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Author: kwoodward2

Thank you, Jedi Master

Thank you, Jedi Master

     In all honesty I walked into this class feeling completely burnt out even though we had just come back from summer break. English had been something I had loved my entire life. The only thing I was even sort of good at without having to study my booty off for. I grew up with books endlessly being handed to me. Apparently when you love to read people are willing to give you books even if it’s not Christmas or your birthday. I came to Chico and declared myself a liberal studies major, while also considering an English Education major. After my freshman year there was a shift inside myself and the subject of english didn’t make my world brighter anymore. All of the creativity that seemed to surround every word, every paper I had ever written, and every book I had read didn’t set my soul on fire. But as I walked into Kim’s class I had hope because an amazing professor from the year before had strongly recommended her, claiming she was the “Yoda of the English Department”.

     Our book groups and our article groups provided us with a new kind of freedom that is very rarely experienced in the classroom setting. I loved the conversations that were able to happen where separate minds shared their thoughts and came away with something bigger. I loved that in these groups and in this class in general we were treated like human beings and not just students. In these groups I got to know different people in my class on a more personal level. And together, through learning that literacy is all around us and cannot be confined to one single definition, we got to laugh together and truly learn the whole way through.

     As we sat down on that first day and were asked to define literacy I knew that this was the seemingly simple door to something bigger. When we went even further and talked about our sponsors of literacy and read some of Deborah Brandt it was a reality check. Of the countless sponsors that are tied to my education I realized how blessed I was to have parents who cared about my education and supported me, financially and emotionally, every step of the way. It also lead to realizations about availability and privilege. It was at this point where I fully understand the full privilege I had because at this time in my Anthropology class we were learning about all of the ways humanity has torn our world apart. I learned that in order to go to war with other countries we take part in dehumanizing other humans. We give them a different face. A face we are able to fear and even hate. Instead of a face that has a family praying for their safety back home just as our soldiers did. I learned that millions of people around the world STILL don’t have access to clean water. I learned that throughout history humans have killed in the name of the gods they believe in, in the name of the God I believe in. And in the face of all of this I didn’t feel that I deserved the privilege and blessings I was born into while one in every five children in the United States lives in poverty today. While all of this is happening around the world I was being asked to explore what literacy IS. And now at the end of this semester there’s that new hope again. I believe that wanting to teach tiny humans is special because Santa still exists and they’ve heard “no” a lot less times than older humans have. I now know that we as future teachers have a responsibility and the opportunity to hack education and redefine what failure means.

So thank you to all of you. You all blew me away and I will forever remember this class when looking back at my college career.

P.S. : Shoutout to Ed for being an awesome human being who should seriously consider being a high school drama teacher. You’ll blow their minds, break every drama geek stereotype, and make us the coolest kids in school.

P.S. #2: Kim, you are most definitely more than worthy of the title, “Yoda of the English Department”. Thank you for bringing out the kid in all of us.


Pop Culture and Maker Culture

Pop Culture and Maker Culture

Having spent the last couple weeks reading different articles about maker culture has been inspiring. From a future teacher’s point of view it has been a chance to remember why I picked this major. It’s been a little invitation from the universe (aka our amazing Professor, Kim Jaxon) to step outside of typical homework to consider all of the possibilities that teaching has to offer.

What I found interesting was that in the majority of the schools that offered maker culture opportunities the schools were very privileged private schools. Maybe in the generations to come we will somehow figure out how to incorporate and encourage maker culture teaching strategies in ALL classrooms. Maker culture encourages kids from a young age to create without boundaries or rules. This idea tied in nicely with the book I had to read, Writing Superheroes. This book sparked conversations about how from a young age kids push boundaries set by society simply because they are not aware of them yet. There’s no such thing as limitations. It’s only when adults enforce these norms that young children quickly begin to catch on to the limitations. Maker culture reminded me of these conversations because it focuses on creativity. And when this creativity is an option kids rise to greatness. On top of this maker culture is an invitation to create things TOGETHER. It is a tool that can spark new conversations and bring people together. In our group we can’t come to a clear answer to one question. Does your creation have to have a purpose or a function. Or can it simply be considered art. I believe they are one in the same but I don’t know to the answer to this question and I also don’t believe there is only one question to it. But it is one that would be interesting to ask our class.

The Actual Superheroes

The Actual Superheroes

     Let’s take it back to second grade. It really is amazing how remarkable and brilliant children are. Cooties are an actual thing and no one in the classroom wants to be labeled as “boyfriend and girlfriend”. Imagine… if only cooties had stayed real throughout at least part of high school. Imagine all the young hearts that would’ve been saved. The playground is the decider of your social status, while the classroom brings everyone back together. To be someone’s friend is much simpler at this age and all you really need is a common interest to spur a new friendship into existence.

     Reading this book was an invitation to go back and remember your adorable stage. The stage that came before all the awkwardness of puberty. In this book through an activity called, Author’s Theatre, kids were encouraged to write stories and then act them out for the class. Through this activity the issues of gender roles and race are accidentally stumbled upon and we got to read about how young children navigated these differences. The young second graders were challenging social norms without even realizing it. A few young girls finally put their foot down and challenge the gender roles of girls and write a story where the girls are powerful superheroes alongside the boys.

     We get to read and follow these second graders through third grade and in the end they themselves become the superheroes.

Watercolors and Literacy

Watercolors and Literacy

Literacy in the beginning was everything to me. Reading and writing meant something more than just survival. As a first grader this word “literacy” opened new doors. For the first time the letters all around me came together to make up words. As I grew up the words individually were forgotten and instead it was about the worlds that were painted in my imagination. Literacy was a blank canvas. Words became a paintbrush. Books were an escape and writing meant freedom.

In the beginning the definition of “literacy” was simple and straight forward. And now that I’ve made it this far in this class it seems that literacy has an infinite amount of definitions. I personally loved Brandt’s piece, Sponsors of Literacy. I had never taken a moment to write down my sponsors and then to consider who my loved one’s sponsors were, forced me to be thankful for something I had never considered before. Brandt wrote, “obligation toward one’s sponsors run deep, affecting what, why, and how people write and read”(Brandt 1998: 168). This sentence struck me as significant because throughout my life many decisions that were mine to make, were ultimately made to make my sponsors happy. I know that many people around me are guilty of doing the same. Many of my sponsors sacrificed so much to allow me to be here today. They pushed me to become more than anything they had ever personally accomplished. They pointed me to the paths that they knew for a fact were safer because they had chosen to take another one instead. And they have relentlessly told me how much they believe in me because I constantly struggle to believe in myself. It may be off topic, but the question I have been asking myself repeatedly is, in the midst of being thankful at what point do we stop and go after our own dreams instead of the dreams that our sponsors have for us?

Literacy is now different. It looks different. Literacy is more than the letters that make up beautiful words. Literacy is shapeless. It’s bigger than a story that fits in between a front and back cover. Literacy is more than the ability to absorb and take in a beginning, middle, and end. And literacy is not a status to be achieved. We can’t pin point what literacy is and there’s no clear map to make sense of it. What has changed is the blank canvas that was quickly covered, colored in, and concluded at the end of every book you read. Literacy is now and will forever be a partially finished canvas. The “definition” of what literacy IS is forever being added onto. The colors are infinite, the future brushstrokes that will be added are ceaseless, and the canvas will never be signed.

Katie Woodward
September 13, 2015


Alexa Woodward (my cousin)



  • Try to think of your earliest memories of writing and reading.  What do you remember of reading and writing before you began school?  Who helped you with it and what was that like?


My mother placed a high value on literacy, and began reading to my siblings and I at a very young age. I was also encouraged to practice my penmanship, tracing and copying letters and numbers. I began school when I was four, and stayed in the dependent study program until I graduated in 2012.



  • When you were growing up, how much school reading and school writing was done with computers?  What kinds of things did you do?  What values did your teachers place on computer literacy?


Very little work was done using computers until I began taking college classes in 2009. Prior to that, my reading was from textbooks and library books, and my essays and other assignments were written on paper. Computer literacy came when I had to learn to navigate Butte College’s Blackboard system. My charter school put little emphasis on computer literacy, and was more interested in having students learn proper grammar, rhetoric, and writing styles. In the era of technology, it was assumed that we could easily figure out how to use electronics, and for my peers and I, that was true.



  • What are you asked to do with reading and writing at this point in your life?


I have completed all of the English classes required for my major (Cellular and Molecular Biology), and not much was expected of me, even in the “writing intensive” classes. Recently, I honed my skill is literature research with my honors thesis entitled “Medical Ethics in Critical Care”, that resulted in a 40-page dissertation with 57 references and two appendices. I have been applying to medical schools, and have been writing dozens of essays in response to their questions.


I interviewed my cousin, Alexa, who is currently working on completing her last semester at Chico State. She is nineteen-years-old and already sending out applications to multiple medical schools around the country. Basically she is Super Woman and has made me look bad at all family events throughout my entire life. In talking to her and going through the questions with her it was interesting because we quickly realized that our dads (they are brothers)  raised us with the same emphasis on reading and writing. We grew up being read the same favorite kid books like, “Ferdinand the Bull”, and we both went on to excel in writing. Even though we took drastically different paths in writing. She loves her science which is hard for me to keep up with and I love my creative short stories that have been read by a select few.