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Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies





Summer Institute

Cambourne Article



Literacy Across Cultures

Spring 2003


Instructor: Holbrook Mahn
Times: Tuesday 4:30--6:45 pm
Credit Hours: 3
Place: Montezuma Elementary School
Office: Hokona 212 

Office Hours: Tues. & Thurs. 1:00 - 2:00 & TBA
Phone 277-5887; home: 881-7981
e-mail: hmahn@unm.edu

Course Description and Rationale:
This course will examine theories of first language literacy acquisition and development across different cultures. It will focus on languages that teachers in the Southwest encounter in their classrooms. It is the first part of a two course sequence, the second part of which is second language literacy acquisition and development. We will examine literacy from a number of different perspectives and then building on this understanding, we will examine practical classroom applications that will facilitate the acquisition and development of literacy. Initially, we will discuss a methodological approach to study literacy and then explore the development of literacy in different cultures, as a prelude to studying the processes at play as an individual acquires and develops literacy at home and at school.

1. To develop a methodological approach to study first language literacy acquisition and development across cultures.
2. To examine the historical development of literacy and construct a definition of literacy.
3. To examine the way that literacy develops in a child's first five years.
4. Based on that understanding to develop a pedagogical approach that builds on that development.
5. To critique current approaches to the teaching of literacy with a particular focus on programs prevalent in APS.
6. To develop classroom practices that reflect students' own developing conception of literacy acquisition and development.
7. To understand the relationship between literacy and technology and how to integrate them in the classroom.

Course Assignments:
On-line discussion (15%)-- Regular participation in an on-line discussion set up for this course which is accessible by clicking Here. This on-line discussion allows us to ask questions, make comments, respond to questions, raise concerns, in essence to carry on a dialogue with our peers and the instructor. Students should make at least one contribution per week. Last day to post is 4/26.

Tutoring (15%) -- Each student will be assigned or will find on their own a low progress reader in the primary grades to tutor for one hour a week for ten weeks. If there is an age level that is more suited to the grade you teach, or expect to teach, please discuss it with me. At the end of ten weeks students will write a short (2-3 page) reflection on the tutoring experience focusing on what you have learned through this experience. Due 4/29

Literacy in Another Country (10%) -- Each student will be responsible for doing a mini-research project on how literacy is acquired in another country through interviewing someone who learned to read and write in another language in another country or by searching on the internet. 1-2 page paper summarizing findings. Due 2/18

Literacy Action Plan (LAP) - (30%)
-- This project will give you the opportunity to reflect on your approach to teaching literacy and to develop a plan that you would implement in your classroom. This plan should start with a 2-3 page statement of the underlying theoretical approach that will inform the way that literacy activities are constructed in your classroom and the other 3-5 pages should describe practical application.The theoretical approach should reflect your philosophy toward literacy instruction based on the readings we have done, classroom discussions, and your own experiences. You will then give an overview of how your curriculum will be organized, including literacy routines that you would do on a regular basis. You should also include the description of an activity that reflects your approach to literacy instruction. You can use this project to develop a plan that you would implement if you were not constrained by other considerations. A rough draft of your LAP will be due 3/11 and the Final Copy will be due on 4/8. Please use APA format. Click here for a brief explanation of APA style or here for the APA web site on citing electronic references. We will discuss this project at greater length in class.

Final Project (30%) -- This project will give you the opportunity to explore an area of literacy activity that is of particular interest to you. The kind of inquiry you conduct will vary depending on the nature of your project. It is hoped that this project will be something that helps you in your teaching. No matter what the project is, you will turn in a 2-3 page paper describing your inquiry process -- how and why you choose the project, how you refined the scope, how you gathered the information, what you learned from the process. Due 5/6.

Graduate Credit -- a short paper (2-3) pages reviewing two online articles about first language literacy acquisition, that tie in with your Literacy Action Plan. This review will be factored into the 30% allocated to the Literacy Action Plan. Due 4/29

Grading --

A+ = 100-99 B+ = 88-89 C+ = 78-79
A = 94-98 B = 84-87 C = 74-77
A- = 90-93 B- = 80-83 F = below 74

Individuals with special needs
Students with special needs should contact me as soon as possible to ensure that appropriate academic adjustments are met in a timely manner.

Required Text: Conversations -- Regie Routman
Other articles on-line or distributed in class.

Course Schedule

Week One -- 1/21 -- Topic: Introduction to the Course and Community Building.

Week Two -- 1/28 -- Development of a Methodological Approach/
Origins of Literacy
Reading: Smith -- "Reading -- From Behind the Eyes"; Harste article

Week Three -- 2/4-- Topic: Literacy Instruction in Other Countries
Reading: Weaver -- "How Words Are Perceived";

Week Four -- 2/11 -- Beginning to Construct a Framework to study Literacy across Cultures.
Reading: "Practice-Engagement Theory: A Sociocultural Approach to Literacy Across Languages and Cultures" Reder; Conversations -- Introduction & Ch. 1

Week Five -- 2/18-- Topic: Curriculum Inquiry to begin planning for Final Projects
Reading: Conversations -- Ch. 12 (
Note: Chapter out of sequence)
Literacy in Another Country Report Due

Week Six
-- 2/25 -- Different Cultural Approaches to Teaching Reading
Reading: Conversations -- Chs. 2 & 3

Week Seven -- 3/4 -- Topic: Struggling Readers & Special Needs Students
Reading: Conversations -- Ch. 4, ; Lyons -- "Helping a Learning-Disabled Child Enter the Literate World";
The Differentiated Classroom

Week Eight -- 3/11 -- Topic: Creating a Culturally Sensitive Environment for Literacy Acquisition
Reading: Conversations -- Ch. 5
Rough Draft of Literacy Action Plan Due -- Bring four (4) copies to class.

Week Nine
-- 3/18 -- Topic: Getting Started with Writing -- Different Cultural Approaches
Reading: Conversations -- Ch. 6 (UNM Spring Break)

Week Ten -- 3/25 -- Topic: Using Journals in the Classroom
Reading: Conversations -- Ch. 7 (APS Spring Break)

Week Eleven -- 4/1-- Topic: Creating a Culturally Sensitive Environment for Writing
Reading: Conversations -- Ch. 8

Week Twelve -- 4/8 -- Topic: Multiple Purposes & Functions for Writing; Family Literacy

Reading: Conversations -- Ch. 9; Strickland & Taylor -- "Family Storybook Reading: Implications for Children, Families, and Curriculum"

Supplementary: A site with excellent articles on Family Literacy

Literacy Action Plans Due

Week Thirteen
-- 4/15 -- Topic: Spelling & Reading in the Content Areas
Reading: Conversations -- Ch. 10 & 11

Week Fourteen -- 4/22-- Topic: Culturally Sensitive Assessment and Evaluation of Literacy Activities
Reading: Conversations -- Ch. 15 (Note chapter out of sequence)
Excellent article on testing; Article on testing from the NY Times

Week Fifteen -- 4/29-- Topic: Collaboration and Professional Development
Presentations of Final Projects
Reading: Conversations -- Ch. 14
Tutoring Reflections Due
Graduate Credit Reviews Due
Last Day to Post to Online Discussion 5/3

Week Sixteen
-- 5/6 --Topic: Presentations of Final Projects
Reading: Weaver: A Balanced Approach to Reading
; Smith -- "Twelve Easy Ways to Make Learning to Read Difficult"; Labbo, Hoffman & Roser, "Ways to Unintentionally Make Writing Difficult"
Supplementary: NCLB: Schools with Minorities Set up to Fail;
No End to the Reading Wars
Links on "Reading Wars"
Final Projects Due




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