Integrating Youth Culture for Youth Literacy

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

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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 Thus, “Digital natives” grew to be an outdated expression since our students are now all “native speakers.”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

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MTYT: Hurricane Child

By Michele Ebersole, University of Hawaii, Hilo, HI, and
Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Continuing with the theme of “sense of belonging” in books for young people, Michele Ebersole and Yoo Kyung Sung read and discuss stories that capture the dynamics of a community and reflect young people’s lives within a community as space. Sense of belonging is a process of understanding who you are and where you belong. This theme unfolds alongside a sense of isolation in Hurricane by Kheryn Callender.

MTYT Header with Hurricane Child bibliographic info, which is also listed at the end of the post Continue reading

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MTYT: The Dollar Kids

By Michele Ebersole, University of Hawaii, Hilo, HI, and
Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Continuing on the theme of “sense of belonging” in books for young people, Michele Ebersole and Yoo Kyung Sung look to stories that capture community dynamics and reflect young people’s lives within a community as space. Sense of belonging is a process of making sense of who you are and where you are. This theme unfolds in The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson and illustrated by Ryan Andrews.

MTYT Header with The Dollar Kids bibliographic info, which is also listed at the end of the post. Continue reading

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MTYT: Islandborn

By Michele Ebersole, University of Hawaii, Hilo, HI, and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Michele Ebersole and Yoo Kyung Sung take on the theme of “sense of belonging” in books for young people, to capture different dynamics in stories of communities and also reflect young people’s lives within a community as space. Sense of belonging is a process of making sense of who you are and where you are. This theme unfolds in Islandborn by Junot Díaz with illustrations by Leo Espinoza.

MTYT Islandborn Header with Bibliographic Information, also listed at end of post Continue reading

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MTYT: The Bridge Home

By Michele Ebersole, University of Hawaii, Hilo, HI, and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

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This month Michele Ebersole and Yoo Kyung Sung explore the deep and complicated theme of “sense of belonging.” Michele began by creating a text set with a focus of sense of Hawai’i. When she shared it with Yoo Kyung, it helped them explore that sense of place could be a sense of belonging, sense of responsibility, sense of excellence, sense of total well-being, sense of aloha, etc. Perhaps for New Mexico, it would take a sense of high desert, turquoise, Indigenousness, and sense of North and South. They think that “sense of belonging” may capture different dynamics in stories of communities and also reflect young people’s lives within a community as space. The four books they chose illustrate various faces of communities; they show that community is something you enter as a new member and sometimes you are a small community itself. Sense of belonging is a process of making sense of who you are and where you are. This theme unfolds with the four books presented this month through different characters and various locations such as India, Caribbean, and the U.S. They begin with The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman.

Bibliographic info for The Bridge Home, also located at end of post Continue reading

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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.

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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