My Literacy Journey

Posts Tagged ‘Implications for My Classroom

Sharing that pain with others reawakens the interrelationship between others’ pain and our suffering.  It builds a community based not so much on our own suffering but on the suffering of all those we encounter. And that invites our compassion; it invites action“. (Bomer & Bomer, 2001, p. 174).

This quote captures the heart of what the Bomer’s stand for in terms of social justice locally and in broader terms.  Their text For A Better World, has really influenced a lot of what I stand for in terms of social justice in my classroom today.  One specific activity that I tried out myself begins with the prompt: I Could Not Tell…

If implemented seriously, this activity has the power to uncover things that were never spoken about before in classrooms. It can create a sense of community where students feel safe to share their fears, their failures, and their lives.  Literacy has the power to do all of this, if we let it.  I plan to utilize the work of the Bomer’s in my classroom to the fullest extent, especially this prompt.


After Reading Kliewer’s text from this course as well as a text called A Land We Can Share by  Paula Kluth and Kelly Chandler-Olcott, I really got to thinking even more about how I see students as literate beings.  I truly stand for the inclusion of all students and broadening my conceptions/perceptions about what it means to be literate, who is literate, and what communication really means. In addition to these powerful texts, the works of Gee, Scribner, and McDermott & Varenne also stand out to me.  As an educator who is fully dedicated to the inclusion of all students, and seeing literacy as a way for people to communicate, I am working on expanding how I think about planning lessons, activities, and the ways in which students can interact with literacy in my classroom. As a framework for planning lessons and activities, I plan to utilize Gardner’s multiple intelligences as one way to think about universally designing my lessons.  I also plan on incorporating multiple means in which students can demonstrate their literacy learning. This includes: drama, art, drawing, song writing, the list is endless.

Gardeners Multiple Intelligences

Try to address an array of the intelligences to meet the needs of all learners








Body Kinesthetic

Verbal/Linguistic: Spoken/written words Musical: Rhythm and sound
Naturistic: Relating information to natural surroundings Intrapersonal: Thinking metacognitively/reflecting; understanding oneself
Interpersonal: Interacting with others Logical/Mathematical: Logic, reasoning, numbers
Visual/Spacial: Ability to visualize (think in pictures); spacial judgment Body Kinesthetic: Physical awareness (movement, making/touching things)

One of the most powerful articles I read this semester was the Comber et al. article. The authors discuss taking local action based on students’ perceptions, wants, fears, and thoughts about their own neighborhood. This was extremely powerful because the students were able to see that their thoughts and perceptions about their neighborhood truly mattered to their teacher. They also saw literacy and their own writing as a way to take social action and were able to see how literacy and engaging in writing can truly make a difference in their own lives.  This study was very powerful to read and has influenced me to always keep these sort of questions and activities in the back of my mind. Next year, I plan to do a similar activity and ask students:

1) Draw/Write about the best things in your life.

2) Draw/Write about something that makes you really happy.

3) Draw/Write about something that makes you really angry.

4)Draw/Write about something that makes you worried.

5) Draw/Write your three wishes.

6) Draw/Write about something you wish you could change in your neighborhood, school, or world.

Source: Comber, B., Thomson, P., & Wells, M. (2001). Critical literacy finds a “place”: Writing and social action in a low-income Australian grade 2/3 classroom. The Elementary School Journal, 101(4), 451-464.

I can imagine just how informative, powerful, and exciting this activity will be with my future students in the South Bronx. I want students to truly see the power of literacy and just how much what they say and how they feel matters in their worlds.

Reading the World in the Word:

Key Linguistic Features for a Critical Analysis of Texts

Linguistic feature Explanation of the linguistic feature Example of the linguistic feature

Lexicalization The selection/choice of words. Different words construct the same idea differently.
Overlexicalization Many words for the same phenomenon
Relexicalization Renaming
Metaphor Used for yolking ideas together and for the discursive construction of new ideas.
Euphemism Hides negative actions or implications
Transitivity Processes in verbs: Are they verbs of …

  • Doing—material process
  • Being or having—relational processes
  • Thinking/ feeling/ perceiving—mental processes
  • Saying—verbal processes
  • Physiological—behavioral processes
Voice Active and passive voice constructs participants as doers or as “done-tos.” Passive voice allows for the deletion of the agent.
Nominalization: a verb is turned into a noun A process is turned into a thing or an event without participants or tense or modality.

Central mechanism for reification.

Modality: degrees of certainty Logical possibility/ probability

Social authority

Modality created by modals (may, might, could, will), adverbs (possibly, certainly, hopefully), intonation, tag questions (right?).

Pronouns Inclusive we

Exclusive we/ you

Us and them

Sexist/ non sexist pronouns:                  generic ‘he’

The choice of first/ second/ third person.

Definite article: the

Indefinite article: a

‘The’ is used for shared information—to refer to something mentioned before or that the addressee can be assumed to know about. Reveals textual presuppositions.


Janks, H. (1999). Key linguistic features for critical discourse analysis. Workshop presented at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY.

As I critically read texts personally, I really try to utilize this chart as a way to frame my thinking about the texts. I can definitely see the many benefits of using an organizer such of this in my own classroom, as I want students to be fully aware of all of the features of the texts they are reading. I never want them to fully accept a text as neutral of “right”. Being that I will be teaching first grade, I plan to make this organizer into a kid-friendly source for students to use/refer to when they are “reading” anything. Not only do I think this is important for literature, I plan to invite students to read all different kinds of texts so that they see and are aware of the world around them.

I also found the framework Jones (2006) uses for critically reading texts with her girls extremely powerful. i plan to do a lot of this kind of work with my students as well and feel that many of the questions she considers, are accessible for students everywhere to answer if this kind of thinking is scaffolded and explained beforehand.

Questions about Perspective

Readers can ask themselves…

  • Who could have created this text?
  • What can I guess about the perspective of the writer (designer/ speaker)?
  • Who are the intended audiences—how can I tell?
  • What does the author think about the intended audiences?
  • What readers might think the same as the author?
  • What readers might think something different?

Writers can ask themselves…

  • From what perspective am I creating this text?
  • What experiences are included and why?
  • What experiences are excluded and why?
  • Who will my readers be and what do I think about them?
  • How might a reader feel about this text if she/he has a different perspective?
  • Is there a way to create this text that is inclusive of more perspectives?

Questions about Positioning

Readers can ask themselves…

  • Who does the writer make her/himself out to be?
  • What perspectives, practices, and/or people are centered or valued in the text?
  • What perspectives, practices, and/or people are marginalized or devalued in the text?
  • What readers might feel like “insiders” reading this text?
  • What readers might be positioned as “outsiders” by this text?
  • How does this text position me?

Writers can ask themselves…

  • How do I position myself in this text? How might my readers envision me as the writer?
  • What perspectives, practices, and/or people are privileged, or centered, in my text and why?
  • What am I doing to readers with perspectives similar to those in this text?
  • What am I doing to readers with perspectives different from those in this text?
  • Is there a way that I can write this text to make more people feel like “insiders”?

Questions about Power

Readers can ask…

  • How is the author using power in this text?
  • Does the author use his or her power to repeat stereotypes or to challenge them?
  • Does the author invite readers to critique the text or is the text positioned as so-called truth?
  • Who, or what benefits from the power in this text?
  • Who, or what would not benefit from the power in this text?
  • What power relations might the author have had to negotiate through the publishing of this text?

Writers can ask…

  • What power relations do I negotiate as I write this text?
  • How do I use my power as author?
  • Do I use my power to repeat stereotypes or challenge them? Repeat social injustices or challenge them?
  • How can I make a text that doesn’t claim to represent the so-called truth but acknowledges that there are multiple truths or perspectives?

Source: Jones, S. (2006). Girls, social class, and literacy: What teachers can do to make a difference. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

As I have experienced and explored this semester, I have come to be so much more cognizant of the world around me.  As a primary teacher next year, I really think it is important for my students to read the world around them.  In addition to reading the world around them, I also think as an activity to build community in the classroom, I would have students “read” each other.

Reading the Neighborhood Might Go Something Like This:

!) Kids and I have a discussion prior about what reading the world means.

2) Discuss things that are of concern to them, things they like, don’t like etc.

3)Kids and I come up with a guide/questionairre to help guide them through reading the world

4) Kids go out and “read the world”

5) As a whole group we come back together to discuss our findings/readings.

6) Discuss what it is we might like to do with these readings/why they are important/what they mean.

Similar to the activity on reading our neighborhood, I would set up reading our classmates.  I would ask students to come up with a list of questions they would like to know about each other and also talk about their assumptions/what they thought before.  I would explain and help them discuss that this is a way to find out things about each other we didn’t know or thought differently about and connect to this to how literacy affects us in every part of our lives.

This is only a brief synopsis of what I could do with these findings.  I could see this being part of the critical literacy framework for the entire school year :).

Where I’m From

I’m from Birchwood Lane, the last house on the left.

I’m from Great Neck, New York, the town that holds my entire family.

I’m from Sunday morning bagels and lox to early dinner Sunday nights to prepare for the week.

I’m from dreidels and gelt on Chanukah to warm, colorful cashmere sweaters.

I’m from cupcakes, cupcakes, and more cupcakes.

I’m from mom’s noodle pudding, brisket, bubbling macaroni and cheese, and famous spaghetti and meatballs.

I’m from the captivating aromas in mom’s kitchen, to dad’s fresh-smelling cologne.

I’m from family bar and bat mitzvahs, to family vacations in Puerto Rico and St. Maarten.

I’m from destination Thanksgivings and family gatherings.

I’m from “six of one; half a dozen of the other” and “don’t count your chickens”.

I’m from “friends come and go but family is forever”.

I’m from Ernie barking, mom laughing, and guitars strumming.

I’m from long walks with Ernie, Andy-Boo’s concerts, Jdub’s tailwaiting, and dinner with mom and dad.

I’m from nine cousins, all who are my best friends.

I’m from grandma Milly, sharing my birthday.

I’m from lunch dates with Grandma Anita and Grandpa Bob.

I’m from my Great Neck house, my apartment in the city, and my life for four years in Florida.

I’m from Judaism, the only girl between two brothers, a loving family, and sensitivity.

By Carly Wotman

I sighed to myself as I read this for the first time in three months.  Where was my heart and soul? Why did it seem to be so in the surface? I was disappointed in my attempt to lay my heart out on the table for the world to see.  Was I afraid? Would people perceive me as different? After reading it over for the third time, I realized that what honesty and openness was missing.  I needed to open myself up to the world so that people could see how I was reading the world because of where I was from.

Where I’m From is far more than the physical places in which we are present in. It is how our experiences shape our perceptions about the world, our opinions, our sensitivities, and how we walk through life.  Had I attempted writing where I was from again, it would not only shed light on the positive experiences I have encountered in my life.  It would expose who I was because of the hardships I have faced, my fears, the challenges, and the good stuff that has given me faith to believe.


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  • Marjorie Siegel: This can be the greatest lesson of all to take into your career as a teacher!
  • Marjorie Siegel: This is such a powerful way to make critical literacy work meaningful in local settings and to focus on deconstruction, reconstruction, and social act
  • Marjorie Siegel: Another book that offers an excellent guild to critical literacy in a primary grade classroom is Vivian Vasquez's exploration of her own teaching with