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Literacy Community Place: Working with immigrant and refugee families. Jim Anderson Department of Language and Literacy Education University of British Columbia University of South Australia, May 19, 2010. Overview.

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Literacy community place working with immigrant and refugee families l.jpg

Literacy Community Place: Working with immigrant and refugee families

Jim Anderson

Department of Language and Literacy Education

University of British Columbia

University of South Australia, May 19, 2010

Overview l.jpg
Overview families

Literacy for Life: An Intergenerational Literacy Project (with Victoria Purcell-Gates; supported by Canadian Council on Learning; UBC Bookstore )

Parents As Literacy Supporters (PALS) in Immigrant Communities (with Fiona Morrison and supported by provincial/federal ministries)

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Context families

  • Greater Vancouver: population > 2 million

  • 180 languages represented in schools

  • 15 home languages in some classrooms

  • Services for families/young children tend to be fragmented

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Framework families

  • Socio-historical theory (Vygotsky, 1978; Wertsch, 1985)

  • Literacy as social practices (Heath, 1983; Street, 1995)

  • Cultural nature of human development (Rogoff, 2003)

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Caveats families

  • For no child was the language experience of the classroom richer that that of the home-not even for those believed to be “linguistically deprived” (Wells, 1985 , p. 87)

  • Considerable diversity within cultural/linguistic groups (Heath, Mangiola, Schecter,& Hull, 1991)

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Purpose families: Literacy for Life

  • Document implementation of an intergenerational literacy program that incorporates authentic literacy activity.

  • Raise English literacy levels of adults and emergent literacy levels of children

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Definition of Authentic Literacy Activity families

  • Engaging learner with reading/writing real-life texts for real-life purposes within social contexts that call for real-life literacy activity

  • E.g., Reading a coupon for pizza and calling in an order because hungry and want pizza.

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Instructional Model families

  • Adult literacy instruction (authentic literacy activities + skill instruction)

  • Early childhood literacy (play-based; engaging children (through modeling and emergent reading/writing) in real-life literacy with a strong focus on how literacy mediates activity)

  • Family time (adults/children working together; potential transfer to home)

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Participants families

  • Site 1: Years 1 & 2

    • Chinese Canadian immigrant families at a community center in inner-city area of Vancouver

  • Site 2: Year 1

    • African refugee families at a storefront social agency in inner-city of city south of Vancouver

  • Site 2: Year 2

    • Refugees and immigrant families from Middle East in portable classroom at elementary school.

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Data Sources families

  • Detailed field notes for each session to document program implementation & research reflections

  • Weekly research meeting notes

  • Pre-post assessments of literacy

    • Test of Early Reading Ability-3

    • Canadian Adult Achievement Test (comprehension, vocabulary and spelling sub-tests)

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Writing letters families

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Pedagogical Goal Achieved families

  • Adults and children grew significantly in literacy knowledge as compared to norm

  • Exposure to real-life literacy activities suggestive of relationship to growth

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Challenges Specific to Program families

  • Different cultural perspectives

    • Family Time

    • Maintaining procedures

    • Parent/child separation

  • Explicit explanations and modeling

  • Dialogic stance

  • Coping/problem solving

  • Flexibility

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Challenges Specific to Program families

  • Program purpose

  • No shared language

  • Repeated explanations of program purpose

  • Flexibility

  • Increased effort to engage adults at all levels

  • Translations among members, cultural workers

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Anderson, J., Purcell-Gates, V., Gagne, M., & Jang, K. (2009). Intergenerational Literacy Program with Authentic Literacy Instruction: Research Report. Ottawa: Canadian Council on Learning

Gagne, M., Collier, D., Anderson, J., & Purcell-Gates, V. (In press). Literacy for Life: An Intergenerational Literacy Program (A Handbook for Practitioners). Ottawa, ON: Canadian Council for Learning.

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Overview (2009).

  • Goals

  • Development and evolution of PALS

  • Description of the program

  • Methods

  • Some preliminary findings

  • Issues and challenges

  • Future research

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Goals of PALS in Immigrant Communities Project (2009).

To work with families in supporting children’s early literacy development (language, literacy, numeracy

To promote L1 development/maintenance as children learn English as a second or additional language (Snow, Burns, & Griffen, 1998; Reyes & Azura, 2008)

To document implementation of PALS in 5 different communities/languages (Chinese, Farsi, Karen, Punjabi and Vietnamese)

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Development of PALS (2009).

In 1999, developers (Anderson and Morrison) were invited by Mayor of Langley in British Columbia to participate in developing a program to assist parents in supporting their children’s literacy development

Program was part of larger inter-agency community development initiative, Strengthening Communities

Focus groups of parents, early childhood educators and administrators provided advice on program design and implementation

Trials in two inner-city schools in Year 1; expanded to four schools in Year 2.

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Typical PALS session (2009).

  • Sample Timeline

  • 8:30 – 9:00 Eating Together (30 minutes)

  • 9:00 – 9:30 Adults together, children together (30 minutes)

  • 9:30 – 10:15 In the Classroom (45 minutes)

  • Centre activities – adults & children

  • 10:15 – 10:30 Break/Playtime (15 minutes)

  • 10:30 – 11:00 Debrief – adults only (30 minutes)

  • 11:00 – 11:30 Story Time/Make and Take (30 minutes)

  • 11:30 Home time

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Sample Topics (2009).

  • ABC’s & Learning

  • Print in our Community

  • Storybook Reading

  • Linking Literacy & Play

  • Learning to Read

  • Early Math

  • Early Writing

  • Riddles, Raps & Rhymes

  • Tiny Techies

  • Celebration / Graduation

  • Open Session (decided by PALS community)

  • Ongoing development of new sessions (e.g. Block Play, Sand and Water Play)

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PALS across communities (2009).

Context 1: First Nations (Aboriginal Community)

Context 2: Vietnamese Community

Context 3: PALS in Immigrant Communities

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Aboriginal Communities (2009).

Addition of First Nations culture

Art work

Traditions and crafts




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Context Matters: Vietnamese Community (2009).

  • Year 2

  • PALS sessions conducted in Vietnamese

  • Adult Literacy

  • Centered on technology

  • Year 3

  • PALS sessions conducted in Vietnamese and English

  • Adult Literacy and focus on parenting

  • Year 1

  • PALS sessions conducted in Vietnamese

  • Vietnamese texts

  • Adult ESL component

  • Emphasis on authentic language and literacy practices

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PALS in Immigrant Communities (2009).

  • Year 2 of project working with different linguistic groups: Farsi, Mandarin, Karen, Punjabi, Vietnamese, in 5 different school districts in the Greater Vancouver area with 281 families participating

  • Sessions are offered in L1 (first language) co-facilitated (teacher and cultural worker from community)

  • Bilingual materials are provided

  • Support structures: Advisory group, Working group, facilitators

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Method (2009).

  • Test of Early Reading Ability-2 (Form A in Session 1; Form B in Session 9)

  • Parents Perceptions of Literacy Learning Interview Schedule (Orientation Session and Session 9)

  • Children’s literacy artifacts (Session 2 and 9)

  • Focus group with parents/caregivers (March)

  • Field Notes

  • Debriefing (Session 4 and 8)

  • Facilitators Notes

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Initial Findings (2009).

  • Test of Early Reading Ability-2 (TERA-2)

  • Alphabet - measures children’s knowledge of the alphabet and letter-sound knowledge

  • Conventions - measures familiarity with conventions of print-book orientation, print orientation, directionality

  • Meaning - measures children’s ability to comprehend written material

  • 42 three and four year olds in four sites

  • Normal Curve Equivalent Scores (Measures Children’s growth in literacy knowledge compared to the norming group)

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TERA-2 (2009).

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TERA-2 (2009).

  • Growth was statistically significant at (p=.05)

  • Effect size of .71

  • Effect sizes: .2 is considered small

  • .5 is considered moderate

  • .8 is considered large

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Artifacts from home (2009).

  • Typical range of representations (drawings, scribbling, letters/letter like formations/ words

  • No trace of L1 orthography (different from Harste, Woodward, & Burke’s findings with three year olds)

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Field Notes: Different ways caregivers supported children (2009).

  • Hand over hand

  • Modeling for the child

  • Painting together

  • Talking with the child (suggestions)

  • Holding child’s hand while she painted

  • Standing next to the child but not commenting

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Focus group sessions (2009).

  • Families value L1 maintenance but for a variety of reasons (instrumental ~ identity)

  • Families indicate they gain insights into western pedagogy (making the pedagogy visible)

  • Feel comfortable in schools/classrooms

  • Value bilingual books/materials

  • Indicate they use materials in ways other than demonstrated/modeled/suggested

  • Form social relationships

  • Ask that program be extended

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Issues/Challenges (2009).

  • Sensitivity to cultural nuances

  • Consistently honoring home language & literacy practices

  • Fidelity to the beliefs of the program

  • Appropriate pedagogy for adult language learners

  • Continuity & sustainability

  • Different conceptions of engagement

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Further research (2009).

  • Document home literacy practices of participants and how these shit or remain static

  • Longitudinal study of children who have participated in the program

  • Document how parents support their children’s learning within the program space.

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Goodbye! immigrant and refugee families in a family literacy program. In A. Lazar & P. Schmidt (Eds.)

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