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Hansen and Cultural Response

Immediately I think of bringing Tupac lyrics to the guys to discuss internal rhyme and slant rhyme as poetic techniques. This was a minefield as far as culturally responsive literacy work goes.

First of all, how did I pick Tupac? I’d never heard any of the guys mention him by name. I came to pick him because (a) he is a respected lyricist and (b) the guys did frequently mention and visibly appreciate hip-hop. But that could have gone over quite poorly.

For instance, I could have come in trying to tell them what the song was about. That would have been a poor decision, because that’s not my culture. It’s like how I was talking with Vince about Hansen and the traditional dancer. We never did reconcile how Hansen decided that would be appropriately representative of the culture. We ended up giving her the benefit of the doubt on that one. That could have been disastrous, however, if she had just decided that since the families were Mexican, that a traditional Mexican folk dancer would represent their culture to them. To be an outsider, and tell people who they are and what their culture is… this is a dangerous, and not culturally responsive, thing to do.

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Feb Update

Wow, this is long overdue. My apologies.

So, here’s my update. I’ve contacted everyone involved in the interviews, and am awaiting replies. (Except for Susie, but I expect that I can get a hold of her via Kir, once Kir gets back to me.)

As far as the actual research goes, I’ve found some articles and have been digging through them. It’s been kind of difficult to find things that are specifically about what I’m trying to do, since I think it’s kind of an unusual thing. People concerned with videos and websites are usually trying to sell something, or there’s an educational twist to things. While the educational twist is a little more in line with what I’m trying to accomplish with this project, it still takes me off in a somewhat tangential direction.

A Mokhtari article interviewing some new literacies thinkers at the University of Connecticut is a good example of this information that I’m splicing from one discipline into my own. The article is basically about understanding “online literacy” as encompassing much more than just traditionally-understood reading skills (e.g. phonics), but is really about how we seek information. This has been relatively helpful, because that’s kind of the point of what I’m talking about with the videos — that a new format will make information more broadly accessible.

Starting Up… :)

Hello and welcome! I’m Doug Jones-Graham, a new intern with the Community Literacy Center. I’m glad you’re here!

So, how did I get here? Well, a few months back I did a half-day observation at Centennial, an alternative school in Ft. Collins. What I saw there was deeply moving to me: people who’d been on a path to trouble were taking themselves on a path back out of it, and they were doing it with the help of teachers. The teachers cared more about the students in their intimate classrooms than the lesson plans — they were able to make time during the day to listen when their students needed it.

Well, for me, having come from a few places where people who make a few mistakes are cast aside and ignored, that was truly moving to me, and it made me wonder if I was cut out for that kind of teaching. That same week, I heard about the CLC, and thought, “That’s exactly where I want to be!”

I’m coming at this from the perspective of a hopeful future teacher. I want to better understand people who are different from me, who have different lives and make different choices from me, and I want to be a resource for them if they need it.

A bio…

I grew up in southeastern Ohio, in the foothills of the Appalachians. Music and English were my best and favorite subjects, so that’s what I studied when I went to college at Muskingum University (also in Ohio). I had the opportunity when I was 22 to spend a semester in Greece, which was amazing for me. I’d never lived more than 90 miles from my family before, so to be across an ocean from them really helped me to put myself, life, family, friends, culture and country into perspective. It also tested and strengthened my relationship with my then-girlfriend, and we got married a little over a year later.

After graduating, I worked a few odd jobs — warehouses, flooring, hospitals, and as a traveling steak salesman (for one day) — and soon found a job as a preschool teacher in Columbus. It was the most fun I’ve ever had while working, and incredibly rewarding, but I don’t think I was ready for the emotional responsibilities. Anybody who’s a parent can tell you that young children need you so very, very much… and I spent 8 hours a day with 30 of them all around me!

So, I needed a break for a while, but I wanted to stay with education. I landed a job as an editor with SRA/McGraw-Hill, where I worked on their phenomenally successful reading programs for elementary aged children. Being an education editor was good, but while everyone else was passionate about editing, I was passionate about education. I also had a hard time not working with people — most of my day was spent typing and thinking and sitting. I need people!

So, since my wife and I had talked about leaving Ohio, we came out to Colorado, where I enrolled at CSU in the English Education Master’s program. I’m hoping to graduate in Spring 2012 and become a teacher of English or ESL (English as a Second Language).

As I think you can guess, as much as I love English, it’s more important to me to be able to teach and work with people!!

So… that’s me!