Students engage and interact with myriad types of literacies in multiple domains on a daily basis. Those literacies end to be shaped and influenced by cultural traditions and linguistic practices and often differ from the literacies taught in school. Those that differ from school literacies are often ascribed less value by schools. The purpose of this activity is to discover the types of literacies to which students feel connected, in which they "see themselves". When students feel culturally and/or linguistically disconnected from the literature they encounter in school, it is difficult for them to buy-in to the task at hand. As a result, they can experience decreased academic achievement and social attainment after completing school. This is especially true of students with affective needs (AN). While it might be possible to cover this amount of material in a single hour-long class period in a general education class, this inventory and this unit are for an AN classroom. Therefore the amount of time for each activity and project has been modified for an amount of time that is appropriate for AN students.
Students will be able to: understand that the way they interact with words (which may be expressed in multimodal forms) , to understand that literacy is not only related to culture but also influenced by it.
This activity is intended to be non-graded. It is intended to be administered 3 times in the unit: once at the beginning of the unit - to establish an ecology of interests for the classroom; once halfway through the unit - to see if interests have changed; and at the completion of the unit - to provide students and teachers with information that will be helpful in the future. Its purpose is two-fold: To allow students to better understand how they interact with words; and to allow the teacher an opportunity to better understand the cultural and linguistic worlds in which their students live.
Areas for groups of 3-5 students to work; one large poster-sized piece of paper for each group; several smaller sheets of scratch paper for each group; a set of markers/colored pencils for each group; list of questions for students - see "Handouts" below for details; if possible, a digital video recording device (such as smart phone) per group.
Students will be divided into groups of 3-5 each time this inventory is administered. Each time the inventory is administered, groups should be different from the previous time, so that they are not working with the same students each time they take the inventory.
Ask students age-appropriate questions such as "what do you read, watch, play, and listen to outside school?" (Pahl & Rowsell, 2012, p.19). Where do you do these things? Who do you do these things with? These questions should change over the course of the unit as you get to know your students better and they get to know who they are better. Depending on the students in your classroom, you may decide to handout prepared questions, to brainstorm questions, or to simply read off a list of questions. Have the groups answer the question individually and answer with the materials that they have been provided. Each administration of this inventory should take 2 one-hour class periods.
Zachary M. Clancy is a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Studies and teaches Foundations of Education at the University of Northern Colorado. He also teaches middle school special education in Denver, Colo.
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