The City is a Literacy Landscape

Occasionally with our Friday morning group we have taken the classroom outside. The aim is to use our literacy and digital skills to take pictures of words and signs all around and send them to each other using WhatsApp.

What kinds of pictures did we take? Everything from parking meter signs that show days of the week, opening hours on shop doors, menus listed on windows of restaurants, coffee shops, chippers, ATM machine instructions, shop names, Covid safety signs, advertisements, posters of concerts, upcoming events and more.

Using the ATM – This was a great chance to practise a real-life skill with the support of a tutor, until we had the confidence to try it on our own.
Opening Hours – A great way to talk about recognising days of the week, abbreviations, am/pm and the 24 hour clock.
Word Hunt – We gave each member of the group a different letter flashcard (see above) to use as a word walking hunt. It really helped with practising visual perception, letter and word recognition which are essential tools in literacy.

An unexpected benefit of the pandemic is trying to meet outdoors and because of it, our literacy walkaround provided so many opportunities for learning, such as:

  • The practical skill of using our smartphone to take a picture, send it on WhatsApp along with a text message
  • Calendar dates and times – on opening hours and parking meters – a skill applicable to so many other tasks we need to fully engage with social practices – as a parent, a worker, a citizen.
  • Noticing and talking about advertising – what kinds of pictures and words are used to sell products? A question that could be followed up in the classroom with work around the role of media in our lives.
  • Recognising everyday road, traffic and safety signs.
  • Feeling a sense of ownership in engaging with sight words in the local area.

We also looked at the new phone boxes with touchscreens installed around Dublin City. We found maps, ads and a lot more information about Dublin at our fingertips.

Finally, one of our students captured a curious looking seagull on a motorbike on Capel Street! Was he waiting for the owner? Did the owner turn into a seagull? Can a seagull get a licence for a motorbike?

This is a story in itself and one to perhaps begin writing when we are back in the classroom.

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