Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Third Space

The distance between literacy languages used at home and school, so often, is too large. 

Take for example, a student I recently read about, Jamie. At home Jamie is involved with technology; he loves computer games, television shows, books with his favorite television characters, remote controls, and watching DVDs on repeat. While watching television or movies, Jamie reenacts the characters with his brother. His literacy is surrounded with technology at home. When Jamie gets to school is literacy window is narrowed. The teachers provide him with the chance to listen to stories during group time, which he gets very fidgety during. After reading the book, the teachers prompt the students' comprehension by asking questions. This literacy worries Jamie and he never participates. The classroom often sings songs with hand movements, which Jamie can tolerate, but he hardly chooses to partake. Occasionally, a teacher will give Jamie enough attention for him to speak about his favorite TV shows, and he will act out some of his favorite scenes. 

There is a disconnect from Jamie's literacy experiences at home, which is his native literacy language, and the literacy opportunities he is presented at school. This is hindering his education, and keeping Jamie from deepening his literacy.

The Third Space is an idea that there is a way to integrate Jamie's native literacy language into his classroom experience. During this integration, Jamie can utilize and be comfortable with his literacy experiences from home, but also be challenged to introduce new literacies into his life. 

A great example of The Third Space includes Jamie's day on a train at school. His teachers set up a train simulation with a television monitor at the front of the train, displaying the outside of the train while they cruised along. Chairs were set up in rows, and children were invited to validate their tickets before entering the train. This is a perfect Third Space for Jamie. He was lured in by the technology, and the repetitious movie. Instead of only focusing on his technologic-based literacy, the teachers introduced a text-based literacy with the train ticket. He had to use the ticket, with text to get a stamp, that said "PAID," for example. The Third Space, in the instance, provided a gateway between home and school, and, intern, maximized Jamie's knowledge base. 

Teachers should always be on the look-out for ways to make a classroom more individualized. The only way for a Third Space to be effectively utilized is if the teacher keeps close communication with the parents. A helpful tip may be to have a brief home visit during the beginning of the year, or possibly a conference to discuss activities at home. The better understanding the teacher has of her students' home lives, the more effectively and efficiently she will be able to teach and challenge them appropriately. 


  1. It is so important for parents and teachers to be aware of the need for communication. Teachers benefit by getting to know each student's needs for learning. Parents can benefit by understanding that their sharing of information helps the teacher create appropriate lessons for the students. I think this can also help parents feel more involved in the classroom and give them an appreciation for what their child is learning.

  2. I agree that "The distance between literacy languages used at home and school, so often, is too large"(Cayla). Teachers need to work hard to fill this distance and create "the third space". When teachers fail to do this it effects children in a negative way.

  3. I really liked the way you relate a specific example, Jamie and the "third space." It's easy to understand what you are saying.
    I agree that for understanding the child's background, communicating with parents is important and helpful for teachers and children. I think home visiting is great idea for getting to know about the child well.

  4. It's really great that you provided a strong example of the third space. It truly illustrates what the concept means and provides something for teachers and parents to compare to. Meeting with parents and trying to get a feel for what the children are like at home is a wonderful way to bridge the two worlds together in order to create a successful schooling experience for the child.