Tag Archives: literacy teacher education

Building Bridges: Rethinking Literacy Teacher Education in a Digital Era

I (Clare) love sharing good news. Our book Building Bridges: Rethinking Literacy Teacher BookCoverCroppedEducation in a Digital Era has just been published. Being modest (tee hee) I think it is blockbuster!!!! Attached is a flier for the book and when you look at the Table of Contents you will see what I mean — incredible contributors. Here a flier for the book Building Bridges_Flyer
If you are comfortable share this info on your FB page/Twitter/Website. The tiny url is http://tinyurl.com/hwtvoua
I am so proud of this book and learned so much editing it!

The “Google generation”

Many of our learners have grown up with access to all sorts of search engines, namely Google which has quickly turned from a noun to a verb: “Just Google it.” With access to Google, many of our learners have instant answers that are just a few clicks away.

There has been an ongoing debate on whether Google is harmful or not to our ability to critically think about texts. Tan (2016) from Mindshift recongnizes, “with the advent of personal assistants like Siri and Google Now that aim to serve up information before you even know you need it, you don’t even need to type the questions. Just say the words and you’ll have your answer.” However, there are ways to ensure questions/inquiries in the class are “Google proof.” A former Kentucky middle-school teacher suggests re-thinking our instructional design is key in making work Google proof. He says, “Design it so that Google is crucial to creating a response rather than finding one…if students can Google answers — stumble on (what) you want them to remember in a few clicks — there’s a problem with the instructional design.”

I envision project-based learning and inter-disciplinary approaches as a way into creating Google proof material. Any suggestions? What have you tried/created/heard about?



Videos Now Available: Experts Speaking about Teacher Education

Last year I (Clare) received a grant for the project: Rethinking Literacy Teacher Education for the Digital Era: Teacher Educators, Literacy Educators, and Digital Technology Experts Working Together. One of the main activities of the project was to bring together 16 experts from three fields and 4 countries (Canada, US, UK, and Australia) to address the following questions.
• How is our understanding of literacy evolving in light of the new ways we communicate?
• How can literacy/English teacher educators (LTEs) prepare student teachers to develop and implement literacy programs that capitalize on digital technology (DT)?
• What teacher education curriculum changes are required to better prepare future teachers to integrate technology in their own teaching?
• What professional learning support do LTEs need to develop courses that will integrate and make greater use of DT?

We held a Symposium in London England in June. Click on the link https://literacyteaching.net/connection-grant/ for more info on the Symposium and for some photos.

At the Symposium we interviewed the participants which we video taped. These videos are now available. They are incredibly interesting, informative, and short. Teacher educators can use these in their courses/presentations. Click on  https://literacyteaching.net/IMG_2599 (the box to the right of this post). I want to bring your attention to the first video which is of Bethan Marshall from King’s College London. She addresses:

First video: A key insight she has had about education

Second video: Recommendation to improve teacher education


Guest Blog: Monica McGlynn-Stewart

Hungry Caterpillar

Dual Language Texts

In my (Monica) preservice ECE class this week I had the most amazing experience. The Monica McGlynn-Stewartclass had been given the task of finding a dual language picture book for young children that was inviting and enticing and would support the language and literacy learning of children whose home language was not English. My students were encouraged to choose books that represented their own home languages. We have a wonderfully diverse class and they took up the challenge with enthusiasm. If they couldn’t find a dual language picture book in their home language, they translated a text and added it alongside the English text. For those (like me!) who only speak English, they were encouraged to choose a text that represented the language of children in their placement. They needed to develop six pedagogical strategies that they would employ when using the book with young children. I gave them a fabulous article by Gillanders and Castro (2011) the journal Young Children entitled “Storybook Reading for Young Dual Language Learners” as inspiration.


On Tuesday, they came with their picture books and their strategies, eager to begin. In small groups they took turns sharing their books, props they had made, teaching each other words in other languages, and practicing their strategies such as doing a “picture walk” through the text and pre-teaching key words or phrases that the children could chime in with during the reading. I had never seen the class so alive and so engaged. There were a dozen languages in the air. My students who were English Language Learners themselves, who were generally quiet and shy, were confidently sharing their expertise in their home languages. What I learned was the use of dual language texts can benefit not only young learners, but can also be an opportunity for dual language preservice students to value their home languages as a rich resource that they bring to their teaching.


Responding Critically to Azalea’s ‘Bounce’

In class this week my (Cathy’s) teacher education students were exploring indirect  instruction through learning centers.  One of the centers featured Iggy Azalea’s music video, Bounce, and the instructions to discuss the work through a critical literacy lens.   (E.g. What message do you think the artist wants us to get from this video? Based on the artist’s thoughts and actions (expressed in the song), how would you say she is portraying herself to the world?)

Most of the students had heard of the video but never actually viewed it until arriving at the literacy center.  (Perhaps you haven’t either).  Without revealing the content, I will reiterate the general tone of the reactions.   Most students were annoyed by the video content.  One student said she was disgusted (and this is not sexual content).  One group, however,  tried to take a broader view.  They said they could not judge the work until they understood Azalea’s intent.  So they took it upon themselves to look up an interview in which Azalea discusses her purpose for portraying her song the way she did.  After viewing the interview, they were angry.  Azalea explained that she portrayed herself thusly so she would be seen as “flashy”.  No message, just glamour.  After this insight, some wonderful discussion ensued about cultural ethics and hegemony.

One student spoke to me at the conclusion of class and confessed that she was surprised by her own reaction.  In her words, “I have changed.    Studying literacy education has given me a different perspective.  I see the world differently, especially things like music videos.”

Below is the link so you can view this content for yourself and decide.  The second link is the video in which Azalea discusses her purpose for making the video.

Happy critical viewing!

10,000 Hits and Counting

Today marks a milestone for our blog. We had our 10,000th hit! Wow! I (Clare) started Pooja Dharamshithis blLydia and Cliveog in January as a way to share our research and it has grown beyond my wildest dreams. For a little education blog we now have 126 followers and visitors from around the world. My research team – Cathy, Yiola, Lydia, Pooja, and Clive – have faithfully written such interesting posts that I have learned much from them and about them. Thanks team. Thank you to our guest bloggers – Monica, Shelley, and Gisela – for enriching our site. And a huge thank you to Arif who has helped with the technical parts of the website and for his guidance in creating a dynamic Cathy Miyatablog.

Yiola CleovoulouI would never have thought that blogging could be such a rewarding form of writing. I have learned much about this genre of writing and enjoyed searching for topics that I hoped would be of interest to others Thank you to all of our regular blog readers and followers whose regular visits motivated us to keep on going. We regularly get feedback from readers on our site. Thanks readers for your compliments and feedback. We read every comment and appreciate the time you take to write to us.

So a shout out to social media for making this blog an international adventure focused on literacy and literacy teacher education.IMG_7907[3]

A Book on Critical Literacy and Teacher Education

I (Pooja) am currently re-reading Negotiating critical literacies with teachers: Theoretical foundations and pedagogical resources for pre-service and in-service contexts (Vasquez, V.M., Tate, S.L, & Harste, J.C., 2013). This book suggests a theoretical framework, provides insightful examples, and offers pedagogical resources when incorporating critical literacy practices into pre-service and in-service teacher education.

I share some moments in the book which really stood out for me during my second reading:

1. Vasquez et al. suggest this book fills a gap in the literature about critical literacy and teacher education. Specifically,

 This book speaks to what Dozier et al. (2006) observe as a profession that has not publicly articulated the nature of the alignment between our expectations for our [teacher educators’] own literate lives and our expectations for our students as literacy learners.

 2. As I was more closely re-reading the final chapter of this text, a section on “Dealing with Accountability and Standards” really stood out for me. This section dealt what our critical literacy participants in our SSHRC study have expressed to be a tension in their work. Vasquez et al. (2013) take the following stance on dealing with accountability and standards as teacher educators,

A question that often arises for us is how to get beyond the hurdles of incorporating a critical stance when we live in a world of accountability and standards….we have found that these difficulties become easier with teachers who have a concrete philosophy about their pedagogy and can demonstrate how this type of pedagogy has changed their own academic and personal lives as well as that of their students.

3. They go on to provide insights into how best practice critical literacy in teacher education,

We have also found that you cannot do this work alone. Having other to think with and reflect with, even if they are not in your workplace makes all the difference in whether you continue to create more and more spaces for critical literacy in your setting or whether you throw in the towel.

How do you Know What To Blog About?

I (Clare) recently did a presentation to a group of teachers on a self-study I conducted with Connecting PeopleLydia Menna and Shawn Bullock on our efforts to integrate digital technology into my literacy methods courses. (Here is the powerpoint from that presentation. BERA + ECER-DT 2013in Dropbox) I talked about my initiatives which led to me showing how my efforts in my literacy teaching led to a greater use of digital technology in other parts of my life (e.g., using NVivo for data analysis). The success of my initiatives with my teaching gave me the confidence to take the plunge to do a website. My technical skills had improved and my identity shifted so that I now see myself as “digitally competent.” During the presentation I showed our website and one of the participants raised an interesting question: How do you get ideas for your blog? He recounted how he wanted to do a blog but did not know what to write about. I told him to just start! I believe that writing a blog is a different genre – it requires different writing skills than other forms of writing. Since we started this blog, I feel that my blog-writing skills have improved. I now focus on one topic in a blog; I am more comfortable sharing my insights; I will raise questions; I make links to other resources; and I no longer feel the blog needs to be perfect  (so what if there is a typo. We will survive.)  Blogging seems to have captured my interest and is a good match for me ( I have lots to say about education) and it is fun.  I keep a Word document with blog ideas which is always plentiful and when I come across something “interesting” one of my first thoughts is – Would that make an interesting blog? This thought is followed by – Would others be interested in this topic/issue? Doing our blog as a “team” has truly been the way to go. I have learned so much from the posts by my team (Cathy, Lydia, Pooja, Clive and our guest bloggers) about them personally and professionally. And their blogs give me ideas about what to write about.

I really see our blog as connecting with the broader education community which is social media at its best. Blogging is good for me because it gets me thinking critically and hopefully, our posts are of use to our readers.

Good-bye Michael Gove!

Michael Gove Although I (Clare) live in Canada I am well aware of the challenges teachers and teacher educators in England are facing. We have a number of literacy/English teacher educators in our study of teacher educators who have recounted the  challenges they are facing (e.g., funding reduction, stringent/ridiculous accountability measures). At our Symposium on teacher education in London participants recounted how demoralized teacher educators felt.

The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, who was instrumental in bringing in a number of draconian measures in education has been demoted to Chief Whip. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cartoon/2014/jul/17/steve-bell-cartoon-michael-gove-first-day-chief-whip He wanted to reshape education based on his own experiences in elite private schools – or as I see it, drag education back to the 19th century. He seemed to be waging war on schools of education by creating so many alternative routes into teaching that he was stripping teacher educators of their place in preparing teachers. His inability or unwillingness to listen to reason and research led to him implementing a number of measures that are so wrong headed it is mind-boggling. He was never a teacher nor did he do research on teaching and teacher education so how did he think that he knew how to prepare teachers?  When you compare his approach to the one used in Finland (see blog post on Thursday, July 17) the contrast is glaring. Respect and trust were not his modus operandi.

On his first day of his new job as party whip he got stuck in the toilet! Hmmmmm…….. Read into that what you like!

Let’s hope that the path he set for education will be altered by his successor so that education and teacher education can get back on track and become relevant and appropriate for the 21st century. There is a growing body of research on teacher education which should guide policy. It is time for policy-makers in England to refer to it.

What Influences How Teachers Teach?

Monica McGlynn-StewartAs a former elementary teacher, I (Monica) know that there are many things that influence how teachers teach in their classrooms. In our longitudinal study of teachers, Teacher change: patterns, factors, and implications for professional education, we have been learning from teachers about the kinds of formal and informal professional development that they find most relevant and helpful. One of the factors that intrigued me early on in the study was the influence that the teachers’ own early schooling had on their teaching. I interviewed 6 of our participants over the first three years of their teaching and discovered that they all use one or two teachers from their own childhood as role models for their teaching. My research has just been published in Language and Literacy: A Canadian e-Journal. Here’s the link: http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/langandlit/article/view/20426/16419