WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Under The Broken Sky

Cover of Under the Broken Sky which depicts two young Japanese girls carrying backpacks and embracing each other, looking out to the viewer on a background of desert and blue sky.Written in free verse, Under the Broken Sky is the story of a family of Japanese settlers in the historical context of Manchuria in northern China in World War II. Manchuria is a forested and rich agricultural land that Japan invaded in 1931 for raw materials due to a lack of resources in Japan. In 1945, twelve-year-old Natsu lives with her father and little sister, Asa, on a quiet farm in Manchuria. Natsu’s mother died while giving birth to Asa, leaving their father in raise them. But Japan is losing the war, and the Soviet Union invades in the summer of 1945, and Natsu’s father is drafted to fight for the Japanese Empire. Natsu, Asa, and Auntie (their neighbor), along with other Japanese settlers, become refugees, fleeing on foot to the city of Harbin, where they live in an abandoned school. Facing a harsh winter, hunger, exhaustion, illness, and bullets from Soviet planes, many die, including Auntie. Natsu and Asa are left destitute and alone. Natsu survives by begging on the streets, and like other Japanese parents, is faced with the agonizing decision of selling her little sister Asa, to a Russian woman in hopes that Asa will be fed, cared for, and kept safe. This story gives readers insight into Japanese refugee families during World War II as well as families today who are forced to leave their homes. -Recommended by Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District. Continue reading

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Finding Readers’ Voices through Listening and Reading Blended

Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ

Blended coverThis week we share the digital natives’ experiences in the 8th grade classroom with a print–based text and an audiobook from the classroom. Recently, fifteen 8th grade students at the Drachman Montessori K–8 Magnet School in Tucson read Blended by Sharon M. Draper (2019). They are going to read two different formats of Blended; the 320 paged printed–text reading that consists of 80 chapters and the audiobook listening that takes 5 hours and 42 minutes. The students read and listen to chapters in turn intentionally to challenge their reluctant attitudes towards printed texts that RPR (Reluctant Printed–Text Readers) have. Continue reading

Integrating Youth Culture for Youth Literacy

Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ

Book Flix Wall
Magee is one of the largest middle schools in Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) in Tucson, AZ. Approximately, a third of the 650 students with diverse backgrounds are attending Magee middle school. Students are provided with various STEAM opportunities (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). The school also offers classes in areas such as theater, computer science, and robotics, among others. Above all, Magee’s library provides rich learning opportunities to digital native students in ways that are relevant to their cultures. The library has been responsive to changes in learning environments in school and society. Continue reading

Reluctant Printed-Text Readers’

Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ

The Last Book in the Universe CoverTwo Faces of Digital Prosperity
We saw them and decided to name them Reluctant Printed–Text Readers (RPR). RPR are comfortable with reading texts in digital spaces, but are readers who feel reluctant and resistant to reading printed texts. They do literacy practices in digital spaces, but don’t assess their literacy practice as reading because they usually read on those digital gadgets. They hardly enjoy reading texts on paper. In 2001, Marc Prensky claimed, “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach,” (p.1). Prensky’s expression of “change” indicates K–college students being digital generations whose surroundings are all some types of digital items such as music players, cell phones, video games, tablets, computers, etc. Thus, “Digital natives” grew to be an outdated expression since our students are now all “native speakers.” Now in 2019, we live in the digital era that “okay, Google” or “Alexa” can help you to take care of quick info search, running errands, and other life operations. Young people in our classrooms now have smartphones for their entertainment, research, socializing, reading, etc. Books are not a comfortable “thing” to some or many young readers. The fantasy book, The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick (2002) may no longer be a fantasy. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Cardboard Kingdom

The Cardboard KingdomThe graphic novel The Cardboard Kingdom is a cheerful story capturing children’s imagination and creativity, friendship and exploration of conflicts with families, friends and even their own identity. Chad Sell created this book in coordination with ten other writers, including Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Manuel Betancourt, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Cloud Jacobs, Michael Cole and Barbara Perez Marquez. Continue reading

Teaching about the Refugee Experience

By Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District

In this month’s WOW Currents, Yoo Kyung Sung and Junko Sakoi talked about their project, “Read, Write, Review for Us (RWRU)” and how it is helping to educate local Tucson children about the refugee experiences of kids just like them. This week we will focus on the positive developments that came from the students’ pen pal experience. We will also discuss what teachers can do through classroom instruction to cultivate awareness of the diversity of people and cultures in the community.

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Creating Student Connections Using Text Sets

By Sakoi Junko, Tucson Unified School District and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico

This week, we will continue the discussion about text sets, which were created by the “Read, Write, Review for Us (RWRU)” project to help educate local Tucson children about refugee students’ homelands and the diversity within those groups of people. Once the first text set was displayed for book browsing in the classroom, the 5th graders were able to “relocate” their old home into the various stories within the books. We observed the excitement in the students’ voices as they shared stories of their homeland with their peers. It became obvious at that point that even the 5th graders did not know each other’s backgrounds. Because they are often generalized as “refugee students”, the students’ individual identities are often forgotten. With the exception of customs, the refugee and immigrant students are no different from any of the American students beginning the new year in a new classroom every August. It was particularly advantageous to put aside the term, “refugee” and allow the children to learn about each other from a fresh perspective.

Creating Student Connections Using Text Sets Continue reading

Creating Mixed Genre Text Sets

By Sakoi Junko, Tucson Unified School District and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico

Children’s literature may be one the best mediums for promoting new learning in the classroom. Text sets are especially helpful in that they offer a collective of literary landscapes full of unfamiliar places and various perspectives. This week, we introduce a text set that we put together to support the new Tucsonan (immigrant and refugee) children’s cultural affirmation while they develop the Tucsonan side of their identity. The text sets we create for “Read, Write, Review for Us (RWRU)” projects are to inform local Tucson children about refugee students’ homelands and the diversity within those groups of people. When the the topic of refugees is framed in this way, students will realize that the term “refugees” does not always mean war-zone survivors. Students learn that it can also include those surviving climate change. For example, the Marshall Islands are drowning due to climate changes and many of Marshallese had to relocated to places like Tucson.

Creating Mixed Genre Text Sets Continue reading