Learning about Global Diversity through Multicultural Literature

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Learning about Global Diversity through Multicultural Literature

    Learning about Global Diversity through Multicultural Literature

    in a Graduate Reading Course

    Dr. Jennifer Turner, Assistant Professor in Reading Education, EDCI

    Final Report Submitted to the GATE Program and the Longview Foundation

GATE Project: Overview

    My project consisted of the following goals and objectives:

     Develop and teach a graduate course on multicultural materials and methods

     Taught in Spring 2008 with 15 students

    --the course attracted students at the master’s and doctoral levels in several units

    within the Department of Curriculum and Instruction (e.g., Reading, Minority &

    Urban Education) and in Departments across the College of Education (e.g.,

    Education Policy & Leadership; Special Education)

    --many of the master’s level students were teachers working in local-area schools

    in MD (e.g., Montgomery County, Prince George’s County)

     Course emphasized research-based readings as well as K-12 literature that can be

    implemented in K-12 classrooms

     Course emphasized a notion of culturally-diverse literature which was defined

    locally (e.g., “American” diversity such as a African Americans, Latino/as, etc

    and the immigration experience) and globally (e.g., world literature, international


     Action research design, which is a form of scholarship that enabled me to think

    about learning, both from a student perspective and from my own perspective as

    the instructor of the course

Pedagogical Content of the Course

    A. Multicultural Literature

    ; A range of high-quality, multicultural literature was read, critiqued, and evaluated

    by the students

    ; Literature appropriate for elementary and secondary students

B. Guest speakers

     Jeanine Staples, GATE Fellow, linguistic violence

     Kathleen Sayers, Center for Young Children, critical literacy in a kindergarten classroom

     Michele Stolz, high-quality multicultural literature for young adults

     International Readers, graduate students who served as “cultural informants” and

    shared with us the literacy practices and texts from their countries

     Hyejin Huhn, Korea

     Rashi Jain, India

     Janet Awokoya, Nigeria

     David Cortez, Argentina

C. Media

     International Children’s Digital Library


     Video on the history of Korean education

     Clips of popular television shows and music videos

Action Research Methodology

    A. Research Questions

    1. What kinds of curricular content and pedagogical activities foster students’ global


    2. How do students define their own criteria for selecting and evaluating multicultural

    and global literature for K-12 classrooms?

    3. What do students, and the instructor, learn about global diversity & literature from the


B. Data Sources

    1. Course assignments that students completed

    2. Results on an anonymous survey about global literacy and teacher education 3. Instructional materials (e.g., handouts, power point presentations) 4. Research journal and analytic memos

C. Analysis Techniques

    1. Qualitative content analysis (Patton)

    2. Thematic analysis

Preliminary Findings

     Students successfully created criteria for selecting and evaluating multicultural

    and globally-conscious literature

     Students identified and addressed challenges to using multicultural and global

    literature in K-12 schools

     While only 15% of students had previously taught with multicultural/global

    literature, 100% reported that they planned to use it in their classrooms

     At least 4 students implemented books assigned within the course to their own K-

    12 students during the semester

Value Added

     Adopted by the reading education faculty as a new core course for the reading

    specialist program

    --Course will be offered in spring semesters, and in 2009, the enrollment for this

    course is now at 15 (which is high for a relatively new course)

    --the Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction requested that the

    enrollment size be increased from 15 (full class) to 20 to accommodate other

    students who may want to take the class this spring, and I agreed

     Served as the basis of my summer reading list, which was featured on the

    University of Maryland College Park homepage (Summer 2008)

     Led to an invitation to University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign to attend a

    conference on globalizing teacher education (October 2-4, 2008)


     Led to my development of a session for the Pre-Conference Institute on Language

    Diversity at the 2009 International Reading Association Annual Meeting in

    Phoenix, AZ (February 22, 2009)

     Led to an appointment on the Global Education Committee for the Association of

    American Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE)


    A: Course Syllabus

    B: Sample covers of multicultural literature read in the course C: Summer reading list

    D: Proposed session at IRA



    The University of Maryland College Park

    Department of Curriculum and Instruction

    EDCI 688

    Multicultural Materials and Instruction for K-12 Readers

Spring 2008 Dr. Jennifer Turner

    Tuesday 7:00pm -9:45pm 2233 Benjamin Building

    Benjamin 2212A 301-405-0433

    Office Hours: T 5:30-6:30 pm

    and by appointment

    Course Overview


    This course centers on a fundamental question in reading education: How can we create K-12 classrooms and curricula that are more responsive to diverse readers? In response to this question, we will explore issues related to 3 strands of diversity in readers: (a) cultural differences (b) linguistic differences and (c) individual differences (e.g., social class). An important premise of this course is that these three strands of student diversity significantly shape the literacy practices and activities that young children and adolescents enact within their lives, and we must consider all of these “funds of knowledge” in order to understand how students become literate.

    We will also spend several class sessions exploring multicultural literature written by a variety of national and international authors. We will hold literature discussion groups where students can interact in small groups and discuss the pertinent themes of diversity, identity, literacy and schooling within these particular books. Students will also be required to keep critical reading logs to record their impressions about the book, and to consider how these books may be used in K-2 reading instruction.

Consistent with the course’s emphasis on diversity, the instructor aims to develop a

    strong learning community amongst class members. Within this learning community, active participation is critical, not only to one’s own learning, but to the learning of others. Students will use readings to deepen knowledge, challenge old conceptions, push thinking in new directions, and generate new questions and ideas, and should articulate these new understandings with others in class. Together, we will work to create a collegial environment where individual voices are affirmed, and ideas are examined and debated in open and honest ways.


Learning Outcomes

    Each objective is followed by the appropriate Standard or Standards developed by the Professional Standards and Ethics Committee of the International Reading Association (2003).

    At the conclusion of the course, candidates will demonstrate understanding of:

    ; Varying instructional practices, approaches, and methods for learners at differing

    stages of development and from differing cultural and linguistic backgrounds (2.2)

    ; Various curricular materials in effective reading instruction for learners at

    different stages of reading and writing development and from different cultural

    and linguistic backgrounds (2.3)

    ; Relationships between students’ interest, reading abilities, and backgrounds and

    the reading and writing program in the classroom (4.1)

    ; Print and nonprint materials representing multiple levels, broad interests, and

    cultural and linguistic backgrounds and their uses in creating motivating literate

    environments (4.2, 4.4)

    Academic Accommodation

    If you have a documented disability that requires academic accommodations, please contact me as soon as possible, and we can discuss these arrangements. Please note that you must have this information on record with the University. If needed, please contact Disability Support Services.


    Required Texts

    As a graduate seminar, this course requires extensive readings so that you can construct your own understandings of multicultural materials and methods for reading instruction.

All of the readings listed below are required. The readings which are starred (**) are

    books which must be purchased on your own. Most can be purchased through, and ship relatively quickly. The remaining readings are articles that can be downloaded online through the library (researchport).

Scholarly Readings

    **On the course calendar these readings are denoted with an (A) for “article.”

    Behrman, E. (2005). Teaching about language, power, and text: A review of classroom

    practices that support critical literacy. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy,

    49, 490-498.

    Ciardiello, A.V. (2004). Democracy’s young heroes: An instructional model of critical

    literacy practices. The Reading Teacher, 58, 138-147.

    Diller, D. (1999). Opening the dialogue: Using culture as a tool to teach young African

    American children. The Reading Teacher, 52, 820-828.

    Dressel, J. H. (2005). Personal response and social responsibility: responses of middle

    school students to multicultural literature. The Reading Teacher, 58, 750-764.

    Drucker, M. (2003). What reading teachers should know about ESL learners. The

    Reading Teacher, 57, 22-29.

    Flores, B., Cousin, P.T., & Diaz, E. (1991). Transforming deficit myths about learning,

    language, and culture. Language Arts, 68, 369-379.

    Glazier, J. & Seo, J-A. (2005). Multicultural literature and discussion as mirror and

    window? Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 48, 686-700.

    Godina, H. & McCoy, R. (2000). Emic and etic perspectives on Chicana and Chicano

    multicultural literature. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 44, 172-179.

    Hefflin, B., & Barksdale-Ladd, M.A. (2001). African American children’s literature that

    helps students find themselves: Selection guidelines for grades K-3. The Reading

    Teacher, 54, 810-819.

    Kong, A. & Fitch, E. (2002-2003). Using book club to engage culturally and

    linguistically diverse in reading, writing, and talking about books. The Reading

    Teacher, 56, 352-362.

    McDaniel, C. (2004). Critical literacy: A questioning stance and the possibility for

    change. The Reading Teacher, 57, 472-481.

    Morrell, E., & Duncan-Andrade, J. (2002). Promoting academic literacy with urban youth

    through hip-hop culture. English Journal, 91(6), 8892.

    Nilsson, N. (2005). How does Hispanic portrayal in children’s books measure up after 40

    years? The answer is, “It depends.” The Reading Teacher, 58, 534-548.

    Palmer, B., Shackelford, V.S., Miller, S., & Leclere, J.T. (2006). Bridging two words:

    Reading comprehension, figurative language, and the English language learner.

    Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 50, 258-267.


    Pang, V.O., Colvin, C., Tran, M., & Barbara, R.H. (1992). Beyond chopsticks and

    dragons: Selecting Asian-American literature for children. The Reading Teacher,

    46, 216-224.

    Stallworth, B.J., Gibbons, L. & Fauber, L. (2006). It’s not on the list: An exploration of

    teachers’ perspectives on using multicultural literature. Journal of Adolescent and

    Adult Literacy, 49, 478-489.

    Turner, J.D. & Kim, Y. (2005). Learning about building literacy communities in

    multicultural and multilingual communities from effective elementary teachers.

    Literacy Teaching and Learning, 10, 21-42.

    Yau, J. & Jimenez, R. (2003). Fostering the literacy strengths of struggling Asian

    American readers. Language Arts, 80, 196-205.

Multicultural Literature Readings

    In order to become familiar with diverse authors and literature, books corresponding with the three strands of diversity (cultural, linguistic, and individual differences) will be assigned. These books should be read before class, and you should come prepared to discuss them in detail.

    **On the course calendar, these readings are denoted with (L).

Browne, M. (1998). Voices in the Park. New York: DK Publishing.

    Bunting, E. (1994). Smoky night. New York: Harcourt Brace and Company.

    Coles, R. (1995). The story of Ruby Bridges. New York: Scholastic.

    Curtis, C.P. (1995). The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963. New York: Delacorte.

    Hoffman, M. (1991). Amazing Grace. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.

    Howard, E.F. (1991). Aunt Flossie's Hats (and Crab Cakes Later). New York: Clarion.

    Krull, K. (2003). Harvesting hope: The story of Cesar Chavez. New York: Harcourt.

    Lee, M. (1992). Finding my voice. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

    Myers, W.D. (1997). Slam. New York: Scholastic.

    Mora, P. (1997). Tomás and the Library Lady. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

    Polacco, P. (2001). Thank you, Mr. Falker. New York: Philomel Books.

    Recorvits, H. (2003). My Name is Yoon. New York, Francis Foster Books.

    Say, A. (1993). Grandfather’s journey. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

    Say, A. (1996). Emma’s Rug. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

    Scieszka, J. (1989). The true story of the three little pigs. New York: Viking.

    Soto, G. (1993). Too many tamales. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

    Soto, G. (1997). Buried Onions. New York: Harcourt Brace.

    Steptoe, J. (1988). Mufaro’s beautiful daughters. New York: HarperCollins Childrens.

    Uchida, Y. (1971). Journey to Topaz. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.


    Responsibilities and Assignments

    All assignments must be typed and double spaced, in a 12 point font. All work should follow APA format, especially for reference citations. All work should be provided to the instructor in “hard copy,” unless specified by the instructor. Please review your papers to ensure they are free of grammatical errors and misspelled words. Your written work should demonstrate an advanced understanding of the course content, and when appropriate, should reference class discussions, class readings, and outside research/readings that are relevant to the course.

    The following is a list and brief description of responsibilities and assignments that will help you meet the goals of this course. Additional guidelines and information for

    assignments will be provided in class.

Class Participation and Reader Responses

    Attendance in class, as well as active participation in all whole-group and small-group activities, is a requirement in this course. You are expected to read assigned materials before class. Additionally, you will write 2 Reader Responses based on course readings (Feb 5 and April 15). Reader Responses are NOT summaries. Rather, Reader Responses are brief, but critical, reactions to the assigned text(s). In each Reader Response, please discuss 1 critical issue and 1 critical question that arise for you as you read and reflect on

    the assigned readings Reader Responses should be brief (1-2 pages), but should be coherent, cogent, and compelling. The purpose of these responses is to involve class members in high level thinking about course material. Your response should reflect such processes as elaboration, synthesis, and integration across readings. Full credit for reader

    responses will be given only for responses that are turned in during class on the date listed in the syllabus. Students can receive partial credit for make-up reader responses that are necessary only for unavoidable absences (IRA Standards 4.1).

Discussion Leaders

    You will be required to work in a small group to take leadership of a class discussion on the assigned readings. You should organize sufficient material for 30-40 minutes. Rather than summarize the readings, Discussion Leaders should design interactive activities that enable the class to actively engage in collaboration and dialogue. As Discussion Leaders, you should address 2-3 practice-based issues/questions that intrigue you from the


Also, as Discussion Leaders you will bring in examples of multicultural literature for

    the class to examine. This will be an opportunity for you to consider how to use the literature in appropriate and effective ways in K-12 classrooms (IRA Standards 2.2, 2.3, 4.1).


“Diverse” Author Study

    Students will present a 10-15 minute presentation on a particular author who writes diverse literature. Students will describe the author and his/her work in an “author’s study” format that can be implemented in K-12 classrooms. Students should include at

    least 2 websites that offer information about the author. Students will also provide a 1-page handout so that colleagues become more familiar with a wide range of curricular materials in effective reading instruction for learners at different stages of reading and writing development and from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds (IRA Standards 2.3, 4.2, 4.4)

Critical Reading Logs

    Students will read books for young and adolescent readers by diverse authors to enhance awareness of multicultural literature. Students will also participate in Literature Circles to discuss their responses to the books. Students will keep critical reading logs of their responses/questions/insights into the book to share during the Literature Circles. Students will also write about how they might implement literature circles for diverse readers, with particular attention to the selection of materials that match the reading levels, interests, and cultural and linguistic backgrounds of students. Students will be expected to share the logs during Literature Circle discussions, with their colleagues, and the instructor (IRA Standards 2.2, 2.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.4)

Multicultural Materials Evaluation

    We will spend several sessions reviewing types of multicultural materials for reading instruction as well as different ways to analyze and select diverse texts. Based on this information, you will design a method for evaluating a range of diverse materials and use this system to evaluate at least three different material/media selections representing multiple levels, broad interests, and cultural and linguistic backgrounds and discuss their uses in creating motivating literate environments. Books, basals, and Internet sites will be available during class (IRA Standards 2.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.4)

“Mirrors and Windows” Autobiographical Essay

    In this assignment, you will write a brief essay about the role of literature in your own life using the metaphors of “mirrors and windows.” You will examine how literature has shaped your own identity, culture, and literacy practices. Students will be required to bring in examples of literature that has shaped their lives to share in class (IRA Standard 4.1)



    Your final grade will be based on your success in meeting the goals of this course as demonstrated throughout the semester and in the course assignments.

Class Participation and Reader Responses 10

    “Mirrors and Windows” Autobiographical Essay 10

    Discussion Leaders 15

    Multicultural Materials Evaluation 15

    Critical Reading Logs 30

    “Diverse” Author Study 20

    100 TOTAL

All written assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date indicated in the

    syllabus. Late assignments are reduced by half a letter grade for each day it is late. If

    you have a special circumstance and won’t be able to meet the deadline, let me know before the assignment is due and I will consider your request. Presenters/discussion leaders should be well prepared for their oral presentations. If you cannot make your oral presentation on the day it is assigned, let me know before class and I will consider

    alternative arrangements.

Grading Scale

    The following grading scale will be used to calculate students’ final grades in this course

    A+ (97% to 100%) A (93% to 96%) A- (90% to 92%)

    B+ (87% to 89%) B (83% to 86%) B- (80% to 82%)

    C+ (77% to 79%) C (73% to 76%) C- (70% to 72%)

    D (60% to 69%)

    University of Maryland Honor Pledge

    The University has a nationally recognized Honor Code, administered by the Student Honor Council. The Student Honor Council proposed and the University Senate approved an Honor Pledge. The University of Maryland Honor Pledge reads:

    "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment/examination."

    Unless you are specifically advised to the contrary, the Pledge statement should be handwritten and signed on the front cover of all papers, projects, or other academic assignments submitted for evaluation in this course. Students who fail to write and sign the Pledge will be asked to confer with the instructor. Please note, however, that signing or nonsigning of the Pledge will not be considered in grading or judicial procedures.


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