The concept of “DREAM” (Diversity, Relevance, Engagement, Access, and Motivation) will be one of my next projects that I develop to encourage educators to implement into their reading and literacy instruction. A book, a series of presentations and/or webinars, and an online platform will be created to help educators learn to encourage at-home support, use diverse texts, popular culture and technology, and multi modal resources that empower students, and parents.
According to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2016), about 22% of their books were about people of color, and the books written or illustrated by authors of color made up about 12% of their inventory. These numbers are slowly changing, as twenty years ago only 9% of book selections represented or included students of color. Students want to feel like they are included and are represented in a learning environment. Literacy learning, and traditional academic English can be a subject area that is intimidating to students, and many students struggle with code switching or second language learning. Yet they must build a literacy foundation, as it is essential for learning in all other academic subject areas. With the challenges that many students bring to the classroom, educators must be willing to embrace diversity, creativity, have patience, and spark engagement.
DREAM represents several pieces necessary to address and provide quality and equitable literacy instruction for all. Diversity brings a wide spectrum of issues that educators can be faced with. Willingness to learn, accept, and apply the culture (not just ethnicity or race) of students to instructional practice is key. Students also need to know how to apply the knowledge being taught, and how it applies to them. Engagement starts with learning the interests of the students, merged with the academic knowledge needed. Ease of access to resources and parents’ insight on how to continue their child’s learning outside of the classroom doors is crucial. As far as motivation, our role is to grow our students’ skills and learn what makes them excited to learn—very important in a nation of students with unique needs that are changing daily.
This will be my most innovative and technology driven project that I have worked on, and I hope that this is a concept that results in the formation of the DREAM Literacy Learning Community. It is the hope that I create a network of educators that share similar interests–that consist of innovating and evolving literacy education to serve and influence all students to be successful.