First Presenter's Institution

NA

Second Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Vereist

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

This presentation addresses two focal strands of this Youth at Risk conference: 1) HEAD - Academic Achievement and Leadership – this presentation describes a pedagogical approach used to improve the reading and, especially, the writing skills of students from migrant families. 2) HEART- Social & Emotional Skills – The pedagogical approach used in the program described in this presentation provided a safe space for students to become more confident and get motivated to express their opinions.

Brief Program Description

This presentation describes an innovative summer literacy program for intermediate and middle-level children of migrant farm workers that presented them with over two dozen children’s picture storybooks with migrancy themes, and systematically documented their responses to the books. Using these mentor texts and their responses as scaffolding, the students collaborated to create semi-autobiographical, illustrated narratives about growing up as migrants.

Summary

In 2014, we were invited by a rural school district and our state migrant education program to design and teach, pro bono, a three-week summer literacy program for intermediate and middle school migrant children. The curricular flexibility allowed us to combine and implement decades of ideas regarding how to engage children, especially those from challenging backgrounds, in literacy development that was valuable to them, their families, and their school community.

The process we envisioned was grounded in a sociocultural conceptualization of literacy (Vygotsky, 1978; Street, 2003; Gee, 2014), a respect for readers’ individual responses to texts (Rosenblatt, 1994), and an adaptation of writers’ workshop methodology (Atwell, 1998; Calkins, 1994). Our program’s overarching goal was to remediate and enrich the English literacy skills of individual students by valuing their home languages and placing their shared experiences at the center of the curriculum. We started with a collection, previously reviewed by Beck (2009), of more than two dozen enabling texts (Tatum, 2006) depicting migrant children, and built a socioculturally relevant pedagogy (Beach, Thein, & Parks, 2006) that was both culturally (Ladson-Billings, 1992) and socio-economically pertinent to their lives, so as to inspire them to share their own life stories in writing.

We presented the students the over two dozen children’s picture storybooks with migrancy themes, documented their responses to the books, and systematically provided written feedback. Using these mentor texts and their responses as scaffolding, the students collaborated to create semi-autobiographical, illustrated narratives about growing up as migrants. These student-created CPSBs challenge our society’s erasure of and hostility toward migrants.

Evidence

As previously mentioned, this program stressed the importance of interaction and collaboration (Gee, 2006; Street, 2003; Vygotsky, 1930-1934/1978) within culturally relevant pedagogy using enabling literature (Tatum, 2006) to empower students socially, politically, and emotionally (Ladson-Billings, 1992/1995). An adaptation of readers’ and writers’ workshop method (Atwell, 1998; Calkins, 1994), emphasizing the importance of valuing students’ individual responses (Rosenblatt, 1978/1994), was used as an instructional approach. The primary instructional materials (CPSBs, young adult novels, and a video documentary) addressed our students’ shared Mexican cultural heritage plus a wide range of other critical aspects of migrancy: economic class, working conditions, poverty housing, movement, social isolation, prejudice, racialization, and gender inequity. Since “culturally relevant” does not fully encompass this range of connections with the students’ lived experiences, we will use the term “socio-culturally relevant” (Beach, Thein, & Parks, 2006, p. 113).

In addition, the children picture story books created by our students is a lasting tool for education of non-migrants created by this project. Using the funds from a university service grant, we were able to professionally publish more than 50 books. The books were distributed among the families of the student authors, local school teachers and administrators, the staff of the state migrant education program, and teacher educators at our institution and other institutions, including Cornell University.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Alma Stevenson is an Assistant Professor of Literacy at Georgia Southern University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in critical literacy, literacy strategies and assessment, and literacy in the content areas. She served as a teacher and volunteer educator of bilingual, special needs, and mainstream students in the elementary schools of El Paso, Texas, for sixteen years. She is originally from Mexico and studied at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. She earned an MA and taught courses in bilingual education at the University of Texas at El Paso. She earned her PhD in literacy, language, and culture at New Mexico State University, where she coordinated and taught on-site literacy courses. Her research explores educational policies and curricula that support the science and literacy education of historically underrepresented populations. She is active in a local social justice advocacy group and the regional migrant education program.

Scott Beck is an Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning at Georgia Southern University. He earned his Ph.D. in Language Education from UGA and had previously studied at Cornell University and UNC-G. Scott was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mauritania, a 7th Grade Teacher, and a Migrant Education Outreach Worker and Curriculum Coordinator before entering academe. Much of his research focuses upon using young adult and children's literature to build new understandings of controversial topics such as immigration and migrant farm workers and gender and sexual minorities. He also was one of the first scholars to document the dramatic demographic changes in the rural South due to the New Latino Diaspora. His teaching responsibilities are focused upon language arts, literature, writing, and applied linguistics.

Keyword Descriptors

Socio-cultural literacy pedagogy, cultutally relevant, children's literature, writers' workshop, migrant students

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-8-2016 1:00 PM

End Date

3-8-2016 2:15 PM

Files over 10MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "Save as..."

Share

COinS
 
Mar 8th, 1:00 PM Mar 8th, 2:15 PM

A Socio-Culturally Responsive Pedagogical Approach to Advance Migrant Students Literacy

Vereist

This presentation describes an innovative summer literacy program for intermediate and middle-level children of migrant farm workers that presented them with over two dozen children’s picture storybooks with migrancy themes, and systematically documented their responses to the books. Using these mentor texts and their responses as scaffolding, the students collaborated to create semi-autobiographical, illustrated narratives about growing up as migrants.