section instead? Would there still be enough "rare" words? Thinking if you used the NY Times that would be the case.

      Sorry for all of the questions. Down to what grade level could you see implementing this project? I would think 3rd graders and possibly younger could do this although use ofthe exacto knife might not be a good idea at that age!

  2. Yes, I am sure the sports section would work as well. The idea is to read daily and certainly beginning where there is interest matters so much. In order to create the collage, understanding is paramount. I found that reading across not only the paper but across days influences how I make meaning. I would imagine the same thing would happen as one read across the sports section from day to day. I began with what I am most familiar with, but do not want to suggest that such a starting place is the same for all.

    Please let me know if you have any student work that comes out of this.

    Thanks, Deb.

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