COLLABORATIVE VOICES: EXPLORING
CULTURALLY AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIVE
LITERACIES WITH PUERTO RICAN
María del Rocío Costa
Universidad de Puerto Rico, Bayamón
Carmen L. Medina
Indiana Unversity, Bloomington
Escuela Elemental María Bas de Vazquez
writing, popular culture and critical literacy (Dyson, 2003; Genishi
& Dyson, 2009; Wohlwend, 2009; Morrell, 2004 & 2008)
“Well, this boy frequently writes connecting t.v. shows and more specifically Star Wars and The Clone
Wars. Sometimes one of my concerns when the children write versions of their favorite shows is the
superficiality of these pieces of writing, because it ends up being like a battle that never ends. […] …if the
use of popular culture promotes writing is something that I am not too much concerned about [in this
discussion]. Nonetheless, there is also an aspect that should be approached in the classroom that
operates from a critical perspective. I wonder how could one do to integrate those popular culture themes
but to examine those from a critical perspective. I’m not saying that those [popular culture texts] don’t
“enter” the classroom. I mean the opposite those should “enter” [the classroom]. I don’t want to say that
to work from a critical perspective means that those popular culture texts enter the classroom only to be
criticized. What I want to say is; what can we do to make those [popular culture texts] available, that the
children enjoy them while at the same time be critical within the workshop that’s taking place (Costa,
email, March 4, 2010).
Writing across communities
“…if the students manage to communicate their ideas with clarity and coherence and with a purpose to do
so (that is not copying and copying), they can learn with purpose and functionality all the complex elements
of the language in an in-depth way” (Soto, email, March 6, 2010).
“What you bring about writing is very important and relevant. A big part of Vygostky’s work focuses on
writing and I get the sense that in your pedagogy you are getting closer to various ideas he developed.
From here we could begin reading things related to the role of writing in the language and an exploration of
social discourses. […] for me writing is a social event where [the writer] creates and reflects different
realities […] and that space (like Rocío already mentioned) is not innocent” (Medina, email, March 7, 2010).
writing, cultural production & social discourses (Vygostky,
1986; NLS, 1996; Gee, 1996)
on teaching writing (Graves, 1983; Wohlwend, 2009)
“In the conferences, I had boys that “nada de nada” [who did not responded to the conferences] –they are like 5 or 6--… they don’t feel
successful and I believe they try to do something just to please me. It is not like Nadja and David who write and write non-stop” (Soto, email,
“In relation to the students who have more difficulties with writing I believe we can examine what other forms of communication they are
interested in or they feel comfortable with. One of the challenges of the writers’ workshop in that it is assume that just implementing the writing
cycle is going to be enough to create great writers or if you follow the adequate steps that all children are going to produce. I believe in
multimodality and that in addition to writing (which is the one that is promoted and glorified in schools) there are different ways of expressing
ourselves” (Medina, email, March 7, 2010).
“…writing can too easily be turned
into a mechanical process:
prewrite on Monday, first draft on
Tuesday, and so on. "Orthodoxies
have sprung up: Grammar and
spelling aren't important; don't
ever tell the child to do anything;
never give assignments. The list
could go on and on. Obviously, all
of the above are important in their
place" (Routman, 1995, p. 523).
“I rarely use the term writing process. I simply
say writing. The term writing process is all worn
out. It has had so many bizarre interpretations
(a good many due to my own mistakes) that it
is best to say writing. Still, we do have a
philosophy of teaching children that is revealed
in the way we teach writing. I'm still very
concerned about how little writing is taught,
how little time is provided for children to write.
And when time is provided, I don't see children
challenged by teachers who have been
prepared to teach it through the teacher's own
high level of literacy” (Routman, 1995, p. 524)
Description of the process
Group’s experience in second grade
First semester focus on a genre approach to writing development: Stories, poetry and
fables written in groups
Develop language comprehension by writing ideas and thoughs
Communicate ideas clearly
Second semester: writing a realistic story individually
Insatisfaction with student's writing development. Suggestions for improvement of writing
1. Record keeping information for each student
2. Opening up posibilities for writing
3. Using popular culture in relation to writing
4. Minilessons and conferences
Dealing with reluctancy: Writing/multimodal invitations
Nayda Vamos a ver, ¿en qué pensaron?
Niño: Vamos a jugar…
Nayda ¿En qué?
Niño Yo pensé que vamos a jugar…
Nayda Tú pensaste que íbamos a jugar…
Nancy O misis, podemos usar los muñecos y
hacer una NO SE ENTIENDE…
Nancy Podemos usar los muñequitos que
nosotros traemos de las casas y usarlos
(15 de abril de 2010, Conversación con los estudiantes)
1. Stories using toys and action figures
2. Pokemon users manual
3. Video game users manual
4. Write a rap or a reaggeton song
Nayda: Let’s see, what did you thought?
Student: We were going to play…
Student: I thought we were going to play…
Nayda: You thought we were goint to play.
Nancy: Or, Teacher, we coul use the toys and
do a … (unintelligible)
Nayda: Excuse me?
Nancy: We could the toys we bring from home
and use them as stories.
(April 15, 2010, Conversation with students)
Children Transformed Invitations
1. Stories using action figures (i.e. soldiers)
2. Game users manual (i.e. de manos, Go-go's)
3. Video game users manual (Reseña "Call of
duty", Smack Down, Smack Down vs. Raw 2010)
4. Video game map (Tetris)
5. Story based on reaggeton singers
6. Movie remakes (Avatar, Lion King)
Opening the door: writing
through a different lens
Successful writers within workshop
1. The problem of the animals,
The race #2, Kovu, the lion
2. The ferry,
Jenli the hateful of the sea.
3. Mario and Mario,
The hungry boy
Shifting lanes: enjoying alternate spaces
1. Just a banana, Animated
figures and Game Map
2. Manual de patinetas,
Manual para jugar Gogos Crazy Bones
3. La familia cristiana, los amigos
espaciales, Los cantantes y
bailarines, El mejor sembrador,
Smackdown vs. Raw,
4. Manual de juegos
Redesigners of writing invitations
1. Call of duty
2. Juego de vídeos - Tetris,
El salón loco (Jowel y
• Two way learning
o Students' engaged in writing
o Teachers' awareness children ways of knowing
• Resituating writing provided freedom and confidence
o Children as knowers, authors and decision makers
• Performing masculinities
o Constructed masculinities (interests in war, video games,
o Teacher dominant views of "doing school"
They were good lions but Kiara was noticing that Kovu was changing
his attitude, he was mistreating! One day Kovy got so mad that he took
out his claws and Scrach!. He scratched his son in his left ey, and his
son cried and cried and went running to Kiara (his mother).
And she got mad and started to talked with Kovu (her husband) and the boy
went running to the other sons that for him they were his friends.
Then Kiara (the mother) came hurt and they called Zazu. Zazu is a bird
that gives reports every morning and he also helps with things.
The kids said –Zazu hurry up and find help. Our mother is hurt! And Zazu said –Ok, ok,
I´ll go looking for help…
Help, help! And the kids stayed with Kiara
The Kovu (the father) came. He had gone for a ride with Simba (Kiara´s father) y he was
He said to the boy –Forget me for everything I´ve done… son I won´t do
it again. But Kiara was still hurt.
So, Zazu (the reporter) came with a rhinoceros (the doctor) and said –
She is fine she only has a claw scratch. Let´s giver this and Ready!,
stay calm and you´ll see.
They were all very concern and the boy said –what about the scratch in my
left eye? And the doctor said –just leave it, do not touch it so it can get
cured and he left.
Kovu was still worried and Kiara said –Do not worry, everything is fine,
everything is settled and you know Never! change your attitude. And
everything returned to normal… The end.
then you place your hands on your waist
then you place your hands in front of
This photo is how you begin
Then you touch your hair
You’ll like playing. Then come so
you can play, you´ll love it.
Oh micki micky
I am NAME (of first player)
oh micki micki
I am NAME (of second player)
Oh micki micki
I am NAME (of third player)
Oh micki micki
I am NAME (of fourth player)
Oh micki micki it’s over.
Once upon a time there were some fighters,
who were in the war to fight and they were
waiting and waiting.
Because they called them
by their names to fight in
the lane to fight, but they
and after fighting they
Because their boss gave them permission to be
able to fight.
Then they finished and they went
To rest because they were tired and mad.
Then they left the war
because the boss threw
them out of the war and
they lived happy for ever
The crazy classroom
by the singers Jowell and Randy
Once upon a time the singers Jowell and Randy went to teacher
I met her on the beach
playing with the sand
a beautiful morena
with a mermaid body