Literacy & Learning

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    Empowered Teachers: Key to Reading Recovery
    (2022-10-15) Kaye, Elizabeth L.
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    Striving toward equitable biliteracy assessments in hegemonic school contexts
    (The Association of Mexican American Educators, 2017) Babino, Alexandra; González-Carriedo, Ricardo
    American schools today display unprecedented levels of diversity in regard to the linguistic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds of their student population. Increasingly, more American students are also emergent bilingual learners. Despite this fact, most of the standardized assessments used by schools have been designed and normed for English monolingual students. The lack of specific assessments created for emergent bilinguals provides teachers and other stakeholders with only a partial and often inaccurate view of the students’ literacy growth as they develop proficiency in two languages. In this theoretical article, the authors explore how three complex characteristics of emergent biliteracy development interact: bilingual language proficiency, domains of language use, and language dominance. Then, they describe how teachers and school district leaders can begin to create more equitable assessment practices that are more closely aligned with the unique characteristics of biliteracy development amidst largely hegemonic, monolingual school systems.
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    Humanizing (multi)literacy teaching: a starter kit to renewed hope
    (National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, 2018) Babino, Alexandra
    Amidst standardized testing pressures, zero-tolerance discipline policies, and increasingly distressing news headlines, this article seeks to encourage teachers that want to be and feel more human in their work with students with practical, classroom tools. It’s a starter kit of sorts that has allowed the author to move beyond the inevitable institutional status quo and toward a renewed hope through “armed love” (Freire, 1998, p. 41). It begins with a brief exploration of humanizing literacy practices and continues with two deceptively simple but potentially transformative tools: naming students and expanding definitions of literacy.
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    Moving toward culturally sustaining language instruction that resists white language supremacy
    (National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, 2020) Caldera, Altheria; Babino, Alexandra
    In this manuscript, we argue that language is central to students’ cultural identities and, therefore, should be validated in middle school classrooms. Additionally, we problematize the idea of “standard” languages and analyze how existing language hierarchies marginalize Students of Color through White language supremacy. White language supremacy can be defined as a belief in the superiority of Standard American English. In pedagogy, it manifests as teachers rejecting students’ preferred or home languages and dialects, forcing them to adopt the languaging practices of the dominant culture. Most importantly, we provide practical strategies for teachers who aim to enact culturally sustaining language instruction that resists White language supremacy.
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    The influences of teacher knowledge on qualitative writing assessment
    (Department of Language & Literacy Education in the College of Education at The University of Georgia, 2022) Cato, Heather; Walker, Katie
    Standardized testing and accountability are currently unavoidable components of Texas Public Education. Through years of push-back, parents and educators have demanded that Texas consider alternative testing options that would reduce the high-stakes testing burden on students and schools. In 2015, the State of Texas passed legislation requiring the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to undertake a study of authentic writing assessment. This paper draws on data from a larger qualitative study to illustrate the complexity of teacher decision-making in the assessment process, provides further consideration into the influences of scoring calibration such as teacher knowledge, and highlights the need for intentionally designed professional learning about scoring as a means to mitigate differences and ultimately improve inter-rater reliability.
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    Critical, compelling, and linguistically scaffolded literature: Implementing text sets multilingually for social justice
    (Texas Association for Literacy Education (TALE), 2019) Babino, Alexandra; Araujo, Juan J.; Maxwell, Marie L.
    In most cases, the curriculum chosen for wide-use does not mirror or address the pressing needs of bi/multilingual learners, especially for those who are in middle and high school settings. In light of this and the increasingly negative national discourse surrounding minoritized students, our focusin this article is to offer in-service teachers a heuristic for compiling a multi-genre, multilingual text set to support bi/multilingual students’ positive identities and literacies practices. This text set is designed with the themes of identity and social justice in order to reflect the students’ struggle to fully participate in the American Dream. It also describes how teachers can purposely plan for linguistic support in students’ additional languages, language varieties, and English. Taken together, we believe that deeply exploring these compelling books from a critical perspective with linguistic scaffolds will allow teachers to foster robust multilingual literacy skills to address social justice in the classroom and beyond.
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    Being a conduit and culprit of white language supremacy: A duo autohistoriateoría
    (Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines, University of Limoges, 2020) Caldera, Altheria; Babino, Ale Ruiz
    In this manuscript, two normalistas-teachers, who are Women of Color in the United States, reflected on our experiences as educators. In a chronological narrative structure, we each told stories related to our experiences with languages and literacy. Using Anzaldúa’s autohistoria-teoría—a decolonial research methodology—we constructed situated knowledge based on our personal reflections of our experiences. More specifically, we uncovered ways we have been conduits of white language supremacy, interrogated how white language supremacy has impacted our teaching, and revealed our growth in our stance towards linguistic justice. Through the lens of raciolinguistics, we reveal our own victimization, internalized racist linguicism, and subsequent perpetuation of linguistic imperialism. Because of our professional successes as a result of English proficiency, we bought into the myth that acquiring Standard American English was necessary to ensure the success of students with racialized identities and failed to fully value language plurality. At this point in our professional journeys, however, we are committed to work characterized by 1) a recognition of the ways language and race are inextricably entwined, 2) evidenced appreciation for non-Western language varieties, 3) use of translanguaging as resistance, 4) culturally sustaining writing instruction (Woodard, Vaughan, & Machado, 2017), and 5) multimodal communication practices. Our manuscript is important because it models the kind of vulnerability, theorization, and critical reflection necessary for scholars whose work aims for decoloniality. It represents our commitment to decolonization of the self.
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    Teacher educators engage preservice teachers with The 57 Bus
    (Worlds of Words: Center for Global Literacies and Literatures (University of Arizona), 2019) Morton, Tami; Babino, Alexandra
    The 57 Bus is an intriguing nonfiction story in which Dashka Slater uses her journalistic style to chronicle the explosive encounter of two high-school teenagers on the 57 bus. One teenager, Sasha, is White and from a middle-class neighborhood. Sasha, wearing a skirt, identifies as agender, rather than as either male or female. Richard is an African-American teen from a low socioeconomic status (SES) neighborhood. The book details the harrowing accounts of each student’s life prior to and after an eight-second timeframe that changed their lives forever—when Richard lights Sasha’s skirt on fire.
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    Sanctioning a space for translanguaging in the secondary English class: A case of a transnational youth
    (National Council of Teachers of English, 2016) Stewart, Mary Amanda; Hansen-Thomas, Holly
    A growing number o f adolescents in the United States are transnationals who regularly engage in translanguaging practices by drawing on their full linguistic repertoires in their everyday lives. Many of these students are also emergent bilinguals, learning language and content simultaneously. Yet, as the number o f these diverse students significantly rises, so does curricular standardization in the secondary English language arts classroom. Even so, some research documents promising translanguaging pedagogies, but these studies focus primarily on the elementary level or provide general overviews o f these practices in secondary classrooms. Consequently, this qualitative study was divided into two phases: Phase 1 deeply investigated the nature o f one high school emergent bilingual’s transnationalism through a case study approach. The findings indicated that the participant’s transnational lived experiences and literacies were closely tied to translanguaging practices. Then, grounded in that data, for Phase 2 o f the study, the researchers used a formative design to create a literacy unit in the participant’s high school English classroom that purposefully engaged her transnational literacies through translanguaging. Her reaction to the unit, specifically her writing in English and Spanish, was analyzed to understand her response to the curriculum and instruction. A systematic use o f translanguaging— through reading, through oral language, and primarily through writing poetry— provided the participant with the means to express creativity and criticality as she took ownership o f her literacy learning. The study suggests the possibilities o f student learning when a space for translanguaging is sanctioned in the secondary English language arts classroom.
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    Emergent bilinguals’ emerging identities in a dual language school
    (Texas Association for Bilingual Education, 2015) Babino, Alexandra; Stewart, Mary Amanda
    The purpose of this study was to explore how emergent bilinguals’ emerging identities interact with their language attitudes and choices in various contexts to create their investment in English, Spanish, and bilingualism. Using a mixed method design, the researchers analyzed surveys and social networking maps of 63 Mexican-American, bilingual fifth-graders in a one-way dual language (DL) school and then the interviews of 10 of these students. Findings indicate that students’ identities and investments show a strong correlation to their language use and language of instruction. Specifically, students’ investment in their languages suggest that we might reconsider strict language separation in DL programs while overtly attending to students’ investment in the minority language, Spanish. Most significantly, the language we use formally and informally affects students’ attitudes toward that language. Thus, greater emphasis on developing bilingual investment is an indispensable goal of DL programs.
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    Language, literacy, and love: A critical framework for teaching adolescent emergent bilinguals
    (Mary Frances Early College of Education at The University of Georgia, 2022) Anderson, Phyliciá; Stewart, Mary Amanda; Lozada, Victor Antonio
    A high school English teacher/doctoral student and two university researchers share a three-part framework for educating emergent bilinguals across disciplines with these constructs: language, literacy, and love. Through long-term professional development, teachers at two high schools began to view language as translanguaging, literacy as multiliteracies, and love as the critical notion of armed love. Specifically, as educators recognized the value of students’ home languages, they understood how all languaging was useful to acquire English, access content, and develop confidence in disciplinary literacy. Building off an understanding of students’ languaging, educators then focused on multiliteracies in their disciplines, incorporating multilingual and multimodal literature in their curriculum that represented student diversity. Finally, teaching through a critical lens of armed love, educators began to examine societal, political, and economical constructs relevant to their emergent bilinguals’ lives. This framework is useful to effect sustainable changes for teaching and learning equity with students in the dynamic process of English language acquisition.
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    Nurturing caring relationships with newcomers through five simple rules
    (National Council of Teachers of English, 2016) Stewart, Mary Amanda
    In my office I have a picture that reminds me the priority is the peo-ple we teach— not content, assess-ments, or compliance. The picture is of high school multilingual refugee students holding our published anthology of writing. One of these students is Camille. Surrounded by stu-dents from Southeast Asia, she is the only one from Africa. What most people notice is her clothing, a traditional African dress and head covering of bright blues and greens. However, what I notice every time I look at the picture is her eyes— they are not looking down, but are looking right at me, the picture- taker, with pride as she holds the book she coauthored.
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    “My life, my stories”: Reading, writing, and belonging in the ESL classroom
    (National Council of Teachers of English, 2019) Stewart, Mary Amanda; Genova, Holly
    As I looked around the room, I noticed my students had their heads down, nearly falling asleep. “Class, what’s wrong?” From across the room, José responded, “Miss, we don’t like the topic of pyramids. And who cares about nomads?” (Student names are pseudonyms.) In that moment, I questioned if this was a teacher win or fail. We had recently learned the vocabulary word topic, and José used it correctly. On the other hand, my students were unengaged and uninterested. This was not due to the language demands of our reading, but it was because they simply did not connect to the content we were learning. Suddenly, I saw the irony: my students are not nomadic people and they’ve never been to the Egyptian pyramids. The beginning ESL curriculum was just not working!
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    Teachers and diverse students: A knowledge-to-action reader response model to promote critical consciousness
    (Taylor & Francis, 2021) Stewart, Mary Amanda; Flint, Patricia; Núñez, Mariannella
    Anti-immigrant vitriol is growing, even disturbing our educational spaces. Teachers are also affected by the negative discourses around them and need to develop knowledge that shapes their attitudes and actions regarding immigrant youth. This article details a professional development with high school teachers that used reader response to develop critical consciousness, the ability to name, and then act on tensions and unjust practices. Specifically, the purpose was to develop knowledge that might affect teachers’ attitudes and actions toward (im)migrant students in their classrooms and schools. The teacher educators engaged in a semester-long reader response initiative that consisted of reading and responding to a series of both informational and narrative texts about the (im)migrant and refugee experience. The high school teachers illustrated various levels of growth from gaining knowledge to engaging in action to better serve students at their schools, suggesting this reader-response model may be used to develop aspects of critical consciousness about other social justice issues in our society that affect teachers and the manner in which they engage with diverse students.
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    Descubriendo los recursos culturales de Estudiantes Indígenas Latinoamericanos a través de la literatura [Discovering the cultural resources of Latin American Indigenous students through literature]
    (Taylor & Francis, 2020) Núñez, Mariannella; Duran, Yismelle; Mojica, Zulma; Stewart, Mary Amanda
    While educators and researchers make notable progress for Spanish speaking students in the United States, Latin American indigenous students are a growing, yet overlooked population with rich cultural resources, including additional languages, that often remain hidden. In this article, we share how culturally relevant literature facilitated a teacher’s discovery of a Guatemalan student’s unique linguistic and cultural strengths as a member of the Kaqchikel people. In order to help other educators develop an awareness of indigenous students’ often veiled cultural roots, we shed light on native people groups in Latin America and their growing presence in U.S. schools. Through this account of a teacher learning about the languages and literacies of her student, we explain how culturally relevant texts may be a key element in discovering indigenous students’ hidden cultural and linguistic strengths. The authors suggest other texts and resources to assist educators to identify and better serve students from various people groups in Latin America.
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    Translingual disciplinary literacies: Equitable language environments to support literacy engagement
    (Wiley, 2021) Stewart, Mary Amanda; Hansen-Thomas, Holly; Flint, Patricia; Núñez, Mariannella
    The burgeoning work of translanguaging and bilingualism has much to offer adolescent learning spaces in order to provide bi/multilingual students more equitable opportunities to engage in disciplinary literacy at the high school level, particularly where there are many low-incidence languages. Drawing from critical theories in both literacy and language research, we conducted this three-year study in two U.S. high schools (grades 9–12) in order to promote language equity and literacy engagement for emergent bilinguals and heritage speakers. We provided an intensive year of graduate courses on language, literacy, and equity for 27 teachers from various disciplines and school roles. Through analyzing their coursework, observations of their classes, and follow-up surveys, we documented how their heteroglossic language ideologies were nurtured, how they enacted translingual disciplinary literacies, and what benefits they perceived from this instructional approach. The findings illustrate how schools might overcome previously unquestioned monoglossic standards and linguistically oppressive systems through a whole-school translingual disciplinary literacies approach. Providing nuanced descriptions of how teachers engaged in translingual disciplinary literacy in various disciplines, we make a case for constructivist disciplinary literacy teacher education grounded in heteroglossic ideologies. We also draw connections from language equity to literacy engagement, suggesting that a translingual disciplinary literacies approach is a necessary instructional innovation to effect change in high school learning spaces for bi/multilingual learners. Finally, as our field pursues language equity and literacy engagement, like the teachers in this study, we must also critically evaluate our own ideologies toward literacy and language.
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    Bilingual education during a pandemic: Family engagement. La educación bilingüe durante una pandemia: Compromiso familiar
    (Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 2022) Lozada, Victor Antonio; Hansen-Thomas, Holly; Figueroa, Jorge; Stewart, Mary Amanda
    During the COVID-19 global pandemic, teachers have had to be creative on how they engage with the families of emergent bilingual students. This content analysis of four teacher focus groups reveals ways in which teachers have worked to connect to their students over a distance. The purpose of this paper is to discover, from educators. effective teaching strategies that engage families and emergent bilinguals during the COVID-19 pandemic and online teaching. Resulting themes included technology in teaching, building relationships with families. and accessing the educational assets of emergent bilinguals and their families. Connections to cariño (Bartolomé, 2008), educación (Valenzuela, 1999), and using the term "emergent bilingual" (Garcia, 2009) are discussed.
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    Co-learning in the high school English class through translanguaging: Emergent bilingual newcomers and monolingual teachers
    (Taylor & Francis, 2020) Hansen-Thomas, Holly; Stewart, Mary Amanda; Flint, Patricia; Dollar, Tamra
    There is a growing chasm between the instruction of secondary emergent bilinguals (EBs) and research illustrating the benefits of adolescent EBs using translanguaging practices for academic engagement and gains. Specifically, this qualitative study purposes to understand how monolingual teachers enact a translanguaging pedagogy in a high school classroom where English language acquisition is the focus. Findings indicate the primary resource the teachers used in their translanguaging pedagogy were the students themselves, and suggest that teachers’ willingness to participate as co-learners with adolescent EBs is crucial. Co-learning has been found to be an appropriate pedagogical tool with teachers of multilinguals due to the rich experiences it can foster and this study supports such literature. Additional study findings revealed tensions students and teachers felt through these practices, specifically in regards to translating, technology use, and students’ desire to learn the L2.
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    A pedagogy of care for adolescent English learners: A formative experiment
    (Tapestry, 2017) Stewart, Mary Amanda; Babino, Alexandra; Walker, Katie
    In the case of educators of adolescents in the dynamic process of English acquisition, it is our goal to increase the fulfillment and success of the students we are privileged to serve through nurturing their academic, emotional, personal, social, and civic development. It is, therefore, essential that educators understand the implementation and impact of teaching through a framework of care.
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    Co-learning, translanguaging and English language acquisition
    (Research Outreach, 2020) Stewart, Mary Amanda; Hansen-Thomas, Holly
    The US has the largest number of English-speakers in the world, but it is also multilingual: according to 2018 census data, 23% of children aged 5 to 17 speak another language at home. English language acquisition for those who speak English as a second language is therefore an important issue for educators. Mary Amanda Stewart and Holly Hansen-Thomas of Texas Woman’s University have been studying how ‘translanguaging’ and ‘co-learning’ can be used to help newcomer English language learners acquire greater fluency.