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Category: Featured blog

Literacy Studies: Reflective Projects

Literacy Studies: Reflective Projects

Thank you for the amazing set of projects, talks, and reflective papers. In case you missed seeing some of the projects, here they are below. Hope you do yourself a favor, take a break from finals, and watch, listen, or read. Some stunning work here. You. Rule.

Olivia’s Defend DACA Now site

Richard Mata’s Hip Hop Reflection

Sabrina’s Vine Dictionary (hilarious)

Cecilia’s Literacy podcast

Lydia’s Facebook Literacy Discussion Group

A Taste of Literacy website (with recipes!) from Cristina, Kasey, and Sarah

Tiana’s use of Twitter to explain the literacies of micro blogging.

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Featured Blogger: Sabrina Arredondo

Featured Blogger: Sabrina Arredondo

In Deborah Brandt’s, “Sponsors of literacy,” she discusses the role that “sponsors” play in an individual’s literacy learning process. This relationship between sponsor and sponsored is explained as someone/something that facilitates an individual’s literacy while gaining something in return. The sponsor sets either the restrictions or liberties for accessing literacy and also provides motivation for consistent obedience from the sponsored. While the individual is profiting off of the benefits of literacy, the sponsor is profiting from whatever the individual’s success in literacy is. This really helps the reader understand the concept that literacy is a sort of capital that contributes to the economies of literacy. There’s a certain quote in this essay that always sticks out to me: “Literacy, like land, is a valued commodity in this economy, a key resource in gaining profit and edge,” (169). I like it because it have me a whole outlook on literacy. Literacy is not just having an understanding of the basic knowledge in an array of subjects. It is also a tool used to gain leverage over others in finding the right kinds of sponsors in order to excel economically, politically, and socially.

In order to understand this concept, Brandt studies two people in order to contrast their sponsor partnerships and access to literacy. Both individuals, Raymond Branch and Dora Lopez, were born in the same year and moved to the same town in the Midwest. At the time of the interviews, both were still living in the same town. However, these two individuals could not have been brought up more differently. Raymond Branch was born into a white, affluent family in Southern California. His father was a professor and his mother, a real estate executive. At an early age, he has access to his father’s science lab where he was able to experiment with computer programming. When he moved to the Midwest, he received his first computer for Christmas and then a year later he received a modem. Soon after that, computer hardware and software store began to surface fairly close to where he lived. He began building his programming techniques through regularly visiting these stores and sampling various computer programs, coming in contact with founders of different technological advances, and by simply reading as well. With the aid of his sponsors and the opportunities he was given, Raymond was able to graduate from the local university and became a freelance writer of software and software documentation.

Dora Lopez, on the other hand, was born in a Texas border town and then moved to the same small town in the Midwest as Raymond Branch. Her father obtained an accounting degree and worked a as a shipping and receiving clerk at the university. Her mother worked part time at a bookstore, but also attended a technical college for a while. The small university town they had moved to had barely a whopping 1% Mexican-American population which meant they had little to no Spanish resources. They had to travel to the next big city which was seventy miles away in order to find fitting groceries and Spanish newspapers and magazines. Because she didn’t have the same privileges or immediate access to certain resources, Dora had to teach herself how to read and write in Spanish. Luckily, with the help of her mother’s employee discount at the bookstore, Dora was able to get books written by South American and Mexican authors. She also got help on writing in Spanish through communicating with her relatives in Columbia. She wasn’t exposed to computers until the age of thirteen for a summer school program, unlike Raymond who had immediate access from an early age. When she attended college at the local university, such as Raymond, her father bought her a used word processor he found on a bulletin board at his work. She then transferred to a technical college while working for a cleaning company where she was a translator for her supervisor.

From the study of these two individuals we are able to see the difference in their accessibility to resources. Both Raymond and Dora took it upon themselves to become literate in different fields, however one of them had to go the extra mile in order to be adequately educated. Raymond was a rich, white male who was fortunate enough to have a father who could directly give him the resources he needed in order to succeed. Dora was a female who unfortunately lived in an area that was barely 1% Mexican-American. With such a demographic, it shouldn’t be hard to see why she had a difficult time obtaining resources. Raymond moved to a town where he was the majority; he was guaranteed comfortability and accessibility. Dora had to travel in order to be exposed to the material she needed to be successfully bilingual. Her parents weren’t able to provide her with the resources directly but they equipped her with what they could get their hands on from their jobs. Both individuals had sponsors that allowed them to further develop their literacies, however, one had the advantage of being a privileged, white male.

In class we discussed a bit about what this meant for individuals who were born in areas that didn’t provide them with the resources they need in order to become successfully literate in whatever they choose. This is concerning because this allows for discouragement and mediocrity. Students are not being adequately equipped with the right materials because of their socio-economic status and their place of residence. They are expected to go the extra mile when there are others, simultaneously living in the same area (or even a few minutes away) who are thriving off of their abundance of resources. It’s a dangerous problem that I think contributes to the lack of interest in education in low-income cities that have students who come from minority families.

I come from a low-income, predominately Mexican neighborhood in Los Angeles where we don’t have many resources. It is extremely difficult seeing the disparities in my city and comparing them to the advantages the affluent community 5 minutes away has. It’s discouraging and almost infuriating to see them get the immediate resources they need when there are people just down the hill who probably need them more. We are faced with a struggle that we don’t deserve.

Bio: Sabrina was born in Los Angeles, California and move to Chico about 3 years ago to attend Chico State. She started out as a Psychology major, but eventually found her place as an English Education major. She is also obtaining her TESOL with the hopes of teaching English abroad once she graduates. She enjoys spending time with her friends and finding hidden gems in Chico, whether it be a cool place to eat and drink or shop.

Featured Blogger: Gilberto Guerrero

Featured Blogger: Gilberto Guerrero

Literacy. Sponsored.

This week’s reading, “Sponsors of Literacy” by Deborah Brandt, gives economic value to our literacies. It also presented the idea of literacy sponsors in detail. The piece also presented several examples where literacy improved an individual’s economic value.

This piece raised several questions about my past literacy sponsors. Who influenced my literacy the most? Could it have been the good folks at the Pokemon Company with their story rich Role Playing Games? Maybe it was J.K. Rowling and her wonderful series about a magical orphaned boy? Perhaps a past teacher, my 3rd grade teacher drilled us on reading on our down time. Heck, I am motivated to read and write by the due date on this blog post. It is tough to say who or what influenced me the most, but it is safe to say that they all sponsored my reading and writing to where it is today. I can go on and on on what has driven my literacy standards over the years, but that would be more personal than anyone wants to get.

For the section my group was assigned to, we focused on how literacy is incorporated into one’s life via appropriation. Brandt gave two key examples of how appropriating outside literacies can make one more useful. Two women, Sarah and Carol, motivated by external forces, one by family the other by her faith, took jobs as secretaries and made vast improvements to their home lives with knowledge from the job. From this, we as a group took that one’s literacies should be applicable to areas outside of their initial use. Much like how Sarah and Carol appropriated their secretary skills for their everyday lives, we as future educators must take our life experiences, couple them with our training, and create the best learning environment in hopes of one day becoming sponsors of literacy ourselves.

As a group, we have also come to realize that the quantity and quality of literacy sponsors is strongly related to a person’s socioeconomic status. There are, however, organizations that work to spread opportunities and literacy sponsorships to those less fortunate to have them on hand.

Bio: Gilberto Guerrero, or Gil, as he likes to be called is a 4th year English Education major, an avid gamer, and not too bad of a cook according to his roommates. Gil is an animal lover and gardener. When he is not working or studying, he is often out enjoying all that Chico has to offer, from its wonderful downtown eateries to Bidwell Park’s awe inspiring natural beauty. He swears he’s going to finish that book he’s been writing for who knows how long.

Featured Blogger: Samantha Cosmero

Featured Blogger: Samantha Cosmero

SamCThe literacy of our generation is no less productive than that of past generations. Our dependence on written communication may hinder us in face to face interactions, however, I feel like it in a way forces us to be able to constructively display our thoughts, ideas, and emotions in written text in a way that is comprehensive on both sides of the conversation. While the way we communicate over text significantly varies from the way we communicate through a business e-mail, these polar opposites of forms of communication encourage us to explore using different tones and writing styles.

In Williams’ article he states, “If we want to serve students best in their literacy education we should not scare them with the tales of the literacy crisis of their generation…” I feel like this relates a lot to what we discussed in class in regards to the article “Our Semi-literate Youth.” The issue is not with how we go about literacy but the responses to our choices in literacy. Having older generations belittle us and tell us that we are illiterate can be hindering to developing minds. We should be encouraged to learn and embrace all forms of literacy with creative minds. Something holding us back from this is teachers being underpaid and a lack of money in our education systems. With little money, there is less incentive to explore new ways of teaching. Learning needs to not be looked at as a chore, but instead as a way to grow and enhance our experiences in life.

Williams also notes that “…it is not hard to think of popular culture representations of adolescents and adults that are ambivalent at best and often negative.” This stigma that we have developed that reading is not cool, nerdy, or antisocial is one that we need to let go of. There’s nothing “negative” about expanding your knowledge or experiencing something secondhand through reading. Reading is not something that has to be antisocial either. It can be a shared experience and it should be. Williams acknowledges this black or white kind of thinking about literacy when he states “…when I talk with fellow teachers about whether students are or are not readers, I think we are talking about a specific kind of reading.”

I have said it once and I’ll say it again. Literacy is not just ONE thing. It is many and like we discussed last week, not everyone enjoys the same books that have been being assigned for years upon years in school settings. We need more choice and change in education. We need more room for creativity. We need to advocate for creative learners because there is more than one type of student, and instead of just accommodating the ones we define as “readers” or as ideal students, we should be helping those who struggle and realize that what we have been doing for years may not be working for everybody. My hope is that those pursuing educating as a career choice are going into this wanting to be this change. Teachers shape the minds of our youth and to tell a developing mind that they aren’t good enough because their idea of literacy does not match the system’s idea of literacy is something that we cannot afford to do anymore.

We need to be encouragers not naysayers.

Author Bio: Samantha Cosmero is from Oakdale, CA. This is her third year at Chico State and she recently changed her major from pre-nursing to English. She spends a lot of time writing, doing yoga, and running. She looks forward to being an educator.

Featured Blogger: Lydia Breitenfeldt

Featured Blogger: Lydia Breitenfeldt

This week in Literacy! “Why Johnny Can Never, Ever Read: The Perpetual Literacy Crisis and Student Identity” by Bronwyn Williams.lydia

This piece really hit home for me on several levels. Williams begins by defining the “literacy crisis” that is present in every generation, though its focus is always a little different. One thing that’s argued to be a problem is instructors, but the actual cause varies from generation to generation, starting with “sensationalist newspapers” all the way to texting and video games: “Others may point to standardized test scores as evidence of decline while ignoring the fact that the tests are poorly constructed instruments for literacy assessment and that they only assess a limited range of reading and writing activities.” This quote really hit home for me. I remember when I was a kid that instructors were constantly trying to drill information into our heads for standardized testing and the instructors acted as if it would poorly reflect on them if the children did poorly. They didn’t seem to realize that they were giving tests to five year olds, who had difficulty sitting down for longer than three minutes, or to high school students, who were so exhausted from being unable to get a good night’s sleep that they could hardly keep their eyes open. Furthermore, the questions they asked were always attempting to trick us, so we’d doubt our answer even if we were sure that they were correct.

Also, since they only test within a limited range, the education system is setting these children up for failure. Students who don’t read in a very specific way are doomed to fail, where the students who approach the reading in a very cookie-cutter manner get high scores. I, personally, think that this can be extremely psychologically damaging to both the student and the instructors, and should be approached in a much different manner. For example, one can assess students in sample writing of their choice. A student who has a choice will be more likely to produce something that actually shows their writing level.

One of the main ideas in Williams’ work is the idea of literacy as cultural capital. This idea was a bit hard for me to wrap my head around at first, but the more I worked with the idea, the more it made sense. The idea is that the “literacy crisis” is actually an anxiety the middle class faces in regards to professional literacy. It’s a fear that each generation, students get farther for being able to participate in the professional discourse that is indicative of the middle class. As Williams argues, “While the affluent worry little about losing their class standing because they have abundant economic capital, the middle class understands that the key to a professional or white-collar job and the attendant economic security it entails rests largely on how one displays cultural capital.” This is where it started making sense to me. I feel this fear as a lower class citizen, as I have always felt that without going to school to become proficient in this form of literacy, I would be stuck being just as poor as I am now. It’s strange how our society puts so much into a generalized idea of literacy, when there are so many different forms of literacy. A doctor, for instance, would be upper-middle class, and would have a completely different kind of literacy than the mechanical engineer who’s in the same social class. Also, though these professionals are highly literate in their fields, that doesn’t mean that they’re proficient in grammar or punctuation, or have read an extensive list of classics. At some point, does the actual literacy start becoming less important, or is it that we value their places in society enough to overlook their lack of literary literacy?


Author Bio: Lydia Breitenfeldt is a new member of the Chico State community. She has a beautiful daughter, who gives her the strength to pursue her degree. She is in her junior year and plans to graduate with a degree in English Education in the Spring of 2019. She enjoys reading, video games, and doing homework, and will always jump at the opportunity to try something new. The picture above is of her daughter and her best friend, Echo.