Volume VIII, Issue 1
Exploring Culture and Art with Young Children
Global Literacy Communities are small groups of educators who engage in professional inquiry around innovative practices in using global children’s and adolescent literature to build intercultural understanding. These communities meet regularly to consider global literature, world languages, and ways of using these books in preK-12 classroom contexts. Although the communities may be school-based, district-based, community-based, or university/school collaborations, they share a commitment to thinking together as a professional learning community and to transforming their practice in classrooms.
In 2019-2020, eight Global Literacy Communities received grants from Worlds of Words to support their work with global literature. The members of these communities shared their work with each other on Padlet and were supported by Cynthia Ryman as the Global Literacy Coordinator. All of these communities had their work cut short with the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, but found ways to continue some of their work. Each community has written at least one vignette for WOW Stories: Connections from the Classroom. Over the next several months, we will publish these vignettes in several issues of the journal.
This effort by Worlds of Words is supported by CERCLL, the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language and Literacy, at the University of Arizona. This Title VI Language Resource Center supports research related to language teaching and learning and provides quality teaching resources and professional development to encourage the meaningful integration of culture, literacy and world language study.
This issue of WOW Stories: Connections from the Classroom focuses on the Vail Global Literacy Community, a community of educators in a faith-based school for young children, ages 2 to 7, in Vail, Arizona. Their vignettes demonstrate the possibilities of a global curriculum with very young children and the ways in which teachers can invite young children to explore culture through literature, art and writing. In addition, these vignettes reflect the opportunities within private faith-based schools to open their curriculum to engage children with the world, including connections to both local and global communities.
In the first vignette, Prisca Martens and Ray Martens provide an overview of the goals and context of their Global Literacy Community, along with an overview of engagements and book lists around children’s identity, a cross-cultural study of Mexico, and Storying Studio. Four vignettes written by classroom teachers provide descriptions of their curricular engagements and many examples of children’s work and the books that supported their interactions. Lacy Elisea and Christy Reller share their work with kindergarteners and first graders to explore their identities and Mexican culture. Jane Metzger, Jennifer Hook, and Vanessa Ruiz share their explorations with pre-k children of their Sonoran Desert environment. Cassandra Sutherland shares how she invited two-to-four-year-old children to tell their stories through art, while Vanessa Hoang describes the integration of a Chinese Lunar New Year’s celebration for two- and three-year-old children.
We invite you to read these vignettes and be inspired by the thinking of young children, who are so often underestimated, as they consider and celebrate their worlds.
Kathy G. Short, Guest Editor