We are excited to share our international collaboration publications, published with the Literacies and Second Languages Project. The LSLP is led by Raúl A. Mora, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Medellín (Colombia).
Pinterest and 21st century literacies by Katie Rybakova and Charise Kollar: http://www.literaciesinl2project.org/uploads/3/8/9/7/38976989/lslp-micro-paper-9-pinterest-and-21st-century-literacies.pdf
Participatory Literacies by Rikki Rocanti: http://www.literaciesinl2project.org/uploads/3/8/9/7/38976989/lslp-micro-paper-10-participatory-literacies.pdf
Livescribe and Second Language Learning by Amy Piotrowski: http://www.literaciesinl2project.org/uploads/3/8/9/7/38976989/lslp-micro-paper-13-livescribe-and-second-language-learning.pdf
You can view other Micro-Papers at http://www.literaciesinl2project.org/lslp-micro-papers.html
Reflections on "Reflections on a Gift of a Watermelon Pickle" and Our Roles as Literacy Cheerleaders
by Shelbie Witte
One of the first books of poetry I ever read as a child happened to be the first book of poetry I ever taught as a teacher in the classroom. "Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle", published in the late 1960's, was a ground-breaking compilation of poetry that specifically appealed to the 'modern' adolescent. Poems by Eve Merriam, Sy Kahn, Carl Sandburg, Ezra Pound, and dozens of others were representative of the great works of literature that spoke to our hearts as readers. As teachers, it became a critical reference text for short pieces of literature that would motivate and engage our students to want to read more, write like, and experience literacy through creative voices. My favorite from "Reflections" is by Eve Merriam:
"How to Eat a Poem"
Don't be polite
Pick it up with your
fingers and lick
The juice that may
run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now,
whenever you are.
As teachers, we often serve in the role of literacy cheerleaders, offering our students multiple avenues and doors into the world of texts. As our world evolves, so do the texts that motivate and engage. Indeed, the very meaning of "text" has also changed, making our list of critical reference texts even more diverse. What texts move your students to devour their words? How do you encourage your students to eat a poem, a novel, a text?
Ekaterina Rybakova and Shelbie Witte
As much as we want to teach a majority of young adult literature in the 6-12th English/Language arts classroom, the reality of teaching a canonical text, whether by choice, by district or school requirement, or by curriculum, isa challenge for many of us who strive to engage our students in text as mirrors experiences. We make this clear as we challenged our pre-service teachers taking a class on adolescent young adult literature to create reading ladders culminating in a complex, canonical text. Ideally, a teacher wouldn’t jump directly into Romeo and Juliet in the 9th grade without scaffold. The idea of reading ladders, stemming from Lesesne’s (2010) research on the concept, allows gradual development of reading strategies and motivation that closes a theme with a complex text.
Lesesne’s (2010) book Reading Ladders highlights issues with incorporating young adult literature in the English classroom, and focuses on how to do so in a way that doesn’t overwhelm students. There is a misconception, she says, that YAL is less literary than canonical texts taught in the classroom (Lesesne, 2010). We need to incorporate books that are not written by “dead white guys” (Wolk, 2010) and instead that speak to today’s students, to real life (Lesesne, 2010).
We challenge our pre-service teachers, then, to create a ladder, or a series of books or materials that relate to a specific theme, time period, or even author, with the end text being a different canonical text for every student. The caveat is to utilize such text that both prepares students for the complex canonical text while still engaging students and motivating them to engage in the text they provide. As Lattimer (2010) suggests, texts that motivate students are first and foremost an authentic experience, an experience that connects the text to the real lives of students. Authentic texts, Lattimer (2010) suggests, include everything from scientific research articles to ads to websites to poems to media to song lyrics.
After suggesting ways of tying in texts from different avenues into their reading ladders, the pre-service teachers in our class embarked on the journey to make sometimes dry texts more engaging, and the experience with them both useful and informational. We are pleased to share our students work, of course with their permission, with you, and hope that these can be useful tools for all teachers trying to break the mold, scaffold and motivate, and continue to find ways to engage their students to become lifelong readers.
To see the Reading Ladders, look under the Theory to Practice Connections section of this site.
Lattimer, H. (2010). Reading for learning: Using discipline-based texts to build content knowledge. Urbana, Illinois: NCTE.
Lesesne, T. (2010). Reading ladders: Leading students from where they are to where we’d like them to be. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Wolk, S. (2010). What should students read? Phi Delta Kappan, 91(7), 8-16.