Teaching interpretative reading with transmedia narratives – takeaways from a masterclass


Susanna Di Mauro

“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” John Cotton Dana

Early in January I was fortunate to attend a masterclass presented by Professor Len Unsworth on “Teaching Interpretive reading: investigating novel, graphic novel and animated movie versions of the same literary narrative.” It was a great opportunity to engage with research and practice in middle-upper primary and secondary contexts, with Len as expert guide. The day’s discussion on a selection of transmedia narratives and the ensuing conversations afforded by a small group, provided an ideal stimulus for some generative learning and professional reflection.

Having said this, my focus for this post is not on the comparative analysis of the day’s selection of narratives but rather, some ideas and resources and a possible pathway I took away from the day.

“Begin with the end in mind.” Stephen Covey

Applying this habit can mean that starting with the end in mind ‘helps ensure you don’t drift unnoticeably off course.’ Like any planning, before you start, make sure you do your research so you can plan and adjust accordingly. Navigate and explore the curriculum not only to plan for where you are going but also to know what has come before and what is to come after. Plan for focused and explicit teaching to build student’s capacity and portable and transferrable understandings.

Build familiarity.

This goes for both yourself and your students. Check in with your teacher-librarian, colleagues and your students to explore their views and experiences, practices and resources. You might be able to connect with, use, reuse or remix these. Why not opt in for some professional learning, reading or viewing as a refresher.

Mix it up and think ‘extract notion.’

Select strategic excerpts and episodes for comparative analysis but remember your obligations as an Australian educator to be copyright aware. Consider how the power of one, a co-operative learning strategy and the potential of technology (Eg. a visualiser or multi-headphone splitter) to enable shared and individual reading, listening, viewing and a whole range of other possibilities. Here is a list of sites to access video clips.

Be strategic.

Be strategic in selecting, maintaining and updating your repertoire of strategies and resources. Select adaptations that provide interpretative possibilities, not just the book in another format. Look for possibilities and opportunities to investigate the omissions, compressions, insertions and adaptations and what is changed by these.

It’s all about the question!

We all know that well–crafted questions drive thinking and new insights. Effective questions lead to more questions and generate discussion and promote critical thinking. As I took note of some of the questions posed during the masterclass, I wondered about my ‘questioning toolkit’ and if and how the questions I ask provide a framework for scaffolding critical analysis and interpretation. Maybe it’s time for a ‘questioning’ audit.

As I draw to a close on my post-masterclass reflections I am looking forward to exploring the role of music in interpreting narratives. But I think I will let that investigation percolate for a while.

See a  list of resources on Listly

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