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Language Arts, Vol. 90, No. 5, May 2013

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Community Literacies

  • Call for Manuscripts [FREE ACCESS]

  • Thoughts from the Guest Editors [FREE ACCESS]

    Rebecca Rogers and Inda Schaenen

  • Toward Community Research and Coalitional Literacy Practices for Educational Justice

    Gerald Campano, Maria Paula Ghiso, Mary Yee, and Alicia Pantoja

    Abstract: Community-based research can provide an avenue for understanding the complexities of students’ and families’ lives and working together for educational justice through what we refer to as coalitional literacy practices.  In this article, we share a critical incident about a student’s absence from school as an illustrative case of the grass-roots coalitional work we saw occurring at our research site. In our analysis, we juxtapose two understandings of the situation: on the one hand, the school’s response as an instance of truancy, and the bureaucratic literacies associated with this framing; and on the other hand, how the mother’s testimonial speaks to intersectional oppressions that are often invisible to schools. We conclude by spotlighting a current practitioner research project that aims to build off the coalitional energy at the site to investigate family’s educational experiences and work toward a shared vision of social justice.

  • Welcoming Their Worlds: Rethinking Literacy Instruction through Community Mapping [FREE ACCESS]

    KaiLonnie Dunsmore, Rosario Ordoñez-Jasis, and George Herrera

    Abstract: In this article we look at how a community of practice in one midsize urban K–12 school district engaged in a community mapping process to discover, gather, and analyze a rich array of community and home resources in order to create classroom practices and curriculum that integrated the literacies of home and school  and led to transformed student learning. We look at the tools used by this diverse group of K-12 educators and examine some of the groups collective learning.  Then we focus on the case of one teacher whose inquiry into the literacies already present in his students out of school lives, led him to rethink classroom instruction and better support their voices, experiences, and knowledge to build competencies in the literacy practices associated with the ELA standards.  Through examining the reflections, learning, and written artifacts of focal students, we examine the way that engagement, performance, and meaning making were mediated by the creation of a learning context that valued and connected student words and worlds. The creation of learning spaces in which  student, family, and community worlds was integrated increased student motivation and engagement and improved performance as measured on district rubrics. We present evidence of how teachers’ efforts their understanding of school-based literacy led to them to recognize the multiple and complex literacies that they had typically ignored that could serve as a resource for school-based literacy performance.

  • Consejo as a Literacy Event: A Case Study of a Border Mexican Woman

    Maria Teresa de la Piedra

    Abstract: Drawing on sociocultural approaches to literacy and literature on the communal spaces of teaching and learning of Latino/as, I share one Mexican border women’s life story and analyze her literacies and ways of knowing in relation to the literacy event of giving consejo.  Using data gathered through individual interviews and observations, I present the case of Lucía, the owner of a burrito’s restaurant. She draws upon a mix of oral and print language, as well as other multimodal resources (visual, spatial, audio forms), in order to perform a particular speech genre: consejo.  Lucia's unique way of giving consejos is presented here, along with suggestions as how to recruit these communal literacies in classroom practice.   This paper adds to the growing body of literature that identifies Latina/o’s pedagogical tools in family and community contexts and challenges deficit views.

  • iPads as Placed Resources: Forging Community in Online and Offline Spaces

    Jennifer Rowsell, Mary Saudelli, Ruth Mcquirter-Scott, and Andrea Bishop

    Abstract: The article focuses on the notion of tablet technologies as placed resources (Prinsloo, 2005; Prinsloo & Rowsell, 2012) by exploring how an international research project in Australia, Canada, and the United States forged community through online spaces. There is a tendency in media and in literature to romanticize technologies like iPads as a panacea, as an answer to the challenge of 21st century literacy education. Prinsloo’s notion of new technologies as placed resources is helpful to contextualize where, how, when, and in what ways these networked artifacts (Pahl & Rowsell, 2010) can be used and understood.

  • Schools as Meeting Places: Critical and Inclusive Literacies in Changing Local Environments

    Barbara Comber

    Abstract: Schools bring people together. Yet for many children there are major discontinuities between their lives in and out of school and such differences impact on literacy teaching and learning in both predictable and unpredictable ways. However if schools were reconceptualised as meeting places, where different people are thrown together (Massey, 2005) curriculum and pedagogy could be designed to take into account students’ and teachers’ different experiences and histories and to make those differences a resource for literacy learning. This paper draws on a long- term project with administrators and teachers working in a school situated in a site of urban regeneration and significant demographic shifts.  It draws particularly on the ways in which one teacher re-positioned her grade 4/5 students as researchers, designers and journalists exploring student and staff memories of a school. It argues that place, and people’s relationships with places, can be a rich resource for literacy learning when teachers make it the object of study.

  • Professional Book Reviews: Understanding Community Literacies as Foundational to Teaching Excellence [FREE ACCESS]

    Toni M. Williams, Diane DeFord, Amy Donnelly, Susi Long, Julia López-Robertson, Mary E. Styslinger, and Nicole Walker

    Abstract: The books reviewed here communicate that as educators, we can support academic success for all students by expanding understandings about home/community literacies. We can do this by tapping into the valuable resources that communities and families can provide. In particular, these texts focus on the expertise in communities too often marginalized in the curricular picture, helping us recognize why and how we must engage in educational efforts that liberate and educate rather than alienate and, as a result, oppress opportunities for students to succeed. Reviewed are: Urban Literacies: Critical Perspectives on Language, Learning, and Community (Valerie Kinloch); “Multiplication Is for White People”: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children (Lisa Delpit); Bridging Literacy and Equity: The Essential Guide to Social Equity Teaching (Althier M. Lazar, Patricia A. Edwards, and Gwendolyn Thompson McMillon; A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform (Mark Warren and Karen Mapp).

  • Children’s Literature Reviews: Our Favorite Picturebook Apps [FREE ACCESS]

    Jonda C. McNair, Alan R. Bailey, Deanna Day, and Karla J. Möller

    Abstract: Katie Bircher (2012) believes that “the most successful picture book apps will remain the ones that keep story front and center” (p. 78) while taking advantage of the interactive and multimodal features of the virtual world. This column features reviews of some of our favorite children’s book apps along with a list of additional recommendations.

  • Conversation Currents: Create Partnerships, Not Programs

    JoBeth Allen and Valerie Kinloch

    Abstract: This Conversation Currents features JoBeth Allen and Valerie Kinloch discussing their thoughts and experiences working with families and communities. Allen bases her comments on the belief that programs have to be adaptable to many different constituencies and demographics, and so must be recreated every year with every teacher and every new group of students and their families. Kinloch agrees that building relationships leads to thinking about “how we create partnerships with different types of people that will last across long periods of time.” Together they discuss how these partnerships can support literacy and engagement.

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