Amber M. Simmons
Book Review Editor
Elizabeth E.G. Friese
Associate Book Review Editor
Technology Stalled: Exploring the New Digital Divide in One Urban School
Sarah Lohnes Watulak
B. P. Laster
A wide array of information and communication technologies (ICTs) are fundamentally changing the literacy lives of developing readers and writers (Coiro, 2007; Greenleaf & Hinchman, 2009). Our exploratory study examined the current practices and challenges for 21st century literacies – defined broadly as the skills, cultural competencies, and experiences necessary for active participation in the 21st century – and asked the question, How is technology used for literacy learning in the classrooms of one urban K-8 school? Although computer and multimedia technologies were available for use by teachers and students in many spaces throughout the school, technology did not play a significant role in literacy learning. Implications for literacy instruction within the context of 21st century literacies are discussed.
The field of teacher research is increasingly including self-study as a valid and reliable method with which teachers can study and improve practice. In this self-study, I develop knowledge of myself as a nonfiction reader and use it to inform my instruction. Guided by the work of Schoenbach, Greenleaf, Cziko, and Hurwitz (1999), I use metacognitive reading logs to examine how I think when I read and to select reading strategies around which to develop lessons for my third-grade students. In three cycles of action research, I teach the lessons and analyze them through journaling and dialoging with two critical friends. I find that empathizing with a novice experience of reading helps my lesson content become more rigorous and my pedagogy become more authentic and inclusive of my students as co-constructors of knowledge. These findings have implications for my practice, for teacher professional development, and for the field of
teacher cognitive psychology.
This case study explores community service learning, disciplinary literacy, and social justice. Participants were seven Mexican American preservice secondary teachers in science, math, and language arts who tutored and gardened with children in a South Texas after-school tutorial agency as part of an ESL literacy methods course. Data gathering tools consisted of participant observations, written reflections, learning logs, visual metaphors, and a focus group discussion. Social justice themes were: respondents’ realizations of structural inequalities and their actions to counteract hegemonic inequalities. Disciplinary literacy themes were: participants’ learning more about their disciplines and disciplinary literacy, increased motivation and efficacy to teach their subjects, and the importance of the colonia, or unincorporated neighborhood, as an intersection between social justice and disciplinary literacy.
Teachers as Researchers of New Literacies: Reflections on Qualitative Self-Study
In this article, a beginning teacher, experienced teacher, and teacher educator reflect upon their experiences with qualitative self-studies of language and literacy in teacher education courses. The goal of these course projects was to introduce teachers to sociocultural theories, qualitative research, and “new” literacies. Sharing excerpts from teachers’ self-studies of blogging and a massively multi-player on-line role-playing game, we illustrate how small-scale self-studies may help teachers begin to develop notions of language and literacy as social practices, demystify educational research, and bridge perceived “theory” and “practice” divides in teacher education. We offer individual and collective reflections on our work to help teacher educators consider how qualitative self-study might make sociocultural perspectives and new literacies more accessible and tangible to practicing teachers.
Precious’ Story: Learning to Use Language and Literacy for Her Own Purposes
In this reflective essay, we explore key life experiences of one African American teacher– (the first author of this paper)–who has taught kindergarten, fifth grade, and is presently a 9th grade English teacher in the high school from which she graduated. We couch the first author’s story in the professional literature to analyze and illustrate what happened in her life when her teachers worked effectively with her to help her learn to use language and literacy for her own purposes. The overall story about the first author’s memories of her most powerful school experiences serves as a vehicle for sharing ideas that teachers can implement in their own classrooms to foster the language and literacy learning of children.
Tailoring Professional Development to Improve Literacy Instruction in Urban Schools
Tammy Oberg De La Garza
To address the need for improving instructional practice in literacy, this paper examines whole school, teacher uptake of a professional development initiative over a four-year project. The study takes place in an urban, PK-6 school in a predominantly Mexican-American community. Measuring and analyzing teacher enactment of a professional development innovation during coaching sessions was the basis for making informed decisions about tailored professional development direction and support. Using an observation instrument to analyze teachers’ appropriation levels can reveal teacher learning transitions that provide opportunities to address barriers of understanding development. This study emphasizes the role that
individualized and differentiated professional development plays within a community of learners, impacting both in the direction and uptake of whole-school initiatives.
Problem based learning has more recently become a common term in public education. There is much positive potential when implementing problem based learning at the high school level. Here I review positives while not completely ignoring some of the negatives associated with implementing a problem based learning model at the high school level. More importantly, I will move beyond a look at the model of problem based learning and focus on how the model encourages students to take an active role in their learning as well as in the community. With the support of Ernest Morrell’s (2003) theories of promoting students activism, I will combine personal implications from researching the background of the model holistically as well as examples of successful practices. My research will create an understanding on how students benefit from problem based learning by increasing critical thinking skills as well as literacy
skills and also how the community in which the students reside also has the potential to benefit.
Literacy in Times of Crisis
Carolyn S. Hunt
A Review of: MacGillivray, L. (Ed.). (2009). Literacy in times of crisis: Practices and perspectives. New York: Routledge.