culturally relevant/responsive

Preserving the Cultural Identity of the English Language Learner

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Author: Wilma Ortiz and Karen Sumaryono

Summary: With an advocacy goal of helping immigrant students retain their cultural identities and succeed within the mainstream classroom while also learning a new language, the authors share several effective writing practices that validate students’ primary language in meaningful ways and promote a strong sense of self. These include: helping all students use key words from a variety of languages; inviting students to use their primary language in response to journal entries, writing prompts and free writes; using multilingual mentor texts; employing “”writing to learn”” in native languages to explore content; and using cooperative grouping to support speaking in English. The details and examples in this article make it an excellent resource for study groups, professional development or individual teachers seeking ways to support language learners.
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Honoring Dialect and Culture: Pathways to Student Success on High-Stakes Writing Assessments

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Author: Michelle Crotteau

Summary: As teachers we often struggle to find ways to honor our students’ home dialects while still preparing them to take high stakes writing tests requiring the use of Standard English. In this piece, the author describes her three-pronged approach within a Writing Strategies class to work with students in danger of not receiving diplomas because they had failed the state test. Students developed linguistic and mechanical fluency by speaking and writing about their interests (e.g., hunting), drawing upon their Appalachian English dialect, and developing knowledge about how to recognize audience-appropriate situations for employing both Standard English and their own dialect. Lots of examples of student writing coupled with her own rationales and experience make this a useful piece for workshops, study groups or professional development focused on culturally relevant practices within a high stakes testing environment.
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Writing from the Feather Circle

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Author: G. Lynn Nelson

Summary: In this resource, a writing teacher from Arizona applies the Native American feather circle to the teaching of writing and describes her work teaching sections of first-year composition exclusively for Native American students. The feather circle focuses on speaking from the heart; in the classroom this approach involves writing honestly and openly first and worrying about form later. The author expertly shares the writing experiences of her students from a culturally responsive stance, and how an emerging group, “Native Images,” has shared their writings and art in community-based settings and across the country. This resource would be useful in teacher discussions of culturally relevant pedagogies for writing.
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African American Learners Project Annotated Bibliography

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Summary: This collection of readings is intended to inform the thinking and practice of teacher-leaders and/or writing project sites interested in addressing the racial gap in achievement by expanding their own knowledge base as they seek to enhance the academic performance of African American learners. These texts have helped the contributors examine the history and status of African American education in our nation in the context of the landmark decision rendered in Brown v. Board of Education (1954; 1955). If you desire inspiring readings to further knowledge of social justice or culturally relevant pedagogy, this bibliography offers a place to begin and to build from, adding resources that go beyond its publication date of 2008.
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Culturally Mediated Writing Instruction for Adolescent English Language Learners

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Author: Leslie Patterson, Carol Wickstrom, Juan Araujo

Summary: Sites looking for examples of how to design a study and/or plan professional development focused on the impact of culturally mediated writing instruction (CMWI) for adolescent English learners may find this report by the North Star of Texas Writing Project a helpful resource. Findings suggest that positive effects are more likely to occur when inquiry-based professional development includes follow-up support as teachers learn ways to effectively mediate and differentiate instruction to meet particular needs of diverse learners in language and literacy learning.
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Supporting English Language Learners: What Happens When Teaching in Students’ Native Language is Made Illegal?

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: This inspiring story of Floris Wilma Ortiz-Marrero, a teacher-consultant with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project and 2011 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, describes how she became a vocal advocate for her ELL students in a time when the state made it illegal to teach students in their native language. In addition Ortiz-Marrero’s story, there are several important resources referenced and linked within the article. This article and the related resources would be a great starting point for teacher discussion groups focused on the ethics of ELL and/or bilingual education and legislation.
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Book Review: English Learners, Academic Literacy, and Thinking: Learning in the Challenge Zone

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Author: Debra Schneider

Summary: How can we best support English language learners in classrooms where rigorous curricula focuses on intellectual practices across content areas? How can we engage in practices that enable students to construct rather than reproduce knowledge, develop deep understanding of disciplinary knowledge and forge connections between school and the outside world? In this book review, Debra Schneider shares insights and successful strategies emerging from her own practice and study group related to the chapter on Academic Literacy [see PDF], suggesting that teaching content “”deeply”” enables teaching standards in authentic ways. An excellent resource for study groups, inquiry groups, or those leading professional development.
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When Third-Grade Writers Do Case Studies

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Author: Janet Kiddoo

Summary: Bilingual third grade students acted as helpers to first graders in a collaborative writing workshop. The third grade teacher guided her students through a process similar to teacher inquiry–to reflect on their own experiences as writers in order to help the younger writers, to take notes on their experiences as teacher/tutors, and to carefully think through the problems encountered and results obtained in order to improve their practice. This article models three useful practices in a writing context: 1) students as researchers; 2) older students as tutors to younger; and 3) reflective practice in writing and teaching.
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How Our Assumptions Affect Our Expectations

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Author: Jan Hillskemper

Summary: Increased parental involvement in student success is a goal of most every school and teacher. However, there can be vastly different ideas on what parental involvement looks like at school. This article, which would be a useful resource for teachers addressing the issue of parent involvement, examines how teachers can drift into a set of misguided assumptions when they mistakenly believe parents have the same values and expectations that they have, and that the teacher’s beliefs on parental participation are the “right” ways for parents to be involved in their kid’s education.
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Community Literacy: Can Writing Make a Difference?

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Author: Linda Flower, Lorraine Higgins, Wayne C. Peck

Summary: This resource describes the process emerging from a Community Literacy Collaborative (CLC) initiative that enabled youth to use inquiry and writing to enter into a policy discussion about increases in school suspension and for their university mentors to enter into the discourse of urban teens. The approach is designed to promote intercultural discourse across race, class, gender, age, and economics barriers. Remarkably current (the school to prison pipeline comes to mind), this piece provides real world examples undergirded by a strong theoretical rationale and could be a useful resource for those framing community-based projects aimed at advocacy and civic engagement.
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