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Classroom Connections Using Multimodal Artifacts

By Priscila Costa, Asiye Demir, Lauren Hunt and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

All the Stars Denied and Buried Beneath the Baobab TreeIn our 5th and final post in this series, we would like to provide teachers with ideas for how students can respond to the reading of the two novels we have been discussing– All the Stars Denied (McCall, 2018) and Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree (Nwaubani, 2018). As you might remember from reading the first article in this series, we are educators with many years of teaching experience at different settings with diverse student populations, and we see various possibilities for the use of these two texts. It has been an educating journey for each of us as we worked together to design strategies that can be implemented in classrooms at various grade levels and at various contexts. Before we present you with instructional ideas, we would like to share with you some of our personal thoughts. Continue reading

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Using Stories to Teach Life Lessons in the Classroom

By Asiye Demir, Lauren Hunt, Priscila Costa and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

Buried Beneath the Baobab TreeBuried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (2018) tells the story of a girl who was kidnapped and forced to marry one of the militants of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Through the storyline of the novel, we witness their living standards, culture and religious practices. Last week we talked about our responses to this novel and since we are a diverse group of people, our responses were varied and had different aspects. Our group is made up of four teachers who have profound experiences with English language learners and other diverse student populations and as such this week we will approach our blog from the perspective of classroom applications. Continue reading

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Connecting to YA novels through Song

By Julia López-Robertson, Asiye Demir and Lauren Hunt, University of South Carolina

Last week we talked about connecting with literature through music and left you with Un besito más a 2015 song from Mexican brother/sister duo Jesse & Joy that tells the story of what happens when an undocumented family calls the fire department. Although the song is from 2015, it remains relevant four years later. According to the Migration Policy Institute, in 2017, 44 percent of U.S. immigrants (19.7 million people) reported having Hispanic or Latino origins and of those, approximately 10. 7 million are undocumented immigrants (Pew Hispanic Center, 2018). Important to note, the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States is at the lowest level in a decade. While the book deals with the repatriation of American citizens and not with undocumented immigrants, we drew similarities between the lack of humanity in their treatment. Continue reading

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Building Literacy Connections with YA Novels

By Julia López-Robertson, Priscila Medrado Costa, Asiye Demir and Lauren Hunt,
University of South Carolina

For the month of April, we are going to engage in discussions about All the Stars Denied by Guadalupe García McCall and Buried Beneath the Baobob Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. Before we begin though, let’s get to know who ‘we’ are.

All the Stars Denied and Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree Continue reading

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Filling the Gaps as Teachers to Teach More Completely

By Teri Davis, Jessica Baipho, Lori Deese, Kristel Gooding and Hope Robinson, Kershaw County School District, and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

A teacher must work to fill the gaps in their own knowledge in order to more effectively teach their students. These gaps extend to language similarities and differences between the student’s first language and English; cultural nuances that may be missing for a lesson; and religious considerations that may come up as part of teaching the whole child. Continue reading

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Culturally Relevant Materials: Building Community In the Classroom

By Lauren Hunt, Lori Deese, & Lisa Stockdale, Kershaw County School District, Camden, SC, Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

In The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, Manzano captures the struggles that are often part of mother-daughter relationships. Yet, in the end, the three females (Evelyn, her mother, and her grandmother), all gain better perspectives of themselves and each other. This story would most likely resonate with many teenagers because of the struggles teens face as they move from adolescence to adulthood. This book could be potentially more powerful for English Learners (ELs) who struggle not only with this rite of passage, but also having to face it in a country that is not their first home. I especially think of the Dreamers whose parents came to America searching for better lives for their families. I wonder if these students have difficulty understanding their parents desires to hold tightly to the ways of their country while they are fervently seeking to become a part of American culture. As a teacher, I wonder how I can best meet these students’ unique needs. Continue reading

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Girl Young Lords: Literature as Mirrors

By Teri Davis, Robin Sowell and Lisa Stockdale, Kershaw County School District, and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

Girl Young Lords!! Yes, for the first time, there were girl Young Lords.

This quote is the most relative to my classroom today. In The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano, Evelyn is almost set on fire for the revolution’s cause after seeing girls like her who were Young Lords. It gives her something greater to connect to other than the needs of her people. It gives her a “hero”, someone she relates to and admires. One general strategy for ELLs is to ensure our classrooms are welcoming places that represent all cultures. Having texts in my classroom to support ELLs is a positive and necessary part of my instruction. Continue reading

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[Re]visiting Evelyn Serrano

By Elizabeth Burr, Kershaw County School District, Camden, SC, Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, and Lisa Stockdale, Kershaw County School District

For the next month we, a university professor, a district ESL teacher and a classroom teacher taking a course on English Learner Assessment, invite you to join us as we think about and make connections to The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano. The story is about a young Puerto Rican girl, Evelyn, coming of age in Spanish Harlem, NYC, in the summer of 1969. A part of our class is reading young adult novels and making connections to the theories we read about and to our life experiences. Some of the cultures represented in these books are familiar to us but the majority are new. The new ones provide the opportunity for us to learn about a new culture and adapt it to the children in our classrooms. This first week, we present Elizabeth [Betsy] Burr’s, thoughts and connections to Evelyn Serrano. Then, we provide a mini-text set for your consideration. We welcome your responses and connections to our post!

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano Continue reading

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The Importance of Family: Learning through Our Heritage

By Josh Hill, Kami Gillette, and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

Bishop (1990) discusses texts as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Texts, Bishop explains, allow children to see into another person’s reality and should also allow children to see themselves and their own realities in a book. The three texts we discuss this month, Valerie Muñoz’s story, Los Hormigueros, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, and One Crazy Summer, can serve as windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors and provide clear examples of Yosso’s (2005) notion of Community Cultural Wealth, specifically of familial and resistant capital.

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