12 Ellie’s Experience

Jayson Mullins

The multimodal text was created with my niece Charlotte, in Year 3, who lives some 9 hours away. I had planned to make the trip down to work on this over a few days, but unfortunately the pandemic got in the way. Fortunately, New South Wales had been in lockdown for a full term and Charlotte was already accustomed to working online or digitally, which was our plan B for the assessment. As covered in this chapter, there were advantages and disadvantages of working online. Charlotte was of interest due to a perceived low level of confidence in English and literacy coming into this activity.

Getting Started

Interest inventory​

  • Opened dialogue​
  • Identified key interests in literacy (and other topics of interest)​
  • Created the concept and theme for the multimodal text


A whiteboard of scribbly handwriting where parent asking child questions about their interest

Lottie interest inventory

Child’s name: Charlotte (Lottie)

Age: 8

Date: 15/04/22

Interviewer: J Mullins

Q1: What do you enjoy doing on weekends?

A1: Netflix, swimming, sleeping, chilling

Q2: Favourite book this year, and forever?

A2: “Allergic” (comic book) about a girl who wants a pet but is allergic to dog hair… “Smile” (comic book)

Q3: Favourite movie and TV Show

A3: “The Cruise”; “The Middle”

Q4: What games and sports do you like?

A4: Swimming, netball, tennis, NRL (Rabbitohs)

Q5: Who are your BFFs?

A5: Haddie, Jasmine, Sophie

Q6: What is something you don’t like?

A6: Snakes and spiders

Q7: What is something you are curious about at the moment?

A7: Cooking and baking

Q8: What is the most exciting thing you have done these holidays?

A8: Yabbying



Transcript: Before we started the formal part of the assessment, I spent time with Charlotte on her interests, by applying an interest inventory approach (Fellowes & Oakley, 2019). This approach really opened up dialogue and I was able to determine from this that she had an affinity for graphic novels, which interestingly she was slightly embarrassed about, and I was able to turn this to a positive and became one of our focal points in our multimodal creation which you will see from the emojis on each slide.

Discuss favourite text/novel

  • Identify a crisis/complication from novel
  • Seek real-life context


Transcript: From the interest inventory, I saw that she was reading a text called Smile by Raina Telgemeier (2013). The major complication or crisis in the novel is when the main character (Raina – this is a true story based on the author’s experience) trips and knocks out her front two teeth. I asked Charlotte if she ever had an injury such as in netball where she was running fast, and this conversation led to her recalling her sister’s major break of her arm last year, which you can see formed the major topic of the multimodal text. It was fairly traumatic for a young 7-year old to experience this so I seized on this opportunity, both as Charlotte was able to provide a vivid retell of the story, and I also sensed there was a need to openly discuss her own feelings and emotions on the topic.

Building the story

Learning map (Mind map)

  • Plot concepts and idea
  • Link to emotions
a drwaing of planning ideas including drawings of house, trees, pool and trampoline and linking to text about characters, events and emotions
Mind map
Key Concepts Layer 1 Layer 2 Layer 3 Layer 4 Layer 5
Graphic of house with trees “Dad Mum Ellie & Me (Lottie)” “Backyard”
“Backyard” “trees” (graphic) “Possums” “Wee’d on mum! (lol)”
“hammock” (graphic)
“dogs” (graphic)
“shed” (graphic)
“pool” (graphic)
“table” (graphic)
“grass” (graphic) “long time to mow”
“trampoline” (graphic)
“trampoline” “big (x3)” “brave” “courage” “love respect”
“Me | Dad | Ellie” “Sept 2021” “Fell on arm” “crack!”
“crack!” “What did it look like?” “bendy a noodle?”
“mum angry/upset  dad calm  ellie shock   lottie worried” “dad had to tell to breathe”
“hospitals” “narromine”
“dubbo” “covid-test”
“surgeries” “ellie scared sad   lottie sad worried   m | d worried stressed”
“sling” “cast” (graphic) “cool”
“signed it”



Transcript: Now we had the concept of an idea, I took Charlotte through a mind-map, which is equivalent to a learning map element applying the 8-Ways of Learning Pedagogy framework (n.d.). From the map, we spoke of key themes or ideas, and at each point, we applied some emotions to this as well– how Charlotte perceived herself and those of her family. You can see an example of how this started on the slide. The map was quite comprehensive by the time we were finished, and being online, I used Microsoft OneNote as my tool to draw on the screen given I had a writeable screen, and I found using graphics kept Charlotte interested, and is also part of the 8 Ways framework (n.d.) in using symbols and imagery to accompany story-sharing. This was very interactive and collaborative, and we both found it a lot of fun.

Link map to sections

  • Orientation
  • Crisis
  • Climax
  • Resolution


Transcript: Once we had built the learning map, we then shaped this into the key segments of the multimodal text. Although beyond the curriculum requirements at her age, I took the time to explain key terms such as orientation or the beginning, crisis and complications, the climax and resolution or conclusion. Charlotte picked up these concepts quickly, understood their purpose and was able to apply them at certain points when we began the creation of the text. I used the analogy of boiling water as Charlotte likes to help mum cook to help explain these concepts. One of my reflections was that it is sometimes acceptable to introduce concepts 1-2 years ahead of the curriculum if the circumstances suit.

Because of our mapping, aligning the story was incredibly efficient and effective. I was very keen for this text to be Charlotte’s work, referring back to her lack of confidence at the start, and also looking ahead, in that she would be the narrator for this. As you can see, she did an excellent job, with very little editing or proofing applied by me, and only occasionally prompts on seeking alternative words or sentences.

The emoji concept on each slide originated from Charlotte’s mum who stated she would be highly engaged if there was opportunity to apply emojis based on her previous online experiences. To apply this, I provided Charlotte with the same faces on each slide, and she had to select which ones to put on each face. You can see that as an example on the slide here. We took advantage of the collaborative aspects of PowerPoint to do this. A word of caution: this took a long time per slide to include the emotions, but upon reflection, this kept Charlotte heavily engaged, and she was able to draw upon emotions and apply these into the text and young readers can interpret the text through an alternate means of representation, using symbols and imagery.


  • Terms are optional at this age
  • Guide, but allow draft to be their own
  • Help with editing and proofing but keep content the child’s own
  • Find an interest to keep their attention – emojis in this instance
  • The activity may be time consuming but fun, and draws emotions into the text for purpose

It should be noted that amazingly, Charlotte did her narration in a single take. This was predominantly because the text was hers from the start. I also took the opportunity to publish her work with the wider family (uncles, cousins, grandparents etc.) who complimented the excellent work she did and certainly ticked that higher objective of raising Charlotte’s confidence in literacy.


ICT is handy for immediacy or where distance is a factor. Charlotte and I used Microsoft Teams, OneNote and PowerPoint (collaboration and sharing screens). This applies the ICT general capability and allows both the teacher and the student to learn new skills. Working online is not the same as being face-to-face so keep it engaging. Use the interest inventory to find out what excites your student and apply this. Try to make it fun, not a chore.


Transcript: Since the pandemic, most students have been exposed to online learning, and certainly most educators have this in their toolkit of skills. From my experience, benefits included avoiding the need to travel a significant distance, in my case, it saved me 9 hours, and we were also, in any instance, restricted with COVID. So we used Microsoft Teams with cameras on both ends for our online interactions, and other Microsoft applications including OneNote and PowerPoint. This is another significant advantage because we were able to apply ICT general capabilities as per the Australian Curriculum (n.d.).

As most educators during the online experience would support, being digital is very different from being face-to-face. We miss the body language from both ends, other than our faces, and oftentimes when we have an application on the screen, we could not see each other. I saw this as a major drawback. It also took some time to upskill Charlotte on using the collaborative elements of PowerPoint, but once mastered, she was highly proficient and now has some new ICT skills for the future. Being a one-on-one situation, this was relatively straightforward to keep momentum going and know when to break, or end the session. Doing this across an entire class would have been very different, and I imagine, quite difficult to implement.

For those in similar situations where an online session is the only viable solution, the key advice I would offer is to provide preparation, and begin with an interest inventory. From this, you can find what is of interest and apply this to the sessions, which in my scenario was the use of emojis within Teams and within the presentation. Yes, it took extra time, but we had a lot of fun doing it, and I’m sure from Charlotte’s perspective she did not see this as a chore or piece of assessment.


What worked well?
  • Collaboration inside applications
  • Interview parents ahead of meeting with child
  • Interest inventory
  • Learning map
  • Real-world contexts

Transcript: Upon reflection, what worked well?
Using collaborative features with technology was enjoyable and productive.
Interviewing parents (if the child is not your own) to establish any interests or concerns pre-meeting with the child found important facts I was not aware of.
Performing an interest inventory to establish the child’s interest.
If possible, applying a learning map helps plot the story and generates interest and is also a fun-filled activity.
Finding real-world contexts allowed a vivid retell and ownership of the story.


What to avoid?
  • Face-to-face contact is ideal
  • Limit time and apply interesting options identified in interest inventory to keep lesson exciting
  • Avoid over-complicating the text. Keep it simple.

Transcript: What to avoid? Where possible, face-to-face is ideal. If engaging online as in my case, limit the time and apply interesting options such as using emojis to express emotions. For instance, when I saw Charlotte use the tired emoji, I knew this was time to end the session and reconnect another time.
Avoid overcomplicating the multimodal text. In my example, using emojis kept Charlotte engaged but was heavily time-consuming and detracted slightly from the progress of the text.



How did I find the activity of co-creating a multimodal text?
  • It was fun-filled
  • We both came with enthusiasm and energy per session

Transcript: How did I find the activity of co-creating a multimodal text?
This was a fun-filled activity, largely due to the strategies we applied such as the interest inventory and learning map, where we had lots of laughs.
Most importantly for me, I’ve created a special bond with Charlotte and she’s gained confidence from the activity


Key Takeaways

  • Be prepared and plan ahead of the first contact
  • Use an interest inventory
  • Use mapping where possible
  • Have fun!


The co-constructed multimodal text


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.). Australian Curriculum: Information and communication technology capability learning continuum. https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1074/general-capabilities-information-and-communication-ict-capability-learning-continuum.pdf

Fellowes, J., & Oakley G. (2019). Language, literacy and early childhood education (3rd ed.), Oxford University Press

Telgemeier, R. (2013). Smile. Scholastic.


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Co-creating Multimodal Texts with Young Children Copyright © 2023 by Jayson Mullins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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