Vol 59, No 1-2 (2017)

Editor’s Introduction
John Pruitt, University of Wisconsin-Rock County

What We Choose, and Why
Marci Glaus, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction


Shifting from Pro/Con to Conversation in Argument Writing
Abstract. This paper, which uses research supported through a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and funded with a grant through the National Writing Project, explores best practices from five published texts to encourage students to talk and write about complex issues.
Michelle Streed, Nicolet Union School District

The Reader as an Individual
Abstract. This essay analyzes the research on student choice in independent reading, which states that students read more when given ample chances to choose personally meaningful and engaging books.
Sarah Clavette, Washington Junior High School, Manitowoc

“Do You Have Any Other Good Books?” What Does It Take to Engage Readers?
Abstract. The author examines research surrounding the components of literacy practices that have a positive effect on student reading engagement.
Kristal Mott, Ripon Middle School

Practical Grammar Applications: Finding the Missing Link
Abstract. This essay explains her students’ journey from worksheets and grammar exercises to daily oral language sentences and to the ultimate goal of dissecting their own writing.
Jill Anne Gilson, Luxemburg-Casco High School

Building Secondary Students’ Writing Self-Efficacy
Abstract. The purpose of this article is to better understand how self-efficacy and self-regulation may impact writing achievement at the secondary level.
Samantha Thomas, Omro Elementary School

A Celebration of Language: What it Means for ELLs to Have a Bilingual Identity and How Teachers Can Celebrate Their Bilingualism in the Classroom
Abstract. The author reviews research on what it means to have a bilingual identity and includes several practical ways to build a positive attitude toward bilingualism into classroom instruction by addressing individual motivation, family, and community values.
Holly Fait, Silverbrook Intermediate School, West Bend

Creating Positive Relationships in the Classroom, Even When It Seems Impossible
Abstract. For instructors who work with minority students, it can be difficult to find a connection if they have had little to no experience working with these populations. By changing pedagogy styles and encouraging active learning (discussions, pair-share thinking, debates, etc.), teachers can begin to solidify the positive relationships they will have with the student, relationships fundamental to student support systems.
Dolores Greenawalt, Bryant & Stratton College

Rigor, Young Adult Literature, and Socioeconomics: An Analysis of High School Literacy Teachers’ Text Choices from National Survey Data
Abstract. The authors report on a national survey administered to secondary English teachers to explore the factors that influenced their text selections and to examine how those factors varied according to socioeconomic considerations.
Ashley S Boyd, Washington State University
Janine J Darragh, University of Idaho

Let Them Write! Creating and Answering Text-Dependent Questions in the Primary Grades
Abstract. This essay provides strategies for constructing text-dependent questions and for assisting students when answering these questions.
Jeannette Russell, Milwaukee Public Schools

The Power of Authentic Writing: Why College Essays Don’t Have a Rubric
Abstract. In this first-person narrative, the author explores the disservice rubrics present to students and encourages teachers to rely on authentic writing opportunities, feedback and conferencing instead of grades and rubrics.
Elizabeth Jorgensen, Arrowhead Union High School

Symposium: Approaches to Teaching Literature

Guest Editor’s Introduction
Jeff Kunkle, McFarland High School

Ancient Grudge to New Love: A Remix of Romeo and Juliet
Abstract. The author discusses how he remixed his Romeo and Juliet unit to best capture the multimodal composing that was already happening in his classroom, a shift resulting in a student-centered approach leading to free-styling, collaboration, and the creation of music videos telling the story of Shakespeare’s tragic lovers.
Tim Jansky, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Teaching Nineteenth-Century Slave Narratives: Engaging Student Scholars in the Production of Digital Story Maps
Abstract. Digital story maps are one key component in a project-based course focused on nineteenth-century slave narratives written in the United States. In this course, the traditional literary analysis paper has been replaced by a digital story-mapping project. This mapping project builds digital skills and literacies by focusing on how to convey stories about enslavement to a contemporary audience via digital maps and how choosing a digital medium affects the stories that we tell.
Amy Lewis, St. Norbert College

“I Only Read Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and Other Junior High Tales of Terror: Helping Boys Choose Books While Staying True to the Self-Selected Novel
Abstract. The author looks at the conundrum of at-risk boys who may need help with the selection process in the face of the self-select novel.
Mary Beth Nicklaus, East Junior High School, Wisconsin Rapids

“Book Reading, Baby!”: An Adventure in Teaching Literature
Abstract. This essay argues that teaching literature to digital natives can be done by incorporating technology, but finding the correct fit for the classroom is critical.
Patrick McFadden, Mayville High School

Establishing Safe Learning Environments for Open Discussion of Critical Issues
Abstract. This article is intended for practicing educators charged with providing meaningful experiences in literature-based instruction for students of all ages. As an educator herself, Baker strives to support students in their quest to become critical, reflective thinkers and mindful consumers of information on past and contemporary issues. The question becomes: how can one encourage open discussion and debate while maintaining a safe environment for a variety of voices and perspectives
Aaliyah Baker, Department of Language and Literacy, Cardinal Stritch University

“Are My Songs Literature?” Lessons Learned from Teaching a Non-Traditional Text
Abstract. The authors provide an overview of their experiences as co-teachers during a summer pre-college program in which they taught a non-traditional text, Kendrick Lamar’s (2015) hip-hop album, To Pimp a Butterfly (TPAB), rather than a conventional literary text from the Western canon.
Jim Carlson, Emily Mootz, and Krystle Thomas, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Practice-Based Instruction in English Teacher Education: Teaching Novice Teachers to Lead Class Discussions
Abstract. This article describes a year-long investigation of how explicit, focused instruction in facilitating classroom discussion, combined with approximations of (and peer/instructor feedback on) this practice, impact the way(s) pre-service English teachers learn to discuss literature with secondary students.
Amanda Stearns-Pfeiffer, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan

Storying Our Journey: Conversations about the Literary Canon and Course Development in Secondary English Education
Abstract. The authors present pre-service English teachers’ stories about having little experience with canonical texts they are asked to teach in their field experiences.
Elsie Olan, University of Central Florida
Kia Richmond, Northern Michigan University

Symposium: Approaches to Teaching Creative Writing

Guest Editor’s Introduction
Elizabeth Jorgensen, Arrowhead Union High School

Creating Innovators through Creative Writing
Abstract. This essay argues that the creative writing classroom is a haven for honing Wagner’s (2008) seven survival skills, skills students need to compete in the 21st century, innovation driven economy.
John Lando Carter, Middle Tennessee State University

Food Stories as Embodied Writing: Practical Creative Writing Pedagogy
Abstract. The author shows that the transferable skills obtained through creative writing pedagogy can also be taught in English Language Arts contexts. For example, intercultural food stories can illustrate Common Core standards through a case study which fulfills the emphasis on narrative as one of three necessary types of writing.
Gregory Stephens, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

The Text Is in the Context: Calling for a Social Turn in Creative Writing Pedagogy
Abstract. The author argues that creative writing can be taught when those teachers possess evidence-based knowledge about what works in the writing classroom. In particular, creative writing could learn from the “social turn” in composition, the recognition that writers are influenced by their communities and therefore students must learn to write with a community in mind.
Kara Mae Brown, University of California, Santa Barbara

Excavating the Soul: The Milwaukee Public Museum Student Poetry Competition
Abstract. Hedderman discusses his approach to evaluating the poems as they’re submitted to the student poetry competition, while Jorgensen provides a classroom perspective.
Richard Hedderman, Milwaukee Public Museum
Elizabeth Jorgensen, Arrowhead Union High School

Using Creative Writing Pedagogies to Teach the Job Application Package in Technical Communication
Janice Cools-Stephens, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

Toward a Unified Front: Fostering Collaboration between Secondary and Postsecondary Creative Writing Teachers
Abstract. The author advocates for increased collaboration between creative writing teachers at the secondary and postsecondary levels.
Chris Drew, Indiana State University

Accommodating All Students: A Co-Teaching Approach to Creative Writing
Abstract. The authors explore best practices both for co-teaching and meeting the needs of all students, including those in special education programs, in a creative writing classroom.
Heidi Hamilton and Elizabeth Jorgensen, Arrowhead Union High School

Symposium: Inclusive Education as Literacy Pedagogy for Historically Marginalized Learners

Guest Editor’s Introduction
Taucia Gonzalez, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sweet Home Wisconsin: Discovering Rural Diversity through Literacy
Abstract. The author advises educators to provide rural school students with a reading and writing curriculum highlighting rural diversity and dissolving rural stereotypes in order to increase inclusivity in their communities.
Katie M McCabe, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Those Kids Down the Hall” Are Now in My Elementary Classroom: Now What?
Abstract. The author illustrates how peer-mediated strategies were used with the Special Olympics “Young Athletes” program. These modifications allowed teachers to implement this program more readily, thereby promoting the inclusion of students with disabilities. Using pillars of collaborative strategic reading, all group members can contribute to the success of the group, thus disrupting the idea that students with disabilities can receive only help.
Jessica McQueston, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe!”: Navigating the Tension between Empowering Youth through Hip-Hop Literacies and Existing School Behavioral Norms
Abstract. The essay argues that instructors can authentically immerse themselves in hip-hop pedagogies and improve the educational outcomes for students who have been previously marginalized.
A J Dahl, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Literacy, Culture & Language: A Vision for Cultural Literacy Practices through Black American Sign Language
Abstract. By using Black American Sign Language (ASL) as a vessel, the authors seek to reimagine inclusive literacy practices that recognize multiple literacies and dismantle power relations by asking whose cultural literacies have been deemed more and less valuable through literacy practices.
Mary Johnson
and Larry Love, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Re-Envisioning School Literacy Practices that Engage Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families
Abstract. The authors re-envision school literacy programs that draw on non-dominant literacy practices of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) families as strengths, in particular oral-based literacy.
Dian Mawene
and Halil Ibrahim Cakir, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Book Reviews

Review: Compton-Lilly, Reading Students’ Lives: Literacy Learning across Time
Jieun Kim
and Corinne Ehrfurth, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Review: Johnson, Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students by Their Brains
Angela K Lenz, Hilbert School District

Guest Editor’s Introduction

Elizabeth Jorgensen, Arrowhead Union High School, jorgensene @ arrowheadschools.org

This issue invited contributors to share successful, inventive instruction, lessons, assignments and perspectives that teach facets of creative writing. In our call for submissions, Pruitt and I quoted the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, which argues that “writing cannot be taught” but that “writers can be encouraged.” Whether or not you believe literary creativity can be taught, I hope you agree that certain skills can be enhanced. Students can acquire insight into what constitutes effective or realistic description, style, narrative, characterization or use of language. They can also learn about voice, diction, plotting, setting and figures of speech as well as how to craft dialogue that reveals a character’s personality, social position and values.

Frankly, I write alongside my students because I aim to model the challenges and triumphs of brainstorming, writing, editing and polishing prose, poems, essays, articles and short stories. I, like my students, share my work with editors, journals, newspapers, writers’ workshop groups, and the education community, experiencing both successes and failures. My own teaching relies on a belief that all students, of all abilities, can write for authentic audiences beyond my classroom walls. Of course, I remind myself that my students are immersed in the messy process of sloughing off the stuff of childhood and, as the years advance, becoming more astute, more soulful, and more adult in their abilities to communicate. With this in mind, I envision myself a coach and editor (rather than critic and grader), helping guide students to more articulate, beautiful or effective prose. I hope this section of the Wisconsin English Journal serves as similar inspiration for writing instructors.

Teacher isolation is often referred to as the main impediment to professional development. After reading these articles, I hope you are reminded that your counterparts are also providing meaningful feedback, collaborating, and assessing for learning. In addition to connecting a community of writing instructors, this section should help you improve lessons, embolden students, and produce lifelong writers.

In editing articles, I was invigorated by an introduction to professional resources I was previously unaware of. I hope you too are encouraged to connect with writing teachers and communities through social media or conferences or other publications. I also hope we motivate you to write about your own experiences both inside and outside your classroom. We are all writers—all with our own stories to share. Please consider contributing your voice, classroom experiences, lessons and research to this community. I recommend starting with a future issue of the Wisconsin English Journal.

Review: Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students by Their Brains, 3rd ed., by LouAnne Johnson. Jossey-Bass, 2015. 320 pp.

Angela K Lenz, Hilbert School District, lenza @ hilbertk12.org

Johnson is no stranger to publication. Most famous for My Posse Don’t Do No Homework—the basis of the film Dangerous Minds—her numerous additional titles include Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students by Their Brains, which offers both personal and practical ideas for success in the classroom. Now in its third edition, Johnson’s book asks the question, “Why do so many teacher candidates ace their education courses, read all the latest journals, carefully observe good teachers, shine like stars during their student teaching, and then crash and burn during their first year in the classroom?” (p. 17). By weaving this question throughout the book, she presents advice and ideas based on student success as a priority. In fact, she notes that the book is an “imaginary conversation” with teachers in an “attempt to share everything I have learned about effective teaching in one practical package” (p. xiv), a conversation asking all of us, regardless of teaching discipline, to look introspectively for what we want our students to know when they leave our classes and how we want to get them there.

At first glance, these eleven chapters seem geared toward future teachers, but Johnson makes sure that both beginning and experienced teachers can benefit from their contents. For example, before addressing specific pedagogies, she identifies three fluid categories of teachers–good, excellent, and super–categories dependent on “personal strengths, intimate relationships, professional goals, and individual priorities” (p. 7). This section speaks primarily to the introspective pre-service teachers who must “consider how much time and emotional energy you can afford to spend on your work outside the home” (p. 8). Frankly, Johnson suggests, it’s acceptable to choose to be a “good” teacher because “you will still be contributing to society, performing honorable and necessary work, and helping to shape the future of our country,” as long as you don’t fall into inexcusable mediocre or terrible teaching (p. 10). Pre-service teachers will benefit from considering the contents of this section before entering their own classrooms because, quite often, observed classroom experiences can be slightly skewed and, at times, predicted to be idealistic. Observing a seasoned teacher’s classroom management and organization may lead to believing that their own classrooms will run as smoothly.

Another valuable consideration is the teaching philosophy, which shapes every decision within the classroom. One might even argue that a teaching philosophy should be considered before setting foot into a classroom because it carries such weight. With that in mind, Johnson warns that “If you enter your classroom with a clear idea of why you are there and what you expect from yourself and your students, you stand a much better chance of being a successful teacher” (p. 15). This philosophy will likely include beliefs about how students learn, practices that influence learning, and specific, yet overarching, goals for student learning. This philosophy will also draw out the internal factors such as prejudices, personal agendas, and respect can influence a teacher as an individual. By having a clear understanding and plan for addressing or at least acknowledging these factors, teachers can focus on pedagogy and creating relationships with their students.

Once inside the physical space of the classroom, teachers of all levels can benefit from strategies to prepare the room, the paperwork, and themselves. Again, Johnson asks for introspection. While drawing attention to the importance of sensory details, seating arrangements, supply and paperwork organization, and personal appearance and attitude, Johnson avoids imposing a prescriptive agenda herself. In fact, she lists a number of questions for instructors to consider as they prepare their classrooms, such as “Which seating arrangements did you prefer as a child? Which do you prefer as a teacher?” or “What can new teachers do if they have mild personalities and want to develop an air of authority?” or even “What can teachers do to counteract the emotional and physical stress that accompanies teaching?” (p. 95). In other words, do what feels right for you and your students. Actually, one piece of prescriptive advice does emerge: new teachers will often be given the advice not to smile before Christmas to reduce and possibly eliminate discipline issues and classroom management problems. As someone who received this advice, it seemed counter-intuitive. I know the advice was well-meaning, but personally the idea of not smiling before Christmas would have meant presenting an inauthentic version of myself and that seemed like a greater risk than a student thinking I was too nice. However, Johnson challenges this idea and even encourages smiles. After all, “the opportunity to create a good impression, to connect with your students, will pass very quickly,” and when challenging moments happen, people are more likely to respond positively when faced with a smile (p. 98). Establishing a positive rapport can go a long way in establishing expectations and teaching procedures, leading to greater productivity throughout the remainder of the school year.

In order to maintain this positive energy, teachers must remember that discipline is necessary, which requires them to consider their true purpose in disciplining students: punishing an action for punishment’s sake or guiding a student to make better choices. Johnson proposes approaching discipline with both logic and respect in mind: the consequence should be logical in connection to the student’s action, and the teaching must maintain a high degree of respect for the student. By defining a clear philosophy specific to discipline, teachers can consider how to move forward. Discipline, expectations, rules, and procedures are all a necessary part of a classroom in their own way, and when used effectively, these pieces allow students to be more successful in the classroom, and ultimately, outside the classroom as well.

When Johnson turns to pedagogy, she seems to focus with prejudice on English/Language Arts. Indeed, she speaks the truth when she argues that “Every teacher is a reading teacher, like it or not” (p. 177), and turns to attracting students to difficult texts, such as poetry and Shakespeare. Still, she acknowledges various reasons that students may not be so eager to read in class, including social awkwardness, lack of comprehension, and minimal interest in required reading. With each reason discussed, she offers suggestions, such as offering choice in reading, even with class texts, and the willingness to abandon a class text if students are not interested in the reading. This is certainly a new idea, but if pre-reading work is done well, the students may choose not to abandon the class text. While it makes sense that the chapter is geared toward ELA teachers since they are the individuals tasked with teaching reading, if every teacher is in fact a teacher of reading, more time and attention should be spent here. But with an ELA background, Johnson does not share what teaching reading looks like in other content areas, which is a definite shortcoming.

When turning to educational influences in later chapters, Johnson offers some interesting and unusual ideas. For example, she asks that we pay attention to natural and artificial lighting. After explaining scotopic sensitivity syndrome, a type of light sensitivity, Johnson shares common symptoms and the potential for colored overlays as a way of coping. She also shares how nutrition may support or impede success in the classroom. In many cases, common ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and aspartame harm the developing body and brain, but ultimately, it is up to parents to be informed about what to feed their children. Therefore, Johnson suggests helping students to educate their parents by working together to write shopping lists of nutritious snacks and drinks and by incorporating exercise into classroom activities. Both topics, lighting and diet, seem out of place in the text because some factors fall out of the control of teachers who recognize that students deal with varying degrees of challenges. Some of these challenges we can work to alleviate in our interactions and practices, but others, like diet, we have very little influence on. Teachers must recognize that they cannot control whether or not students are putting processed snacks and meals into their bodies or choosing better options.

Johnson also discusses the potential and value of project-based learning, that is, a teaching method in which students acquire knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. Within this discussion, she includes ideas for groups and project difficulty. Ultimately, offering students more control in their learning does have a positive impact on their learning and productivity in the classroom.

Johnson wraps up her final chapter with a healthy dose of positive stories from readers and updates on students who were the focus in My Posse Don’t Do No Homework. Though ending on a positive note, these chapters don’t add to the practicality of the book, and if readers are not familiar with Johnson’s original story, these chapters fall short.

At first glance, it might be easy for a prospective reader to brush aside Teaching Outside the Box as just another “teacher book” because Johnson covers common topics. In fact, nearly all the topics covered are relevant to teachers regardless of grade level or content area, but it is the angle at which she approaches these common topics that makes this book valuable. Even when discussing topics like preparation and paperwork, the rationale behind her ideas always focuses on helping students succeed, and that is why teachers choose this profession. This is different from many other “teacher books” that focus on being student centered in regards to lessons and convenience for teachers when it comes to preparation and paperwork. This unique focus makes Johnson’s Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students by Their Brains a worthwhile read for educators.

Review: Reading Students’ Lives: Literacy Learning Across Time by Catherine Compton-Lilly. Routledge, 2017. 140 pp.

Jieun Kim, doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison, jieun.kim @ wisc.edu

Corinne Ehrfurth, doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison, cehrfurth @ wisc.edu

“We construct meaning of our lives…across multiple timescales of action and activity, from the blink of an eye to the work of a lifetime” (Lemke, 2005, p. 110).

How does time add up in students’ literate lives? How do students construct meanings “not only at particular points in time, but also across time” (Compton-Lilly, 2017, p. 122) as they move through school? If students spend more time in school, will they be better readers and writers? Some students may feel that schools control the ways they use time. Some notions of time take into account students’ literacy practices situated within and across time. Every second, minute, day, week, and year, students use their experiences to make sense of their worlds. Compton-Lilly’s Reading Students’ Lives (2017) is an invaluable book for exploring how students become literate and make sense of their worlds over time.

Reading Students’ Lives is Compton-Lilly’s fourth book in a series published over the two last decades; the first three books invite researchers and practitioners to rethink students’ literacy development and their literate lives as they move through school. In the first, Reading Families (2003), Compton-Lilly interviewed her first-grade students and their parents and grandparents in order to learn how reading fits into their lives and their families, ultimately challenging the widespread misconception that urban parents rarely care about their children’s literacy skills and education. In her second book, Re-Reading Families (2007), Compton-Lilly returned to the same students (then fourth and fifth graders) and their families in order to analyze various forms of capital (Bourdieu, 1986) and explore the literacy learning of those living in a high-poverty community. In her third book, Reading Time (2012), Compton-Lilly explicitly highlights time as a theoretical construct and practical consideration to explore how students make meaning of their literate lives within and beyond the classroom.

The most recent addition to this longitudinal qualitative series, Reading Students’ Lives (2017), offers a richer and more nuanced understanding of the school trajectories and literate lives of eight students and their families over a ten-year period: Marvin, David, Bradford, Alicia, Peter, Jermaine, Angela, and Christy. Compton-Lilly revisits her longitudinal data to further challenge pervasive misconceptions about the reading practices and assumptions about urban and high-poverty families. By providing a stunning backdrop for teachers, practitioners, and literacy and language researchers, she focuses on students’ experiences of schooling, gender, immigration, high-stakes testing, and technology. Furthermore, she provides thoughtful insights into the literate lives of children and young people by drawing on three theoretical lenses that recognize temporality (Bakhtin, 1981; Bourdieu, 1990; Lemke, 2000; Lemke, 2005) and by applying temporal discourse analysis techniques (Compton-Lilly, 2015; Compton-Lilly & Halverson, 2014).

The book is divided into eight chapters that guide the readers through the children’s lives and their literacy learning. In each chapter, Compton-Lilly invites researchers, teachers, and practitioners to reason in innovative ways about case studies in order to make sense of literacy learning over time by providing an in-depth analysis of qualitative data and supports the plea for more qualitative longitudinal studies. Temporal discourse analysis and longitudinal qualitative research offer productive possibilities for understanding how students live out long-term situations in high-poverty communities and poorly funded schools. Her book’s consistent attentiveness to the longitudinal literate lives of children, their older siblings, and family members models a research approach that probes students’ literacy learning experiences.

Chapter 1 serves as a comprehensive introduction to the concept of time. Here, Compton-Lilly takes a deeper dive into her personal and professional experiences to explore how time has generally been recognized in educational research and practice. While educational scholars typically treat time as duration, ages, intervals, length, and amount in their studies, Compton-Lilly proposes “a vision of time” (p. 5) that recognizes history (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995) and is informed by life story research (McAdams, 2001; Wortham, 2006) to show how people make sense of selves and their worlds.

In Chapter 2, Compton-Lilly highlights three theoretical frameworks related to time to explore the evolving and complex nature of being a student. Applying Lemke’s timescales, Compton-Lilly explores how meanings are simultaneously grounded in past experiences of family members, personal histories, ongoing experiences, and possible futures. For example, Marvin and his family drew on past and ongoing experiences concerning the “library” as an icon of possibility and hope for Marvin’s future. To be specific, Marvin’s accounts of the library reference his enthusiasm to get his life “back on track” after dropping out of high school. His grandfather, Mr. Sherwood, also marked the library as a resource for literacy learning as he drew upon his own childhood experiences. To explore how Marvin makes sense of his experiences, acts in his everyday life, and contemplates his future, Compton-Lilly illuminates chronotopic motifs (Bakhtin, 1981; Bakhtin, 1986) that operate in schools: failing standards-based English Language Arts examinations, promotion/retention, meeting grade-level standards, and experiencing special education. Each chronotopic motif is associated with meanings that closely interweave and contradict in complex interrelationships. For example, Marvin drew upon the meanings that disrupted his intention to graduate from high school. Bakhtin’s chronotope plays a critical role in understanding how Marvin and other students operate within institutions including schools that impose temporal expectations.

Chapter 3 draws on temporal discourse analysis (Compton-Lilly, 2014, 2015) to highlight time “as a constructive dimension of experience that people use to conceptualize their encounters with literacy, schooling, and identity” (p. 28). The focus of this chapter is how three children–David, Bradford, and Angela–and their families attend to time by using now/then discourses to compare intergenerational experiences of growing up. For example, David’s mother related to recent social changes and the dangers of gun violence by referencing “in the day and age,” “nowadays,” and “that’s the day and age.” Ironically, David made sense of a dangerous present with the hope of entering the military and making money after finishing school. Bradford’s experiences of time were affected by the official time frames of school and incarceration. Once away from his special education placement, Bradford eventually felt confident and made academic progress during his incarceration. Angela highlighted a favorite teacher, Ms. Foster, for making sense of her own experiences with reading and writing. Repetitive accounts about this first grade teacher cement her concepts related texts and reading. Among other lessons, attention to the markers of time with these three focal students provides spaces for teachers and school leadership to reflect on how schools can make time for students to learn.

Lemke’s three timescales–historical timescales, familial timescales, and ongoing timescales–provide Compton-Lilly with constructs to capture how languages circulate and operate within families. In Chapter 4, she revisits Alicia’s case to examine a set of repetitive discourses regarding schooling and Alicia’s identities as a student. Compton-Lilly found that Alicia’s family drew upon their past experiences and traditional discourses which affected the way Alicia made sense of school and teachers. Most importantly, Alicia’s discourses and her literacy practices across time reveal that she fully engaged in familial reading practices with a diverse range of books featuring African-American characters and teen girls. Historical accounts of people and events were intermingled with Alicia’s familial timescales, which contributed to how Alicia voices resistance not to be positioned as a gang member and assigned to long-term suspension.

Chapter 5 explores the complex interactions that contribute to Peter’s desire to become a writer and his process toward achieving this goal. As understood through Bourdieu’s notion of fields (Bourdieu, 1990; Bourdieu & Passeron, 1990), spaces are connected to social, economic, and other types of capital that privilege certain students more than others. Peter’s story emphasizes the knowledge and power required to negotiate successfully through the fields that students face throughout their educational experiences. Compton-Lilly’s analysis of what changed in the fields that Peter encountered during the ten years of her study illuminates the challenges faced by students living in egregious poverty, especially in terms of college preparation. She concludes that Peter’s severely limited access to the rules of the field of higher education, not his lack of writing abilities, contributed to his failing to meet his goals of attending a top-tier undergraduate journalism program.

Compton-Lilly’s obvious commitment to the focal students and their families is conveyed through the rich details about students’ lives, attentive research questions, and intentional avoidance of generalizing data and analysis other than to assert statements of exigency. When such researchers generalize findings as connected to a system–for example, “[u]nderstanding literate trajectories is particularly pertinent in communities that historically have been poorly served by schools” (p. 87)–readers are motivated to reason more broadly about how societal inequities impact individual students. Throughout Jermaine’s case study in Chapter 6, attentive readers notice a systemic analysis. Jermaine’s difficulties in keeping up with classroom pacing, such as when he states that students in his fourth grade class were “only give[n] five minutes to do something” (p. 93), were addressed when he was enrolled in a computerized, individualized canned-curriculum that the company purported would remediate and strengthen particular skills. However, the longitudinal scope of this study reveals the opposite to be true: Jermaine fell further behind his mainstream peers. Compton-Lilly’s application of chronotopic analysis considers how “school events become trajectories” (p. 95). Jermaine’s case offers educators opportunities to understand the long-term effects of interventions and policies that, while well intended, impact students in unintended ways.

In Chapter 7, Compton-Lilly’s review of her field notes as Christy’s teacher unfolds the compounding impact of lack of neighborhood resources such as grocery stores and libraries in inner city neighborhoods with standards-based emphasis on schools, represented by condescending in-service leaders, unsupportive administration, and competition between colleagues for test score improvement. Christy especially reinforces the prominent yet often unrecognized role of diverse relationships in the trajectory of students’ literacy learning. When Compton-Lilly concludes that her field notes were filled with “impositions placed on me as a teacher” (p. 108), readers realize that physical objects and spaces influence students’ reading skills just much as teachers, other adults, and the students themselves.  

Reading Students’ Lives provides a valuable opportunity for fellow educators to look into how one researcher’s awareness of time shapes her interpretation of the literacy lives of low-income students and their families. As a ground-breaking longitudinal study of ten years, Reading Students’ Lives promotes a rethinking of time as Compton-Lilly provides critical insights on how to consider students as beings who bring rich sets of temporally valued experiences and knowledge to classrooms and other spaces. The generalizations are not geared toward convincing educators and researchers to adopt a best-practices strategies or to teach according to research-based pedagogies. Instead, Compton-Lilly helps readers understand how systemic issues significantly impact students’ lives. Throughout the book, recognition of the complex tensions that students experience while developing their literacy skills and identities culminates into a conclusion, which ties together Compton-Lilly’s temporal notions, critiques of systemic inequities that impact individuals, and students’ literacy learning to provide insights into students’ long-term trajectories.

Reading Students’ Lives advocates for social justice through a wake-up call that allows for silent students’ voices to be heard across the trajectory of their educational careers. Throughout her longitudinal works, Compton-Lilly listens closely to the voices of her students and their families, which allows her to reveal complexities that previously published works often ignore. Her compelling narratives of the lively voices of students and their families inspire us to read our students’ lives and their literacy learning across time in order to mitigate and decrease further academic debt (Ladson-Billings, 2006). Researchers, teachers, and other individuals working with schools and families can read Compton-Lilly’s books to garner a “collective hope and possibility and a critical social imagination” (Gutiérrez, 2008, p. 154) for social justice and equity in American schools.
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The Text Is in the Context: Calling for a Social Turn in Creative Writing Pedagogy

Kara Mae Brown, College of Creative Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, karamae.brown @ ccs.ucsb.edu

Abstract. Brown argues that creative writing can be taught when those teachers possess evidence-based knowledge about what works in the writing classroom. In particular, creative writing could learn from the “social turn” in composition, the recognition that writers are influenced by their communities and therefore students must learn to write with a community in mind.

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Food Stories as Embodied Writing: Practical Creative Writing Pedagogy

Gregory Stephens, Associate Professor of English, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, gregory.stephens @ upr.edu

Abstract. Stephens shows that the transferable skills obtained through creative writing pedagogy can also be taught in English Language Arts contexts. For example, intercultural food stories can illustrate Common Core standards through a case study which fulfills the emphasis on narrative as one of three necessary types of writing.

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Using Creative Writing Pedagogies to Teach the Job Application Package in Technical Communication

Janice Cools-Stephens, Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, janice.cools @ upr.edu

In technical communication classes, students are always very enthused about learning how to construct and design cover letters and resumés because they see those items as having immediate relevance. There are often job fairs on many university campuses where students will take their resumés in the hopes of obtaining a job. Additionally, students are often applying for internships, which require submitting a cover letter and a resumé. Thus, for many students cover letters and resumés seem more practical and relevant than learning about Readers and their Contexts of Use, Usability, and Ethics, for instance, all common topics in technical communication classes. While most students are often enthused about “Starting Your Career” or “Job Application Materials,” as it is often labelled in technical communication textbooks like Johnson-Sheehan’s (2017) Technical Communication Strategies Today and Markel’s (2013) Technical Communication respectively, they often have great difficulty constructing those documents. Continue reading

Excavating the Soul: The Milwaukee Public Museum Student Poetry Competition

Richard Hedderman, Education Programs Coordinator, Milwaukee Public Museum, hedderman @ mpm.edu

Elizabeth Jorgensen, Arrowhead Union High School, jorgensene @ arrowheadschools.org

Abstract. Hedderman discusses his approach to evaluating the poems as they’re submitted to the student poetry competition, while Jorgensen provides a classroom perspective.

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