My Friends and Family: Heroes and “Sheroes”

My Friends and Family: Heroes and “Sheroes”

Howard L. Smith (The University of Texas at San Antonio, USA) and Kalpana Mukunda Iyengar (The University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9348-5.ch017
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This chapter documents an activity during a Family Literacy Night in Latino community of the Southwest. All of the families participating were of Spanish-speaking (i.e., México, El Salvador, Puerto Rico). From a socio-cultural perspective, three points became clear through the interaction: (1) as parents and children collaborated around short texts, they were able to share their individual schema as well as their social, cultural, and linguistic capitals in conversation and in writing Spanish and English; (2) parents naturally assumed the role of mentor throughout the writing sessions; (3) when afforded topic choice and scaffolding for cultural adhesion, students generate texts that reflect their personal perspectives and lived experiences. Thematic analysis of the data revealed that the ELL writers signaled their quotidian concerns and challenges as the reasons for wanting a s/hero. The results argue that, for increased writing in English, educators are well advised to frame school tasks within their students' cultures.
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Theoretical Framework

Social cultural theory framed both the activities we constructed for the families as well as the lens used to understand the texts written by the students and their family members. Without question, the linguistic skills of reading and writing are necessary for school success. However, socio-cultural theory posits that literacy, more than a skill is a tool that helps individuals mediate their social and cultural milieu.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Title 1 School: Public elementary and secondary schools that, because of the low socio-economic levels of their students, receive additional federal funding to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.

Family Involvement: The support system children need for psychological, physical, and emotional development. Trusting, collaborative support family members provide for children’s growth.

Family Literacy: The intergenerational aspect of children’s literacy development.

Biliteracy: The use and or development of two writing systems for communication.

Mentor Texts: Printed (or other) media that offer an example, clarification, or alternate perspective on a text featured for instructional purposes.

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