Social Studies Research and Practice
Volume 4, Number 3, Winter 2009
Historical Timelines: Analyzing Mutlimodal Text Design
Queensland University of Technology, Australia
The recent focus on literacy in Social Studies has been on linguistic design, particularly that related to the grammar of written and spoken text. When students are expected to produce complex hybridized genres such as timelines, a focus on the teaching and learning of linguistic design is necessary but not sufficient to complete the task. Theorizations of new literacies identify five interrelated meaning making designs for text deconstruction and reproduction: linguistic, spatial, visual, gestural, and audio design. Honing in on the complexity of timelines, this paper casts a lens on the linguistic, visual, spatial, and gestural designs of three pairs of primary school aged Social Studies learners. Drawing on a functional metalanguage, we analyze the linguistic, visual, spatial, and gestural texts of their work. We also offer suggestions of their effect, and from there consider the importance of explicit instruction in text design choices for this Social Studies task. We conclude the analysis by suggesting the foci of explicit instruction for future lessons.