Literacy as a Tool for Personal and Social Transformation

This year’s conference will include presentations that address the following objectives:

  • Connect literacy to the potential for personal and/or social transformation
  • Provide models of civic/community engagement projects or programs, especially models that include a social justice training or focus
  • Provide specific teaching techniques based on best practices for student-led and community-based literacy groups and organizations, particularly models that use a learner-centered, participatory education approach
  • Relate to literacy topics beyond reading and writing (examples may include: digital literacy, math literacy, health literacy, financial literacy, etc.)

A Critical Social Justice Framework for Literacy

Dr. Dana M. Stachowiak, University of North Carolina Wilmington (Twitter @DrStachowiak)

The purpose of this presentation is to encourage teaching critical literacy in urban elementary schools through a social justice framework. The goals are three-fold. First, the presenter will introduce particpants to the relevant and important literature on the benefits of teaching through a social justice lens. Next, the presenter will highlight three different pedagogical methods for teaching critical literacy with a social justice framework, including: social justice activist teaching (Bettez, 2008); close reading (Lehman & Roberts, 2014); and culturally relevant pedagogy (Nieto & Bode, 2007; Gay, 2002; Banks & Banks, 1995; Ladson-Billings, 1994). A final goal for this presentation is to share a way to teach a critical literacy unit through a social justice framework by providing participants with a sample unit on reading and writing for social justice, as well as a glimpse into a few elementary classrooms where the framework and unit were used. This unit, “Developing a Social Justice Mindset,” encouraged students to dive into understanding and researching issues related to privilege, power, and difference. Then, students created related social action projects that reached into the greater community (ex., “Racism Still Exists,” booth; “Move Your Hood” sidewalk campaign for people experiencing disabilities; “Wage Gap Protest.”).

Tapping into Students’ Passions to Promote Literacy and Life Long Learning

Ian Wolf, Louisburg College

Tons of research shows that making real-world connections to learning has profound impacts on students, but making those connections can sometimes be highly challenging. For a few years now, I have themed my sections of Writing and Inquiry on time travel, which has lead to an elevated level of engagement from students from a myriad of backgrounds on numerous subjects, which has in turn allowed for significant text-to-world connections. This presentation intends to provide a general view of the course, offer the lessons and observations gleaned since instituting the theme of time travel, and lay the groundwork for bringing your own passions to your educational practices.

The Digital Literacy Skills of U.S. Young Adults: New Results from the PIAAC Study

Katie Landeros, American Institutes for Research

The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is a large-scale international household study that assesses a broad range of adult competencies through a direct assessment in three domains: literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving. In March 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department Education released updated results for the skills of U.S. adults (16-74 years old). In addition to direct assessments of skills, the study collects extensive background information on the participants’ educational attainment, formal and non-formal training, past and present employment, civic engagement and political efficacy well as health status and preventive health. This session will focus on the digital literacy performance of U.S. young adults (age 16-34) by various characteristics such as gender, age, race/ethnicity, and nativity. It will provide information on how young adult skills distributed across the population groups and will offer adult educators, researchers, and policymakers critical information on how skills relate to social and economic outcomes.

Hearing All Voices: Inclusive Literacy Practices in Heterogenous Classrooms

Lesley Siegel, Arcadia University

Literacy is a human right, an avenue to empowerment and self-determination, and necessary to navigating the world on a daily basis. Low expectations for students with disabilities often lead to exclusion from meaningful literacy experiences. Within the K-12 classroom, group discussions of text provide a platform for authentic engagement, collaboration, and for students to become active participants in their own learning. In a heterogeneous classroom it is a challenge to facilitate meaningful literacy experiences that provide each student a voice in the conversation. This session will utilize the virtual platform to model the methods used in an ongoing research study working with pre-service general educators to use multiple representations of a single story to provide all students a voice in the conversation.

Developing Leadership through Collaborative Practice

Megan McCurley, Duke University (Find Duke ARAC on Facebook and Twitter @ARAC_Duke)

This will be an interactive session where Duke University America Reads/America Counts (ARAC) Head Tutors will share their experiences as program leaders in a literacy tutoring program and how collaborative decision making can impact learners and tutors. We will talk share strategies for how students, volunteers, interns and early career professionals can engage effectively in collaborative decision making and how to encourage more collaborative practices in education programs.

Seeing, Feeling, and Hearing Sound- Multisensory Reading

Lily Contorer, Literacy Council of Buncombe

Seeing, Feeling and Hearing Sound- Multisensory reading offers exposure to a variety of methods to use with struggling readers that allow them to use hearing, vision and kinesthetic/tactile learning pathways to improve language and reading skills.

Visual Literacy: Incorporating Art into Life for Students

Kate Stotesbery & Annie Kiyonaga, Art&Life (Find Art&Life on Facebook)

As an organization, we try to use art history as a tool for social change through fostering visual literacy in our students. We do this by exploring art from a diverse range of artists, analyzing pieces through a social, political, and artistic lens. We place a particular emphasis on art from non-western cultures and underrepresented groups. Even more, by teaching art history to students in various public and charter middle and high schools in our community, we strive to broaden access to art history education for these students and engage those who might not otherwise have the chance to pursue art history. Although the primary mission of our organization is to accomplish this mission specifically through art history classes, we believe that incorporating “visual literacy” into a variety of educational environments can work towards this same goal. In our presentation, we will share our organization’s model and our story, as well as our tactics for teaching and encouraging visual literacy. Then we will share concrete examples of our methods and discuss practical opportunities for audience members to incorporate lessons on visual literacy into their own organizations and teaching.

Changing the Face of Literacy through Digital Inclusion

Dr. DeAndre S. Pickett, Literacy Action (follow Literacy Action on Twitter @LAIAtlanta)

During this presentation, we will discuss the framework for understanding the mindsets of those who possess low-literacy skills due to poverty, accessibility, inadequate school systems and resources, and how to provide differentiated learning options to close not only the digital divide but the educational gap.

Paulo Freire´s Literacy Methods of “La Palabra Generadora” and Culture Circles as Means for Community Empowerment

Irving Antonio Barrera Lopez, United World College USA and The Minerva Schools at KGI

Giving as a main example the literacy campaign Alfabetiza 2014 in San Martin Esperillas, Puebla, the seminar will present the advantages of the literacy model proposed by Paulo Freire for implementing community development activities along with literacy classes. The literacy method of “La Palabra Generadora” has its foundations on the dialogue and culture of the students, which serve as catalysts for community projects and the classes themselves. Every class starts with a “culture circle”, in which the students and the facilitator exchange knowledge and opinions on an issue of culture and society, subsequently proposing solutions altogether. Such a model allows the students to identify the needs in their communities, while progressing on their reading and writing skills. At the same time it allows the organizers of the project to collaborate with the community without being intrusive, as the model abolishes the teacher-student verticality. Thanks to the literacy method, health, feminist and community development workshops were started in the campaign without losing the connection with the literacy classes. The method of the culture circle and “La Palabra Generadora” will be presented to the audience through a class simulation, which is very interactive and generates enriching dialogues

Growth Mindset

Brenna McColl, SCALE

Everyone has some type of mindset, from young learners to aging adults. Students may be aware or unaware of their mindsets, but these mindsets can have a critical effect on learning achievement, skill acquisition, and numerous aspects of life in general. Growth mindset, a concept development by Stanford University Psychologist Carol Dweck, is defined by the belief that anyone can become anything because skill comes from practice, not from innate talent and intelligence.  As adult and K-12 educators, it is important to be able to recognize individual strengths in every learner and support them in a way that enhances resiliency, develops optimism, and increases motivation.


Lesson Planning Tips: Promoting Learner Engagement and Success

Roberta Hawthorne

Learners of all ages are more likely to stick with tutoring when they feel engaged in their lessons and can see their own success. This presentation discusses strategies that are designed to increase learner retention by boosting confidence and promoting interest. Topics covered include the importance of review, how to use explicit instruction, and the role of linguistic empowerment in the classroom. This presentation is appropriate for educators working with learners of any age and any subject.

(Re) Segregation in U.S. Schools

Laura Brown, SCALE (Find SCALE on Facebook and Twitter @readwriteact)

An overview of the segregation/desegregation of schools starting with the Brown v. Board decision moving into the period of heavy re-segregation occurring from 1990-2011 when several districts were released from desegregation orders.  The presentation will cover relevant cases and how the re-segregation of schools is impacting literacy education.

Exploring Health Literacy in Education and Service

Leah Osae, Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), UNC Chapter

This presentation will discuss the importance of health literacy in education and civic engagement, particularly for those belonging to underserved and marginalized communities. Strategies for presenting health literacy and health legislation topics will be explored in addition to approaches for engaging students and community members in health and wellness topics.

Educate, Advocate, Lead: Using Literacy to Promote Social Justice and Build Community

Jennifer Castillo and Olivia Sandin, North Carolina State University

This workshop will focus on the programs and ways  Read to LEAD utilizes literacy as a tool to promote personal and social transformation. Presenters will share more about our model and the role relationships play, lesson plan samples and community builder service activities that promote social justice and volunteerism, and our leadership development models that are at the foundation of our programming.

Read, Write, and Let a Child Act

Crystal Yuille, UNC Bonner Leaders Program

Time and again claims have been made that it’s difficult to introduce social justice themes to children. While truthfully it may be best to present some topics to children at an older, more appropriate level, it is crucial that we start some hard conversations at a young age. First, because our kids can handle it, and second because it will serve to create a more inclusive community.
This webinar will detail why it important to have open conversations with children about topics that may be considered “beyond their understanding.” Instead of being nerve-wrecking, discussing social justice can have empowering outcomes, especially when creativity is involved. As such, my webinar would touch on creative ways that children have been brought into the conversation while drawing from global efforts witnessed in Cuba as well as local examples through SCALE.
First, I would like to invite visitors to question and overcome what exactly makes these conversations difficult to have with children. The examples of social justice, art, and literacy would follow, stemming first from Cuba’s literacy efforts in which child tutors were heavily involved and a unique museum-school that taught children history and dance. Then, I would discuss the social justice stories and how how completing them invites kids to the conversation, shows kids that social justice is something that starts with them, and helps them understand certain “difficult” concepts in a fun and important way.
Not only will I use the experiences of our tutors and tutees at SCALE as examples, as well as my own experiences and knowledge gained in Cuba, but I will also look to incorporate published articles and research as an aid. Finally, I hope to demonstrate that through discussion of certain social justice themes, children can become empowered for the better.

Guided Reading

Megan McCurley, Duke University (Find Duke ARAC on Facebook and Twitter @ARAC_Duke)

Guided reading is small-group reading instruction designed to provide differentiated teaching that supports students in developing reading proficiency. In this training, participants will learn how to plan and run a Guided Reading lesson with a small group of students,  including how to assess and plan for different students’ needs.

Irving Antonio Barrera Lopez

Born in Mexico City, Irving has been interested in the outreach of education in his country and the world. In 2014, he participated in the literacy program Alfabetiza, a project that implements community workshops in rural localities apart from imparting reading and writing classes to adults. Less than a year later, he completed his high school degree at the United World College, an institution with the mission of “making education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future”. The teaching method from the literacy program was useful to develop community activities at the United World College and in the closest town of Las Vegas, NM. Irving is studying his undergraduate degree at the Minerva Schools at KGI, which strive for innovating the education system in the world. Irving hopes to learn more pedagogical methods to apply in Mexico, a country with a significant educational gap.

Laura Brown

Laura is the Literacy Programs Director for SCALE (Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education), serving as coordinator for the America Reads/America Counts program at UNC Chapel Hill. Laura’s previous work was in the field of librarianship where she taught information literacy and digital literacy classes. She is passionate about working with college students and empowering literacy learners to become active voices for their communities.

Jennifer Castillo/Olivia Sandin

Jennifer Castillo is the Associate Director of the Women’s Center at North Carolina State University. Jennifer enjoys learning with and serving her community, and is especially passionate about issues of diversity, gender equity and education as a transformative tool for social change.

Being a military brat, Olivia Sandin considers herself from everywhere.  She was born in Maryland, then lived in Germany, New Jersey, and Maine, and her parents currently live in Leland, North Carolina.  She is a junior at N.C. State University, where she is majoring in Social Work and Women and Gender Studies with a minor in Spanish.  After graduation, Olivia wants to receive her MSW from N.C. State University and use it to open a coed home for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. She is extremely passionate about social justice and gender equity, and hopes to inspire youth to do anything they want and to challenge themselves to grow and learn something

Lily Contorer

Lily Contorer works at the non-profit Literacy Council of Buncombe County where she is the Director of Adult Education and the Director of the Augustine Project, a tutoring program for low-income children who read, write and spell below grade level. Lily was first exposed to multisensory education during her undergraduate work in the education of deaf and hearing impaired individuals.

Roberta Hawthorne

Roberta Hawthorne is a Spanish-English medical interpreter based out of Durham, North Carolina. Previously she worked in Adult Education coordinating and managing literacy programs for native and non-native speakers of English. Roberta has also worked as a bilingual Family Literacy instructor for parents with young children. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Elon University in Spanish and International Studies, as well as a certificate from Forsyth Tech in Interpreting in Health and Human Services. Roberta currently works at Duke University Medical Center as an interpreter and continues to be a champion for the cause of literacy.

Katie Landeros

Katie Landeros is part of the PIAAC team at the American Institutes for Research, supporting the National Center for Education Statistics with research tasks, data analyses and reviews of PIAAC research results and reports. She also manages outreach activities to disseminate PIAAC results.

Brenna McColl

Brenna McColl is the Program Director for the North Carolina LiteracyCorps, an AmeriCorps program through SCALE. She has served as a tutor and program manager in both K-12 and adult settings. She is currently in her 2nd year at UNC-Chapel Hill earning her Master’s in Social Work. Her passions include community building, learner centered education, and promoting diversity & equity in the education setting.

Megan McCurley

Megan McCurley is the program coordinator for the America Reads/America Counts program at Duke University. Megan served as an America Reads tutor while studying education at New York University. She also helped to support the America Reads and Counts program at UNC-CH during her time as Executive Director of SCALE. She is passionate about participatory education, literacy and supporting volunteer tutors and educators.

Leah Melissa Osae

Leah is a second-year student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and currently serves as the Voting, Legislation, and Immigration chair of the Eshelman chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA). Through the Immigration initiative, Leah coordinates health literacy events for ESOL speakers and hopes to continue informing others of how health literacy and health legislation impact community wellness.

DeAndre Pickett

Dr. DeAndre S. Pickett is a fresh, young and innovative politico and social and educational advocate who has taken community as his first priority. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, DeAndre moved to Atlanta to pursue a degree in Sociology and English later completing a double Master’s degree in Education Administration with a Curriculum Development and Leadership emphasis and another in Theology. He recently finished one part of his dual doctoral degree in Education and Sociological Studies from Liberty University to be fully completed next year.

Lesley Siegel

Lesley N. Siegel is an assistant professor of inclusive education at Arcadia University. Her research interests include inclusive literacy practices, teacher dispositions on dis/ability, and educational criticism in community settings. Dr. Siegel’s Arcadia Profile can be accessed here.

Dana Stachowiak

Dana M. Stachowiak, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at The University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She is also a social justice literacy consultant with The Educator Collaborative. Dana earned her degree at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the Department of Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. Her primary areas of specialization and research include: social justice education, equity literacy, literacy curriculum development, cultural foundations of education, qualitative research methods, and gender studies. Dana has several publications (current and forthcoming) on a critical social justice framework for literacy, social justice and equity in higher education, and teaching social justice in teacher education programs.

Kate Stotesbery & Annie Kiyonaga

Kate Stotesbery is a senior Political Science and Public Policy major at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In political science, her main focus is on international relations, global migration, and human rights studies; she’s currently writing a senior thesis about increasingly ethnically diverse migration patterns into western democracies and their effects on anti-discrimination laws. On campus, she writes in the opinion pages of UNC’s newspaper, competes on the mock trial team, and loves working with Art&Life as an Education Outreach Coordinator. She joined Art&Life at its beginning as a high school art history teacher, and after a semester studying in Madrid returned to the organization passionate about expanding its influence in the service community in Chapel Hill.

Annie Kiyonaga is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has been involved in Art&Life throughout her time at Carolina, teaching middle school students, and this year has worked to expand the organization’s impact as an Education Outreach Coordinator. She spent this past summer in Thailand, volunteering and working in the field of art therapy. Annie also enjoys writing as a columnist in the Daily Tar Heel and working in other service groups on campus.

Ian Wolf

Ian Wolf is an educator within Louisburg College’s English Department. His undergraduate degree is in English Education from East Carolina University and an advanced degree in Literature from North Carolina State University. He lives in Louisburg, North Carolina with his wife, a brilliant Media Specialist for Franklin County Public Schools; his one-year-old son Eben, an avid reader; and his dog Corduroy, who derives his name (and occasionally sustenance) from books. Ian’s pedagogical approach focuses on experimentation, which has led to sustained and effective use of critical inquiry, flipped classrooms, Problem-based learning, etc. His literary interests are heavily grounded in Science Fiction and popular culture.

Crystal Yuille

Crystal Yuille is a student at UNC double majoring in Global Studies and Public Policy, with a minor in Spanish. Her academic passions and career goals remain driven towards empowerment and advocacy for marginalized people. As a first year student, she was chosen as a member of the Bonner Leader Program, a national work-study program which pairs students with a local nonprofit for 4 years. As such, Ms. Yuille works with SCALE (Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education) and has facilitated large service-learning events, hosted webinars, and promoted such topics as diversity in literature. Her aspirations towards promoting advocacy and empowerment has led to her writing for the school newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel Editorial Board (2016-2017), serving as Community Service Chair for the Spanish Living-Learning Community (2015-2016), and being selected as the Director of Evaluations at the Campus Y, the Center for Social Justice, (2016-2017).

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