Jane Bean-Folkes, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY
Jane defended her dissertation titled, Teaching African American Students Written Academic English through Writing: Three African American Students, a Researcher, and their Teachers in January. Now that the dissertation is finished, she looks forward to catching up on the various articles and books she put aside for after the dissertation and she is working on several articles from the dissertation.
Jane’s dissertation was an action research study between the researcher and three urban public school teachers and it examines the language learning process of three focal students producing written academic English. Her study addresses the challenges that students encounter in learning written academic English and influences on the teachers’ pedagogical decisions by their assessment of students’ oral and written language patterns in an attempt to raise the level of written academic English in the students’ writing. It seeks to answer when an African American student uses African American Vernacular in their oral and written language, what impact if any this has on the African American student’s writings, and what changes occur in the student’s perception of himself as a writer because teachers are often frustrated by raising the quality of writing using written academic English. It also seeks to discover how to support language learning for African American students as well as other non-dominant language students. The methods for collecting data consist of participant-observation, semi-structured interviews, student-produced artifacts, and field notes. The study has implications for how written academic English can be effectively taught using components of balanced literacy in urban schools.
In the coming year, Jane looks forward to reading, completing post-doc work at Teachers College, working as a literacy staff developer in schools, as well as teaching as an adjunct in the department of Curriculum and Teaching.
Mentor: Carol Lee, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
Patrick Camangian, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Pushed out of high school as a student in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) fundamentally shaped my scholarly interests and commitment to youth of color, dispossessed communities, and the profession of teaching. As a scholar-activist, my research draws on culturally empowering teaching, critical pedagogy, and critical social theory for a theoretical framework to improve urban teacher quality, capacity, and retention. In this high stakes, No Child Left Behind educational climate, teachers in urban schools (under)serving youth of color must make learning more culturally responsive to the lives of their students by connecting their pedagogy – what they teach, how they teach it, and why – to some of the most pressing issues facing them as they navigate their social conditions.
For my dissertation, I explored the process of developing and examining the impact of a critical, culturally responsive pedagogy by conducting a qualitative action research project as a high school English teacher. My overarching research question was, “how is critically reading the world and the word transformative for Black and Brown youth in South Los Angeles?” I am finishing the final, conclusion chapter. My findings suggest that the critical curricular inclusion of students’ lived experience fostered a humanizing space, which unified our classroom community, cultivated conditions that heightened transformative thinking, and increased both their academic engagement and achievement. I hope my research will help teachers have a better understanding of how to help students critically make sense of their objective reality, problem-pose their liberation and oppression, and engage academic work that is connected to the critical needs of their community.
Mentor: Arnetha Ball, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Keisha Green, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Ethnographic research examines how African, African American, and Caribbean youth, in a major urban Southeastern city, develop critical literacies through the practice of “air-shifting”—that is learning how to question, critique, and engage in social, political, and cultural discourse through community radio programming.
Further, this study seeks to illuminate the ways in which youth navigate their way through broadcast media, script writing and technology to communicate with their peers and adults. Through participant observation, interviews, and ethnographic field notes and video, Keisha will analyze the literacy events and practices that shape the youth radio experience and render it an opportunity for youth to develop critical literacy skills necessary for academic achievement.
The insight gained will inform classroom teaching practices that involve the teaching of literacy and language skills and constructions of democratic educational experiences inside schools.
Mentor: Anne Haas Dyson, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL
Jung Kim, University of Illinois-Chicago, Chicago, IL
My dissertation examines the implementation of what I call a Critical Pedagogy of Hip-Hop in the classroom of two urban high school teachers. A Critical Pedagogy of Hip-Hop encompasses an understanding of teaching as improvisational and experimental, collaborative and democratic, dialogic, critical, and evolving. I draw upon the New London Group's (1996) pedagogy of multiliteracies to understand teaching and learning as a cycle of drawing upon Available Designs, Designs, and Redesign. The larger implications of the study are that although hip-hop can be an effective tool for teaching and learning, what is more important is truly listening to youth and engaging in a praxis that takes into consideration what is important and relevant to them.
Though my dissertation work focuses on the use of hip-hop by two teachers in their teaching, my focus is not only on hip-hop. I look at the larger domain of popular culture (another topic of study is graphic novels) for its potential to inform curriculum and pedagogy. I am particularly interested in looking at how the experiences and knowledge of youth can be harnessed for critical and academic purposes and growth. I believe that many youth are disengaging from or dropping out of school because they struggle with curriculum and pedagogy that simultaneously ignores the experiences and knowledge they bring to school and seems irrelevant to their own lives. In order to prepare them to be fully participatory citizens in the 21st century, I believe that true change must occur in current educational practices.
Mentor: Valerie Kinloch, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Tisha Lewis, University at Albany, Washington, DC
Tisha defended her dissertation, “Family Literacy and Digital Literacies: A Redefined Approach to Examining Social Practices of an African-American Family” in April 2009. This ethnographic case study explored the multiple ways a mother and son interacted with digital literacies in the home. Situated within the framework of sociocultural traditions from New Literacy Studies and multimodality, this research asked how an African-American family in poverty enacted digital literacies in the home, how digital literacies shaped family relational practices, and how a mother and her children interchangeably apprenticed one another when engaging in digital literacies.
Themes such as agency, identity, and power through family relational practices emerged that addressed how the mother and son engaged in digital literacy practices (e.g., texting and IMing, taking apart a computer, creating blogs, or designing comic strips) as mediating tools to help them make sense of their lives. Participants demonstrated new ways in which digital literacies shaped and reshaped how they communicated, interacted and identified with one another; constructed new semiotic tools to make sense of on- and offline identities in multimodal spaces; and illustrated how asymmetrical and symmetrical relationships emerged and enhanced communication between a mother and son, changing the dynamics of family structures in literacy research and in the home. This future work seeks to examine how digital literacy practices alter traditional family literacy practices from face-to-face contact to online interactions.
Currently, Tisha is an adjunct professor at American University’s School of Education, Teaching and Health, Trinity University’s School of Education, as well as a lecturer at Howard University’s School of Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
Tisha, a 2008 recipient of the J Michael Parker Award from the National Reading Conference, is working on contributions in the following three publications: Stuart Greene and Catherine Compton-Lilly’s forthcoming book, Family literacy: Complexities, concerns and considerations, Kate Pahl and Jennifer Rowsell’s book, Literacy Learning through Artifacts: Every Object tells a Story (Teachers College Press) and a meta-analysis of an Integrative critical literature review of ethnographic case studies of family literacy with Catherine Compton-Lilly and Rebecca Rogers.
Mentor: Adrienne Dixson, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Ramon Antonio Martinez, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
My dissertation, “Spanglish is Spoken Here: Making Sense of Spanish-English Code-switching and Language Ideologies in a Sixth-Grade English Language Arts Classroom,” was a qualitative study of language and ideology among bilingual Latina/o sixth-graders at a middle school in East Los Angeles. I explored students’ engagement in Spanish-English code-switching, a hybrid language practice that many of them referred to as “Spanglish,” as well as their language ideologies with respect to this language practice. I found that students used Spanglish in creative, skillful, and intelligent ways, and that their use of Spanglish mediated both conversation and the broader social organization of the classroom, contributing to the construction of a social space in which bilingualism and hybridity were normative. I also found parallels between the skills embedded in students’ use of Spanglish and the skills that they were expected to master according to California’s sixth-grade English Language Arts standards. I argued that students’ skillful use of Spanglish could be leveraged as a resource for helping them to develop specific academic literacy skills. In addition, I found significant variation with respect to students’ language ideologies, arguing that this variation provided fertile ground for rich and transformative dialogue that could potentially help students cultivate critical literacy.
I am currently an Assistant Professor in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin, where I teach in the Language and Literacy Studies Program within the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. As an extension of my dissertation research, I am working with teachers to help them: (a) better understand their students’ everyday language practices, (b) identify parallels between the skills that their students display through these practices and the academic literacy skills outlined in relevant state English Language Arts standards, and (c) explore ways of leveraging their students’ language ideologies as resources for critical literacy development.
Mentor: Juan Guerra, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Swati Mehta, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
A doctoral candidate and fifth year student in the Curriculum and Instruction Program at Boston College. Her dissertation topic is revealed in its proposed title: Othered By English, A Smothered Spanish? - The Language Experiences of Nondominant Youth in the Context of New Immigration. Swati is presently conducting an ethnographic case study at a local urban immigrant high school where she has been an active member of the community for the past few years. In addition, from a theoretical lense, Swati is a budding researcher in the area of postcolonial studies, in particular its intersection and utility of application for problems in education. Finally, in her work with teachers and teacher education, Swati employs critical action research lenses to lead teachers into conducting youth centered inquiries into their own practices. Swati's passion lies at the nexus of working with young people, language, and culture. Swati feels truly blessed to be a part of the Cultivating New Voices community and hopes to actively give back to this community now and in the future.
Mentor: Kris Gutierrez, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Linda Prieto, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
I successfully defended my dissertation, “Conciencia con Compromiso: Maestra Perspectives on Teaching in Bilingual Education Classrooms,” a qualitative study that uncovers the ways aspiring maestras (Latina teachers) connect their sense of self and professional choices. Theories of cultural production, cultural resources (i.e., funds of knowledge, pedagogies of the home), and Chicana feminist thought inform this research. This theoretical lens with the concept of mestiza (woman of mixed indigenous and European ancestry) consciousness at the center allows me to understand, complicate, and empathize with the strategies maestras employ to survive. As the new teachers in this study strive for satisfaction and fulfillment from teaching in bilingual education classrooms as a way to give back to their community, I argue that their sense of self is fostered through and embodied in their mestiza consciousness. In my interviews of the 10 Latina university students who participated in the study, I compiled stories of how Latina teacher candidates discern their lived and educational experiences. As I listened to these women share their accounts as cultural brokers, children of immigration, and transnational children, their stories resonated of pain, abuse, transculturation, transmigration, isolation, resolve and survival.
Building on this study, my future areas of work seek to document the struggles and transformations of youth of immigration. Youth of immigration often survive in opposition to English-only policies and historically racist institutions designed to accommodate mainstream youth. With an increase in immigration raids by Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement (ICE) officials across the U.S., I am especially interested in the experiences of children of detainees. I seek to understand how immigration shapes the national identities of children of detainees and how they navigate their educational trajectories after such assaults. This future work provides enthusiasm for shaping democratic learning environments, multiculturalism, and promoting a respect for the dignity of all learners.
Mentor: Maria Franquiz, UTSA, San Antonio, TX
Enid Rosario-Ramos, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
My research attempts to uncover the relationships between critical literacy skills and participation in community building efforts. In communities that have historically been minoritized, it often becomes necessary to engage young people in the analysis and critique of the social structures that create inequality and the texts that embed these power relations. It is also necessary to provide them with structured opportunities for their active engagement in the reconstruction of these social structures and their corresponding textual representations as people navigate disparities and create better lives for their families. Schools have traditionally not serve as spaces where students can critically analyze the socio-political histories and cultural life and practices of their communities and actively participate in the process of reading, and rewriting, their world (Freire, 1970).
The research study explores the role of communities and community-based institutions in fostering critical literacy among urban youth. Moreover, I explore how schools can become spaces where students are encouraged to critically examine society and provided with structured opportunities to enact change within their communities. Ethnographic observations, think-aloud protocols and interviews will be conducted with adolescents attending an alternative community-based urban school that has a long tradition of organizing and structuring community building projects in a largely Latino neighborhood. I will closely examine how the multiple contexts where students interact within this community provide them with opportunities to deconstruct and negotiate issues of inequality.
Mentor: Sonia Nieto, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Spencer Salas, UNC-Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Middle, Secondary, and K-12 Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I bring ethnographic methods of participant observation to New Latino South classrooms to theorize teachers’ engagement with the multiple and interactive contexts of their professional activity. My dissertation research in North Georgia examined the wide variety of tensions that complicated two-year college remedial ESL faculty members’ fluctuating understandings of who they were as professionals and what their work achieved. More recently, in metro Charlotte, my work with an 8th grade language arts teacher theorizes how her “history-in-person” as a struggling reader shapes her interaction with at risk students and the literature curriculum. Additionally, I collaborate extensively with the Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education (CLASE) at the University of Georgia—developing cultural-historical theory for praxis as it relates to Latino children in U.S. schools.
Mentor: Colleen Fairbanks, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC
Vera Stenhouse, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
My study examined the intended and implemented diversity content of a teacher education institution, its faculty, and factors that influence their discourse and practices regarding diversity. My case study comprised two phases. The first phase (entitled Word for Word: An analysis of the written diversity content of a teacher education institution) involved a content analysis of institutional and programmatic documents (e.g. mission statements, syllabi, and vitae) focused on the documents’ inclusion of terminology and concepts related to diversity and multicultural education.
The second phase of the study (entitled Mission possible? An analysis of the intended and implemented diversity content of a teacher education institution) built upon the document analysis and included interviews, focus groups, and observations used to investigate how the written and articulated rhetoric was implemented by faculty in their teaching. I also determined the factors that advanced, limited, or prevented diversity discourse and practices within the institution. Cumulatively, this work aims to add texture to our knowledge of faculty narratives and institutional factors affecting their work as it pertains to their understanding and implementation of diversity and multicultural education.
In addition to examining the intended and implemented curriculum, I am currently preparing to explore the received curriculum. The third phase of my research seeks to ascertain the received curriculum of the teacher preparation program’s graduates to more fully understand what learning regarding diversity and multicultural education is actually captured by students over the course of their program of study. I anticipate that determining the intended, implemented, and received research will illuminate who is teaching the teachers and the subsequent influence on classroom teachers’ quality and critical consciousness regarding the education of their students.
Mentor: Todd DeStigter, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
As a doctoral candidate in the Joint Program in English and Education (JPEE) at the University of Michigan, I have served as a consultant, facilitator, and research associate on many projects. Over the past five years, I have collaboratively written national educational policy research briefs (NCTE Squire Policy Research Office), trained teachers and literacy coaches who work with English language learners (Michigan Department of Education ELL Task Force), co-designed effective professional development based on the articulated needs of English teachers (Literacy in Action Project), and helped to create curricula for argumentative reasoning and writing tasks (Michigan Argument Research Group).
My dissertation, *Conflict in 21st Century English Learning Contexts: Negotiating Solidarity, Identity, and Social Change*, explores discourse conflicts in schooling and society, and the ways that teachers and students negotiate literate identities, social solidarities, and social change within the complexity of early 21st century classroom interaction. The site of the study, the Pinnacle Classroom Discourse Study Group (PCDSG), was the center of an innovative collaborative action research effort during the 2007-2008 school year. Teachers and administrators at a school invested in closing the racial achievement gap invited me to conduct a series of workshops on classroom discourse analysis. This interactional ethnography tells the story of seven English Language Arts teachers as they learned how to analyze their own and their colleagues' classroom talk. Multiple perspectives are represented in the dissertation, including that of selected teacher-participants, myself as the researcher-facilitator, and the group as a collective. Discourse analytic methods taught in the PCDSG workshops and used for analyzing data included systemic functional linguistics (SFL), critical discourse analysis, and positioning theory. Theories about silence and third space, language ideology, and critical race theory further informed my analyses. My goal is to implement, facilitate, and research similar discourse study groups that extend and supplement the Courageous Conversations model of attaining equity in schools and communities.
Mentor: JoBeth Allen, University of Georgia, Athens, GA