Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

When Push Comes To Shove: Disturbing the Word in Urban Literacy Classrooms

Prof. Ofelia Garcia, Valerie Kinloch, Sefranek Mary E., Mary Alexandra Rojas.

Teachers in urban contexts work in literacy classrooms with diverse student populations who draw on multiple literacy practices for meaning-making. At the same time, traditional notions of literacy that singularly emphasize reading and writing of the printed word often inform and delimit urban-based teachers’ curricula. In this presentation, contributors will illustrate how teachers can extend traditional constructions and practices of literacy to include multimodal forms of communication which include, but are not limited to, the reading and writing of words, and which creatively investigate reading and writing as both an act and a process. Visual rhetoric and performance of spoken word, particularly in poetry and music, are meaningful literate practices in urban communities; however, these modes of communication are often unacknowledged or marginalized in formalized school settings.

This research explores learning strategies of students who make use of multimodal literacies as well as the pedagogical strategies of educators who encourage students to use written, spoken, and visual texts to produce meaning and increase knowledge. This exploration allows presenters to situate literacy within the contexts of community, identity, and culture in suggesting the following: diverse, urban situated classrooms can make use of students’ knowledge base and home literacy practices to produce meaning inclusive of various texts, signs, and linguistic registers; and urban identities, literacies, and linguistic practices are multiple and fluid and thus, should be critically investigated by students and teachers in classrooms. In this way, we will contribute to the ongoing dialogue concerning relevant curriculum in urban contexts.


Prof. Ofelia Garcia  (United States)
Department of International and Transcultural Studies
Teachers College, Columbia University

Ofelia García is Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies. She is also co-director of the Center for Multiple Languages and Literacies. Among her books are --The Multilingual Apple: Languages in New York City; Policy and Practice in Bilingual Education: Extending the Foundations; English Across Cultures: Cultures Across English; A Reader in Cross-Cultural Communication; U.S.Spanish: The Language of Latinos (Mouton, 1989). In addition, she has published more than 50 academic articles in the areas of bilingualism, sociology of language, U.S. Spanish, the education of language minorities and bilingual education.

Valerie Kinloch  (United States)
Assistant Professor of English Education
Teachers College
Columbia University

Valerie F. Kinloch earned her doctorate degree in English, Composition, and Rhetoric from Wayne State University. She is Assistant Professor of English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her most recent work investigates democratic learning, literacy practices, and spatial affiliation in the education of diverse student populations. She is working on two book length projects: a critical anthology on the scholarship of June Jordan and a literary biography on Jordan.

Sefranek Mary E.  (United States)
Department of Arts and Humanities
Teachers College
,Columbia University

Mary Sefranek is a doctoral candidate in English Education in the Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is additionally pursuing an emphasis in Bilingual/Bicultural Education in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies. Drawing on the theories of multiliteracies and multimodality, her research focuses on supporting the integration of Latino Studies into the literacy classrooms and curricula of practicing teachers and teachers-in-training.

Mary Alexandra Rojas  (United States)
Doctoral Candidate
Teachers College
Columbia University

Mary Alexandra Rojas is currently working on her doctorate degree in English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She taught English literature at the secondary level with students of various socioeconomic backgrounds. She is interested in how the Latino literature selections for the high school English curriculum are portrayed to create cultural perspective

  • Multiliteracies
  • Multimodality
  • Urban Literacy Classrooms

(90 min. Colloquium, English)