Global Perspectives on Social Change in the World

by Kathy Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Every two years, the International Board of Books for Young People holds a World Congress in different locations around the globe. The congresses are excellent occasions to make contacts, exchange ideas, and open horizons to global perspectives. In September, 600 people from around the world gathered in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, for panel discussions, lectures, seminars, and workshops around the theme of the strength of minorities. I have found that many so-called “world” conferences are actually primarily composed of Americans who use the conference as an excuse to travel abroad. This was not the case in Santiago—the attendees came from over 63 countries with only 40 of the 600 from the United States. The sessions focused on a wide range of issues related to minority languages and issues of inequity related to children’s books within various cultures and countries. Continue reading

Connecting Text and Illustrations

by Prisca Martens, Towson University, Towson, MD

During September we have explored how learning to read mulitmodally by integrating the pictorial text with the written text in picturebooks relates to young children’s reading development. We’ve examined children’s responses to picturebooks when they learn to read multimodally and also discussed classroom experiences that support that learning/reading.
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Learning to Read the Written and the Pictorial

by Prisca Martens, Towson University, Towson, MD

This week I’ll provide an example of the kinds of curricular experiences my co-researchers and I designed for the first graders to help them learn to read the pictorial text in picturebooks. As I shared last week, at the end of the school year most of the children were making sophisticated observations and reading meanings in the illustrations, in addition to the written text, which enhanced their understandings.
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Reading Multimodally

by Prisca Martens, Towson University, Towson, MD

In last week’s blog we reflected on the various modes or semiotic systems through which our culture communicates meaning. These include visual (i.e., art, moving images), linguistic (i.e., language), auditory (i.e., sound, music), gestural (i.e., movement, dance), and spatial (i.e., layout, design). Picturebooks are multimodal, drawing on the linguistic, visual, spatial, and gestural systems. Schools and society, though, tend to emphasize the written text for constructing meaning at the expense of the others.

My colleagues and I are in the second year of a three year study exploring how, in picturebooks, learning to read meanings through a variety of modes relates to beginning readers’ reading development. We worked with 37 first graders in two classrooms last year. At the beginning and end of the year we asked the children to read a picturebook and retell it and then respond to questions about the illustrations without the book in front of them.
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Words Aren't Everything

by Prisca Martens, Towson University, Towson, MD

In our ever changing world it is not surprising that the concepts of literacy and what it means to be literate continue to evolve. The traditional definition that associates reading and writing with print on paper no longer encompasses the range of texts literate persons encounter on a daily basis. These texts can be printed on paper or transmitted electronically, sometimes even in real time. They come in a range of representational forms. Today’s communication systems can be multimodal, linear or nonlinear, and even depart from the traditional left to right or top to bottom orientation.

Semiotic systems are systems of signs through which societies or cultures share meaning. These sign systems may be language based, visual (i.e., art, moving images), auditory (i.e., sound, music), gestural (i.e., movement, dance), or spatial (i.e., layout, design). Each sign system conveys understanding in unique ways and offers its own exclusive perspective on a particular cultural meaning. Texts are one way of communicating meaning in a social context. Multimodal texts employ more than one semiotic system, with each system contributing in a different way to how the text is comprehended.
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Resources on the Life and Work of Francisco Jiménez

Sandy Kaser, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Francisco Jimenez’s homepage:

This site has some general biographical information, a list of all his publications, his educational and professional background, study guides specifically helpful for students and educators in reading his books and information on the best way to contact Professor Jiménez at Santa Clara University.

www.scu.edu/cas/modernlanguages/facultystaff/jimenezhomepage.cfm
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Part 4 – His words to you: quotes from Francisco Jimenez

Sandy Kaser, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

In my university classes, I sometimes use a strategy called “text rendering,” in which we read aloud a passage from a text or article that we found to be particularly meaningful. Although it is all right to discuss the passages, I personally prefer simply to hear the words and let them stand. I invite you now to hear the words of Francisco Jimenez taken from some of the multiple sources I reviewed in which he speaks in a public forum.
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Part 3 – Students' Correspondence with Francisco Jimenez

Sandy Kaser, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Dear Mr. Francisco Jimenez,

    I’ve read all of your books and they are all so great! It made me disappointed how some of the people treated you and your family. Like when your girlfriend took you home to meet her parents and they were angry because you were a Mexican.
    I liked the part when you asked Roberto if he’d dance with you because you wanted to learn how to dance. And Roberto was afraid that someone would see you dancing together.
    I admired how you didn’t care what other people thought of you. You were brave and devoted and kept going even after someone insulted you or put you down.
    I also liked how your books were so descriptive, everything stood out in my mind. I could picture the people you described and the places you went in my mind like I’d actually seen them before.
    I loved your books. They were all so wonderful.
    Sincerely,
    Madeline

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Part 2 – Reading the words of Francisco Jimenez

Sandy Kaser, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Gordon Wells makes a case for spontaneous dialogue and its relationship to community and to society in the March, 2009 issue of Language Arts,. He states that “the beliefs, values, and knowledge that are attributed to society remain abstract and disembodied until they are brought to bear in particular interpersonal situations.” He argues that “dialogue within a classroom helps to create community while simultaneously building a bridge between individuals and the society of which they are members.” As we read the books of Francisco Jimenez, our class engaged in dialogue that brought us together as a community, and that also enabled us to reflect on current issues and values in society.

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Part 1 – Discovering the words of Francisco Jiménez

Sandy Kaser, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Many teachers look for ways to make books meaningful to students. Sometimes we go about this in a deliberate way. Perhaps we have a unit of study coming up and so we look for books that offer different perspectives on this particular topic, or we have “umbrella” themes that cover an entire year and find books that support students in making connections and asking questions all year. In pulling books, we are careful to have a range that reflects the identities of the students entrusted to us.

But sometimes, we happen across a book that has an unexpected effect for both our students and ourselves. When that happens, we want to climb up on a roof top somewhere and shout, “This one! Read this one!” But then we discover that other folks have been shouting on that roof top and we just didn’t hear it. And we are all the more amazed. How did we miss it? This is what happened in my classroom with the books of Francisco Jiménez, specifically The Circuit, Breaking Through and Reaching Out.
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