Literacy matters: Five Things Every Teacher Should Know


Published on

This is the Power Point presentation that accompanied my keynote address at Sam Houston State University, February 23, 2013. For more information, please contact me at

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Thank you, Joyce, members of the planning committee, and students and teachers. I’m really excited to be here, and to talk about my passion, literacy! My claim to fame is that I spent 10 years in the public school system, grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, in FL, LA, MS, and TX. I taught regular education for most of those years, but I also taught special education one year. Most of those years were in 3rd and 5th grades, most were in air conditioned schools, and most were in public school settings. I love technology, but I have a love/hate relationship with my computer.
  • How’d that get in there? (to computer) I told you, not in public.(to crowd) Anyway- (next slide)
  • Now? You want to talk about this now? I told you, we have a special keynote speech at this conference. (thru clinched teeth) Can we talk about this later?
  • (to crowd) I’m so sorry about this!
  • So, as I was saying, I have also taught at Appalachian State University, here at Sam, the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and now I’m at the Baptist College of Florida. I’ve learned a lot from each setting, but my feelings about literacy have only strengthened through all of these grade levels and settings. What really matters in teaching? Literacy. One UNESCO report suggests that “Literacy should be understood within a rights based approach and among principles of inclusion for human development” (Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 2006). As a basic right, students should expect literacy training and development from every teacher, no matter the content or setting. Even under the stresses of standardized testing, Common Core State Standards, and other external pressures, teachers can successfully promote literacy development in any discipline and any school age. This morning, I want to offer you five things that every teacher needs. These aren’t the “Only things teachers need,” nor are they the “Five Hot topics in Teacher Education.” They are, however, five things to consider if teachers hope to be successful and effective.
  • So, these are the five P’s. . . And the five issues that effect literacy development that every teacher needs to know.
  • When did you start eating? And, what in the worldwould YOU eat, anyway?
  • Ugh! Are you going to let me do this speech, or are you going to keep interrupting?
  • So, these are the five P’s. . . And the five things that every teacher needs. It occurs to me at this point that we may have different perspectives on literacy – different things that we believe about literacy education. I think that as I go along with this presentation you will find points that we agree on. . . And if not, I encourage you to find me the rest of the day, and start a conversation!SO, the first “P” I want to talk about is the perspective of literacy.
  • “Perspective” stands for the “juicy” definition of literacy. You know, most people say that literacy is the ability to “read and write.” That may suffice for those outside of teaching, but it doesn’t capture the nuances of what we mean when we say someone is “literate.” Perspective is the main key to this video, titled, “4 Generations of a Water Buffalo.” literacy to young children is like bringing a Water Buffalo to this family. It matters. Children’s literacy development matters. So, to organize this presentation, I’d like to start by defining literacy. I went on a quest about 15 years ago, to “define literacy.” I thought a simple Google search would do it, but over a million hits came up (and this was in 1998!) and I realized quickly that my thinking was too simplistic. I spent the next two years trying to define literacy, and came up with my own definition (next slide)
  • Literacy provides humans the means to express themselves – gives us Les Mis, as well as Sponge Bob.(from diss) Recursive in nature, being literate is being able to assume an appropriate stance toward a text, to interpret the text or lived-through experience of a text, and/or to create a new text. Let’s break it down a bit further. . .
  • This implies an active learner, who has reached a certain level of ability.
  • This is more than letting words fly through our brain, without meaning. Participating fully in a reading event is tantamount to engaging and participating in the meaning-making.
  • Rosenblatt informs us that when we read, we bring to the text our linguistic experiential reservoir. That is to say, we interpret texts based on the language we know, and the experiences we have had, to date. How many of you have had the experience of reading a book as a child, then re-reading it as an adult? (show of hands). It was the same text, but YOU are different now, then you were as a child. You understood it differently. One example of this for me was when I read “Green Eggs and Ham” by Theodore Geisel, or Dr. Seuss. When I read it as a child, ad infinitum, (sorry mom and dad!), I loved the words, I loved how they rhymed and how they felt on my tongue. There were only 50 words (see next slide)
  • Cerf, Dr. Seuss' editor, bet him that he couldn't write a book using 50 words or less. "The Cat in the Hat" was pretty simple, after all, and it used 225 words. Not one to back down from a challenge, Mr. Geisel started writing and came up with "Green Eggs and Ham" -- which uses exactly 50 words.
  • (Read the slide)Ahh, you remember the words, too! (“You do not like them. So you say. Trythem! Try them! And you may.”)The words are fun, and a lot of children credit Dr. Seuss-type books as helping them learn to love to read!However, as I read Green Eggs and Ham now, I realize that Dr. Seuss might have had several messages in mind when he wrote. I can see the validity of Austin Sailsbury, writing for Relevant magazine. He says “…it is more than coincidence that his Green Eggs and Ham was published the same year President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act, which mandated federal oversight of elections in the South. It may be a stretch to imagine, but when Sam-I-Am is pressing his neighbor to try a strange gastronomic concoction, Seuss is pressing his readers to consider the goodness in things previously untried—like integrated schools systems and churches. At the very least, Green Eggs and Ham is about navigating life with an open mind and, at its best, it’s Seuss’ way of saying, “Don’t judge a book, or an egg—or a man—by its color.”( Austin Sailsbury, Denmark.
  • Whatever he meant, Dr Seuss and his books represent a to and fro interplay that occurs when we read. We are simultaneously informed by the text AND we inform the text. We take meaning from the text, but we also ascribe meaning to text when we read. The “to and fro interplay” is what Louise Rosenblatt referred to as the central element of reading – the nexus of the reader, the text, and the poem or evocation or special meaning we settle on as we read. In other words, when I “red” Green Eggs and Ham as a child I experienced it one way. And when I “reed” it as an adult, I experience it another way. Both readings are legitimate, both are valuable, but they are NOT the same. This brings Rosenblatt’s Linguistic Experiential Reservoir to mind, as we (next slide) “participate fully in a to-and-fro interplay. . .between person and text”
  • Again, as we read, we understand the text based on the words we read, but at the same time, the words we read inform our understanding. This is also a wonderful picture of Vygotsky’s notions about how humans use language to learn. Vygotsky suggested that we use language to learn new language. We employ the knowledge of words, to participate in this “to and fro interplay” In other words, our knowledge is informed by, and informs the text. Being literate is being able to “participate fully in a to-and-fro interplay(next slide) between person and text”
  • This interplay, during which I bring all of my language and experiences in my Linguistic Experiential reservoir, occur between myself and the text. Think of “art” in which you examine a painting. Where does “art” occur? (next slide)
  • “Art” occurs between this young lady and the painting. It is not found only “on the wall.” Nor is it found only “in her head.” The space between the painting and the person, the interplay that occurs, if you will, is where “art” happens.Similarly, “reading” occurs in what Rosenblatt calls the “transaction” between the person and the text. Between you and the text. To add another layer of complexity, we can define “text” in many ways. Traditionally, it is seen as printed words, written down. But, we might also call a conversation a “text.” In fact, some say that the language conventions (give and take) that we use in conversations closely mimic the interplay between people and reading. The end result is the same in both: a “coherent understanding.” (next slide)
  • Note the word, “coherent.” Going through words without paying attention to the meaning of the passage is not really reading. This is why the dangerous movement toward rapid reading and reading rate needs to be measured against meaning and comprehension.This also pays attention to our ESL learners, or L2 learners. If the understanding is missing, then students have not really read. Instead, they did what my former 3rd grade student, Roberto, used to do: call out words. He spoke only Spanish at home and came to Diboll Elementary School just south of here at the end of 2nd grade, from Mexico. His charming smile carried him through some of the social pitfalls of not knowing a language, but he could not read. Rather, he got to be very good at calling out words, or what CrisTovani calls “fake reading.” He was smart enough to match words with their meanings on vocabulary tests, but he could not answer simple comprehension questions. Nor could he produce his own questions about the text. About midway through the year, after pleading with him to talk about what he was reading, I finally convinced him to ask questions and let me know when he didn’t understand something. I’m happy to say that by the end of the year, he progressed enough to jump several reading levels, but it took many hours of working with him to have him realize he needed to coherently understand everything he was reading. So, literacy is the “state of being able to participate fully in a to-and-fro interplay between person and text, that results in a coherent understanding.”But, it’s not enough to know definition of literacy as a teacher. . .We also need to know about the PRACTICE. (Next “P”) of Literacy Matters.
  • How does this definition of literacy provide our “walking papers” for the realities of the classroom? AND, what kinds of realities do teachers face daily? (next slides are stats about reading)
  • Thirty-three percent of American fourth graders read below the "basic" level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test. The "basic" level is defined as "partial mastery of the prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade."(NAEP 2009 Reading Report Card)ANDReading difficulties add up (next slide)
  • It adds up:More than 88 percent of children who have difficulty reading at the end of first grade display similar difficulties at the end of fourth grade (Juel, 1988). And three-quarters of students who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school (Shaywitz et al., 1997). These facts underscore the importance of providing a strong foundation for reading birth through age five.
  • As we saw from our earlier definition of reading, we are talking about a complex process that draws upon many skills that need to be developed at the same time. A skills-oriented, and somewhat controversial researcher, Marilyn Adams,compares the operation of the reading system to the operation of a car. Unlike drivers, though, readers also need to:Build the car (develop the mechanical systems for identifying words)Maintain the car (fuel it with print, fix up problems along the way, and make sure it runs smoothly)Drive the car (which requires us to be motivated, strategic, and mindful of the route we're taking)Cars are built by assembling the parts separately and fastening them together. "In contrast,” Adams says, “the parts of the reading system are not discrete. We cannot proceed by completing each individual sub-system and then fastening it to one another. Rather, the parts of the reading system must grow together. They must grow to one another and from one another" (Adams et al., 1990, pp.20-21).The ultimate goal of reading, then, is to make meaning from print, or build, maintain, and drive a vehicle in good working order.When we teach young children who are starting to read print, in kindergarten or first grade, we tend to focus on narrative texts. I’m the first to admit a love of reading (ask me about my favorite authors and I’ll be your friend forever!). I love to share books with children at their points of interest, and their points of need. Great books like Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson, which tells the story of a young girls visiting her daddy who is in prison. (hold up book)In fact, here are a few of my favorite websites that deal with teaching fictional literacy. (next slide)
  • From the IRA and NCTE,\\Reading Rockets (“Teaching Kids to Read and Helping those who struggle”)In life outside of school, we use Various forms of “literacy” every day. (next are pics of social media)Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine (a new video sharing app), and Pinterest come to mind, when I think about the ways we use literacy skills.In schools:Reading, writing, listening, and speaking jump to mind, but digging deeper, being literate in schools means being able to “participate fully in the to-and-fro interplay” with the science and social studies textbook. (NEXT SLIDE) Disciplinary literacy, or reading as an expert in content areas, is a relatively new focus of literacy experts. But being literate in the disciplines means a variety of things.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine (a new video sharing app), and Pinterest come to mind, when I think about the ways we use literacy skills outside of school. Does this child have a notion of story? Of character development? Of the importance of personal relationships? (click on Youtube) schools:Reading, writing, listening, and speaking jump to mind, but digging deeper, being literate in schools means being able to “participate fully in the to-and-fro interplay” with the science and social studies textbook. (NEXT SLIDE) Disciplinary literacy, or reading as an expert in content areas, is a relatively new focus of literacy experts. But being literate in the disciplines means a variety of things.
  • Literacy occurs all around us. The previous definition of literacy encompasses fiction and non-fiction texts. For decades we have focused on the teaching of literacy practices in the realm of fiction. I think colleges of education have done a thorough job of acculturating future teachers into the literacy club with fiction as a focus. Let me make an admission here: We teacher-educators got it wrong a few years back. I know, I know, perish the thought – but it is true. For years, we tried to say that students needed “general” literacy strategies in their backpack, and that we could teach “Content Area Reading” strategies that would suffice. Our thinking was that “text” or Rosenblatt’s “evocation” was understandable in similar ways – comprehension in fiction was the same as comprehension in science. But we were mistaken. In fact, the term “disciplinary literacy” is a relatively new way to describe this shift in thinking. Now we see “literacy” as a complex entity – the to-and-fro interplay between a person and a content area text is very different and is still evolving. (from my close friend Vicky Zygouris-Coe) “Disciplinary literacy is built on the premise that each subject area or discipline has a discourse community with its own language, texts, and ways of knowing, doing, and communicating within a discipline (O’Brien, Moje, & Stewart, 2001). It moves beyond the notion of “every teacher is a reading teacher” and literacy as an “add-on” set of generic strategies used to improve the reading and writing of subject area texts. Rather, it situates literacy as an integral part of content (Moje, 2008) so that “literacy within the discipline” becomes the goal of disciplinary literacy.” (Zygouris-Coe, 2012, p. 4)
  • (From Zygouris-Coe (2012) goes on to say that the kinds of talk varies from subject to subject. McConachie and Petroskyproport that “Disciplinary literacyinvolves the use of reading, reasoning, investigating, speaking, and writing required to learn and form complex content knowledge appropriate to a particular discipline” (McConachie & Petrosky, 2010, p. 16).Disciplinary literacy, or reading as an expert in content areas, is a relatively new focus of literacy experts. But being literate in the disciplines means a variety of things. For example, (next slide is chart comparing the literacy skills of various fields)
  • In case you cannot see this in the back, across the top are four major disciplines in schools: math, science, social science, and humanities. Material is presented in various ways, for each subject. For example, in Math and Science, material is typically presented sequentially. But, in Social Sciences and Humanities, material is presented chronologically and topically. The major skills needed for each of these content areas vary, and I want to suggest that this reveals the literacy demands of these subjects. In the 70s, Bloom compelled us to consider cognitive thinking in terms of a hierarchy, that is now known as Bloom’s Taxonomy. In it, he suggested that learners can think in terms of very low levels of cognitive energy, when they are asked to complete tasks that require knowledge of a subject, comprehension of the text, and application of the content to a real-world example. He also suggested that some cognitive tasks require what he called “higher order thinking” (or HOTS), when they ask learners to analyze a situation (break it into smaller parts), synthesize (collect and analyze information from various sources), and evaluate (or set a criteria and judge something based on the criteria). In the disciplines, you can see that the cognitive demands change and shift, based on what subject is being explored. For example, in a science class, students may be asked to apply knowledge, analyze various sources and results of studies, and follow the steps of solving a problem. In the Humanities, on the other hand, students may be asked to read, interpret, analyze, evaluate, infer, show critical thinking, and use logic to understand a particular text. In both cases, students are viewing literacy within the lens of their discipline. In effect, teachers need to know the “practice” of literacy in various content areas.
  • In fact, Elizabeth Birr Moje, a professor of Literacy, Language and Culture in the Educational Studies Department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, urges educators to give attention to disciplinary literacy. She makes the case for a disciplinary literacy that, rather than hewing together generic literacy “strategies,” focuses on the literacy skills required of practitioners in a content field. Carol Lee argues that disciplinary literacy is so important that it should be considereda civil right.So in other words, disciplinary literacy is learning content by focusing on the way reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language are used in the discipline. It’s being able to read, write, listen, speak, and think in a way that is meaningful within the context of a given field. What types of texts do historians read? How do they approach a text? What types of texts do they write? When historians listen, for what are they listening? To whom do they speak? For what purpose? What about biologist? Musicians? Linguists? Artists? Economists? Marketers? Nutritionists? [transition needed here]As Doug Hartman puts it, we have made some important shifts in thinking about literacy, related to technology. (next slide is “changing from Literacy to Literacies”)
  • Our “practice” in education needed to shift, as did our preparation of future teachers. You can see from this graphic that we now think about “Literacy” in terms of “Literacies” – meaning, we realize that in order for students to make sense of the world, they need to be able to negotiate multiple literacies like visual literacy, auditory literacy, as well as literacy in each content area. We see that “skills” are still important, but that we must talk about “strategies” and eventually “practices” in the disciplines. No longer do we focus on the one “text” in a field, but rather, we need to encourage student to use many “texts” to make informed decisions. AND our “mode” of teaching should now include a variety of “modes,” like videos, audios, online, hard copy, etc. In order to invite students to various kinds of literate activities, teachers must become proficient in their fields of study. (next slide “Passion”).
  • This (Jabberwocky poem) poem is understood in part, because we know about literacy. Read this aloud with me. (read slide) Let’s see if you get this. . . What kind of toves were they? (slithy) What did the toves do? (gyre and gimble)What were the borogoves like? (mimsy)What were the momeraths like? (outgrabe)So did you just READ the text? You could answer questions about it, you could even provide characteristics of certain things in it. But, did you really READ the poem? I want to suggest that you did, but only at a surface-level. You called out the nonsense words, and you can use your knowledge of English language syntax and semantics to decipher some meaning. Would it surprise you to see this picture that someone drew of a Jabberwock that looked like this? (next slide)
  • Notice the claws and the dragon-like appearance? (interrupted by next slide)
  • (to crowd) Oh, my. I thought we had this under control. I’m so sorry!(to computer) No, you don’t need a Jabberwock. Where would we even get one?
  • (just go to next slide)
  • Back to Jabberwocky. . . Would this help you understand what a Jabberwock is?
  • So, in the span of a few minutes we have read a nonsense poem together, looked at a nonlinguistic representation of the topic, and even made a joke about it. . . All without really knowing what the poem means. The pictures helped, just like it helps when teachers provide background knowledge (akaRosenblatt’s Linguistic Experiential Reservoir). With the picture of a Jabberwock and even a small joke about it, we get a clearer picture of the nonsense words. Similarly, teachers show passion when they can communicate to their students about pertinent literacy demands. What kinds of literacy should teachers know about? I suggest the following, but you may add more: Textual literacy, Pictorial literacy, conversational literacy, and disciplinary literacy, among others. Some tasks can be made easier when teachers take this challenge to help their students participate in the to-and-fro interplay between themselves and their texts. Take for example, websites like “Twurdy.” (next slide)
  • Twurdy is a basic search engine that students can use, which offers information about the reading levels of the website results. It comes from a play on words with the question "Too Wordy?“ From their website, “Everyone has different reading abilities. Some people searching the web are university professors and others are 5 year old children. Twurdy has been created to provide people with access to search results that suit their own readability level. Twurdy uses text analysis software to "read" each page before it is displayed in the results. Then Twurdy gives each page a readability level. Twurdy then shows the readability level of the page along with a color coded system to help users determine how easy the page will be to understand.” I think this is a brilliant idea! It uses readability formulas to provide information about various websites. Then, the user can decide which websites they want to visit. The page looks like this. (next slide)
  • So, a “proficient” teacher is one who has tools like Twurdy available, in order to lead their students to make good decisions about texts.This issue of “passion” can also relate to the efforts of the US Department of Education to have “highly qualified” teachers in every classroom.
  • Without stepping too far into the political morass, this is the expectation of a “highly qualified” elementary aged teacher in the state of Texas. I want to suggest that this just skims the surface of what it means to be passionate in literacy. No where on this requirement is “passion” mentioned. On the contrary, this seems to honor the process, rather than the personality. I want to suggest that this (next slide) is what it means to be “highly qualified:”
  • Showing Passion is:*Generating energy toward teaching and literacy.*Allowing students to see their teacher as an engaged learner.*Inviting students into the realm of “school culture.”*Knowing how to meet students’ needs for literacy development by recognizing trouble spots of individual students, in order to help them develop coherent understandings.*Doggedly teaching thru the ups and downs of life (go to next slide quickly)
  • (to audience) Okay, you know what,to get this over with, I’m just gonna ask. . . What kind of dog do you want?
  • And what would that make?
  • (next slide quickly)
  • Teachers need to show different purposes for literacy. Purpose comes in many forms, and shows itself in many venues. Sometimes, authors write to describe events in history. I invite you to show your emotional responses to students when you read poignant stories like Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse’s 1997 free verse poetry retelling of a family’s journey through the dust bowl of the 1930s. (Read p. 60-62 and 68-72)The first time I read this book with my undergraduate college students, I looked up and saw tears in their eyes. They had come to class noisily that day, taking longer than normal to settle into our routine, but after reading this passage and looking up to see their overflow of emotion, it struck me how powerful literacy can be. I didn’t have to convince these future teachers that “books are good” or “reading can be powerful.” As my voice broke with emotion, we connected over this text. Now THAT is purpose (and passion).
  • I have always been a purposeful reader.When I was in first grade I read the book Cowboy Andy by Edna Walker Chandler. I’m sure it was a good book, but the 5 year old “me” HATED it! I have proof. . . (hold up or doc cam) Here in my own writing are the words, “I hate this book very very much” followed by “Stuped” Book Club Edition on the next page. For some reason I passionately hated the book! (I’m still not sure why!) But I loved to read, and I had a family who encouraged me to read and talk about books every day. My hating this one book did not stop me from reading. In fact, I’m sure that being able to share how I felt about books, whether good or bad, made me want to read more and more. I always saw reading as that “interplay,” that connection to my family and my teachers and my friends. But, for some students, like Roberto I mentioned earlier, we have to set the table for them, and use our influential prowess to get them to truly read and respond to literature. I suggest to you that showing students we write and read for different purposes is important. I must have known that I could dislike a book, express that dislike, and choose another one. So, not only do teachers need to know their perspective on literacy and show their passion about literacy, they also need to share that books have various purposes.In my state, reading has taken on a whole different perspective with the advent of the Common Core State Standards. (next slides)
  • Now, I realize that Texas has not adopted the Common Core, but I’m sure you have seen some of the rhetoric – I mean vocabulary that stems from it in educational resources and conferences. So, I wanted to mention a few “highlights” here:One idea is “text complexity” which means that students need to know various purposes for reading and that some texts are more complex than others. Also, we are hearing about “text dependent” questions. Basically this is talking about using the text to answer questions, rather than “what I think” or “how I can relate my outside knowledge with the text.” I struggle with this one, but the basic idea is good: use the text to answer questions about the text. Don’t base comprehension answers on personal experiences. Now, think of a balance beam here – we know that we WILL relate to what we know as we read (our LER is active), but we must be open to learn what the text is saying and how that particular author thinks.The Common Core also talks about “close reading” of the text – paying attention to text features (like pictures, italics, vocabulary, etc.) in order to learn from the text. “Flexible communication and collaboration” is also important. Students need to be able to present and to talk about text – and also to work together and collaborate to solve problems. Unfortunately, Common Core authors veer away from Rosenblatt's Transaction theory of reading, on which my previous definition of literacy was based, in favor of "New Criticism" which firmly places the text (and the Author's meaning) at the center of understanding the print. This is a return to the 1930s and 1940s ways of thinking about reading.However, the CCSS pushes teachers in deeper ways also. For example, "close reading" of a text in the 21st Century now includes digital print. Different from the 1930s, digital print may include hyper links to other texts, references that are easily accessible, definitions of words embedded, videos, graphics, etc. THIS kind of "close reading" and these kinds of various texts mean that students must synthesize the most important features and focus on them. "Text dependency" refers to the author's intentions about meaning, not the learner's individual interpretation. In digital literacy, text dependency is open to the entire Internet, so the demands on readers become even more intense.This website shown here is a great source of information for Common Core State Standards. ( The “Common core” is a list of standards for reading and math development, from Kindergarten through 12th Grade. I understand that the State of Texas is one of only four in the US who have refused to adopt them as school curricula. (Go Texas!) In fact, one reporter suggests that “Clinging to a static strategy in a dynamic world may be comfortable, even comforting, but it’s a Titanic-deck-chair exercise.” (Retrieved from: written by Valerie Strauss, Education Writer for the Washington Post.)An interesting fact about these standards is that they start with the end in sight: high school graduation and college attendance.Basically, "we" have gotten together to agree on the standards that we will teach in K-12 schools in each subject, related to literacy and math, in order to prepare students for successful college experiences. With the Common Core comes a new...(drum roll)... wait for it... wait for it. . . standardized test. The PARCC is the official test that the State of Florida will use in order to assess the CCSS beginning in 2014. This was just a taste of information about the Reading portion of the Common Core. Passionate voices have emerged in classrooms and around the blogo-sphere. ???So, the purposes for reading have been a focus of the Common Core. The ways that we use text in classrooms today are illustrated in this brief video by Michael Wesch, a Cultural Anthropologist and Media guru. As it plays, please notice the various purposes for text he describes. (next slide and play video)
  • (Michael Wesch video: Notice how Dr. Michael Wesch uses texts with his students.Flipped Classrooms: Digital Stories:
  • It used to be that we read a text, we may or may not refer to another text while reading (like looking up a word in a dictionary), then we understood the subject. (Doug Hartman:Retrieved from
  • hypermedia, we read one text, jump to another in midsentence, refer to a picture or graph on another site, go back to the original text and the cycle continues. When reading online, we do not read linearly. The purposes we use when we read are no longer cut and dry, but often change midstream. For example, take this text: (next slide) (
  • This page is from and highlights an interview with author Laurie Halse Anderson. You can see that the purposes literacy takes on to understand and navigate through this page is textual, visual, and auditory. You can experience this page in a linear way (by reading it from top to bottom) or non-linear way (by jumping around from section to section.) If you want to explore more about this author, you can click on the “related resources” page. You can even contribute to this page by leaving comments and questions. No longer are students limited to one purpose when they read, especially when they read online. In fact, students can get lost in webpages that offer too much information, or those that are poorly organized. This brings me to the last “P” – Teachers need a sense of “play” with texts.
  • Literacy needs to be seen through the lens of play – words are the building blocks of understanding. People use words, and that use is purposeful, practical, and passionate. Teachers need get the message across to their students that reading is a time to enjoy AND learn. Playing with words produces joy! Vygotskian theory focuses attention on the role of adults and peers in acquiring social literacy practices during play. Arguing that literacy acquisition is a social, constructive process that begins early in life, this theory posits that children develop literacy concepts and skills through everyday experiences with others, including bedtime storybook reading and pretend play.
  • A sense of story is developed as children play. Listen to the strong sense of story from this 3 year old:
  • Literacy needs to be seen through the lens of play – words are the building blocks of understanding. People use words, and that use is purposeful, practical, and passionate. Teachers need get the message across to their students that reading is a time to enjoy AND learn. Playing with words produces joy! Vygotskian theory focuses attention on the role of adults and peers in acquiring social literacy practices during play. Arguing that literacy acquisition is a social, constructive process that begins early in life, this theory posits that children develop literacy concepts and skills through everyday experiences with others, including bedtime storybook reading and pretend play.Listen to the strong sense of story from this 3 year old:
  • Literacy matters: Five Things Every Teacher Should Know

    1. 1. Dr. Susan WegmannJoan Prouty Young Child Winter ConferenceSam Houston State UniversityFebruary 23, 2013
    2. 2. Thank you.I love/hate youtoo.
    3. 3. Dr. Susan WegmannJoan Prouty Young Child Winter ConferenceSam Houston State UniversityFebruary 23, 2013
    4. 4. Oh. Okay.Can I have apuppy?
    5. 5. Okay.Back to yourhoity-toityspeech.
    6. 6. Dr. Susan WegmannJoan Prouty Young Child Winter ConferenceSam Houston State UniversityFebruary 23, 2013
    7. 7. 5 P’s
    8. 8. I’m hungry.
    9. 9. Micro-chips.Or Apple pie ala modem.
    10. 10. Okay, okay, Icouldn’t resist!
    11. 11. 5 P’s
    12. 12. PERSPECTIVE
    13. 13. Literacy:The state of being able toparticipate fully in a to-and-fro interplay between personand text, that results in acoherent understanding.
    14. 14. “The state of being able…”
    15. 15. “…to participate fully…”
    16. 16. …in a to-and-fro interplay…
    17. 17. a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat,eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like,may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain,Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you
    18. 18. “I do not like them Sam Iam, I do not like ___”“You do not like them. Soyou say. Try them! Trythem! And you ___.”
    19. 19. …in a to-and-fro interplay…
    20. 20. “…between person and text...”
    21. 21. “…that results in a coherent understanding.”
    22. 22. Practice
    23. 23. Thirty-three percent of American fourthgraders read below the "basic" level on theNational Assessment of EducationalProgress reading test. (NAEP 2009 ReadingReport Card)
    24. 24. It adds up:O 88 percent of children who have difficulty reading at the end of first grade show similar difficulties in reading at the end of fourth grade (Juel, 1988).O 75% of students who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school (Shaywitz et al., 1997).
    25. 25. Competent readers needto:1. Build the car2. Maintain the car3. Drive the car
    26. 26. Teaching Fictional LiteracyReadWriteThink: Rockets:
    27. 27.
    28. 28. Disciplinary LiteracyDisciplinary literacy is built on thepremise that each subject area ordiscipline has a discourse communitywith its own language, texts, and waysof knowing, doing, and communicatingwithin a discipline (O’Brien, Moje, &Stewart, 2001).
    29. 29. Math Science Social Science HumanitiesHow Sequentially Sequentially Chronologically Chronologically Material Topically Topically Is PresentedExamples Algebra Math-based: Sociology Art Calculus Chemistry Psychology Literature Statistics Physics History Music Text-based: Political Philosophy Biology/Botany Science Agriculture AstronomyMajor Translating Applying Comparing ReadingSkills Contrasting Analyzing Contrasting InterpretingRequired ComprehendingProblem Inductive Analyzing Problem Solving Thinking Evaluating Solving Analyzing Inferring Synthesizing Critical Evaluating Thinking Reading Logical Thinking
    30. 30. “Literacy… becomes an Disciplinaryessential aspect of Literacy disciplinary practice, rather “Disciplinary Literacy is the civil right of the 21st than a set of Century.” Carol Leestrategies or tools brought into the disciplines to improve reading and writing of subject-matter
    31. 31. Disciplinary LiteracyChange from: Change to:Literacy -------------------------------------->LiteraciesSkills ----------> Strategies ------------> PracticesText ----------------------------------------------> TextsMode ------------------------------------------->Modes
    32. 32. Passion Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll‘Twas brillig and the slithy tovesDid gyre and gimble in the wabe All mimsy were the borogoves And mome raths outgrabe.
    33. 33. Can I have aJabberwock?
    34. 34. I don’t know,but it would beeasier to just getme a puppy.
    35. 35. Twurdy
    36. 36. Highly Qualified TeacherIn the state of Texas, “highly qualified” means that theteacher:O Has obtained full Texas teacher certification, including appropriate special education certification for special education teachers, and has not had certification requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basisO Holds a minimum of a bachelor’s degreeO Has demonstrated subject matter competency in each of the academic subjects in which the teacher teaches, in a manner determined by TEA and in compliance with Section 9101(23) of ESEA.
    37. 37. Showing passion is. . .O Generating energy.O Allowing students to seeO Inviting studentsO Meeting students’ needsO Doggedly teaching thru
    38. 38. So, about thatdog. . .
    39. 39. Collie + LhasaApso
    40. 40. A Collapso, adog that foldsup for easytransport
    41. 41. How about anIrish WaterSpaniel + EnglishSpringer Spaniel
    42. 42. An IrishSpringer, a dogfresh and cleanas a whistle
    43. 43. Or, aDeerhound +Terrier
    44. 44. A Derriere, a dogthats true to theend
    45. 45. Purpose
    46. 46. text dependenttext complexity close reading flexible communication and collaboration
    47. 47. How literacy is changingStudents are changingFlipped ClassroomsDigital Stories
    48. 48. Tasks are changing
    49. 49. Tasks are changing
    50. 50. PlayChildren develop literacy concepts and skillsthrough everyday experiences withothers, including bedtime storybook readingand pretend play.
    51. 51. PlayPlay narratives may help children develop astrong sense of story.Star Wars
    52. 52. PlayPlay narratives may help children develop astrong sense of story.Star Wars
    53. 53. Best Practices for reading comprehension (from the NICHD, 2000) review:O Teach vocabulary to increase comprehension;O Use reading labs to assist in vocabulary development;O Use a combination of reading comprehension techniques to positively impact student-learning outcomes on standardized tests;O Embed comprehension strategies in instruction;O Differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the students;O Teach students how to reason strategically to improve comprehension when they encounter reading difficulties;O Incorporate student reading interests into the curriculum; andO Support struggling readers in all content areas through modeling what good readers do, and scaffolding learning with questioning techniques and metacognitive strategies.
    54. 54. When the dog gets the mechanical rabbit
    55. 55. ReferencesAdams, M. J. et al. (1990). Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print. A Summary.Champaign, IL: Center for the Study of Reading.Juel, C. (1988). Learning to Read and Write: A Longitudinal Study of Fifty-four Children from Firstthrough Fourth Grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80:437-447.Lee, C. (2004). Literacy in the academic disciplines and the needs of adolescent strugglingreaders. Annenburg Institute for School Reform.McConachie, S. M., & Petrosky, A. R. (2010). Content matters: A disciplinary literacy approach toimproving student learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Moje, E. B. (2008). Foregrounding the disciplines in secondary literacy teaching and learning: Acall for change. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 52(2), 96-107.Shanahan, T., & Shanahan, C. (2008). Teaching disciplinary literacy to adolescents: Rethinkingcontent-area literacy. Harvard Educational Review, 78(1), 40-59.Shanahan, T., & Shanahan, C. (2012).What is disciplinary literacy and why does it matter?Topics in Language Disorders, 32(1), 7–18.Shaywitz, B.A., et al. (1997). The Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention:Longitudinal and Neurobiological Studies. Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 8:21-30.Zygouris-Coe, V. (2012). Disciplinary literacy and the common core state standards. Topics inLanguage Disorders, 32(1), 35-50.