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The Literacy Narrative: Exploring Identity Through Social Location Maps and Language Using Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” Presented By:

Morgan Campbell 10 – 11 Language Arts Teacher Junction City High School 900 E. Eisenhower Junction City, KS MorganCampbell@usd475.org 785-717-4200 RATIONALE: Classroom teachers are experiencing a greater demand to produce students with higherlevel writing skills in order to be more effective in their workplaces one day. In order to produce good writing, students must feel comfortable in expressing their ideas. This presentation focuses on student exploration of personal identity and how that identity is linked to language. Research suggests that youth create a textual identity through their different uses of language, and often times this language helps them to establish a social location in a world of shifting populations. Furthermore, research highlights that traditional practices in English education must begin to incorporate a pluralistic approach to teaching writing in order to enhance the language landscape students possess. Participants in this presentation will learn about social location mapping, create a personal social location map, read an excerpt of Amy Tan’s essay “Mother Tongue” and finally, develop ideas for creating a Literacy Narrative in which language is linked to individual identity. A Presentation of: The Flint Hills Writing Project Summer 2010 For more information, please contact: Dr. Todd Goodson, Director 349 Bluemont Hall 1100 Mid-Campus Drive Kansas State University Manhattan, KS 66506 tgoodson@ksu.edu


BIG QUESTIONS: What is identity and where does it come from? How can we convey our identities to others? In what ways does language contribute to our identity?

SUPPLIES: • Blank paper (large sheets) • Copies of Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” • Overhead projector/ELMO • Reading questions 90-MINUTE PRESENTATION: • Power Point presentation • Demonstration of the above procedure, including all the steps listed. 60-MINUTE PRESENTATION: • Power Point presentation • Demonstration of the above procedure, excluding some steps o Brainstorming o Social Location map o Discussion of language and identity o Short excerpt of Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” o Discussion; wrap-up

WEB-BASED RESOURCES: Greg Hamilton, “English in the City: Responding to Literature in the City” http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/EJ/0931-sept03/EJ0931City.pdf The New York Times Learning Network ReadWriteThink McDougal Littell Literature Textbook (online) RESEARCH: Hall, Leigh A. “Teacher identity in the context of literacy teaching: Three explorations of classroom positioning and interaction in secondary schools.” Teaching and Teacher Education. 26.2 (2010): 234-243. ScienceDirect. Web. Accessed 8 July 2010. Kirkland, David E. “English(es) in Urban Contexts: Politics, Pluralism and Possibilities.” English Education. 42.3 (2010): 293-306. ProQuest. Web. Accessed 12 July 2010. Paris, D. “Texting Identities: Lessons for Classrooms from Multiethnic Youth Space.” English Education. 42.3 (2010): 278-292. ProQuest. Web. Accessed 8 July 2010.


STANDARDS: Kansas Writing Standards 1. The student writes effectively for a variety of audiences, purposes, and contexts. a. The student writes narrative text using the writing process 2. Selects and uses personal experience, personal observation and prior knowledge 3. Writes from experiences and relies on insight 5. Applies appropriate strategies to generate narrative text (brainstorming, etc.) Kansas Reading Standards 1. The student reads and comprehends text across the curriculum a. The student comprehends a variety of texts (narrative, expository, technical, persuasive) 3. Uses prior knowledge, content and text type to make or confirm predictions 4. Generates and responds logically to literal, inferential, evaluative, synthesizing and critical thinking questions before, during and after reading 5. Uses information from the text to make inferences and draw conclusions Common Core Standards – English Language Arts 1. Text Types and Purposes 3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. 2. Production and Distribution of Writing 4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. 5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience

PROJECT OUTLINE: The project focuses on the use of social location maps to explore identity and then extends to use Amy Tan’s essay “Mother Tongue” to further explore identity in relation to language. The end product is written as a Literacy Narrative, though it could be changed to fit a variety of writing assignments. Below is a very detailed list of procedures, which could also be altered to fit specific classroom needs. **Two 90-minute blocks for completing steps 1-8; use teacher discretion for time length of Step 9. PROCEDURE: 1. Brainstorm with students What forces, internal and external, act on our identities? 2. Define “social location” for your students “Mapping a social location for a character or for oneself involves using a web-like diagram to represent the complex and potentially contradictory contexts in which individuals may find themselves. Social location applies to the social categories of one’s identity: race, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and so on. It also applies to social roles (sister, student, and friend) and extends to include one’s experiences and relationships.” 3. Show an example of a social location map of your own Maps can be in web-like form usually with the most influential aspects of your identity in larger words than other less influential aspects. *to incorporate technology, you could create social location maps using Wordle. 4. More Brainstorming


Ask students to jot down some ideas they have about what makes them who they are. What is their identity made of? What events have been significant in shaping that identity? 4. Create social location maps Hand out large sheets of blank paper and, using the teacher example and the brainstormed list as guides, have students create their own social location map. Invite students to share. 5. Discuss • What things were most important to your identity? • How might your social location map change over time? • Do any of these items conflict? (For example, does your role as son or daughter ever conflict with your role as brother, sister or friend?) • How do you deal with those conflicts and stay true to yourself? • How does who you are change, depending on the situation? • How much control do you have over your own identity? Guide students to understand that our identities change over time as we add or subtract “items” from our social location maps, but certain aspects will always remain the same. 6. Discuss the role of language in identity Ask students to respond briefly to the following prompt: What are different “languages” you use? When and why? Consider both reading and writing, and don’t forget about email/internet/social networking language. If you speak a second language, include it too. 7. Journal Have students write about a time when they have been judged based on their language use. If students cannot think of a time this has happened to them, ask them to think of a time when they’ve seen or heard about it happening. 8. Read Amy Tan’s essay “Mother Tongue” • Read the first two paragraphs aloud together o Why does Tan speak differently with her husband than with her mother? What does this say about the relationship between language and identity? o What does Tan mean by “Englishes”? • Have students finish the rest of the article on their own or in pairs, answering a few short questions about the reading 9. Assign the Literacy Narrative Refer to the identity map and Tan’s “Mother Tongue” to create an essay that explores how 2 different “languages” play a role in your identity. For example, choose two important aspects of your identity from your social location map and describe how you use language differently to fulfill each of those roles. Do you speak differently at school versus at home? Or work? Or with your friends? Finally, conclude your essay by explaining how you think your use of language affects who you are. **Format Options: Digital Literacy Narrative using Digital Storytelling or Voice Thread OR Written Narrative in traditional essay form.


AFFECTIVE RESPONSES FROM FELLOW PROJECT MEMBERS: As Teachers: • Interactive and engaging discussion • Can show growth/reflection from beginning of year to end of year with social location maps • We can learn a lot about our students (backgrounds) o Can identify where the disconnect between home and academic language is • Research-based • This activity will help connect with students and put them at the forefront of what you’re doing in the classroom. • Powerful experience for both students and teachers • Insightful lesson about language and what students bring unwittingly to the classroom • A great way to discuss language with students and bring about a cohesive atmosphere within the classroom • As Learners: • Opportunity to share about ourselves • Chance to reflect and write about ourselves • Develop dialogue o Transfer the skill to character development o May want to write more to practice skill • Teacher provided example of her own social location map • Students are enabled to discuss topics that may be taboo in other contexts • Students gain a greater appreciation for each others’ languages and language use • Students gain a better understanding of their own use of language


Exploring Identity Through Social Location Maps and Language