Activity 8

Classroom Observation

In the final activity of this Unit, we would like you to conduct a multimodal semiotic analysis of your own, using some of the theoretical tools offered by Kress et al. in their chapter. We would like you to take one or two modes from Kress’s list and observe how they develop during part of one lesson.

  • If you have a colleague in the same school, you might collaborate - each of you choosing a different mode while observing the same class.
  • Alternatively, with the teacher’s permission, you could make a video of part of a lesson and analyse it on your own from a number of perspectives.
  • If you are working individually, you might focus on classroom layout and visual display before and after the lesson, while focussing on teacher movement and student posture/movement during the lesson.

PREPARE: You need to prepare carefully for the observation. For example, you will need to have a plan of the classroom drawn out ready in advance for the purposes of annotation. You will find an example for David’s lesson if you follow this link.

As in any classroom observation, take care to negotiate the purposes of your activity with the class teacher before you start.

OBSERVE: Once your preparations are complete, and you have decided upon your preferred approach, conduct your observation. Keep the annotated plan of the classroom and any notes made during the lesson in your reflective journal for future reference.

REFLECT: In the light of your observation, think about any new understandings which you feel that this approach has provided for you. Have you been surprised by any of the ways in which meanings can be constructed in classrooms?

WRITE: Write a critical account of multimodal semiotic analysis as a methodology. What are its strengths and limitations?

(Allow 25 minutes)