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Using Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers To teach Basic or Remedial Writers Behind Bars in the Jails and in the Community Colleges.

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Presentation on theme: "Using Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers To teach Basic or Remedial Writers Behind Bars in the Jails and in the Community Colleges."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers To teach Basic or Remedial Writers Behind Bars in the Jails and in the Community Colleges

2 The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm wrote in his autobiography: I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there in prison reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today the ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive. (Haley, 1965, 179)

3 Using Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… I previously worked as a middle school, high school, and adult school teacher. I currently work with young people in juvenile hall and with inmates in jail and in prison as a volunteer in the criminal justice system. I have seen first hand how the lack of literacy skills negatively affects young people and adults.

4 Using Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… The purpose of this study is to examine how autobiographical writings combined with Integrated Reading and Writing programs can improve reading and writing skills of adult learners and remedial college students.

5 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… Some of these concepts can be used with middle school, high school, adult learners, community college students, and adult learners in jails. Using

6 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… In this research study, I will investigate and analyze academic articles and studies including adult education programs, reading, writing, and Integrated Reading and Writing programs (to be called IRW from now on).

7 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… This research points out that many students with basic academic needs in the area of literacy and writing are minority and foreign language students from inner city schools who are not academically prepared to compete on an equal basis. This study introduces the concept of autobiographical readings and writing into the writing classroom. It has produced positive results in the IRW college classroom and also with adult learners.

8 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… I also delved into programs that enabled, engaged, and impacted those who came into contact with the criminal justice system to be successful through the use of autobiographical writings. Through this study IRW instructors and others who are not familiar with using autobiographical writings are given the tools to use autobiographical writings and IRW in their classroom.

9 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… One of the first questions proposed by Padak and Bardine (2004) was What motivates people to read? The next question was, How can we get them to write? Padak and Bardine conducted a study involving adult learners engaged as readers and writers while attending an adult basic education (ABE) class.

10 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… Padak and Bardines study involving adult learners engaged the adult learners as readers and writers. The adult learners wrote about familiar topics and experiences. They used journals to write down their thoughts and reflections.

11 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… The studies we are about to discuss address the questions proposed by Padak and Bardine (2004) What motivates people to read? The next question was, How can we get them to write? The first study was conducted by Hamann, Schultz, Smith and White (1991). A second study along these same lines was conducted by Spires, Williams, Jackson and Huffman (1998).

12 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… Both of groups of researchers investigated autobiographical reading and writing and how it enhanced students engagement and understanding of literature. They also argued that if students have not had previous positive experiences in their writing it is unlikely that their writing will improve.

13 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… Both sets of researchers pointed out that as students engage with their reading they become emotionally and psychologically engaged through their writings. According to Spires et al., instructional approaches were shaped by Bartholomae and Petrosky (1986).

14 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… Spires et al. believed that first year college students must discover and define who they are within an academic context. They believed that to reach first year college students that self-knowledge and reflection are essential to growth and development. The authors believed that the students develop a sense of self through autobiographical readings and writings, (Spires et al., ).

15 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… Through reading autobiographies, this connected students to the act of reading and writing. The students participated in prewriting activities connecting the students with the literary text prior to reading the text. This was accomplished by writing before actually reading the text.

16 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… Hamann, Schultz, Smith, and White, (1991) argued that if readers are going to make connections with the literary texts they must see the connection between their lives and the literature. This study by Harman et al (1991) convinced researchers that writing about the students relevant autobiographical experiences prior to reading the text is a powerful way to engage students before reading the text and within the text.

17 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… In a separate case study White (1995) discusses how autobiographical writing helps students engage with the text by bringing life to literature. Whites objective is to have his students connect the narratives to their own lives. White quotes Nystrand (1991) who suggests that teachers who want to promote depth of understanding [should] take care to help students see relations between the narrative…and their own individual experiences (Nystrand, 1991, 153).

18 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… White argues, in order for a student to be successful in reading the student must be prepared before he or she reads the text. He strongly suggests preparation prior to reading. White refers to a classic study by Bartlett (1932) who suggests that the readers prior knowledge (read schema) and expectations have an influence in what they comprehend and remember.

19 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… White points out that in Bransford and Johnsons (1972) study they demonstrate that readers memories and understanding are guided by the perspectives that they bring to the texts, (White, 1995, 174).

20 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… White argues these classic studies suggest that if students have autobiographical experiences in mind, they will be able to relate to the text prior to reading the text; they will likely remember the details that pertain or are similar to their own lives.

21 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… The point in this study is that Writing before Reading Prompt prior to reading the text will have a definite positive effect on the students memory recall and engagement by writing the prompt prior to reading their text.

22 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… White points out that just writing a response that makes a personal connection with the text after reading does not reap the same benefits as prior to reading the text.

23 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… Another study along the lines of autobiographical writings was conducted by Chamblee (1998) who demonstrated how to engage and bring to life reading and writing for at-risk college students.

24 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… Chamblee designed the course so that the students are the experts on the subject they are going to write about, their life. (to be continued)

25 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… I conclude for the moment, with another quote from a famous minority writer in his autobiography that touches on the subject of literacy, reading and writing… Jimmy Santiago Baca (1992)takes us from his humble beginnings of being unable to read while being incarcerated in a New Mexico County Jail to the point where the written word begins to fascinate him. Days later, with a stub of a pencil I whittled sharp with my teeth, I propped a Red Chief notebook on my knees and wrote my first words. From that moment, a hunger for poetry possessed me (Baca, 1992, 6).

26 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… Works Cited Baca, J.S. (1992). Working in the Dark: Reflections of a Poet of the Barrio. Santa Fe, NM: Red Crane Books Bartholomae, D., & Petrosky, A. (1986). Facts Artifacts and Counterfacts: Theory and Method For a Reading and Writing Course: Portsmouth, NH Boynton / Cook Publishers Bartlett, F. C. (1932). Remembering: A Study in experimental and social psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chamblee, C.M. (1998). Bringing Life to Reading and Writing for at-Risk College Students Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Vol. 41, No 7 Apr., 1998, Haley, A. (1965). The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Grove Press Hamann, L.S., Schultz, L., Smith, M.W., & White, B., (1991).The Power of Autobiographical Writing before Reading Journal of Reading, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Sept. 1991) 24-28

27 Autobiographies and Literacy Narratives of Minority Writers to teach Basic or Remedial Writers… Works Cited (continued) Nystrand, M. (1991). Making it hard: Curriculum and Instruction as factors in difficulty of literature. In A Purves (Ed.), The idea of difficulty in literature. Albany: SUNY at Albany Press, Padak, N. D., & Bardine, B. A. (2004). Engaging Readers and Writers in Adult Education Contexts Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Vol. 48, No. 2 (Oct., 2004) Spires, H.A., Williams, J.B., Jackson, A., & Huffman, L.E. (1998). Leveling the Academic Playing Field through Autobiographical Reading and Writing Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Vol. 42, No. 4 (Dec., 1998) White, B.F. (1995). Effects of Autobiographical Writing before Reading on Students Responses to Short Stories The Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 88. No. 3 (Jan – Feb., 1995)


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