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Community Literacy Canastas

Iliana Reyes, Chris Iddings & Rebecca Zapien

Parents who recount childhood experiences in the form of cuentos [stories] to their offspring are sharing their life knowledge as well as establishing codes of behavior and social parameters. In this way, storytelling is a tool of socialization through which ideals, perspectives, and culture are passed down to future generations (Fiese, Hooker, Kotary, Schwagler, & Rimmer, 1995).

In some communities there is a family tradition of telling stories and the role of intergenerational experiences in fostering a child’s enjoyment of stories of key for child’s language and literacy development (Riojas-Cortez, Flores, Smith, Riojas-Clark, 2003).  As part of this session we will discuss how English Language Learner’s language and literacy can be supported through “Community Literacy Canastas.”

“Community Literacy Canastas” Talleres

The purpose of the Community Literacy Canastas is to invite and engage children, families, teachers and community members to participate and create stories around common themes in order to share these stories across various local early childhood centers and schools. This project aims to provide a “space” and a learning experience for families and educators to share about connections between home and school literacy practices, by telling stories and honoring the local literacies of the community (e.g., musical, oral, written, various materials as language).

    1. Invite a community leader (e.g., oral story tellers, local singers) to participate by sharing one of their local literacies to engage and inspire families to tell a story.
    2. Families and teachers share stories, and identify a common theme.
    3. Everyone explores their environment and identifies an artifact to share with the group –the artifact represents an element of their story (if possible something they can integrate as part of the canasta)
    4. Everyone, collectively, creates and documents a story using any of the tools available (notebooks, cameras, digital recorders).
    5. After one center/school has completed their story in a specific theme, the canasta then travels to another center/school with an invitation for community members and families to share their own story and add a layer to the canasta in order to pass local knowledge and stories among several communities.

    Research Questions:

    1) What kind of narratives and stories do families share and create in collaboration as part of the Community Canasta Literacy project?

    2) What “languages” are used as participants share and create stories?

    3) What are the group learning processes as families and children create stories “collaborative” as part of the Canasta project?

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