The Divergent Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research
The Divergent Book Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research
The Divergent Award for Excellence in Literacy Advocacy
To diverge from traditional pedagogies and research approaches and to embrace the spirit of following a road less traveled, The Divergent Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research was established in 2016 by the Initiative for 21st Century Literacies Research to recognize the indelible contributions of educators and scholars who have dedicated their careers to the theoretical and practical study of 21st Century Literacies. The Divergent Book Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research was established in 2018 by the Initiative for 21st Century Literacies Research to recognize the most outstanding 21st Century Literacies publications that bring to the forefront the importance and impact of this work. Established in 2019, The Divergent Award for Excellence in Literacy Advocacy recognizes an individual(s) or groups using digital spaces to advocate for literacy, students, and equity in all facets of academia.
Dr. Marcelle Haddix is a 2021 recipient of The Divergent Award for Excellence in Literacy Advocacy. Dr. Haddix is Dean’s Professor and Chair of the Reading and Language Arts department in the Syracuse University School of Education, where she is an inaugural co-Director of the Lender Center for Social Justice. Her scholarly interests focus on the experiences of students of color in literacy and English teaching and teacher education and the importance of centering Blackness in educational practices and spaces. She facilitates literacy programs for adolescent and adult communities in Syracuse, including the Writing Our Lives project for urban youth writers and a Black women’s literary club and free library project. Haddix’s book, Cultivating Racial and Linguistic Diversity in Literacy Teacher Education: Teachers Like Me, received the 2018 Outstanding Book Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
Christopher Lehman is a 2021 recipient of The Divergent Award for Excellence in Literacy Advocacy. Lehman is the founding director of The Educator Collaborative, as well as an international speaker, education consultant, New York Times best-selling author, and serves with educational nonprofits focused on literacy. Lehman has been a middle-school teacher; a high-school teacher; and literacy coach, after which he served as a Senior Staff Developer with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. Now, as Founding Director of the The Educator Collaborative, he is working to innovate the ways educators learn in-person and online, providing opportunities for teachers, coaches, and administrators to share their expertise so students can hold their brightest futures.
#DISRUPTTEXTS TEAM is a 2021 recipient of The Divergent Award for Excellence in Literacy Advocacy. The team members include:
Tricia Ebarvia is currently an English teacher at Conestoga High School, PA, where she has taught world literature, American literature, AP Lang, AP Lit, and AP Capstone. As a Co-Director for the PA Writing & Literature Project, Tricia has taught courses on digital writing, teacher inquiry, and facilitates the project’s anti-bias study group. Lorena Germán is a Dominican-American educator working with young people in Austin, Texas at Headwaters School. She’s been an educator for over a decade and has been published by NCTE, ASCD, EdWeek, and others.
Dr. Kimberly N. Parker currently works with preservice teachers as Assistant Director of Teacher Training at the Shady Hill School. She holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and her research looks at the literacy practices of Black boys. Julia E. Torres has taught Language Arts for sixteen years. Currently, she is a teacher librarian for the Montbello Campus serving five schools within the Far Northeast region of Denver Public schools. Formerly, a teacher of AP English Language/Literature, Julia has served Colorado teachers as the Vice-President and President of the regional NCTE affiliate–The Colorado Language Arts Society.
Dr. Troy Hicks is a 2021 recipient of The Divergent Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research. Dr. Hicks is Professor of English and Education at Central Michigan University (CMU). He directs both the Chippewa River Writing Project and the Master of Arts in Learning, Design & Technology program. A former middle school teacher, he collaborates with K–12 colleagues and explores how they implement newer literacies in their classrooms. Since beginning work at CMU in 2007, he has earned numerous distinctions including the Michigan Council of Teachers of English Charles Carpenter Fries Award (2008), CMU’s Provost’s Award for junior faculty who demonstrate outstanding achievement in research and creative activity (2011), the Richard A. Meade Award for scholarship in English Education (2014), the Michigan Reading Association’s Teacher Educator Award (2018), and CMU’s Excellence in Teaching Award (2020). An ISTE Certified Educator, Dr. Hicks has authored numerous books, articles, chapters, blog posts, and other resources broadly related to the teaching of literacy in our digital age. Follow him on Twitter: @hickstro
Dr. Emily Howell is a 2021 recipient of The Divergent Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research. Dr. Howell is a faculty member in literacy for Clemson University's College of Education in the Department of Education and Human Development. Emily has taught English and writing at the secondary and collegiate level and currently teaches pre-service teachers and graduate students in education employing both online and face-to-face classroom environments. Her research interests include multiliteracies, adolescent literacy, writing instruction, and digital tools. Emily approaches research through partnerships with teachers using methodologies such as design-based research. Her research has been published in journals such as Journal of Literacy Research, The Reading Teacher, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, and Professional Development in Education.
Dr. Ian O'Byrne is a 2021 recipient of The Divergent Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research. Dr. O’Byrne teaches literacy and technology classes in early childhood, elementary, and middle grade literacies. He is also a former Research Fellow at the New Literacies Research Lab at the University of Connecticut. He received his Masters of Education from the University of Massachusetts in the 180 Days Program. He has been involved in initiatives in school districts ranging from online and hybrid coursework, integrating technology in the classroom, ePortfolio systems, and supporting marginalized students in literacy practices. He is currently a member of AERA, NCTE, and currently serves as e-editor for LRA, and the Literacy, eLearning, Communication, and Culture (LECC) Committee for IRA.
A Good Fit for All Kids: Collaborating to Teach Writing in Diverse, Inclusive Settings is a 2021 recipient of the Divergent Book Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research. Publisher: Harvard Education Press. Author: Dr. Kelly Chandler Olcott, Syracuse University, A former high school English and social studies teacher, Kelly Chandler-Olcott now teaches English methods and content literacy courses to secondary and K-12 education majors. With support from the National Science Foundation, the International Reading Association, and the Spencer Foundation, she has published six books and nearly 90 chapters and articles, including in such venues as Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Literacy Research, Journal of Teacher Education, and Teacher Education Quarterly. In 2015, she began a six-year appointment as co-editor of Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy.
Classroom Talk for Social Change: Critical Conversations in English Language Arts is a 2021 recipient of the Divergent Book Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research. Publisher: Teachers College Press. Authors: Dr. Melissa Schieble is an associate professor of English education at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She earned her BS in secondary English education and MS and PhD in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on literacy studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A former middle and high school English teacher, her research and teaching focus on critical and sociocultural perspectives on language and literacy, young adult literature, and discourse analysis. Dr. Amy Vetter, University of North Carolina Greensboro, teaches undergraduate courses in teaching practices and curriculum of English and literacy in the content area, and graduate courses in youth literacies, teacher research, and qualitative research. Her areas of research interest are literacy and identity, positioning theory, and teacher research. Kahdeidra Monet Martin, a Ph.D. student in Urban Education at City University of New York, is a writer, self-publisher, educator, and researcher with more than 13 years of working in education. Kahdeidra has worked as a tutor, club facilitator, after school site coordinator, community center assistant director, special education teacher, and lecturer of developmental English and composition.
Developing Adolescent Literacy in the Online Classroom is a 2021 recipient of the Divergent Book Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research. Publisher: Rowman and Littlefield. Authors: Dr. Brooke Eisenbach is an associate professor at Lesley University. Her areas of academic focus and expertise are English Education, Middle Level Education, Virtual Education, Relational Care in the Classroom, Teacher Empowerment, and Arts-based Qualitative Research. She has a Ph.D. in English Education: Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Florida, M.Ed. in Reading Education from the University of South Florida, and B.A. in English Education from the University of South Florida. Dr. Paula Greathouse is an associate professor at Tennessee Tech University, where she teaches English language arts content courses and literacy courses for preservice secondary teachers at both the undergraduate and graduate level. She has published several books on these topics: Queer Adolescent Literature as a Complement to the English Language Arts Curriculum, Adolescent Literature as a Complement to the Content Areas: Science and Math, & Adolescent Literature as a Complement to the Content Areas: Social Science and Humanities.
Dr. Jon M. Wargo is an Assistant Professor of Literacy in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College. Interested in how writing moves, his research uses feminist, queer, and post-structural modes of inquiry to explore how historically minoritized children and youth use literacy and technology to design more just social futures. Publishing extensively across the areas of digital literacy, youth culture, and qualitative research, his research can be found in the pages of the Journal of Literacy Research, Voices from the Middle, Qualitative Inquiry, New Media & Society, Learning, Media, and Technology, and Language Arts. A former Denver Public Schools teacher, Wargo holds a B.A. in English and Gender Studies from Indiana University – Bloomington and a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education from Michigan State University. At Boston College, Wargo teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in digital literacies, qualitative research methods, and arts-based inquiry.
Dr. Detra Price-Dennis is an Associate Professor in Elementary Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She teaches courses that focus on curriculum development, digital literacies, and social justice children’s literature. Prior to working at Teachers College, Dr. Price-Dennis held an academic appointment at the University of Texas at Austin in the Language and Literacy Studies program. Her professional background includes work as an elementary school teacher in both urban and suburban settings, an administrator of a graduate teacher education program, an elementary school literacy coach, and a literacy teacher educator. Throughout her professional experiences she has explored how the intersections of these different fields contribute to conceptualizing literacy learning in teacher education, with a particular interest in culturally relevant/sustaining pedagogy and digital literacies. Dr. Dennis-Price has published research in English Education, Equity and Excellence in Education, Language Arts, The Reading Teacher, and Reading and Writing Quarterly. In 2017, she received the AERA Early-Career Award for Teaching and Teacher Education, as well as the Janet Emig Award from NCTE’s Conference on English Education.
Dr. Debbie Reese is the 2020 recipient of the Divergent Award for Excellence in Literacy Advocacy. Debbie Reese spent most of her adult life in a classroom, teaching young children in New Mexico and Oklahoma, and then adults at the University of Illinois where she taught in American Indian Studies, the College of Education, and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. In her lectures and workshops, she emphasizes the importance of knowing that Native peoples have cultures but that they also have a unique status as sovereign nations. Tribally enrolled at Nambé Pueblo, her book chapters and research articles are taught in English, Library Science, and Education courses at universities and colleges in the United States and Canada. Her website, American Indians in Children's Literature, has over ten years of book reviews and essays about the ways that Native peoples are depicted in children's and young adult literature. In 2018, the Association of Library Service to Children, which is part of the American Library Association, selected her to give the prestigious Arbuthnot Lecture for 2019.
Exploring Critical Digital Literacy Practices: Everyday Video in a Dual Language Context is a 2020 recipient of the Divergent Book Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research Publisher: Routledge. Author Dr. Jessica Zacher Pandya is Chair of the Liberal Studies Department and Professor in the Departments of Teacher Education and Liberal Studies at California State University, Long Beach. Her early work focused on children's identity work in diverse urban classrooms. More recently she has investigated the ways English learners make meaning in multiple modes as they create digital videos on iPads. Pandya was named a Foundation for Child Development New American Children Young Scholar (2012-15) for her research examining the ways English learners compose on iPads. Findings from the longitudinal study have been published in Teachers College Record and the Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, among other places. Her latest book, Exploring Critical Digital Literacy Practices: Everyday Video in a Dual Language Context (Routledge, 2018), stems from this project.
Educating for Empathy: Literacy Engagement and Civic Learning is a 2020 recipient of the Divergent Book Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research. Publisher: Teachers College Press . Author Dr. Nicole Mirra is an assistant professor of urban teacher education in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She previously taught high school English Language Arts in Brooklyn, New York and Los Angeles, California. Her research explores the intersections of critical literacy and civic engagement with youth and teachers across classroom, community, and digital learning environments. Central to her research and teaching agenda is a commitment to honoring and amplifying the literacy practices and linguistic resources that students from minoritized communities bring to civic life. Her work has appeared in Review of Research in Education, Journal of Literacy Research, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Urban Education, and more. She is the author of Educating for Empathy: Literacy Learning and Civic Engagement (Teachers College Press, 2018) and the co-author of Doing Youth Participatory Action Research: Transforming Inquiry with Researchers, Educators, and Students (Routledge, 2015).
Dr. Lindy L. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of English Education at William & Mary and Director of the Eastern Virginia Writing Project. Her research draws on sociocultural theories of mediated action to examine the increasingly multimodal nature of digital technologies, and the emerging social practices and activities that arise from these technologies. Lindy is particularly interested in examining how digital storytelling and multimodal literacies can encourage adolescents toward civic engagement and other activist projects. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D. in Language and Literacy from The University of Georgia, Lindy taught high school English in Boston Public Schools. Her research has been published in the English Education, Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, and English Teaching: Practice & Critique, and Theory into Practice.
Dr. Raúl Alberto Mora is an Associate Professor of English Education and Literacy Studies at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín. At UPB, he teaches undergraduate and graduate seminars on teaching methods, literacy, and qualitative research, and helped create the MA in Learning and Teaching Processes in Second Languages, program that he coordinated between August 2013 and June 2016. His current research explores second language literacies in urban spaces and gaming communities in Medellín, the pedagogical implementation of alternative literacies in second-language education, the use of transmedial discourse in sociocultural studies, and critical frameworks for English Language Teaching in Colombia, topics he develops with his research team at the Literacies in Second Languages Project (LSLP). Dr. Mora holds a B.A. in Modern Language Education from Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, an M.A. in Teacher Education (as a Fulbright Scholar), and a Ph.D. in Language and Literacy, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas is the recipient of inaugural 2019 The Divergent Award for Excellence in Literacy Advocacy. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas taught elementary language arts, high school English, and creative writing in public schools for several years after graduating from Florida A&M, a historically Black university in Tallahassee, Florida. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2010, she returned to her master's degree institution, Wayne State University, as an assistant professor of Reading, Language, and Literature in the College of Education. In July 2012, she came to Penn GSE, where she is Associate Professor in the Division of Literacy, Culture, and International Education. Her program affiliation is Reading/Writing/Literacy. In her work, Dr. Thomas synthesizes postcolonial, critical, and critical race theory with data from her empirical research in classrooms to examine the ways that literature, media, and culture are positioned in schooling and society today. Dr. Thomas’s program of research is most keenly focused on children’s and adolescent texts (broadly construed), the teaching of African American literature, history, and culture in K-12 classrooms, and the roles that race, class, and gender play in classroom discourse and interaction. Her forthcoming book is The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games (New York University Press, Spring 2019). Dr. Thomas has published her research and critical work in Harvard Educational Review, Review of Research in Education, Race Ethnicity and Education, Journal of Children’s Literature, Journal of Teacher Education, Research in the Teaching of English, Qualitative Inquiry, Linguistics and Education, Social Education, Learning Media and Technology, English Journal, The ALAN Review, and Sankofa: A Journal of African Children’s and Young Adult Literature. Her work has also appeared in Diversity in Youth Literature: Opening Doors Through Reading (ALA Editions, 2012), her co-edited volume Reading African American Experiences in the Obama Era: Theory, Advocacy, Activism (Peter Lang, 2012), and A Narrative Compass: Stories That Guide Women’s Lives (University of Illinois Press, 2009).Dr. Thomas’ early career work received the 2014 Emerging Scholar Award from AERA's Language and Social Processes Special Interest Group, as well as Honorable Mentions in the 2012 NCTE Promising Researcher Award and 2018 Children’s Literature Association Article Award competitions. In 2014, she was selected as a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. In 2016, she was invited to be part of the advisory board of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Task Force on the Teaching of Racial History in the United States. Her expertise on race and representation in children’s and young adult literature has been sought after nationally and internationally. She has been interviewed by MSNBC, the BBC, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She was a former reviewer for Kirkus’ children’s book section, and in 2015, wrote a regular review column for the Los Angeles Times. Currently, she and her graduate students select Penn GSE’s Best Books for Young People annually, an award that is receiving attention from publishers. Dr. Thomas is a former NCTE Cultivating New Voices Among Scholars of Color Fellow (2008-2010 Cohort), served on the NCTE Standing Committee on Research (2012-2015), and was elected by her colleagues to serve on the NCTE Conference on English Education's Executive Committee (2013-2017). She is a past chair of the NCTE Standing Committee on Research, as well as Literacy Research Association’s area on Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Text Analysis. Currently, she serves as co-editor of Research of the Teaching of English.
Towards a More Visual Literacy: Shifting the Paradigm with Digital Tools and Young Adult Literature
is a recipient of the Divergent Book Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research. Editors are Dr. Jennifer S. Dail, Dr. Shelbie Witte, and Dr. Steve Bickmore. Publisher: Rowman and Littlefield.
Critical Media Literacy and Fake News in Post Truth America
is a recipient of the Divergent Book Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research. Editors are Dr. Christian Goering and Dr. Paul Thomas. Publisher: Brill/Sense.
Dr. Sean Connors is an associate professor of English education at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Connors earned his doctorate in
2010 from The Ohio State University. His dissertation, which was funded in part by a grant from the Assembly on Literature for
Adolescents, sought to understand how adolescent readers conceive of graphic novels as a form of reading material and how they
construct meaning in their transactions with multimodal literary texts. At the University of Arkansas, Dr. Connors teaches courses on young adult literature and graphic novels. He also works with English education interns in the Master of Arts in Teaching program.
Prior to attending graduate school, Dr. Connors taught high school English in New York State and Arizona, as well as on the western
Dr. Bryan Ripley Crandall is the Director of the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University where he holds a dual position in
the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) and the English department in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Crandall has 15+ years of urban education experience and has promoted youth to publish, perform, and educate others through the
power of oral and written communication. He was a high school English teacher in Louisville, Kentucky, where he became a
consultant for the National Writing Project, served on the state’s Writing Advisory Council, and was trained to be a Critical Friends
Coach through the National School Reform Faculty.
The Handbook of Writing, Literacies, and Education in Digital Cultures is the first book recipient of the Divergent Book Award for
Excellence in 21st Century Literacies Research. Editors are Dr. Kathy Mills, Dr. Anna Smith, Dr. Amy Stornaiuolo, and Dr. Jessica
Zacher Pandya. Publisher: Routledge
Dr. Donna Alvermann is the University of Georgia Appointed Distinguished Research Professor of Language and Literacy Education. She also holds an endowed chair position: The Omer Clyde and Elizabeth Parr Aderhold Professor in Education. Formerly a classroom teacher in Texas and New York, her research focuses on young people's digital literacies and use of popular media. Author of numerous articles, she has several books to her credit: Adolescents and Literacies in a Digital World; Reconceptualizing the Literacies in Adolescents' Lives (3rd ed.); Adolescents' Online Literacies: Connecting Classrooms, Digital Media, and Popular Culture; and Bring It to Class: Unpacking Pop Culture in Literacy Learning. Most recently, she helped in designing an interactive website to learn how a community of researchers and researched objects can push boundaries associated with creating and disseminating "original" work and remixes online using a Creative Commons license. Come join her at http://www.becoming3lectric.com
Dr. Antero Garcia is an Assistant Professor at Stanford University. Antero’s research focuses on developing critical literacies and civic identity through the use of mobile media and game play in formal learning environments. Prior to moving to Stanford, Antero was an assistant professor at Colorado State University and a teacher at a public high school in South Central Los Angeles. Antero received his Ph.D. in the Urban Schooling division of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2008 Antero co-developed the Black Cloud Game. A Digital Media and Learning Competition award recipient, the Black Cloud provoked students to take real time assessment of air quality in their community. Using custom-developed sensors that measure and send data about air quality, students critically analyzed the role pollution played in their daily lives and presented recommendations to their community. Antero is a 2010-2011 U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellow, providing teacher input and feedback on national education policy initiatives. Antero’s numerous publications and conference presentations address technology, educational equity, youth participatory action research, and critical media literacy. Updates about Antero’s work can be found on his blog, The American Crawl.
Dr. Ernest Morrell is the Macy Professor of English Education and the Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME) at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is also a Past-President of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). For twenty years, Dr. Morrell has worked with adolescents using popular culture and participatory action research to promote academic and critical literacy development, civic engagement, and college access. Morrell is author of eight academic books and numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries.
Dr. Sara Kajder is a faculty member in Language and Literacy Education at The University of Georgia, a writer, and consultant to k-12 school systems across the US. Having spent the past two years teaching middle school English in Pittsburgh, PA, Dr. Kajder currently is a Professor in Residence at Burney Harris Lyons Middle School. Her most recent research examines secondary English teacher practices and adolescent literacy identities as they are constructed in dialogue with uses of digital tools and social media. Amongst many peer-reviewed articles and books, she is the author of Adolescents and Digital Literacies, the 2012 Recipient of the NCTE Britton Award. Dr. Kajder is the immediate past chair of the Middle Level Section of NCTE and, beginning in the Fall of 2015, will co-edit the NCTE journal, Voices from the Middle.
Dr. Hannah Gerber is an associate professor in the Department of Language, Literacy, and Special Populations at Sam Houston State University. Her scholarship focuses on the ecologies and pedagogies afforded through video-gaming practices among adolescents. She is the author of forthcoming books Gaming in the New Library: Learning Beyond the Stacks (Abrams & Gerber, VOYA Press) and Conducting Qualitative Research of Learning in Online Spaces (Gerber, Abrams, Curwood, & Magnifico, Sage) and the edited volume Building Literate Connections Through Video Games and Virtual Environments: Practical Ideas and Connections (Gerber & Abrams, Sense Publishers). She is the founding co-editor of the Sense book series Gaming Ecologies and Pedagogies.