The Journal of the South Carolina State Council of the International Reading Association
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T he J ournal of the S outh C arolina S tate C ouncil of the I nternational R eading A ssociation
Volume 19, Winter 2019
Make It Matter Letter from the President by Vickie Brockman......................................................................................................................... VI Letter from Editors by Jackie Malloy and Sarah Hunt-Barron............................................................................................. VI Choice Matters Addressing Reading Gender Gaps and Combatting Masculinized Curriculum by Mary-Celeste Schreuder & Julia K. Bentley............................................................................................................................7 The Importance of Identity: Integrating Adolescent Students’ Identity in the Classroom through Literacy-Based Practices and Student Choice by Leslie D. Roberts................................................................ 14 Place Matters Supporting the Literacy Development of Young Children Living in Rural Poverty by Kavin Ming, Tenisha Powell, & Tammy Burnham.............................................................................................................. 19 Designing Purpose and Engagement for Disciplinary Reading in Secondary Schools by PhillipWilder & Lorraine A. Jacques...................................................................................................................................... 26 Research Matters Socratic Discussions: A Reading Discussion Activity by Suzanne Horn, Kristal Curry, Savannah Scarborough & Sarah Vicini......................................................................... 30 Teaching Matters Making Comb-bound Books in the Classroom by Jamie Price, Lindsay Lester, Kayla Knupp, LaShay Jennings & Edward J. Dwyer................................................... 37 Discussing Books Across Grade Levels by Audrey Jennings & Amy Fortner................................................................ 41 Literature Matters Predators, Party Gowns, and Photographers: A Children’s Literature Review Column for Teachers by Jonda McNair with Sarah Cook, Ellie Corbin, Madison Gardner, Hanna Gibson, Madeleine Kennedy, Olivia Loynes, Carlie Moseley, Charlotte Neidenbach, Audrey Rick, Evie Rogers, Caitlyn Smoldt & Estefania Wilt............................................................................................................................ 44
SCIRA Executive Board/Officers 2018-2019 President Vickie Brockman email@example.com President-Elect Susan Fernandez firstname.lastname@example.org Treasurer Eddie Marshall EddieMarshall@lcsd56.org Corresponding Secretary Christine Corbett email@example.com Executive Secretary Judy Redman firstname.lastname@example.org Recording Secretary Carolyn Gillens email@example.com Membership Director Jean Brewington firstname.lastname@example.org
Editors Sarah Hunt-Barron, Ph.D. University of South Carolina Upstate Jacquelynn Malloy, Ph.D. Clemson University
Editorial Review Board Lisa Akers, Ph.D.
Clemson University Jamie Colwell, Ph.D. Old Dominion University Lea Calvert Evering, Ph.D. Seneca Middle School Susan Fernandez, Ph.D. Lander University Susan King Fullerton, Ph.D. Clemson University
Janie Riddle Goodman, Ph.D. University of South Carolina Kela Goodman, Ph.D. University of South Carolina Upstate Shawnna Helf, Ph.D. Winthrop University Emily Howell, Ph.D. Clemson, University Elizabeth Hughes, Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University Victoria Oglan, Ph.D. University of South Carolina Kelly Nelson Tracy, Ph.D. Western Carolina University
State Coordinator Pat Smith email@example.com
Lindsay Yearta, Ph.D. Winthrop University
Immediate Past President Dale Anthony firstname.lastname@example.org
CALL FOR MANUSCRIPTS SCIRA’s Reading Matters Classroom teachers, teacher educators, administrators, and researchers are invited to submit manuscripts to SCIRA’s professional journal, Reading Matters. Authors are requested to submit unpublished work not under consideration by any other publication. Types of Submissions: Reading Matters welcomes practical, theoretical, and research articles, generally no more than 15 pages, related to all areas of literacy. Articles should be clearly written, purposeful, and discuss the topic in some depth where treatment of the topic is interesting, insightful, and based on the writers’ experience. Brief commentary pieces on teaching literacy are welcomed, as well as short teaching tips, teacher or student poetry, vignettes of classroom experiences, and student writing and/or artwork (with parental permission). Manuscript Form: Manuscripts should follow APA 6 style guidelines. Please be sure to include an abstract. As manuscripts are subject to blind review, content should not reveal author identities or affiliations. Full references for all citations should be included, following APA guidelines. Submitting a Manuscript: Manuscripts should be typed in Microsoft Word and sent as an email attachment to email@example.com. When naming your file, please use simple, clear file names. Include a cover page giving the author(s)’ names, affiliation, complete mailing address, email address, and home and work telephone numbers. Manuscripts will be peer reviewed and edited for style, content, and space limitations by the editor. The Review Process: Manuscripts undergo a blind-review process, with at least two reviewers from the Editorial Review Board. Acceptance decisions are based on interest and relevance to SCIRA membership, usefulness, clarity, timeliness, and cohesiveness. The overall balance of the journal’s content also influences editors’ selections. Manuscript Deadline: July 1, 2019
Reading Matters Make it Matter Reading Matters Make it Matter
Each year the South Carolina Council of the International Literacy Association brings you an annual edition of Reading Matters . Sarah Hunt-Barron and Jacquelynn Malloy, co-editors, work diligently with committee members to produce a quality professional journal to support literacy educators. On behalf of SCIRA, I am honored as this year’s president to bring greetings in this 2019 edition. Reading Matters articles are contributed by educators and other professionals committed to the continuous improvement of literacy instruction. As an organization, we appreciate and value the submissions. It is our hope that you are challenged and inspired by this edition. SCIRA is a non-profit organization of educators and individuals who support literacy education in South Carolina. The state council is an affiliate of the International Literacy Association and includes twenty-two local councils. Our goal is the improvement of literacy. Through an annual
conference, literacy workshop, newsletters, journal, website and social media, SCIRA provides professional development for educators. Members are encouraged to grow professionally through scholarship opportunities, grants for Teachers as Readers, Literature Grants, Family Literacy Grants, Membership Incentives and Community Service Grant Awards. If you would like more information concerning our organization, please visit our website, www.scira.org . Also, mark your calendar for the 44th annual SCIRA conference, To Literacy with Love, scheduled for February 14- 16, 2019, at the Marriott Resort and Spa, Hilton Head. Susan Fernandez, President Elect and her committees are preparing an outstanding conference program. We hope to see you there.
Vickie Brockman 2018-2019 SCIRA President
Letter from the Editors
Sarah Hunt-Barron & Jacquelynn Malloy
literacy instruction through book-making is shared (Price et al.), with specific tips for making these activities successful in your classroom. As always, Jonda McNair and her students offer reviews of the latest and greatest in children’s literature that is sure to expand and enhance your classroom library. We are proud to serve you, the teachers and teacher educators who ensure an
It is with pleasure that we bring you this 18th edition of ReadingMatters . Teachers and teacher-educators throughout our state responded to our
latest call for student-centered literacy practices with a variety of articles that seemed to demonstrate, quite well, that we are teaching literacies in a changing world. This issue has everything from research to teaching tips to classroom success stories. We hope you will find these articles relevant to your own contexts and classrooms. In this issue of RM , you’ll find articles focused on the importance of choice for our students, using choice to address reading gender gaps (Schreuder & Bentley), as well as emphasizing choice in identity development (Roberts). We see the importance of place emerge, as Kavin Ming, Taneisha Powell, and Tammy Burnham explore literacy development in rural communities and PhillipWilder and Lorraine Jacques explore disciplinary literacy in science classrooms centered around the South Carolina mid-state floods of 2015. Socratic seminars and the importance of talk are examined through a researcher’s lens (Horn, Curry, Scarborough, and Vicini) and ideas for hands-on
excellent education grounded in literacy for all. This is our last issue as editors of Reading Matters and we are grateful for having the opportunity to serve our literacy community. Our next issue of Reading Matters will be edited by Koti Hubbard, who is sure to put together a fantastic journal. Please consider sharing your classroom practices and research. We look forward to hearing your voices in our next issue of Reading Matters .
Addressing Reading Gender Gaps and Combatting Masculinized Curriculum
By Mary-Celeste Schreuder & Julia Kate Bentley, Clemson University
How Have Researchers and Policy Makers Explained the Gap? Although there is some evidence the gap has lessened in recent years, educators remain concerned about boys’ literacy development (Loveless, 2015). Unsurprisingly, educational stakeholders have attempted to identify the source of the reading gender gap in order to institute reforms to close it. Some assert the assessments themselves are to blame as they contain more open response items, which girls tend to perform better on due to the more complex expressive language skills, writing ability, and use of background knowledge required compared to multiple choice questions (Brozo et al., 2014; Schwabe, McElvany, & Trendtel, 2015). When open response items were removed from consideration on PISA, Brozo and colleagues (2014) found there was no gender gap. Regardless of item type, the use of standardized assessments to measure literacy abilities is problematic. These assessments are inauthentic and decontextualized from most students’ home and school lives. Such tests inevitably lead to a deficit view of those whose skills do not match the narrow definition of academic literacy measured in these assessments (Wixson, Valencia, & Lipson, 1994). Voyer and Voyer (2014) found internationally girls receive better grades than boys, regardless of actual ability. As girls tend to be more successful at school literacies, it is unsurprising they outperform boys on tests that measure these skills. Others attempting to explain the gap blame boys for their lack of motivation and interest in reading. Research shows increased motivation to read leads to more time spent reading, which, in turn, leads to increased reading ability (Logan & Johnston, 2009). McGeown, Goodwin, Henderson, andWright (2012) used results from the Motivation to Read Questionnaire to support their claim that girls have much higher levels of intrinsic reading motivation. Girls’ higher scores on measures of intrinsic motivation are influenced by their reading self-concept and the value they place on reading (Boerma, Mol, & Jolles, 2016; Logan & Johnston, 2009; Logan & Medford, 2011). Self-concept is best defined as “a person’s self-perceptions formed through experience with their environment” (Boerma et al., 2016, p. 550). A child’s reading self-concept is built through environmental and cultural experiences during childhood that inevitably includes messages about gender norms in relation to subject ability. Boerma and colleagues (2016) found boys displayed stronger self-concepts in math and girls displayed stronger self-concepts in reading, and this belief appeared to grow with age. While boys and girls often have equal reading self-efficacy, girls place greater value on reading (Marinak & Gambrell, 2010). As Logan and Johnston (2009) assert, the magnitude of the gap has more to do with attitude than actual ability. However, although women continue to have higher motivation to read throughout life, the
Reading Matters Choice Matters
“Young girls are much, much better readers than boys, and have been for a long time” (Klein, 2015). This startling statement was a headline for a 2015 article in The Huffington Post which explained, through empirical evidence, the international phenomenon of girls outperforming boys in reading achievement for the past four decades. Although standardized tests are not new, they have been given increased attention and control over educational decisions in the past two decades. The passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) (2001) in the United States placed greater emphasis on accountability for a standardized curriculum. In a climate where teachers are expected to assure all students regardless of gender, race, culture, or linguistic background have the same academic abilities as measured by national and international assessments, a gender difference in reading ability must be addressed. The gender reading achievement gap is a concern for educators of all grade levels. Kindergarten screening tests show girls have stronger literacy skills than boys before formal schooling begins (Burkam, LoGerfo, Ready, & Lee, 2007). This early achievement gap continues to widen as students progress through the grades (Loveless, 2015). Secondary gender achievement gaps culminate in college readiness exams, such as the ACT where girls continuously outperform boys in the arts/literature subcategory of the reading section (Conrad-Curry, 2011). Additionally, boys are more likely to drop out of high school (Stillwell, 2010), and male college enrollment is declining (National Center for Education Statistics, 2016; OECD, 2002). As the workforce creates new jobs and places increased demands on existing jobs that traditionally did not require advanced literacy skills, the lower levels of educational attainment for males will have significant economic consequences (Conrad-Curry, 2011; Marks, 2008). The stronger performance of girls on literacy assessments is not an exclusively American problem. According to the PIRLS assessment administered in 50 countries by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), 4th grade girls throughout the world are outperforming boys (Loveless, 2015). The achievement gap is twice as large on the PISA, which tests 15-year-olds from 65 countries. On the PISA 2012, all countries had a gap, ranging from 23 to 62 points, with the U.S. demonstrating a 31 point difference (Loveless, 2015). The PISA 2009 also reported girls enjoy reading more, spend more free time reading, and read a greater diversity of texts (Brozo Sulkunen, Shiel, Garbe, Pandian, & Valtin, 2014). Girls Outperform Boys from Kindergarten to High School
gap between males and females changes in adulthood, with older men actually outperforming women (Loveless, 2015).
“disadvantaged” in need of direct and immediate remediation (Watson & Kehler, 2012). Overall, the goal of the EDU guides was to engage boys and increase male literacy achievement “through gender-specific and explicitly boy-friendly instructional practices that cater to boys’ innate strengths and interests” (p. 47). Problems with Boy-Friendly Reforms While masculinized curriculum may at first appear to be a reasonable answer to the gender achievement gap, further analysis reveals several problems. Particularly, boy-friendly policies are insufficient because they treat all male students as a homogenized group with the same abilities, learning preferences, and interests. Such one-size-fits-all gender stereotyped curriculum does not value the individual literacy practices of students. Each child acquires a unique repertoire of literacy practices from interactions with their families and communities (Gonzalez, Moll, & Amanti, 2005; Heath, 1983; Knobel & Lankshear, 2015; Street, 1995). By looking solely at literacy policy through a gender binary lens, educators neglect the deeper social aspects associated with language acquisition and literacy practices. In a case study conducted by Watson and Kehler (2012), the authors asserted “Boys are not all the same and cannot be treated as a homogenous group. They bring different social and cultural backgrounds to the literacy classroom and these need to be given serious consideration” (p. 51). Their study focused on Scott who struggled in his English class and felt disconnected from the texts (which were purposefully chosen for boy-friendly content). The research revealed Scott’s disengagement with his English course was not dependent on masculine curriculum but on the relational practicality of the content. By laying aside assumptions of gender roles and viewing students as whole people, achievement gaps may naturally diminish. Furthermore, the narrow definition of literacy used within schools has led to a disconnect between the literate practices of students’ home and school life. For example, the Motivation to Read Profile used in the research of Marinak and Gambrell (2010) and Boerma et al. (2016) is composed of reading self-concept items that refer solely to academic literacy practices, such as reading a novel or a nonfiction text. It is also important to note the type of reading valued in the survey items which included questions about going to the library, hearing books read aloud in class, and receiving books as gifts (Marinak and Gambrell, 2010). Clearly, “value” refers to the dominant reading practices taking place in school; yet, most reading in school is disconnected from everyday literate practices (Watson, 2011; Watson & Kehler, 2012). According to Gee (2007), children are motivated to read in other domains and contexts in out-of-school life. It is important then to consider the impact of including survey items that address many different types of reading, such as mobile phone texts, rap lyrics, blogs, tweets, video game instructions, and Instagram posts, to better gauge the true literate practices of boys. Thus, before suggestions in altering curriculum can be made, the fundamental reasons for the gender gap in reading achievement must be explored in greater depth and should include research into sociocultural factors such as culture, race, socioeconomic status, and family background.
Yet another explanation for the gap is girl-friendly school policies. Historically, males had more access to education than females. In the interest of equality, many countries instituted policies over the past century to improve the educational attainment of girls (Conrad-Curry, 2011; Marks, 2008). For example, because Finland is often lauded for its exceptional education system and top scores on the PISA, they are often used in the United States as a model for suggested reforms (Jackson, 2015; Tung, 2012). Yet, they have the largest gender gap of any PISA country. Were PISA to only report the performance of Finland’s male students, the country would be considered average (Loveless, 2015). Some seeking to explain the gender reading gap claim, like Finland, many countries are ignoring the needs of its male populations in order to advance female educational achievement. Attempting to Make the CurriculumMore Boy-Friendly In order to counteract inequalities believed to be caused by girl-friendly policies, many intervention strategies have focused on masculinizing curriculum to better appeal to boys. Advocates of boy-friendly reforms believe schools are feminized spaces which fail to prepare boys properly for high stakes testing (Watson & Kehler, 2012). They seek to defeminize schooling through three specific modifications: employing male focused pedagogical practices and classroom content, single-sex English classes, and more male role-models/teachers in the classroom (Brozo et al., 2014; Henry, Lagos, & Berndt, 2012; Watson, 2011; Watson & Kehler, 2012). Male focused pedagogical practices include the use of “boy books”, boy only book discussion groups, and multimodal texts (Henry et al., 2012). Further, these approaches “will cater to boys’ natural learning styles and interests” (Watson & Kehler, 2012, p. 46). Whether these reforms will increase boys’ reading motivation and if increased motivation will translate into increased literacy achievement remains to be seen. Several countries have enacted nation and state-wide boy- friendly initiatives to combat the gender reading achievement gap. To illustrate, Brozo et al. (2014) examined the approaches taken in Germany to increase boys’ interest in reading. In order to demonstrate reading is not an innately feminine task, numerous German employers encouraged fathers to read in front of and to their sons through a program entitled “My Daddy Reads to Me! A Reading Aloud Service for Fathers in Their Workplace” (p. 590). The program delivered weekly boy-friendly reading materials to fathers with the expectation of bolstering male literacy practices in the home. Also, schools in the German state of Baden- Württemberg recruited professional soccer players to partner with students on literacy projects, attempting to hook boys into the existing curriculum. Both initiatives hope to improve boys’ reading scores on the next iteration of PISA testing. Moreover, the Ontario Ministry of Education (EDU) website recently distributed several documents outlining specific strategies to implement in classrooms in order to improve boys’ literacy (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2004, 2009). The guides categorized males as literacy
in repairing boys’ identities as readers and writers (Gee, 2007). Perhaps then, the perceived reading achievement gap is due to the discourses of power promoted at school rather than the actual reading comprehension skills of students. Therefore, it is imperative for schools to move away from curriculum that promotes dominant literacy and focus instead on valuing the home literacy and learning of students by incorporating such knowledge into classroom curriculum (Gonzalez et al., 2005). Text Selection When considering the need to widen the definition of valued literacy, the area of text selection reveals great potential for harnessing boys’ individual literacy practices. Typical classroom curriculum promotes fiction books or novels as the valued reading material in school. According to one study, over 85% of books in elementary classroom libraries across a large district were paperback fiction texts (Doiron, 2007). While fiction is the favored text of females, boys typically prefer non-fiction texts or readings that pertain to purposeful and practical life application (Boltz, 2007; Doiron, 2007; Harkrader & Moore, 1997; Marinak & Gambrell, 2010; Merisuo-Storm, 2006; Simpson, 1996; Watson & Kehler, 2012). Thus, to enact true curriculum change, educators will need to do more than simply incorporate a novel with a male protagonist into the syllabus. Curriculum will need to make space for diverse texts and literate practices that appeal to the individual interests of students. For example, when creating a text set, teachers can maintain their primary print text while also adding maps, graphs, picture books, Youtube videos, websites, and graphic novels. In fact, research shows that when using diversified texts, both genders benefit: “PISA results indicate that students who read fiction, nonfiction, magazines, newspapers, and other traditional and electronic print sources have the highest levels of engagement and achievement” (Brozo et al., 2014, p. 591). Two countries addressing the male reading achievement gap through text selection are Germany and Ireland. In 2012, a researcher at the University of Cologne and a children’s book author collaborated in the creation of an internet website ( Boys and Books ) promoting the reading interests of boys. The website was aimed at males aged 6 through 18 and endorsed texts and literacy activities that boys found engaging (Brozo et al., 2014). Furthermore, in Ireland in 2011, the Department of Education launched a nation-wide initiative called the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy (NSILN). The implementation of the NSILN was a direct reaction to the continued gender gap apparent in the PISA data. The strategy required changes in curriculum, including the “need to provide boys with more opportunities to engage with nonliterary texts and other texts in which they show an interest” (p. 589). The NSILN also addressed the importance of disciplinary literacy along with increasing student engagement with diverse texts across all subject areas. Digital Texts. In widening the type of texts used in the classroom, it is important to consider digital media and technology as valuable texts. In the past, print-based texts were promoted in the classroom with digital texts relegated to out-of-school activities. Yet, research shows boys prefer digital-based texts
Recommendations Boy-friendly policies in literacy education do not exist yet in the United States due in part to the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2001 and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2009 (Brozo et al., 2014). Neither education policy outlines goals for closing the reading gender achievement gap, rather it was believed that NCLB and CCSS would naturally narrow achievement gaps across all subject areas. However, many argue the higher achievement level demanded by CCSS will only exacerbate the problem by widening the literacy gap based on demographic characteristics such as socioeconomic status, race, and gender. For this reason, we adhere to a sociocultural perspective of education which asserts knowledge and learning are constructed through human interaction and are products of one’s social and cultural community (Bakhtin, 1981; Vygotsky, 1978). According to Vygotsky (1978), “learning is a necessary and universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organized, specifically human psychological functions” (p. 90). In essence, knowledge is not a static entity transmitted from teacher to student but a collaborative process in which new learning is constructed through multiple and diverse lived experiences (Langer, 2011). Students, then, enter classrooms with pre-existing language and literacy knowledge grounded in the cultural, social, and historical worlds of their out-of-school lives. Gonzalez, Moll, and Amanti (2005) encourage teachers to use these funds of knowledge to plan an authentic and motivating curriculum for their students. In our recommendations for addressing the literacy gender gap, we posit this begins by expanding what literacies and texts are valued and utilized in the classroom. Further, we suggest teachers should give students more autonomy in selecting the texts they read in school. Valued Literacy Because “literacy is defined by increasingly narrow terms in schools” (Curwood, 2013, p. 425), educators must be diligent in introducing a wide variety of literacies to students in order to prevent the stigma of devalued literacy practices in the classroom. According to Street (1995), “schooled literacy turns out to be the product of western assumptions about schooling, power, and knowledge rather than being necessarily intrinsic to literacy itself” (p. 110). Thus, students from diverse backgrounds have significant funds of knowledge that enhance and support literacy practices learned in the home; however, these diverse home literacies are not valued in the classroom (Gonzalez et al., 2005; Street, 1995). Take for example the ethnographic study conducted by Kirkland (2013) which spotlights the highly undervalued and oftentimes invisible literate practices of African American boys—whose “language was an element of their being” (p. 73). Tattoos, raps, magazines, and newspaper articles about sports were all highly valued reading material in these young men’s homes because they “bore witness to…Black masculine cultures” (p. 73). Yet, these texts are often dismissed as irrelevant in the classroom because they did not align with the discourse of power (White, middle-class) prevalent in the education system. By incorporating the individually valued literacy practices of students in school curriculum, educators confirm the worth of diverse literacy practiced by boys and aid
(Henry et al., 2012; Huang, Liang, & Chiu, 2013; Roy & Chi, 2003; Ziming & Huang, 2008), and the reading achievement gap narrows when boys and girls are tested on digital reading (Brozo et al., 2014). Indeed, digital media is rapidly becoming the norm for literacy practice, and schools must harness student interest in digital literacy to appeal to this technologically savvy generation. In a study out of the University of Florida, researchers created a program called Digital Booktalk in order to appeal to technologically minded students. The program involved the use of digital resources to create a book trailer, and findings of the study revealed participants’ attained a heightened value of reading and greater interest in books (Henry et al., 2012). Due to the fact that many schools have moved to a one- to-one program design, digital texts are more accessible than ever before. For this reason, we recommend that teachers always offer students the choice of reading classroom material from digital texts. While some students may prefer traditional printed text, EBooks offer several benefits that motivate and aid student reading, such as the ability to adjust font size, utilize the digital dictionary and thesaurus, take notes, and use the text-to-speech feature (Larson, 2010; Thoermer &Williams, 2012). These features of manipulation give students autonomy over their own learning which aids in student reading success (Larson, 2010). For students not yet reading independently, several websites offer interactive read-alouds that display picture book illustrations alongside the text. Storyline Online (www. storylineonline.net) is one such website sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild Association “featuring well-known actors and actresses…who read aloud children’s stories (Thoermer &Williams, 2012). Thoermer &Williams (2012) recommend using digital read-alouds for student activation of background knowledge, choral reading, and fluency/prosody practice. A final recommendation for incorporating digital texts into classroom curriculum is to engage students in self-created digital content. In particular, fanfiction is an excellent arena for students to explore the interaction of reading and writing. Websites, such as fanfiction.net, give students a platform to publish their own written stories while also encouraging writers to review each other’s work via instant messaging and discussion boards. While fanfiction may at first appear unsuitable for the classroom, Alvermann (2008) argues that “audience appeal” and the in-depth discussions that organically originate around student chosen reading and original writing “are the main factors in young people’s decisions to create” (p. 10). Video Games. Correspondingly, computer games are another area of digital literacy needed in the classroom in order to engage students in literate practices that are typically undervalued in school. To illustrate, students who may not classify themselves as “readers”within the traditional school definition are often willing to participate with the literate practices that video games afford. During most games, players encounter a great many written texts, including “notes, e-mail, diaries, and messages” (Gee, 2007, p. 96), along with the game’s backstory and instructions found in the manual. Players are also encouraged to read video game websites and magazines in order to learn new strategies of play
and to further their participation by writing reviews of the games themselves. According to Gee (2007), video game design is a model for school learning and ideal for engaging reluctant learners. While a plethora of educational video games are available to students, we recommend incorporating popular role-playing video games into classroom curriculum. For example, games focused on building new worlds, such as SimCity , Civilization III , and Second Life , provide students with the opportunity to participate in new identities through role-play in order to view their world from a different perspective. Specifically, Sqire (2005) researched the use of Civilization III in a large urban high school, he found the game allowed students to interact with historical events and consider “hypothetical historical scenarios, such as the conditions under which a Native American tribe might have successfully resisted European settlement or even colonized Europe” (p. 2). Beyond just playing video games, we recommend students participate in making their own. By using software to create games, students engage in informational writing (e.g., walkthroughs and instructions) and narrative writing (e.g., backstory and scripts) while also using interpretive writing to actually design the game (Alvermann, 2008; Burn, 2007). A good place for students to start is with interactive fiction—a digital version of choice-based narratives, such as the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. Easy to use authoring tools include, Inform (http://inform7. com/), Twine (http://twinery.org/), and Inklewriter (https:// www.inklestudios.com/inklewriter/education/) (Farber, 2015). Text Choice. Another vital change needed in all US classrooms is greater opportunity for student text choice. Often classroom lessons and activities center on an individual text read by the entire class. This is detrimental to boys’ reading engagement because teacher text selections often have greater appeal for females than for males due to a bias toward female protagonists and emotive based narratives (Boltz, 2007; Doiron, 2007; Harkrader & Moore, 1997; Simpson, 1996). Yet, simply selecting more boy-friendly texts to be read by the entire class is not sufficient and runs the risk of also isolating the female learners in the classroom. For instance, a case study by Watson and Kehler (2012) on a high school English class found that the implementation of a book about boats, which was considered boy-friendly, did not appeal to the majority of boys. The authors concluded, “choosing reading materials to address [student] interests and needs is complex” (p. 50). A one-size-fits-all reading curriculum will inevitably polarize students, appealing to a handful while disengaging the rest. In fact, Marinak and Gambrell (2010) found personal choice of texts is one of the greatest methods to enhance the intrinsic reading motivation of children. Thus, boys need agency in selecting books for themselves which connect to their personal interests and reflect their life experiences (Henry et al., 2012; Merisuo-Storm, 2006; Watson & Kehler, 2012). One of the most popular ways to incorporate student text choice into curriculum is through literature circles or book clubs. Emerging in the early 1980s, literature circles have become a widely accepted and adaptable practice in all grade levels and subjects (Daniels, 2002; 2006). In literature circles (or book clubs), groups are formed around a common student selected text with all reading schedules and discussions structured by each individual group
Bowers-Campbell, J. (2011). Take it out of class: Exploring virtual literature circles. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy , 54 (8), 557-567.
(Daniels, 2002). By giving students autonomy and ownership of their own learning, literature circles have proven to increase student motivation, comprehension, and critical thinking skills (Bowers-Campbell, 2011; Klages, Pate, & Conforti, 2007). Several websites, such as Readwritethink.org, offer detailed plans for starting literature circles in the classroom. While the original print- based format of literature circles is acceptable, we recommend updating to a digital format. Online or virtual literature circles often involve a hybrid approach of face-to-face and online meetings (Bowers-Campbell, 2011). For example, online discussion boards or social media threads are an excellent resource for small group dialogue which allows all student voices to be heard (Daniels, 2006). These exchanges also engage students in writing that focuses on the skills of “summarizing, citing, clarifying, analyzing, interpreting, and questioning the text (Bowers-Campbell, 2011, p. 562). The options of online discussion platforms are numerous, but the most accessible and prevalent software for the classroom are phpBB, Edublogs, Educircles, and Moodle. Conclusion Clearly, large-scale research studies show that girls score higher on reading achievement assessments than boys (Brozo et al., 2014; Conrad-Curry, 2011; Loveless, 2015; Martin, Mullis, & Kennedy, 2003). Researchers’ explanations for this achievement gap include biased assessments favoring female strengths (Brozo et al., 2014; Schwabe et al., 2015), a lack of reading motivation in boys (Logan & Medford, 2011; Marinak & Gambrell, 2010; McGeown et al., 2012), and feminized school environments and policies (Conrad- Curry, 2011; Loveless, 2015; Marks, 2008). As a response to the data, intervention strategies encourage teachers to masculinize curriculum, but critics assert that masculine interventions result in gender stereotyping and greater disparity between genders. Therefore, we propose a sociocultural lens to guide further interventions, focusing on the individual interests of students and thereby rejecting the concept of boys as a homogenous group. Recommendations for gender-equitable interventions include broader text selection and student text choice in classroom curriculum which also comprises more extensive use of digital texts. In final consideration, a one-size-fits-all curriculum does not adequately address the reading needs of boys (or girls); therefore, valuing the individual literacy practices of students is essential to bridge the gender reading achievement gap. References Alvermann, D. E. (2008). Why bother theorizing adolescents’online literacies for classroom practice and research?. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy , 52 (1), 8-19.
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Wixson, K. K., Valencia, S. W., & Lipson, M. Y. (1994). Issues in literacy assessment: Facing the realities of internal and external assessment. Journal of Reading Behavior, 26 , 315-337. Ziming, L., & Huang, X. (2008). Gender differences in the online reading environment. Journal of Documentation, 64 (4): 616-626. Mary-Celeste Schreuder, M.Ed., is a doctoral student at Clemson University in the Literacy, Language, and Culture program. As a former high school English teacher, Mary’s research interests include secondary English education, gender identity, and young adult literature. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reading Matters Choice Matters
Julia Kate Bentley is a former elementary school teacher and current PhD student in the Literacy, Language, and Culture program at Clemson University. Her research interests include the role gender plays in children’s literacy development, children’s literature, and family literacy. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
The Importance of Identity: Integrating Adolescent Students’ Identity in the Classroom through Literacy-Based Practices and Student Choice
By Leslie D. Roberts, Clemson University
Reading Matters Choice Matters
The Importance of Identity McCarthy and Moje (2002) suggest that “[i]dentity shapes the way individuals make sense of world and their experiences in it, including their experiences with texts” (p. 228). Identity is the way that we are perceived by others and it outlines the ways that others interact with us, depending on our understanding of our own identity. Students may treat one another in a certain way depending upon the perceived identity of their peers. Adolescent students’ identity, however, is complex and ever-changing because it is heavily influenced by their social interactions with others, or by their exposure to various spaces (Black, 2009; Faircloth, 2012; Gutiérrez, 2008; Hall, Johnson, Juzwik, Wortham, & Mosley, 2010; McCarthy & Moje, 2002). Adolescent students’ identity can be fluid as they move from space to space and interact with a variety of people. Research and teaching experience suggest the positive effects of integrating a student’s’ identity in the classroom (Bakhtin, 1981; Holland, Skinner, Lachicotte, & Cain, 1998; McCarthey & Moje, 2002; Vygotsky, 1978). When students are able to personally identify and make a connection with classroom instruction and learning, they are more likely to participate, appreciate the relevance to their everyday lives, and possess a higher value of learning (Ivey, 1999; Wigfield & Eccles, 2000). Students often express their identity through literate practices both in and outside the classroom. Therefore, the integration of students’ identity in the classroom could afford teachers the opportunity to support their students’ literary practices and instill a greater value of learning. The Relationship between Identity and Literacy Researchers describe literacy as a social phenomenon, something that individuals cannot participate in nor practice in isolation (Bakhtin, 1981; New London Group, 1996; Street, 1984). Further, the general idea of literacy and literate practices has advanced from the language modes of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Literacy and literate practices, known as the ‘new literacies’, encapsulate areas such as digital literacy, computer literacy, media literacy, information literacy, technology literacy, visual literacy, multimodal literacy, and multicultural literacy (Gee, 1996; Hall et al., 2010; Lankshear & Knobel, 2011; Leu, Everett-Cacopardo, Zawilinski, McVerry, & O’Byrne, 2007; New London Group, 1996; Williams, 2008). It is important to note that this list of new literacies is not all-encompassing. Just as technology improves and is refined, the definitions of literacy and literate practices are also improved and refined: “The
new literacies are not just new today, they will be even newer tomorrow and even newer next week” (Leu et al., 2007, p. 38).
Adolescent students often voluntarily participate in various literate practices both in and outside of school on a daily basis. These literate practices, which often accompany informal social interactions, are often the vehicle adolescent students choose to represent their identity (Bartlett, 2007; Gee, 1996, Knobel & Lankshear, 2014; McCarthy & Moje, 2002; Moje, 2000). Because there is such a wide milieu of socially-based, multimodal literate practices, students often use these practices as a way to construct their identities in relation or opposition to the constraints of gender, race, culture, and social class (McCarthy & Moje, 2002). As adolescent students mature and refine their literacy skills, so too does their identity shift in refinement as well. Therefore, in order to support adolescent students’ growth in literacy, it is advantageous to integrate their identity within literary practices and literacy instruction in the classroom. Integrating Students’ Identity through Literacy-Based Practices Adolescent students often undergo numerous shifts in their identity development. This creates the perfect opportunity for teachers to help mediate the process of students’ identity development through the implementation of literacy-based practices in the classroom. Using texts to integrate student’s identity in the classroom. A commonly known practice that teachers use to incorporate students’ identity in the classroom is to choose texts based on their supposed perception of their students’ identities. However, some teachers may find this to be a difficult task considering how multifaceted many of their students are. For reluctant readers who are hesitant to choose their own books, teachers could choose books for their middle/secondary students that portray a more general theme, plot, or protagonist that many students could relate to (McCarthy & Moje, 2002). For example, the theme of the struggle of finding one’s self is a generalized theme that many adolescent students could connect. Common themes found in middle school literature such as acceptance, family, courage, perseverance, friendship, loyalty, compassion, etc. could inspire students to connect these themes to an instance in their own life for a future writing project or other extension. Considering the fluctuating nature of adolescent students’ identity, introducing students to books they cannot personally identify with at the current time does not necessarily mean