images of youth - the year behind, the year ahead

we live in a moment of unparalleled communicative accessibility and information dissemination. youth, so often the object of maligned commentary and political concern, are leading the charge in new modes of expression, purposes for communication, and representations of self.  yet, all too often, the stories we see in the popular press about young people are ones that highlight the exceptions and not the norm.  that is, we see reported several instances of youth using social networking to plan mass chaos and ultimately inflict harm on others.  yes, this does happen and yes we hear about it.  but how often do we hear about the use of media and technologies by youth to engage in social action?  for inspiring stories, see below:

A positive face of youth in the media - Today's Youth-Led Media Summit brings together enthusiastic young people from around the UK who want to determine their future role – and dispel the image of dangerous hoodies

Youth Radio - Youth Radio was founded in 1990 on the deeply held belief that underserved youth, ages 14-24 years old, have the creativity, technical skills and entrepreneurial spirit to become leaders in the multi-media industry and the community and to serve as mentors to other youth.

new book about harlem, youth, and multimodal literacy - In her new book, Valerie Kinloch investigates how the lives and literacies of youth in New York City’s historic Harlem are affected by public attempts to gentrify the community.  Kinloch engages the perspectives of two young men who use documentary and video making to guide their collaborative inquiry.

Adobe Youth Voices/ Listen Up! in India - In November the Listen Up! team traveled to India with our Adobe Youth Voices partners to to work with teachers and students in documentary and animation filmmaking.

America's Youth Speak Out - America's Youth Speak Out is the only youth produced national public service campaign. More than 4000 young people across the country are producing public service messages dealing with issues that are important in their lives and communities.

Youth video conference highlight: The Choose to Be the Change youth video project highlighted the Northern Ontario First Nations Communications Conference

what i hope for in the year to come are what michelle fine has referred to as "audiences that are worthy" - an interpretive context for the words, images, stories, and storying by youth that embraces a generous and generative posture.  having worked with youth to produce numerous of varied artifacts in which young people make themselves vulnerable, i am particularly committed to seeking, finding, and creating meaningful audiences for the narrative insights embodied by these artifacts.  may 2010 be the year to start/continue this work more effectively...



new york: task force on transforming juvenile justice - *now* can we imagine a new way??

The recently published new york times article about youth detention facilities in new york state details a persistent state of "crisis" rampant in these institutions.  The article is based on a report written by New York Governor Patterson's Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice.  Juvenile prisons are described as "both extremely expensive and extraordinarily ineffective" by the report, as cited in the article.  The statistics are at once disheartening and familiar: more than half the youth in detention facilities are incarcerated for minor offenses (theft, drug possession, truancy); over 80% are black or Latino; almost all of the new york city, who comprise 76% new york state's juvenile detention population, are housed outside of the city and out of reach of their support networks due to prohibitive costs that might make frequent travel impossible.

While I was pleased to see alternative mentioned twice in the article, which has garnered attention quickly since it was published, the mentions are limited: one about the need for alternatives such as therapeutic foster care and another about an overall recommendation made by Gladys Carrión, the commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services, "that judges find alternative placements for most young offenders."  I have spent eight of the last fourteen years involved with incarceration alternatives as a teacher, tutor, researcher, and volunteer, and in that time have come to appreciate the nuanced possibilities for reimagining futures that alternative to incarceration (ATI) programs can provide.  One of these programs is located in new york city and has a rich history of innovative programming to support the post-incarceration lives of youth.  As a researcher I have been able to document the varied and situated practices of the staff of this program for the past five years and what is consistent, amidst the diversity of approaches, is the commitment to court-involved evident.  Teachers, case managers, counselors, court representatives, administrators (for the most part) share a personal connection to the Justice System and bring with them an empathy and a sense of possibility to their work with the (mostly) young men at the program.  Education and employment work in tandem as dual objectives that are addressed by the program's offerings, which include arts and media electives and a college preparatory program.  What is readily evident in this space, and what feels quite absent from the austere environs and discourses described in the Task Force Report, is the embodied understanding of what Maxine Greene describes as the "not yet" - at 14, 15, 16 or even as young as 10 and 11, how many of us were already the person we are today, and what are the many ways in which we may continue to change years from now, if those around us will allow it.  Greene's response to her own question ("Who am I?"), "I am who I am not yet" is imbued with a deep sense of possibility - a narrative necessary for education; perhaps especially important for young people whose institutional scrapes have amounted to war wounds they wear daily like a heavy mantle.

The new york times article ends with this quote by "Clara Hemphill, a researcher and author of a report on the state’s youth prisons published in October by the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School"
“It really is barbaric,” she added, “the way they treat these kids.”
I'm reminded of one young man's story about adolescents being called "animal-escents" at the youth facility where he was incarcerated before being offered a spot at the alternative to incarceration program.  This was a term - and presumably an attitude - adopted by many of the correction officers at the facility.  The term ("animal-escents") and the implied meanings send a profound message to those same young people about how they are viewed and how they might expect to perceived in the future.

The seeing of youth as animals may not be a perspective confined to detention institutions; judges, police officers, educators, administrators are all adults who have the opportunity to redirect their gaze away from solely individualistic theories of social transgressions at multiple moments of human interaction with youth.  Yet too many choose to impose un-nuanced and simplified rationales when understanding socially complex realities.  The response to "crime" need not be an unquestioning lockdown mentality.  Rather, there is great restorative potential in the city's ATIs and alternative to detention (ATD) programs (aimed at children and adolescents who are charged with an infraction and placed under the care of the Family Courts when they are ages 9-16).  Restorative is not merely rehabilitative or remediation; restorative implicates all those engaged in the post-incarceration well-being of an adolescent - family, educators, community: the restoration of a sense of possibility, of a future re-imagined.  The ATI with which I have been involved does not dismiss the histories of the young men who walk through its hallways and participate in classrooms, nor does the program find their histories singularly deterministic of their futures.  The "alternative" nature of the site lies in the considerations that have been made to address and attend to the manifestations of multiple social systems that converge on the bodies of adolescents: education, employment, health... But perhaps most significant about the possibilities these ATI and ATD programs hold for court-involved youth to rewrite their futures is their potential to disrupt the larger (and often knee-jerk) public discourse about adjudication, incarceration, and tropes of inevitability. 

Can we imagine an approach to legal transgressions that can be described as imaginative, collective, and caring?  And lest this suggestion call up protestations about the need to punish crimes, let's remember that the majority of the cases for which youth are arrested or sentenced involve offenses that say more about our social systems than any individual proclivity.  We certainly don't want persons in positions of power to continue to manipulate the lives of youth for their own personal gain or out of some personal vendetta.  Moving through ATI and ATD programs are young people - like Patrick and Eric and Ed and Nicole and Brite and Emanuel and Tiffany and Angel and Christian and many more - who are so much than the arrest code hastily jotted on the standard intake form. They are poets and thinkers and social theorists and artists and writers and brothers and singers and sisters whose complete has "not yet" been written.  Can we imagine spaces for young people to not only make their stories known; but also to story themselves differently in the world?

Click here for the complete report by the governor's task force.


who am i to do this? poetic musings on cross-cultural research

in 2004, i defended my doctoral dissertation.  this was both a proud and apprehensive moment for me, as i wrestled with questions of representation - had i done my boys justice? how were they being read and known at the end of this long process?  and how would they continue to be known as i made our stories known through my writing in years to come... i'm thinking about deborah appleman's essay titled, "are you making me famous or are you making me a fool?" and in the spirit of ongoing self-reflexivity, i reprint here the opening lines of my dissertation, complete with the opening epigraph:

If you have come to help me, you are wasting your
time. But if you have come because your liberation is
bound up with mine, then let us work together.
-Lila Watson

I am not an African American adolescent boy.
I have not been called a “superpredator,”
Or had prisons built in anticipation of my “delinquency” or on the basis of my third grade
scores on school-based reading assessments.

I am a South Asian American late-twenties woman.
I have been called a “good type of immigrant”
Whose school performance is lauded and whose labor is valued in an increasingly
globalized market economy; though my hue causes labor unrest.

We were a group of five African American boys and a South Asian American woman
Who told stories together
Had fun and played and
Made a place by co-constructing space to talk back, to
Story against and beyond the readily available and overly abundant
of black boys in need
of remediation,
from deficient literacies;
in a state of corrections.
Ours are stories of ample reflection, hopeful digressions, strong critique, and possibilities.

These might be stories that no one wants to hear.
Who am I to do this?


and an image that shows and tells much about our time together, that came to be known in our group as "our picture"


The dangers of starting with and stopping at critique

I'm reading margery wolf's book, "a thrice told tale: feminism, postmodernism, and ethnographic responsibility." Just 14 pages in, one chapter finished, and I can sense my frustration with some of her discursive maneuvers - e.g. Reifying th existence of the other; adherence to "first-world"/"third-world" dichotomizing; pragmatism of ethnographer's authority; difficulty with assuming too reflexivity... It is the same skepticism, I suspect, that a statistician may feel upon reading narrative accounts of

But having been a reader for most of my life - an equally voracious reader of academic texts and those not intended as academic texts (but of course that is quite a blurry line...) - I know to keep my skepticism and discomfort at bay, so that I don't stop reading or, worse, make judgments and assumptions on text I have not consumed or interpreted. This is a danger that plagues not only some of the youth with whom I spend time - "Ugh. This is stupid! The author doesn't know what he's talking about." - but some of the graduate students who opt to take the classes I teach - "This research is offensive and clearly perpetuating negative stereotypes." When we are stuck in the paralysis of critique, it becomes difficult to find a way out. I have erroneously suggested a close re-reading, but as I am newly aware of my own paralytic tendencies, I realize that such a close (re)reading can only be effective if one's reading posture - metaphorical, but perhaps also literal, e.g. from hunched over a table to relaxing on the couch - retains a sense of possibility.

What is the author trying to say? What other texts and discourses are present in the authors' words and assumptions? How is the author using evidence, narrative structure, and language to convey an argument? What do you have to believe in order to take the author at her word?

We lose, it seems to me, our appreciation for the ontological underpinnings for the texts we engage daily. We are poised to agree and disagree. To critique and put down. To point out flaws and shortcomings. We are woefully underprepared - or perhaps unwilling - to consider the possibility of other realities, and to meaningfully engage with others' texts. Such "paralysis by critique" is evident in the overzealous student eager to participate in what s/he assumes is the only tradition of academic discourse; a subway rider expressing disdain for a young man's practice of quietly singing along with his mp3 player; a poltical pundit unable to cede the floor for anyone else's opinion to be heard; and on and on.

Maybe we all just need to learn how to read and appreciate reading (again). Although for some it may be the first time, especially as new reading curricula are stripped of appreciation - a recent casualty being, of course, the beloved "Reading Rainbow"...


plurality of pedagogical postures

just as we have come to understand the plurality of literacies, i've begun to appreciate the nuanced and multiple nature of teachings and learnings.  in the beginning pages of teaching as a performing art, seymour sarason likens the practice of teaching to the experiences of dramatic performance.  he cites the incessant, no matter how miniscule, stage fright he feels when he enters 'the classroom' and the consequences of losing one's audience... i wonder if these principles hold true across pedagogical philosophies.  david hansen, in the call to teach, describes the pedagogical identity of one of the teachers he profiles in this way,
"[Mr. James] conducts himself as a moral agent--as a person, that is, who can have a positive influence on students--and as a moral educator--a person whose pedagogical obligation is to steer students toward the Good." (p. 68)
do we assume the same pedagogical posture, i wonder, across the multiple settings in which we teach and are taught?  and how might we retain our moral purpose - not to be confused with the rhetoric of morality and moral education that seeks to privilege certain values over others and is manifested in the guise of 'character education' or some 'civic education' curricula - to be, as hansen describes, a "moral educator" and engage in education with others?  (i, too, wonder about the Good - whose Good? how determined? and does the meaning of Good shift?...) if, like herve varenne and colleagues (see tc record, volume 109, july 2007) we recognize that "Education is fundamental to sociability and is ubiquitous in the everyday life of all human beings" (p. 1561), then how do we attend to the many moments of education in which we engage in daily and deliberately?  and how do teaching and education come together?  and how might we decouple learning from education?  education from schooling?  so that the practice of education is not reduced to discrete and simple transactions of information as freire feared when he argued against a "banking model of education?"

these questions, about our multiple pedagogical postures, swirl in my head as i think about the role of play in my own pedagogy.  there is an implicit disdain with which play is regarded outside of the elementary school classroom... laughter and humor, in measured amounts, are respectable, but the introduction of silliness, the absurd, or something too carnivalesque or "extravagant" (see boon - Verging on extra-Vagance) garners great skepticism.

lately i have felt beleaguered by a sense that my educational practice, in which i assume and inhabit the performances of a teacher as informed by the formal parameters of particular settings, has become hostage to my own hesitations about my moral purpose.  education is a site of possibility as well as conflict, and often both.  yet conflict resonates loudly, leaves residue on our psyches, and, if not effectively engaged, can be a poorly placed anchor in swift tides.  in the past, i've assumed/embraced/embodied a pedagogy of play, and implicit in such a way of being is a stance of with.  that is, a collaborative spirit with which to conceive of, understand, and take on an endeavor.  that stance, and its connected ways of knowing, has been challenged in interesting ways in recent months, leading me to more fully understand the role of community in how we come to know, and how we come to educate and be educated.  community in the form of kindred spirits, hearty debaters, and longtime allies, all of whom share in the spirit of education and inquiry that is both purposeful and also unpredictable; where interactions, however brief, are not merely sound bytes, but meaningful spaces of intellectual work and making known; and where intentionality is implicitly understood, and not critiqued within an inch of its life.  community is both conflict and possibility, inquiry and knowing; a kind of home we create to sustain our sense of self, of belonging, of purpose.


Multimodality and Learning Conference - updated info

Multimodality and Learning Conference: Environments, Rhetoric, Recognition, Play, and Methods
July 6th and 7th 2010
Institute of Education, London
Conference information
Aim and scope
The overall aim of the conference is to explore multimodal perspectives on learning and to open up theoretical, methodological and pedagogical questions and debate.The conference will be of interest to educational practitioners, research students,researchers and academics from a variety of disciplines including semiotics, linguistics, sociology, anthropology and design.
Call for papers (symposiums)
Individual call for papers

Thematic strands

  • Environments of learning: institutional, work based, and beyond
    School, home, work places, museums, digital environments
    Keynote: Dr Jonathan Hindmarsh, Kings College, London, UK
  • Rhetoric and the politics of representation and communication
    Narrative, persuasion, genre, argument, information design
    Keynote: Professor Lilie Chouliaraki, London School of Economics, UK
  • Recognition, evaluation, assessment
    Discourses of accountability, criteria for evaluation, power, processes of assessment
    Keynote: Professor Gunther Kress, Institute of Education, University of
    London, UK
  • Play: games, experience, and learning
    Oral traditions, ludic modes, cultures of play, play and creativity
    Keynote: Professor Suzanne de Castells, Simon Fraser University, Vancover,
    Canda and Dr Jennifer Jensen, York University, Toronto, Canada
  • Methodologies
    Multimodal data collection, transcription, analysis, multimodal dissemination
    Keynote: Dr Jennifer Rowsell, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA and Dr
    Kate Pahl, Sheffield University, UK


pedagogy that is culturally relevant

how do we move towards knowing in our everyday pedagogies?  what spaces to we find where we can play, free from institutional constraints?  in whose eyes do we see possibilities and to whose do we relegate despair?  how do maintain our sense of pedagogical pleasure(s) amidst perceived institutional constraints?  what might it mean to commune as teachers who are students of our students?  to spend time with youth outside the constraints of institutional labels, expectations, assumptions; and to descriptively observe their literacies in action? what are the ways in which we relate to one another?  how do we decide to look up or turn away?  when do we extend a hand or hasten our pace? to whom do we accord great variation in the performance of multiple selves? and from whom do we expect staid and limited representations of self? with whose purposes do embark on the journey of education? how, amidst the unsettling and unsettled, do we create a sense of home, of belonging together? and allow space for multiple, even disparate forms of belonging within a common site/moment/act of education?


new book about harlem, youth, and multimodal literacy

Harlem on our minds: Place, race, and the literacies of urban youth
by Valerie Kinloch
Teachers College Press, 2009

Discourses of youth, gentrification, place, space, and literacies converge beautifully in this volume, collaboratively constructed by Valerie Kinloch and youth researchers, who explored changes going on in Harlem through a variety of modes, discursive interactions, and ongoing inquiry.

Definitely explore and purchase for your own reading, or to read with youth, undergraduate and graduate students interested the complicated intersections of identity, place, power, and narrative discussed in this book.

From the publisher:
In her new book, Valerie Kinloch investigates how the lives and literacies of youth in New York City’s historic Harlem are affected by public attempts to gentrify the community. Kinloch draws connections between race, place, and students’ literate identity through collaborative interviews between youth, teachers, longtime black residents, and their new white neighbors. Harlem on Our Minds is a participatory action narrative that makes emerging theories of social ecology real for the high-school English classroom. Vividly drawn lessons show how teachers can engage urban youth in school-based literacy, by linking canonical text, particularly of the Harlem renaissance, to current events. Centered on the literacy stories of two African American youth and their peers, this book for our times:
  • Showcases the multimodal literacy practices of urban youth through photos, writing samples, student-designed research projects, and more.
  • Weaves in multiple voices and perspectives through response pieces by project participants, local teachers, graduate students, and a community activist.
  • Features teaching strategies and reflection points in each chapter.


multimodality and learning conference 2010 - call for papers

Multimodality and Learning Conference: Environments, Rhetoric, Recognition, Play, and Methods

July 6th and 7th 2010
Institute of Education, Bloomsbury, London, UK
Aim and scope
The overall aim of the conference is to explore multimodal perspectives on learning and to open up theoretical, methodological and pedagogical questions and debate. The conference will be of interest to educational practitioners, research students, researchers and academics from a variety of disciplines including semiotics, linguistics, sociology, anthropology and design.

Call for papers
We welcome symposia and individual papers on multimodality and learning that address the conference themes outlined in the attachment:  Thematic strands. Abstracts can be submitted using the forms available at: www.multimodality.org.uk. Further information on submitting an abstract will be posted on the website shortly.
All abstracts will be peer-reviewed. Deadline 5pm on 26th February 2010.

Conference fee: £200 full fee; Students £100. Lunch and light refreshments included, acommodation not included. Registration deadline 31 May 2010

Key dates
26th February 2010 Deadline for submission of abstracts 31st May 2010 Deadline for registration 6th and 7th July 2010
Conference Organizing committee: Centre for Multimodal Research, Institute of Education, University of London – Richard Andrews, Jeff Bezemer, Andrew Burn, Sophia Diamantopoulou, Carey Jewitt, Gunther Kress, Diane Mavers, Caroline Pelletier


digital media and learning conference - call for papers, deadline: 10.30.2009

DML: First Annual Digital Media and Learning Conference
Conference Theme: "Diversifying Participation"
Call for papers - Deadline: October 30, 2009

Conference Committee: Henry Jenkins, David Theo Goldberg, Heather Horst, Mimi Ito, Jabari Mahiri and Holly Willis

Keynote speakers: Sonia Livingstone and S. Craig Watkins

(from the call)

A growing body of research has identified how young people's digital media use is tied to basic social and cultural competencies needed for full participation in contemporary society. We continue to develop an understanding of the impact of these experiences on learning, civic engagement, professional development, and ethical comprehension of the digital world.

Yet research has also suggested that young people's forms of participation with new media are incredibly diverse, and that risks, opportunities, and competencies are spread unevenly across the social and cultural landscape. Young people have differential access to online experiences, practices, and tools and this has a consequence in their developing sense of their own identities and their place in the world. In some cases, different forms of participation and access correspond with familiar cultural and social divides. In other cases, however, new media have introduced novel and unexpected kinds of social differences, subcultures, and identities.

It is far too simple to talk about this in terms of binaries such as "information haves and have nots" or "digital divides". There are many different kinds of obstacles to full participation, many different degrees of access to information, technologies, and online communities, and many different ways of processing those experiences. Participatory cultures surrounding digital media are characterized by a diversity that does not track automatically to high and low access or more or less sophisticated use. Rather, multiple forms of expertise, connoisseurship, identity, and practice are proliferating in online worlds, with complicated relationships to pre-existing categories such as socioeconomic status, gender, nationality, race, or ethnicity.

We encourage sessions that describe, document, and critically analyze different forms of participation and how they relate to various forms of social and cultural capital. We are interested in accounts of the challenges and obstacles which block or inhibit engagement to different forms of online participation. We also encourage session proposals that engage with successful intervention strategies and pedagogical processes enabling once marginalized groups to more fully exploit the opportunities for learning with digital media. Conversely, we are interested in hearing more about how marginal and subcultural communities find diverse uses of new and emerging technologies, pushing them in new directions and navigating a complicated relationship with "mainstream" forms of participation. Specifically, we seek to understand the following:
  • What can research on more diverse communities contribute to our understanding of the learning ecologies surrounding new media?
  • What are the technologies, practices, economic, and cultural divides that lead to segregation, "gated" information communities, and differential access?
  • When and how do diversity and differentiation in participation promote social and cultural benefits and opportunities, and when do they create schisms that are less equitable or productive?
  • What strategies have proven successful at broadening opportunities for participation, overcoming the many different kinds of segregation or exclusion which impact the online world, and empowering more diverse presences throughout cyberspace?
  • Are there things occurring on the margins of the existing digital culture that might valuably be incorporated into more mainstream practices?
In addition to these questions directly addressing the conference theme, we welcome submissions that address innovative new directions in research and practice relating to digital media and participatory learning.

Read more on conference website.



new book on comparative education

if you're interested in international perspectives on educational policy and practice, then this is the book for you:

Critical Approaches to Comparative Education: Vertical Case Studies from Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas
Edited by: Frances Vavrus and Lesley Bartlett

This book unites a dynamic group of scholars who examine linkages among local, national, and international levels of educational policy and practice. Utilizing multi-sited, ethnographic approaches, the essays explore vertical interactions across diverse levels of policy and practice while prompting horizontal comparisons across twelve sites in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. The vertical case studies focus on a range of topics, including participatory development, the politics of culture and language, neoliberal educational reforms, and education in post-conflict settings. Editors Vavrus and Bartlett contribute to comparative theory and practice by demonstrating the advantages of ‘thinking vertically.’

Table of Contents:
PART I: APPROPRIATING EDUCATIONAL POLICIES AND PROGRAMS * Localizing No Child Left Behind:  Supplemental Educational Services (SES) in New York City * The Décalage and Bricolage of Higher Education Policymaking in an Inter/national System:  The Unintended Consequences of Participation in the 1992 Senegalese CNES Reform * AIDS and Edutainment:  Inter/National Health Education in Tanzanian Secondary Schools * PART II: EXPLORING PARTICIPATION IN INTER/NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT DISCOURSE * Questioning Participation:  Exploring Discourses and Practices of Community Participation in Education Reform in Tanzania * Living Participation: Considering the Promise and Politics of Participatory Educational Reforms in Brazil * Transformative Teaching in Restrictive Times: Engaging Teacher Participation in Small School Reform during an Era of Standardization * PART III: EXAMINING THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF DIVERSITY * “Migration Nation”: Intercultural Education and Anti-Racism as Symbolic Violence in Celtic Tiger Ireland * “Don’t You Want Your Child to Be Better than You?”:  Enacting Ideologies and Contesting Intercultural Policy in Peru * Citizenship and Belonging in an Age of Insecurity:  Pakistani Immigrant Youth in New York City * PART IV: MANAGING CONFLICT THROUGH INTER/NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT EDUCATION * The Relief-Development Transition:  Sustainability and Educational Support in Post-Conflict Settings * Perpetuated Suffering:  Social Injustice in Liberian Teachers’ Lives * Positioning Arabic in Schools:  Language Policy, National Identity, and Development in Contemporary Lebanon


Exploring Childhood Studies - Call for papers

Exploring Childhood Studies: A Graduate Student Conference

The graduate students of the Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University, Camden invite submissions for papers and poster presentations for their first formal graduate student conference on April 9, 2010. Graduate students from all disciplines who are engaged in research relating to children and childhood are encouraged to submit proposals.

In an attempt to define this emerging and diverse field, the Exploring Childhood Studies conference proposes defining Childhood Studies by "doing" childhood studies; the conference will explore the field by offering explorations within it. We seek papers from all disciplines that keep the child, children, and childhood as their central focus, providing critical thought and insight while locating them in different contexts, fields, and ideologies.

Call for papers - Deadline: Oct. 31, 2009
More information


Newark Mayor Cory Booker pt.2 (10/16/09)

was watching this clip (below) of cory booker talking with conan, and was especially moved by this quote:
"people think that life is about the big victory. but in my opinion, life is about the small acts of decency, kindness, and love that over a lifetime add up to transformative change."


decoding college application process

interesting to think about what is said, and not said in this Today Show segment about deciphering the college application process. maybe i've been doing too much "hidden curriculum" reading, but i'm thinking about how this process is mediated so differently across the wide range of schools, not to mention kids who are home schooled. i was the first in my family to go to college in the US and i did a lot of the deciphering for myself, although i vaguely remember my guidance counselor being generally supportive. it helped, i think, that she was able to build on the voracious way in which i approached the process. (if only i could get that organizational zeal back now...!) but how to scaffold the process before the college application?

and, what is missing from these decoding tips?



Charlotte Linde - Saturday Series Lecture

What:  Charlotte Linde will give a talk titled, Working the Past: Narrative and Institutional Memory
Date: October 10th, 2009
Time: 11:00am
Location: 277 Grace Dodge Hall, Teachers College

Linde describes the ways in which institutions use narratives to remember their past, and to work their past in the present. The work is based on an ethnographic study of how narratives are used in a large insurance company to construct both collective and individual identity and memory. Her study looks both at the microstructure of narratives, showing how they are shaped by the institutions within which they are told, and at the large scale effect of narratives in creating individual and institutional identities.

Sponsored by the Center for Multiple Languages and Literacies


bar code art

taking something meant to be invisible or what goes unnoticed and repurposing it by (re)imagining it as a modality for creating art. fantastic!


rethinking classrooms by listening - new tc press book

Check out this new book by Katherine Schultz!
(also author of Listening: A Framework for Teaching Across Differences and co-editor of School's Out!: Bridging out-of-school literacy with classroom practices)

Rethinking Classroom Participation: Listening to Silent Voices

about the book:

Many educators understand how to gauge learning by paying close attention to student talk. Few know how to interpret and attend to student silence as a form of participation. In her new book, Katherine Schultz examines the complex role student silence can play in teaching and learning. Urging teachers to listen to student silence in new ways, this book offers real-life examples and proven strategies for “rethinking classroom participation” to include all students—those eager to raise their hands to speak and those who may pause or answer in different ways.

Available October, 2009 from Teachers College Press

31st Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum - Deadline extended!

There's still time to submit to the Ethnography Forum - deadline extended to October 4, 2009

Creativity, Crisis and Qualitative Research: Re-imagining Education in a Changing World

February 26 - 27, 2010

Center for Urban Ethnography
University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education
3700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

a little about this year's theme:
We live in an era of rapid changes, and this year has had especially dramatic ones: a global economic crisis, the inauguration of the first African-American President of the United States, and the massive popularization of iPhone-type mobile web devices, to name a few. In U.S. education, for example, charter schools and more and more public schools are experimenting with new ways of doing teaching and learning, from online course formats to “small school” models to ways of making do with smaller budgets and staff. How have the social, economic, cultural, and technological changes of our time influenced our ways of teaching and learning, inside and outside of school, as well as our “ways of knowing” as researchers and practitioners? And how do we create new ways of teaching, learning, researching, and knowing, amidst change?

Plenary speakers:
Samy Alim, University of California at Los Angeles
Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Boston College, and Susan Lytle, University of Pennsylvania
Doug Foley, University of Texas at Austin
Bonny Norton, University of British Columbia

Find out more here.



call... & response - attempts to make sense of beating, death, violence among youth

call: the beating

response: the questions...


"kids w/o education = the real weapons of mass destruction"
language makes me shudder
- wanting to problematize education; image of kids as weapons
but how are we (the collective we = educators, parents, elected officials, other youth, ...)
complicit in and also able to interrupt these moments.
off-handed mention of "having nothing to do after school"
images of arrested youth - mugshots; (un)wittingly reinscribe existing tropes
- of desperation, of incarceration, of violence, of masculinity
how will the story go on?
(when) will this story end?



"are heels oppressing or empowering?" -> what passes for 'debate' over morning coffee...

bio-anthropologist versus (talk show host + magazine editor + sexist stand-in co-host) = very difficult to watch morning segment.

storying and the storied

last week was strange for a number of reasons, not the least of which involved a meeting of faculty that was not a faculty meeting, or a department meeting, or any other configuration of faculty members who convene for largely administrative purposes.  we had convened voluntarily, in response to an invitation to inquire together about the nexus of globalization, education, and citizenship.  my feelings can be summed up in the tweet i twittered as i walked to my office after leaving my colleagues with whom i felt like i had engaged in something unique:

finding my way back to play from TwitterBerry

we were asked by our colleague and facilitator to reflect on a moment of transculturalism or transnationalism that we had experienced, either in our recent or distant or anywhere-in-between past. and here's where the strange quotient increases - the first story that popped into my mind was the great dosa tale of 2nd grade. i will write that story down at some point - i've certainly shared it verbally enough times! - but the story for right now is about why my mind went there, to that particular moment when i was seven. a moment that, by all means, could only be characterized as mortifying and emotionally scarring.  but given the previous events of last week, this tale became reframed in my mind as evocative of something different: a profound moment of self-definition and inquiry into identity that resonates with all subsequent invitations to inquiry and identity work...

i began to think about my grandmother early last week.  at the end of class tuesday night i gave a brief preview of the book we'll discuss during the next class, the magical life of long tack sam. the author of the text, and documentary filmmaker, ann marie fleming, composed the book and a film of the same name following from her inquiry into her family's history and learning of her great-grandfather's magical life as a world renown acrobat and magician.  the texts are worth more than a few pages of reflection themselves, but i'll just say here that in both form and content, fleming's storying of her family history evokes images of transnational migration, strength, personal and collective triumph, war, family, and peace among many others.  as i offered a brief preview in class, inviting us to attend to both form and content and the collective meanings fleming offers the reader, i continued to think about my own acts of personal storying, which flourished when i was in graduate school and which have largely diminished in the five years since...

the following day, i found my way back to a public library.  i was so moved by the realization that i blogged about the at-once new and familiar rush of emotions that swept over me.  i was again transported to a practice so dominant in my youth; to a space and structure that held deep personal meaning for how i made sense of myself in the then-present, and how i imagine my younger self now. i tweeted about the boy who shared a table with me, and allowed me to understand another dimension of public library life:

hair aflame w/a mop of orange. eyes focused on math puzzle hw. in silence, until rendezvous w/mom. she asks abt his day; he beams. #twitpoem

so in our faculty seminar, when presented with the invitation to engage in sustained inquiry - with thought and emotion, with storied reflection - about the intersections across otherwise banal terms such as globalization, education, and citizenship, my mind immediately flooded with images, feelings, details; i understood what fleming meant when she concluded her film by saying "memory is magic" and noting in writing that "history is relatives."

i have a working title for my inquiry: a is for assimilation.  there is a simplicity in that phrase that captures the nuances of learning to speak english from my floppy haired neighbor; constantly negotiating a very full identity dance card; pursuing language and literacy-based study in my studies and professional life; confronting the vestiges of my own identity work, begun nearly thirty years ago with trepidation and which is still very much under construction.

it isn't often when multiple strands of inquiry align, but when they do like they seem to have recently, the effect is awe-some. i concluded my week by attending a screening of fleming's film, originally released in 2003 but being rescreened to celebrate a new exhibit at the moca.  during the q&a, fleming mentioned that she began research for her film 10 years after her grandmother, the daughter of long tack sam, had died.  this year marks the tenth anniversary of my paternal grandmother's death; the person for whom i was named and with whom i shared a bedroom for the first several years of my life.   i've begun tweeting questions that i would have asked her if i had thought to do so at the time (#q4gma).  i think about the way she is storied in family lore, and how storied her siblings, parents, and ancestors.  hers was an unexpected transnational narrative that she negotiated for the last twenty years of her life.  so when i find myself undoubtedly mired in writing, revision, and analysis already on the schedule for the next several months, i will rejoice in the occasional opportunities to let my mind explore, making the familiar strange again, and play within the loosely facilitated structure of a seminar... just like grad school.  (i even became a bit giddy when reading and questions to guide our thinking were assigned...) 

this time, i'll take my namesake along for the ride. 


trolling the web... a text rendering of cme09 haps.

i've been reading posts and tweets from members of this fall's culture, media, and ed class and thought i'd do a virtual text rendering - a collection of phrases that stood out to me, in no particular order:

But what about the stereotyping?
the therapy of production is part of the intangible value that comes out of that work/process of creation
I also want to spend a moment defending teachers
this wondering just led me to go to twitter ... and be met with my school's filter/firewall.
I think I’m in between phase I “Honeymoon” and phase 2 “What am I doing?”
Globalization is irreversible and nobody is in charge of it.
Abt ten min into watching the video, The Day My God Died, a mascara commercial popped up
Holy Twitter Batman! Kanye went there!?!
connected/disconnected, isolated/related, and openheartedness/a bunch of lies
structured through styles and voice long forgotten
Suddenly, I began to miss Nankai...
Who says texting has to be the enemy of the 21st century teacher?
how young people who have no role models in their lives use figures in the media as role models
loooved fam guy. cleveland show... not so much
Crowd Sourcing: Internet as democratizer or impersonator.
Now I know why IronChef can run right after knowing the secret ingredient
i need a hug.

good stuff happening in cme this semester.  makes me think more about the collective work we're trying to do, especially with this year's focus on social issue media.  in other words, what stories are we trying to tell?  who are we storying with? who are we storying for? and about?



new ela & math standards released

i've progressed in my thinking about standards. i understand them differently from when i was early in my path of teaching and learning, when i viewed them as oppressive and as symbolic vehicular boots that stifled educators creative inclinations.  (i now realize that the obsession to test children - and by proxy their teachers - to within an inch of their life is the real villain, perpetrated by willing accomplices in grey and navy suits and answering to the various titles to which they have been elected or appointed...)

so when the new standards for english language arts (ela) and mathematics were announced this week, i brought a renewed eye to reading them, thanks to my time spent observing and spending time in classrooms and ongoing conversations with current teachers whose efforts to provide myriad educational opportunities for the eager bodies that file into their classrooms every day are not necessarily diminished, and are sometimes even bolstered, by a fuller understanding of the national standards.  so as i read these standards anew, i began to imagine what "meeting" them might mean from a pedagogical standpoint. for me, the ela standards - divided into 'reading,' 'writing,' and 'speaking & listening' (regardless of ample, ample, oodles of research that understands them to work in concert) - evoked images of what it would look like for a kid to have achieved each bullet-pointed goal.  for example, in reading:
  • Support or challenge assertions about the text by citing evidence in the text explicitly and accurately.
and the questions began: what types of texts? citing in what format? who determines what is explicit and accurate? (that last question pertains to some of obtuse 'texts' i've encountered lately, which are neither explicit nor accurate in their 'reading' of others' texts...)
but these questions are the natural byproduct of a mind set to 'hyper' on the inquiry cycle, which, i agree, can become paralyzing when someone 'just wants to go and teach.' but without these questions, and the next few that i'll raise below, how do we ease ourselves out of the jaws of complacency.  questions need not be paralyzing. in fact, i have found them liberating. questioning what we mean by text can suggest a new range of compositions - film shorts, photo essays, anime, family photo albums - to consider inside the classroom. these new texts, sometimes foreign to the routines of classroom and school life, might open up the boundaries that too often (aim to, but can never really) separate children's in-school and out-of-school lives.  questions about text, indeed a critical stance on texts, can suggest new teaching and learning relationships as the children who suggest new texts can be engaged as the experts on their texts.  i could learn some things about manga, but to hear a true expert eagerly describe narrative nuances that would have certainly escaped me for the first 50 or 60 readings is where educative possibility really lies. 
hence, the new questions - question, really.  just one, as i worked my way down the standards for reading, writing, and speaking & listening.  and then made my way through the mathematical standards.  my hypercurious mind wants to know where the 'we'/'with' standards are.  that is, while all of the existing 'todos' implicate what a student must be able to do, and consequently what the teacher must make sure the student can do, there aren't any standards that talk about what kind of community teachers and students might co-create in which to engage in education together.  so i want to know: "Where are the standards of 'with'?"

yes, this is a false question in way, b/c i would truly cringe if there were classroom community standards.  (shudder, literally, to think about this...)  but when the good people at the "National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in partnership with Achieve, ACT and the College Board" came together establish standards that are "research and evidence-based, internationally benchmarked, aligned with college and work expectations and include rigorous content and skills," i just want to know what kinds of conversations went on about what spaces would be generative of the kinds of teaching and learning that might lead to national proficiency across the "core standards" laid out this week?  and if there was any talk, even whispers, about resources, class size, unholy testing schedules, and time to build community, might i ask - nay, plead - for the revered insiders to leak these conversations to the press? or someone who might listen, especially when the left hand is ready to act based on the findings of the right hand...

feedback on the standards is welcome until october 21st. after reading the standards, click on the link that says "Submit Feedback >>" along the left-hand menu.



public libraries

going to our public library was a ritual for me when i was a kid growing up in a suburban new jersey town.  almost weekly, either parent or the parent of one of my friends would drive a carload of us kids to the (what seemed to me then to be) sprawling free public library campus, which also housed a version of "safety town" - a mock town where busloads of kids could spend an afternoon learning about traffic safety from "officer friendly."  on the green lawn out front sat two bronzed figures back to back, one engrossed in reading and the other saying something over his back to his companion.  sometimes i would sit next to them with a book of my own while i waited for my ride or others to finish up inside.

i never left the building with any less than the maximum number of books you could take out at once.  if it wasn't an armload, then i clearly had wasted a visit.  slowly, i would venture from the children's section into the main section of the library, and this would bring me indescribable joy.  once i got the hang of the dewey decimal system, i would look up topics in the card catalog just to prove i could find it.  astronomy, botany, civil war, women's rights, mythology... the card catalog was like a choose-your-own-adventure story that never led to the same place twice.  up stairs and down the elevator, books in hand.  no matter where the journey led, however, i always landed back in the far corner of the children's section.  there, the tables were round and wide and could accommodate books of all shapes and sizes.  i liked to spread them out - a practice in which i still i engage - like a painter assembling her paints before delving into them to construct that afternoon's perfect story portrait.  i think about the multilayered narrative that capucine weaves in this video and feel a kinship to what might have been going on in her mind to bring those threads together.

i felt some of the same energy and magic when i wandered into a different public library earlier this afternoon.  i hadn't been inside one in a very long time.  i was instantly aware of how unfamiliar this environment was to me, even as the sensibility of the concrete structure was inviting.  i had become so used to working in academic libraries, coffee shops, and my office, that i found myself unaccustomed to the ongoing interactions between librarian and the diverse population of patrons; the dialogues about whether the printers were working and where a mom could find some good graphic novels for her 11-year-old.  the librarian had responses for these and many other queries.

i took a seat at a rectangular table on the second floor, presumably near the young adult literature section.  across me was a bookshelf full of graphic novels.  just typing that sentence makes me realize how things and times have changed since i was last actively present in a library - that is, in a library to "use" the library.  a bookshelf full of graphic novels didn't exist even 6 or 7 years ago when i spent nearly every week in or near a library while collecting data for my dissertation with a group of adolescent boys.   librarians, often women, act as sage guides, patient listeners, and occasionally ornery public servants whose buttons have been pushed one too many times.

for a while, i shared my table with a red-headed boy who looked to be no more than 9.  he worked studiously on what appeared to be a math assignment - i'm assuming math based on the pyramid made up of triangles on the worksheet he was writing on.  a group of slightly older girls walked up the stairs together and, leaning on each other like teenage girls tend to do (literally and metaphorically), made their way to the back where the young adult romance and mystery books were.  their dialogue was about which book to check out next, amidst giggles - i probably wouldn't be entirely off base if i guessed they were going toward the twilight display...

there was one other reason i kept bringing my haul back to the children's section of my hometown public library: the giant lion that was propped up against the corner.  i probably couldn't get away with it now, but even as a teenager, i would sit and lean against that lion and read for hours on end.  i was comfortable, in a familiar surrounding, where i had relatively autonomy and authority to manage my own textual explorations. 

i began to remember some of those lessons this afternoon as i watched library patrons, old and mostly young, make their way through this structure.  card catalogs have been replaced with computer kiosks and the library cards and books are read by barcode, but the stuffed animals and large tables remain... signaling a welcome to a new generation of inquiring minds and adventure-seeking storytellers.


and on a happy note, relief for the free library of philadelphia ...  for now...


challenging homophobia in schools - new text from tc press

Coming in november, 2009: Acting Out! Combating Homophobia Through Teacher Activism
by: Mollie V. Blackburn, Caroline T. Clark, Lauren M. Kenney, and Jill M. Smith
Foreword by JoBeth Allen
Part of the Practitioner Inquiry Series
Book Description: In this volume, teachers from urban, suburban, and rural districts join together in a teacher inquiry group to challenge homophobia and heterosexism in schools and classrooms. To create safe learning environments for all students they address key topics, including seizing teachable moments, organizing faculty, deciding whether to come out in the classroom, using LGBTQ-inclusive texts, running a Gay-Straight Alliance, changing district policy to protect LGBTQ teachers and students, dealing with resistant students, and preparing preservice teachers to do antihomophobia work.

Book Features:
  • Examples of antihomophobia teaching across elementary, secondary, and university contexts, and discussions of the consequences of this work.
  • Concrete discussions of how to start a teacher inquiry group, and the challenges and rewards of engaging in teacher activism.
  • A comprehensive annotated bibliography of texts that address homophobia and heterosexism.


reading "Knock Knock, Who's There?" - a selection of the 9th annual media that matters film festival

showed this film in class last night - a psa about domestic violence: Knock Knock, Who's There

was surprised by some of the responses to the question: what stands out?
- role of the boys in the clip
- the meaning(s) behind a single gendered, and boys in particular, group as the ones engaging in the social action
- how to read the ball playing, specifically the cricket game in progress at beginning of clip
- the agency of youth
- the unspoken interactions between the man and the boys

pres. obama's speech to kids - video


Words and thoughts...

Just because I can, doesn't mean I have to

Just because I won't, doesn't mean I can't

Just because I can't, doesn't mean I don't want to

Just because I want to, doesn't mean I will

pres. obama's speech to kids - full text

the white house released president obama's prepared remarks that he will deliver to schoolchildren on tuesday.

at first blush, this is very much on the order of obama's campaign speeches or more recent statements about education, in which he urges a collective sense of individual responsibility, and strives to ignite fires of innovation in his listeners. but there are some important distinctions that stand out, like the reference to specific pop culture artifacts and texts, perhaps to resonate with his intended audience:
e.g., "I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox."
"Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class."

and he weaves his own narrative through this address, not to deliver an unexamined "bootstraps" message, but rather to illuminate the ways in which his individual determination and educational success was mediated and informed by the communities through which he traversed. the personal narrative is a tale of many cities...

i hope teachers and families not only share this speech with school-age children in their charge, but they engage with it critically. perhaps they'll wordle it, like @librarybeth has done here. or maybe they'll hold a debate to argue against or for some of the subtler points embedded throughout. i hope we engage with that which we find unfamiliar, if for no other reason than to be able to identify what it is that bothers us. but perhaps in that journey, we find things that we can agree on and we move forward. together.



making sense of public reaction to (the not yet aired) president obama's speech to kids about education

neal mccluskey, of the cato institute, explains what some parents find objectionable about the speech president obama is scheduled to deliver this coming week. the focus of the proposed address: the importance of education and staying in school. mccluskey notes that some parents are worried that this speech will espouse 'socialist' ideas, and more specifically that the curriculum guides provided by the dept. of education - intended to scaffold discussion following the president's speech - may encourage "national service and things like that..." when asked whether, if the speech turns out to be on the order of a 'pep talk,' mccluskey may soften his view toward the speech, mccluskey responds by posing the question: 'do parents have legitmate concerns that their kids will be exposed to?'

now, i've tried - against my initial reaction of disbelief - to understand the concern and grassroots-like antagonism that has spread and is being reported across news outlets in response to this scheduled speech. but i keep returning to a gnawing feeling that what may really be at the heart of this response - beyond the knee-jerk and politically motivated reactions - has to do with the meaning and purpose of education. this is not new nor earth-shattering, but brings to the surface the disdain towards an approach to schooling (and perhaps education, more broadly) that transcends the scripted teaching and learning opportunities that many adults are familiar with from their schooling experiences. the invitation that will purportedly be extended to children to consider their own role in their education - as connected to the wider global realities of employment demands of jobs that don't yet exist and innovations yet to be imagined - does not strike me as quite the tinderbox some folks are making it out to be.

still, mccluskey's response - primarily aimed at the curriculum guides - seems less obtuse in light of the conservative pundits and elected officials featured in the following clip:

and then there's the clip that includes this curious quote:
"obama shouldn't force anybody to make decisions...for themselves. that's the right of the individual."

some argue that this is about parents' rights to protect their children and to know about what children will be exposed to in school. but is that what this 'controversy' is really about?



The Day My God Died

a documentary that chronicles the experiences of young girls from nepal who are trafficked and sold into the child sex trade in bombay


reading rainbow no more

i would sing the title tune long after i stopped watching reading rainbow. i appreciated host, levar burton's ease and enthusiasm for reading, for stories, and imagination. i can't make a direct causal link, but i don't think it's a coincidence that what continues to inspire me to inquire is the study of literacies. so as i read the headline on npr - 'Reading Rainbow' Reaches Its Final Chapter - i was prepared to read about a natural end, like "mr. rogers' neighborhood," which officially buttoned up its cardigan in 2001.

but as i read and learned of the funding trends that contributed to the show's demise. a few excerpts:
The show's run is ending, Grant explains, because no one — not the station, not PBS, not the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — will put up the several hundred thousand dollars needed to renew the show's broadcast rights.
and perhaps even more frustrating was this bit of analysis:
"Grant says the funding crunch is partially to blame, but the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. The change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration, he explains, which wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading — like phonics and spelling.

Grant says that PBS, CPB and the Department of Education put significant funding toward programming that would teach kids how to read — but that's not what Reading Rainbow was trying to do.

"Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read," Grant says. "You know, the love of reading — [the show] encouraged kids to pick up a book and to read."
i'm reminded of recent conversations i've been having with older youth in their late teens and early 20s. among the topics we've been discussing is the paucity of "why" discourse. collectively, they reflected on the relatively few instances when they were encouraged to really question, explore, and understand why they engaged in any particular practice or action. this made me wonder, where are there spaces for the kind of critical questioning that cultivates sustained inquiry? do we care if kids now become thinking adults later? can we afford to distill education down to discrete and scripted moments of skill-based interactions?

it saddens me that, given growing evidence of the many different ways kids not only learn to read but also cultivate myriad literacy practices, that the thrust of public funding and policy is being driven by myopic understandings of literacy.

the article closes with the following musings:
Reading Rainbow's impending absence leaves many open questions about today's literacy challenges, and what television's role should be in addressing them.

"But" — as Burton would have told his young readers — "you don't have to take my word for it."
more thoughts on this shortsighted decision:
Did Education Dept.'s Shift Help Kill PBS's 'Reading Rainbow'?
Reading Rainbow Reads Its Final Chapter on PBS
In Memoriam: “Reading Rainbow”



31st annual ethnography in education research forum

***CALL for PAPERS***
NOTIFICATION: early November, 2009

We live in an era of rapid changes, and this year has had especially dramatic ones: a global economic crisis, the inauguration of the first African-American President of the United States, and the massive popularization of iPhone-type mobile web devices, to name a few. In U.S. education, for example, charter schools and more and more public schools are experimenting with new ways of doing teaching and learning, from online course formats to “small school” models to ways of making do with smaller budgets and staff. How have the social, economic, cultural, and technological changes of our time influenced our ways of teaching and learning, inside and outside of school, as well as our “ways of knowing” as researchers and practitioners? And how do we create new ways of teaching, learning, researching, and knowing, amidst change?

There has been much talk of change in our societies, from suggestions of a post-racial era, to predictions of minority-majority demographic shifts and class mobility, to initiatives for financial reorganization and school accountability. In such times of crisis, or opportunity, ethnographers and qualitative researchers are uniquely positioned to be able to find, understand, and share creative new ways of learning and knowing. At this 31st annual Ethnography in Education research forum, we hope to hear about and share creative re-imaginings and new ways of doing education, with an eye towards the future of education reform, research, and practice.

Plenary speakers:
Samy Alim, University of California at Los Angeles

Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Boston College, and Susan Lytle, University of Pennsylvania

Doug Foley, University of Texas at Austin

All proposals may be submitted online beginning August 14:


nctear 2010 - cfp and info


Assembly for Research Midwinter Conference


February 19th-21st, 2010; University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Co-sponsored by Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Co-Chairs: Amanda Godley, sj Miller, and Amanda Thein

The 2010 conference theme focuses on new research methodologies that have
emerged in response to new questions in literacy research, such as the
relationship between literacy and identity, longitudinal literacy
development, and out-of-school literacies. The conference theme also aims to
address current practical, theoretical, and methodological challenges in
literacy research, such as collecting rich data within classrooms and
managing tensions between "scientifically-based" research and in-depth
qualitative research. Our keynote speakers will speak to the affordances and
challenges of various literacy research methodologies, including memoir,
oral history, classroom discourse analysis, policy research and
teacher/faculty collaborations.

We welcome proposals that describe literacy researchers' methodological
insights and challenges through descriptions of specific studies,
explorations of emerging theories of research, and considerations of
practical and ethical research dilemmas.

Proposals (no more than 2 single-spaced pages) should address the following:
The research question(s), methodology, findings/issues/questions for
discussion, and how the research will contribute to the conference
conversation. If your paper is a conceptual/theoretical one, please describe
your theoretical framework and argument and tell how it will contribute to
the conference conversation. We strongly encourage the participation of
classroom teachers and graduate students, so if you are currently a
classroom teacher or graduate student, please indicate so in your proposal.
Please send all proposals to NCTEAR@pitt.edu. The deadline for submission of
proposals is September 30, 2009.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, check out the conference website at:

QUESTIONS? Email NCTEAR@pitt.edu


knowing by doing?

as fears about the dark side of social networking abound, one question continues to persist for me: to what extent does someone (a researcher of adolescents' literacies, for example) benefit from participating in the digital communicative landscape when aiming to make sense of that landscape within the lives of aforementioned adolescents?

i recall having a similar conversation about gaming and literacy research and wondering whether one had to play video games in order to research gaming in the lives of youth. thinking back to that conversation now, i am reminded of a video i saw recently on edutopia in which mimi ito is being interviewed about her digital youth study. in it, ito describes three ways that she observed youth engaging in informal learning outside of school with technologies:
hanging out
messing around
geeking out

each of these "ways in" - what ito and her colleagues refer to as "genres of participation" - is associated with various sets of practices and postures and social communities. as i thought about these distinctions (see video and full report for on these genres), i began to wonder about how researchers fit into (or don't) these participation genres. and to what extent and in what ways do we locate ourselves within these already hybrid spaces and moments of digital participation...


...on courtship in the 19th century

just discovered a fun-tastic blog written by a phd student who is studying the transformation of love and marriage through an analysis of personal ads:

advertising for love

fun :)


youth voices on michael jackson

it's hard not to be moved and overwhelmed by the outpouring of reflection, sadness, memories, and testimonials in response to the sudden death of michael jackson. what i've been particularly struck by, however, have been the responses of adolescents, many of whom were born within the last two decades and whose current music artists claim to be influenced by the musical stylings pioneered by a true individual.

here's a taste of what i've heard and read, from a youth perspective:


new (literacies-related) reads on my summer 'must read' list

The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis (Routledge) - Edited by Carey Jewitt - out July 2009

Assessing New Literacies: Perspectives from the Classroom (Peter Lang) - Edited by Anne Burke & Roberta Hammett (and part of the New Literacies & Digital Epistemologies series edited by Colin Lankshear & Michele Knobel)

The Word and the World: The Cultural Politics of Literacy in Brazil (Hampton Press) - Lesley Bartlett

Handbook of Adolescent Literacy Research
(Guilford Press) - Edited by Leila Christenbury, Randy Bomer, & Peter Smagorinsky

any other suggestions??


insight project presents: bird's eye view - a youth theater performance

The youth theater company,
the Insight Project, presents:

Bird’s Eye View

A staged reading followed by a discussion
of Justice and the Arts

Friday, May 8th @ 7:00 pm

@ Cowin Center - Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 W. 120th St., New York, NY 10027

David’s got problems - a rap sheet, a schizophrenic uncle, and a pregnant girlfriend, just to name a few - and his friends’ solutions may be more trouble than help. How does a young man find a way to walk a straight path and still keep his head up in the streets?

Directions to the Cowin Center: Take the 1 train to 116th St., walk four blocks north on Broadway and turn right onto 120th St. Use the main entrance for Teachers College located on the north side of 120th St., between Broadway and Amsterdam. Follow signs for the Cowin Center.

The Insight Project is part of CASES CEP. For more information, go to www.cases.org

For more information about this performance, contact Lalitha Vasudevan:
email: lmv2102 AT columbia.edu | phone: 212-678-6660


interesting documentary, unsettling content

clip 1:

clip 2:

for more on this msnbc documentary, locked and loaded: kids and guns in america, see links on this page: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036750/