Transmediation as a Powerful Learning Tool for Central American Immigrant US High School Students


Transmediation, or the translation of semiotic content across modes, is grounded in the idea that alternative sign systems (linguistic, image, video) are available for making sense of the human experience (Mills, 2016; Siegel, 1995; Suhor, 1984). Moving across sign systems is a generative process which increases students’ learning opportunities, engages them in reflective thinking and allows youth to explore new insights and meaning (Mills, 2016; Siegel, 1995). Based on an ethnographic case study of one U.S. High School located in a suburban community of New York State that received 1400 new immigrant students from Central America in the fall of 2014 through 2016, my paper presentation will focus on how a digital production project featuring transmediation supported the youth in expanding their narrative writing in Spanish and English to incorporate a wide range of text types and genre structures, to draw on their own life histories with authority and power, to disseminate knowledge to school educators and administrators, and to become designers of critical digital texts. Overall, I discuss how the Central American immigrant youth, representing hundreds of thousands of Central American youth who have migrated alone to the United States, became participants in the creation of knowledge, and became more literate in the powerful way they can use new digital tools to express their voice, and political voice.


Literacy, Multiliteracies, Multilingualism, Identity


Literacies Learning


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Dr. Theresa Mc Ginnis
    • Associate Professor in Literacy Studies, Specialized Programs in Education, Hofstra University, United States NY, United States
    • Theresa McGinnis is an Associate Professor of Literacy Studies in the Department of Specialized Programs in Education at Hofstra University. She earned her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania where she was trained in ethnographic and sociolinguistic research methodologies. Her teaching and research interests include digital literacies, multimodal and multimedia platforms, sociocultural theories of literacy, and the schooling experiences of refugee and immigrant youth.