Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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December 02, 2013

You’ve got Chocolate in my Peanut Butter! Teaching Transliteracy

Transliteracy is the ability to read, write, and create across a range of media platforms. The concept isn’t new, thought the name may be. Students need to understand how to capture, create, share information, and communicate through new media to successfully navigate their future. This is more than digital literacy which refers to “reading” media. Transliteracy adds the component of creation. There is a bit of a myth about digital natives, the children we work with who have always had computers in their lives. Yes, they may feel very comfortable on a device and fearless about trying new things, but they are more likely to be consumers of media rather than creators. They may know exactly how to get to every level of a video game, but have no clue how to compose a song, animate a story, edit video, and post the piece online. However the ability to do all those things well would make a graduate extremely marketable in so many lines of employment not to mention all the other benefits that the arts bring to one’s life. Transliteracy can be learned in bits and pieces through a variety of disconnected experiences in our current school system by taking art classes, music classes, computer classes, drama, creative writing, etc. However, wouldn’t it be amazing to teach transliteracy intentionally by artists who also value aesthetics, visual language, the art of storytelling, and artistry?

Carol Broos, an award-winning music educator, is a strong advocate of Transliteracy. Her K12 Online conference presentation from October 2013 called, Triple Threat in Tech: Art, Music, and Media, encouraged educators to step out of their comfort zones and give students a chance to explore transliteracy.


I had the honor of being interviewed by Carol for a portion of her 20 minute presentation. She shared that I helped her feel comfortable drawing on the iPad and I shared how she inspired me to make musical compositions in our student-created, art-related Fugleflicks. We were a bit like the old commercials for peanut butter cups where two people literally bump into each other. One was eating peanut butter while the other was eating chocolate. When they collide their delicacies mix. They complain, “You’ve got your peanut butter in my chocolate” and “You’ve got your chocolate in my peanut butter.” But after some consideration, they decide to take a taste of the combination and discover that it is a wonderful mix.


I believe your students would think that combining art, music, drama, creative writing and technology using digital media would be wonderful too. As an art teacher you are an expert in communication and visual literacy.  Consider stretching yourself to open up learning opportunities for your students where they are encouraged to combine forms of art.  My K12 online presentation this year, Creating and Sharing Fugleflicks, gives some tips and behind the scenes peeks at how we collaboratively create these interrelated arts productions. Please share what you and your students create as well. Not only to give your students an authentic audience, but to also inspire other educators and students to become transliterate. Don’t be afraid to let the arts blend into each other. Like chocolate and peanut butter, it’s a recipe for success.


-Tricia Fuglestad, NBCT


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