The Oklahoma Reader 57-2 Fall 2021

Page 1

ISSN 2640-1649 (online) ISSN 0030-1833 (print)

VOLUME NO. 57 // ISSUE 2 // FALL 2021



Finding inspiration through reading and writing 1

Contents 3 5 35 40 44 48 58 67 69 70

Editors’ Overview and Insights Letter from the OKLA Chair Policy and Advocacy Tech Talk Prof. Development: Off the Shelf Children’s Picture Book Reviews Young Adult Book Reviews Call for Proposals / Guidelines Conference Flyer Back Matter

8 21

On the Cover The photo on the cover of this issue is a of the granddaughter of one of our co-editors, Maribeth Nottingham. It seemed to be emblematic of the underlying theme of several of the articles in this issue-sharing the secret of reading.. (Photo by Jennifer Reed)


Using an Active View of Reading to Inform RtI and Diverse Reader Profiles Teddy D. Roop, Emporia State University, & Kathleen S. Howe, Park University

Online Learning Communities: Generated by Communication Chelsea K. Bradley University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Teacher to Teacher: OKLA Easy Grant is as Easy as Sleeping and Helps Build a Classroom Library Karen Coucke, John Rex Charter Elementary

Overview & Insights FROM THE EDITORS We are delighted to share with you the Fall 2021 edition of The Oklahoma Reader, the journal of the Oklahoma Literacy Association. We hope you enjoy both the featured articles and the regular columns of the journal. This issue contains three featured articles: 1) Using an Active View of Reading to Inform RtI and Diverse Reader Profiles, 2) Online Learning Communities: Generated by Communication, and 3) OKLA Easy Grant is as Easy as Sleeping and Helps Build a Classroom Library. In the first featured article, Drs. Teddy Roop and Kathleeen Howe describe the Active View of Reading, as proposed by Duke and Cartwright (2021), and share an activity for use with preservice teachers centered around the theory. Suggestions for how to select from a range of assessment tools and instructional practices to design targeted instruction for diverse reader profiles are also included. In the second featured article, Dr. Chelsea Bradley reports the results of her phenomenological study focused on the importance of communication in online learning communities. A list of best practices for high school educators and university faculty members are included. The suggestions center around discussion boards, sending email, and a sense of being heard. In the third featured article, Karen Coucke, a former OKLA Easy Grant recipient, provides important information about the grant process and explains how she used the grant to buy books for her diverse kindergarten classroom. She then explains how she used the acquired books as mentor texts to support the writing workshop approach used in her classroom. In addition to the three articles, several regular columns can be found in this issue. Dr. Julie Collins has provided legislative updates on recent legislation in Oklahoma regarding reading education. Dr. Shelley Martin-Young’s Tech Talk column shares information on the benefits of digital notebooks and how educators can create and use them. Next, Dr. Katheryn Shannon has written a book review of Adventures in Authentic Learning: 21 Step-by-Step Projects From an EdTech Coach by Kristen Harrington. Next, we are sure you will enjoy the two outstanding literature review columns authored by Dr. Suzii Parsons and Rebecca Weber. Both the children’s literature and the young adult literature


columns focus on the theme of disability representation in books. Many excellent book reviews are provided. These columns are must reads for classroom teachers and librarians. Finally but immediately following this overview, Oklahoma Literacy Association’s chair for 2021-2022, Dr. Rebecca Marie Farley, offers a challenge for all of us to become active participants in the Oklahoma Literacy Association (OKLA) and Oklahoma Higher Education Reading Council (OHERC), as appropriate. As editors, we wish to express our gratitude to the authors, contributors, and manuscript reviewers. A publication like this would not be possible without your hard work. We would also like to encourage you to check out the Oklahoma Literacy Association’s website ( for information about this year’s annual conference, which is scheduled for April 2, 2022. This year’s conference features renowned literacy expert, Dr. Tim Rasinski—an academic grandfather of all three journal editors. Dr. Rasinski is truly a man who has helped mold the educators we are today. Dr. Rasinski has the gift of bridging research with practice; college professors and classroom teachers should not miss this opportunity! Sincerely, Susan Morrison, Barbara McClanahan, and Maribeth Nottingham


Letter from Rebecca Marie Farley Chair, Oklahoma Literacy Association

Hello, OKLA!!! My name is Rebecca Marie Farley. I am an assistant professor of education at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and cherish the opportunity to be Chair of OKLA for 2021-2022. This year is number six for me in higher education where I teach P3 Reading Methods, 4-8 Reading Methods, Reading Assessment, Cornerstone for Teacher Education, Reading Clinical, and Reading Practicum. Prior to teaching higher education, I taught 4th grade, kindergarten, first grade, and served as Reading Specialist/Title I/Literacy Resource Specialist PK-6th grade for 22 years in a public school here in Oklahoma. I am a formerly National Board- Certified Teacher in Literacy: Reading/Language Arts/Early and Middle Childhood. My bachelor’s degree is in Elementary Education from Oklahoma Baptist University, master’s degree in Reading Specialist from University of Central Oklahoma, and doctoral degree in Early Childhood with an emphasis in Literacy, from North Central University. My husband, Tracy, and I will celebrate 39 years of marriage on Christmas Eve 2022. We have three daughters, three sons-in-law, and seven grandchildren whom we dearly love. I look forward to getting to know many of you better. I am excited to serve alongside you in our common endeavor of promoting literacy across our great state. I strongly believe in the power of literacy. It opens doors for 5

our children that cannot be opened in any other way—doors of nurturing lovefilled moments of sharing books with family in various forms such as snuggled up on someone’s lap or part of a bedtime routine. Literacy nourishes our children’s minds, grows their knowledge, and sets the foundation for their academic success in all areas. Literacy empowers adults to explore and expand their life opportunities and experiences through employment options and community involvement, as well as supports well-informed literate citizens to actively participate in political arenas at all levels from voting to holding office. Literacy contributes to the economy by forging a productive and critically thinking workforce that is innovative and creative. Literacy empowers people spiritually by enabling them firsthand access to read scriptures, seek truth, and develop beliefs. Literacy allows people to improve health mentally and physically as they learn new things such as healthy eating, recipes, workout routines, and medicinal information. It is a high calling and responsibility that we together have, supporting all ages of readers to success and triumph. It is with this strong belief in literacy that I encourage and challenge you to keep doing the stellar job of promoting literacy that has been the tradition of OKLA. Encourage your local and state members to become active participants in OKLA in the post-COVID era. I challenge you to become actively involved in your local and state chapters at a new level to stretch and grow yourself as a professional and literacy advocate. Serve on committees, run for offices, sponsor local events to get your community engaged in literacy, and participate in OKLA through promoting literacy, promoting the awards, scholarship, and grant opportunities provided by OKLA, or submit a proposal for a breakout session at our state conference coming up in April. If you do not have a local in your area, get a group of literacy advocates together and form a new local or partner with an existing local that is able to virtually connect to you if the distance is too great to attend meetings in person. Mark your calendar now to attend our currently in-person conference with keynote speaker Dr. Tim Rasinski on April 2. Visit the OKLA website at regularly for updates and information to share with your locals. Join and follow the Oklahoma Literacy Association Facebook group 6

to network with other OKLA members. If you are serving in higher education, I encourage you not only to be active in your local literacy organization, but also join the Oklahoma Higher Education Reading Council (OHERC). Reach out to current chair, Dana Oliver,, current treasurer, Martie Young,, or myself,, and we will get you connected. Also search OHERC on Facebook to join that Facebook group. Let us come together and make it an outstanding year of literacy promotion and advocacy for our state. If you have questions or ideas, please contact me at

Dr. Tim Raskinski OKLA Keynote Speaker April 2, 2022


Teddy D. Roop and Kathleen S. Howe Using the Active View of Reading to Inform RtI and Diverse Reader Profiles Diverse learner profiles exist for students who experience challenges learning to read. Students vary in their unique characteristics and require tailored targeted intervention and teachers who are equipped to assess and design instruction that meets their individual needs. This reality calls for a more complete model such as the Active View of Reading (AVR) proposed by Duke & Cartwright (2021), versus a more limited one such as the Simple View of Reading (SVR; Gough & Tunmer, 1986). Yet, the SVR (Gough & Tunmer, 1986) is included in recent dyslexia legislation and drives teachers’ understanding of literacy assessment and instruction for diverse learners. Use of an incomplete model of reading is problematic for several reasons. First, research consensus does not exist for a single definition of dyslexia (Johnston & Scanlon, 2020). Second, a diverse range of reader profiles does exist (Valencia & Riddle Buly, 2004). However, the International Dyslexia Association’s (IDA; 2021) definition for dyslexia has shaped recent legislation across the country and is driving decisions at district and state levels about literacy and reading instruction for all students. Such mandates can result in over- or misidentification of students as “at risk” for or as having dyslexia. In addition, the literacy assessments and prescribed instructional approaches are not necessarily the best match to identify and address diverse learners (Johnston & Scanlon, 2020). Teachers need to know and understand a more active view of reading, and how to select from a range of assessment tools and instructional practices to design targeted instruction for diverse reader profiles. This article proposes use of a broader view of reading, the Active View of Reading (AVR; Duke & Cartwright, 2021). In addition, it discusses identifying and assessing diverse reader profiles through the lens of the AVR and Response to Intervention (RtI). Lastly, an activity is shared for use with preservice teachers that provides them with the opportunity to assess a diverse reader profile and design targeted instruction from a broad and more complex view of reading. Going Beyond a Limited Model of Reading Distinctive reader profiles primarily have been documented based on a collection of studies across the science of reading that reflect a reader’s proficiency with the code and ability to comprehend. The Simple View of Reading (SVR; Gough & Tunmer, 1986), describes and represents reading comprehension linearly as the product of two separate components--decoding and listening comprehension. As noted by Duke and Cartwright (2021), the reading research field has expanded its understanding of these terms and their contribution to reading comprehension since their earlier introduction, and now recognizes the importance of using broader constructs (i.e., word recognition and language comprehension) (see Cervetti et al., 2020; Hoover & Tunmer, 2020; Scarborough, 2001). The narrow constructs within the SVR often result in an overemphasis on decoding and teaching reading skills in isolation. Furthermore, this model does not address the interactive role of the reader such as executive function, other factors involved in the act of reading such as culture, or the interplay between word recognition and language comprehension (Duke & Cartwright, 2021; Rosenblatt, 1993).


A more recent model by Duke and Cartwright (2021), the Active View of Reading (AVR), expands on SVR through consideration of the more broadly recognized constructs of word recognition and language comprehension and their role in reading comprehension. More specifically, Duke and Cartwright’s model unpacks each of these concepts to highlight three key understandings about reading that are known from the broader science of reading but not included within the SVR. These understandings include the need to go beyond decoding, the interaction between word recognition and language comprehension, and the role of the reader within the complex act of reading comprehension. First, Duke and Cartwright (2021) note that decoding skills and phonics instruction are necessary parts of word recognition but in and of themselves are not sufficient for reading comprehension. The field’s knowledge and the science of reading has expanded and recognizes the role of a broader construct known as word recognition that includes phonological awareness/phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, phonics knowledge, decoding skills, and sight word recognition. Each of these play an important role in automatic word recognition, which is necessary to build and support reading fluency. It is critical for classroom teachers to understand this and avoid a singular emphasis on phonics instruction. In addition, they must know how to assess for all word recognition skills. Second, Duke and Cartwright (2021) highlight the importance of the ways in which word recognition connects to language comprehension to support reading comprehension. The researchers note multiple studies that identify shared variance, or overlap, between word recognition and language comprehension in the prediction of reading comprehension (Duke & Cartwright, 2021). The fact that shared variance exists challenges the SVR model (Gough & Tunmer, 1986) which is linear and suggests that word recognition (decoding) must occur before language comprehension and that there is not interplay between the two. Duke and Cartwright (2021) argue the reported shared variance suggests a great deal of interaction between the two constructs and therefore lends support for the need for their Active View of Reading, and it is imperative for practitioners to be able to teach “within” and “across” word recognition and language comprehension (Duke & Cartwright, 2021, p. 4). Duke and Cartwright (2021) label the connection between word recognition and language comprehension as “bridging factors,” which include print concepts, reading fluency, vocabulary knowledge, morphological awareness, and graphophonological-semantic cognitive flexibility or the ability to consider letter-sound-meaning simultaneously. It is these “bridging factors” as explained within Duke and Cartwright’s AVR (2021) that allow for the negotiation between the simple word-calling of print and the meaningmaking from print. This model allows practitioners to differentiate instruction that meets the varying skill levels of diverse readers within and across constructs, rather than to assume all readers’ difficulties lie within one or the other and are primarily rooted in decoding. Third, as noted by Duke and Cartwright (2021) the AVR model includes the widely accepted understanding from the science of reading research that readers and what they bring to the reading of text play an important role in reading comprehension, an understanding that the SVR model ignores. Duke and Cartwright (2021) propose that the reader brings unique levels of motivation and engagement, executive functioning skills, and strategy use that impact word recognition and language comprehension. In addition, the AVR model includes cultural and other content knowledge, reading-specific background knowledge, verbal reasoning, language structure, and theory of mind as part of the language comprehension construct. Teachers need to be aware of these factors within Duke and Cartwright’s (2021) expanded understanding of language comprehension and recognize that they impact what individual readers bring to the act


of reading, as well as how they relate to and perceive messages within the text. Today’s teachers work with an increasingly diverse learner population (i.e., cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic, etc.) (Hanson, 2021) and it affects the lens through which teachers plan and deliver reading instruction. Fourth and most importantly, Duke and Cartwright (2021) note that components of the AVR model are “instructionally malleable” (p. 10), meaning practitioners play an important role by using it to assess and design their teaching to meet the individual needs of diverse learners. Each of these four components results in a more complex view of reading and provides an essential pathway for identification and instruction of diverse readers. Identifying Diverse Reader Profiles The reading process is complex, and the reader is dynamic, resulting in the need for diverse profiles. Literature over several decades describes readers as either struggling with word recognition, reading comprehension, or both. The AVR (Duke & Cartwright, 2021) includes the role of reading fluency as a key bridging component between word recognition and reading comprehension (Pikulski & Chard, 2005; Rasinski & Samuels, 2011). Too often readers profiled as experiencing the same struggles according to three most common categories (word recognition, reading comprehension, or both), yet they are assigned separate labels by different researchers. Readers whose struggles lie in the word recognition realm are typically profiled with Specific Word Reading Difficulties (SWRD, Spear-Swirling, 2016) or dyslexia (Kilpatrick, 2016). The category of those who struggle to comprehend but decode proficiently is labeled Specific Reading Comprehension Difficulties (SRCD) or hyperlexia (Kilpatrick, 2016). For students struggling with both, the profiles are indicated as Mixed Reading Difficulties (MRD) or compensator type (Kilpatrick, 2016). Labeling the same profile using different terminology does not foster effective communication and collaboration amongst professionals (i.e., speech language pathologist, special education teachers, classroom teachers, administrators, reading specialist) working across various fields but providing services to the same child. Additionally, these profiles are too broad to be useful, especially if we accept the tenets of the AVR (Duke & Cartwright, 2021). However, the fluency component and underlying reading skills are further delineated by Valencia and Riddle Buly (2004), adding the dimensions of accuracy and automaticity to the word recognition level, thus providing more nuanced diverse reader profiles (See Figure 1). The International Dyslexia Association’s (IDA; 2021) definition for dyslexia has shaped recent legislation across the country and is driving decisions at district and state levels about literacy and reading instruction for all students. This narrow definition for dyslexia and the equally narrow definition for the science of reading result in more students identified as “at risk” or having dyslexia, requiring them to receive a specific type of reading instruction (Johnston & Scanlon, 2020). This is problematic for several reasons. First, research consensus does not exist for a single definition of dyslexia (Johnston & Scanlon, 2020). Second, a documented and well explained diverse range of reader profiles does exist (Valencia & Riddle Buly, 2004). The diverse learner profiles for students who experience challenges learning to read vary in their unique characteristics and require tailored targeted intervention, not a one-size-fits-all phonics program. The term dyslexia appears only in Kilpatrick’s (2016) reader profiles. Spear-Swirling (2016) and Valencia and Riddle Buly (2004) do not use the term dyslexia, but only the latter


Figure 1 Diverse Reader Profiles Cluster


Automatic Word Callers

Decoding quickly but not reading for meaning.

Struggling Word Callers

Decoding and word meaning.

Word Stumblers

Slow reading rate and difficulty decoding but good comprehension.

Slow Comprehenders

Slow reading rate but accurate decoding and good comprehension.

Slow Word Callers

Accurate but slow decoding and difficulty with comprehension.

Disabled Readers

Difficulties in all three areas--word identification, fluency, and comprehension.

Note: The six reader profile clusters define the targeted area for reading development (from Valencia & Riddle Buly, 2004) specifies unique characteristics in reader performance related to poor word recognition. Stanovich (1988) points out that there is a difference between dyslexia, a phonological core deficit, and “garden variety” poor readers, a global deficit in a variety of domains, typically associated with language (p. 602). The challenge in using the dyslexia label, especially in light of IDA’s vague definition, is the lack of an “empirical basis for the use of the term to distinguish a group of children who are different from others experiencing difficulty acquiring literacy” (International Literacy Association, ILA; 2016, p. 8). While early identification of reading difficulties is crucial for determining appropriate and effective interventions, early identification of dyslexia “contributes nothing beyond that awareness” (Johnston & Scanlon, 2020, p. 18). In addition, the challenge of a narrow view of reading with an over-emphasis on phonics instruction puts several reader profiles at a disadvantage of not getting the targeted instruction they need. The National Reading Panel (NRP; 2000) recommended “that systematic phonics instruction should be integrated with other reading instruction to create a balanced reading program. Phonics instruction is never a total reading program” (pp. 2-96-97). A more helpful approach is to focus on the unique characteristics of readers through a more broadly defined view of reading and reading instruction that addresses readers’ strengths and needs as determined by assessment data. This approach will result in more effective instruction for all, including students with dyslexia. Assessing Diverse Reader Profiles Since the process of reading is complex and readers’ profiles are diverse, a sophisticated level and depth of professional knowledge is required to assess and instruct in a way that best


meets a student’s individual reading needs. It is important to consider how assessment informs instruction in light of these complexities. The way in which assessment is used to inform teaching and learning directly links it to achievement. (Valencia, 2011). One approach used in addressing reading difficulties is already in place the RtI framework (Scanlon, 2019). It provides guidance for implementation following either a standard- or a problem-solving protocol that establishes “appropriate use of evidencebased instruction across tiers, [and] it should in principle decrease the numbers of children incorrectly identified as disabled” (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006, p. 96). RtI is structured in tiers that include: (a) Tier 1, which is high quality classroom instruction, screening, and small groups for all students; (b) Tier 2, which is interventions for students in need of targeted instruction; and (c) Tier 3, which is intensive interventions and comprehensive evaluation for those students still not responding to instruction provided within Tiers 1 and 2 (RTI Action Network, 2021). The RtI cycle begins with administration of screening assessments in Tier 1, followed by diagnostic and progress-monitoring assessments in Tier 2 that allow teachers and reading specialist to navigate appropriate targeted instruction tailored to specific reader profiles. In line with the AVR (Duke & Cartwright, 2021), engagement plays an important role when providing effective interventions. One-size-fits all and scripted programs call to light the role of student and teacher engagement within reading instruction. Harn and colleagues (2017) found that teachers who solely focus on fidelity of the intervention (e.g., “sticking” to the script) “became less engaged with the students and delivered less responsive instruction” (p. 298). These findings support the need for a more complex reading model such as AVR (Duke & Cartwright, 2021) that addresses individual learner motivation and engagement in addition to word recognition and language comprehension. Types & Purpose of Assessment Prior to engaging in the RtI process, it is important for teachers to know and be able to use a range of assessments. This includes understanding the different types of assessments and their purpose. Both formative and summative assessments exist. Summative assessments can be either outcome-based or standardized and provide lagging data. They can be formative but do not immediately provide timely information that can be used to design responsive interventions for students at-risk or identified with dyslexia. Summative assessments confirm that there is a problem but fail to provide guidance for a solution. On the other hand, formative assessments provide data that enables teachers to make instructional adjustments in a timely manner. Formative assessment tools are more diagnostic than they are evaluative. These assessments include screeners, diagnostics, progress monitoring tools, and other more informal data points that provide useful instructional guidance such as teacher observations, checklists, quizzes, writing samples, and other portfolio artifacts. Literacy screeners are used to proactively determine or predict students at risk for not meeting grade level learning goals. Diagnostic assessments help prevent failure before it happens by providing specific performance-related data that can be immediately addressed through targeted instruction. Progress monitoring is a way to look at the ongoing academic progress of a child and to determine the effectiveness of specific instruction. As noted in the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s RtI guidance document (2010), students in Tier 2 are monitored for progress every other week, and students in Tier 3 are monitored weekly. Progress monitoring


can be conducted using different forms of diagnostic assessments, which are typically selected at the school or district levels. Screener Assessments Timely identification of students who are at risk for future reading failure is crucial. Early identification provides the opportunity for early interventions, given the intervention is evidencebased and targets the students’ needs (Chard et al., 2008; Harn et al., 2008; Johnston & Scanlon, 2020; Scanlon, 2019). Screening assessments should be “practical” and “accurate” (Johnson et al., 2009, p. 175) and utilize a baseline or benchmark to compare a student’s performance in reading to a norm group. As part of the screening battery, it is important to consider information provided by parents/guardians and vision and hearing screenings (Rose, 2009). However, screening for dyslexia is not a reliable measure to predict later reading difficulties and can produce false positives and false negatives (Rose, 2009). Measures such as letter-knowledge and phonological processing are better predictors (Rose, 2009) and that is where diagnostic assessments enter the cycle. Diagnostic Assessments Once a screening assessment has been administered and data indicate at-risk status when compared to peers on an established benchmark, the RtI cycle continues with diagnostic assessments. These are typically administered to students who are identified with “at-risk” status and not intended for all students. Instruction is designed to target areas of need based on data from diagnostic assessment. Kibby (2009) describes targeted instruction as “diagnostic teaching,” the effect of which is measured by progress monitoring assessments that are discussed in the previous section. Data used to design targeted instruction should be derived from multiple diagnostic assessments measuring the level of proficiency on different reading skills such as phonological and phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, as well as motivation. To put it in a more familiar context, doctors diagnose before they prescribe medication or treatment and those are specific to the ailment and considerate of the overall patient health history. Multiple diagnostic assessments are available for districts or building teams to choose from, and several are mentioned later in the article. Diagnostic assessment data allows the “design [of] what seems to be an appropriate next level of instruction, select[ing] or creat[ing] materials for that instruction, implement[ing] the instruction, evaluat[ing] the child’s learning from that instruction, and if necessary, modify[ing] (Kibby, 2009, p. 252). Preparing Pre-Service Teachers to Assess Diverse Reader Profiles The following is an example of an assignment used with pre-service teachers in an advanced methods reading course that can also be used by in-service teachers. It allows individuals to engage in the practice of responsive teaching. It utilizes the assessment-instruction cycle and focuses on individuals and their unique reader profiles. The resources mentioned are suggestions and substitutions can be made as appropriate. The pre-service teachers completed a portfolio with a primary (K-2) or intermediate student (3-6) that consists of the following five main categories: 1. Getting to Know the Student


2. Foundational Reading Skills 3. Reading Connected Text and Reading Behaviors 4. Data Analysis, Summary, and Recommendations 5. Evidence-Based Instruction Sections one through three are followed by a reflection discussing the results from each assessment and preliminarily identifying areas of strength and need. In addition, pre-service teachers provided an analysis for any correlation between scores, observed behaviors, and other relative, reported information. Most sessions are video- or audio-recorded to provide further artifacts for reflection for the pre-service teacher as an administrator of assessments. Getting to Know the Student Getting to Know the Student is a set of assessments that provide preservice teachers with important information about what may impact a student’s learning and affect reading ability. This may include parent provided information about health, such as vision and hearing, an interest inventory completed by the student, as well as their motivation and purposes for reading different types of text and topics. Suggested materials for this section: • Parent Information Survey (Dobler, Mann, & Roop, 2021a) • News About Me or Inventory Experiences (Johns & Lenski, 2019) • Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (McKenna & Kear, 1990, as cited in Johns & Lenski, 2019). Foundational Reading Skills Foundational Reading Skills addresses a range of word recognition skills (Duke & Cartwright, 2021; Gough & Tunmer, 1986). In addition, concepts of print and text features are addressed (AVR; Duke & Cartwright, 2021). This is a section where assessments are matched to the developmental and appropriate grade level skills. The three subsections in the Foundational Reading Skills category include Basic Literacy, Phonemic Awareness, and Phonics assessments. The Basic Literacy Assessments focuses on (a) concepts of print (K-2) or text features (3-6); (b) Letter and Sound Identification (K-2) or Nonsense Word reading (3-6); and (c) Reading Words in Isolation. The Phonemic Awareness assessment examines the student’s ability on the tasks of phoneme isolation, blending, segmenting, deletion, and substitution, as well as some phonological components such as rhyming identification and production, onset and rime, and syllabication of spoken words. Knowledge of print patterns in mono- and multisyllabic words is assessed by the Phonics assessment. Suggestions for assessment materials include: • Basic Literacy Assessments o Concepts About Print, K-2 (Clay, 2005; see also Reading Rockets, 2021) or Concepts of Text Features, 3-6 (Dobler, Mann, Roop, 2021b) o Letter Identification and Sound Identification, K-2 (Blevins, 2017) or Nonsense Words 3-6 (Blevins, 2017) o San Diego Quick Assessment (Blevins, 2017) • Phonemic Awareness o Phonemic Awareness Assessment (Blevins, 2017) o Phonological Awareness Screening Test (PAST; Kilpatrick, 2016) • Phonics


o Early Names Test, K-2 (Mather et al., 2006) or Names Test, 3-6 (Duffelmeyer et al., 1994) Assessments Reading Connected Text and Reading Behaviors This category examines the strategies and observable behaviors by the reader through analysis of their errors and self-corrections. A running record is an assessment of oral text reading providing data on how well a student recognizes words in running text. Clay (2005) suggests looking at the interaction between three dimensions in regard to errors and selfcorrections leading to comprehension: meaning, syntax, and visual information or MSV. As an assessment, running records show what cueing system(s) the child uses by analyzing their errors and self-corrections. This section gives the pre-service teacher additional data on how the reader is applying word recognition strategies while reading connected text. In addition, it allows them to consider errors and self-corrections in the overall analysis and preparation to guide future instruction, such as matching students to appropriate leveled readers. Oral reading fluency data is gathered from timing the oral reading of 100-200 words and determining overall percent accuracy. In addition, words correct per minute is calculated and compared to grade level norms. A fluency rubric is also used to evaluate the prosody. Suggested forms for assessing reading continuous text are: ● Observational Survey (Clay, 2005) ● Basic Reading Inventory (Johns et al., 2017) ● Reading A-Z assessment passages (Reading A-Z, 2021a) and decodable and leveled books (Reading A-Z, 2021b) ● Multidimensional Fluency Scale (Zutell & Rasinski, 1991) ● Oral Reading Norms (Hasbrouck & Tindal, 2017) Data Analysis, Summary, and Recommendations After data from all of the assessments are gathered, pre-service teachers summarize the results and analyze the data. They are encouraged to look for patterns and reading behavior trends across assessments, compare against existing reader profiles, and then come to conclusions about student’s strengths and areas of need. Research-based recommendations from credible sources are aligned to the identified areas of need. Those recommendations are then implemented in two lesson plans that the pre-service teacher teaches to their practicum student. Suggested evidence-based resources are: ● Reading Rockets (2021) ● Florida Reading Research Center (2021) ● Improving reading: Strategies, Resources and Common Core Connections (Johns & Lenski, 2019) ● Reading from A-Z (Blevins, 2017) Evidence-Based Instruction Evidence-based instruction consists of two-lesson plans (Dobler, Mann, Roop, 2021c) that include a phonics or word recognition lesson plan and a needs-based lesson plan. The lesson plan requirements for explicit instruction follow a direct instruction format and gradual release


(Pearson & Gallagher, 1983) format that includes: (a) Modeling (I do), (b) Guided Practice (We do), and (c) Independent Practice (You do). Preservice teachers are required to explain how the lessons support the targeted skill or their practicum student’s needs. Preservice teachers are also required to explain what data from the portfolio assessment supports their instructional decisions. They complete a reflection after each implemented lesson plan that includes prompts on what went well, what they would adjust or change, what follow up lessons would be included based on the assessment for each lesson, and what they learned about themselves as a teacher of reading. The preservice teacher practicum example provides the opportunity for teachers and teacher educators to compare the suggested assessments against the constructs within the AVR (Duke & Cartwright, 2021) to make a plan for assessing and determining reader profiles as explained in the Data Analysis, Summary, and Recommendations section. Students can make this determination on their own, in a collaborative group, or in consultation with their instructor. We encourage inservice teachers as well to use this information to identify what skills within each construct (word recognition, language comprehension, bridging processes, and activate selfregulation) noted in Duke & Cartwright’s AVR (2021) model may need to be addressed. In addition, we recommend teachers determine which tools they have available to assess the various skills. We suggest beginning by asking questions related to the various skills within the constructs that will need to be answered through an assessment. For example, within the word recognition construct for determining phonological awareness, teachers may ask whether a student has adequate phonemic awareness skills? More specifically, can the child identify individual sounds? Can they segment and blend? Then the teacher determines what assessment tool(s) can likely provide data to answer their questions. For any skills within a construct for which an assessment is not listed within the practicum example, brainstorm a list of known tools used in your school or district and have a discussion with colleagues about which ones may work. Teachers should repeat the above process for each of the key areas identified within the word recognition construct: phonological awareness, print concepts, decoding, sight vocabulary, and fluency in context. Suggested assessments for PA, print concepts and phonics (decoding skills) are included above within the preservice teacher practicum example. A suggestion for assessing sight vocabulary is not included in the practicum example; however, teachers can easily access online and use the Dolch Inventory or Fry Inventory. The Multidimensional Fluency Scale (Zutell & Rasinski, 1991), the Oral Reading Norms (Hasbrouck & Tindal, 2017), or any informal reading inventory such as the Basic Reading Inventory (Johns et al., 2017) can be used to assess fluency in context and are included within the list of assessments in the practicum example. Other tools for determining fluency in context can be selected and may be readily available within schools and districts. It is essential that inservice teachers not only know and have access to a wide variety of assessments to screen, diagnose and progress monitor for specific reading skills, but are able to use assessment results to determine the diverse reader profile of their students. This is imperative, because just like one size does not fit all, there is no such thing as all struggling readers experiencing exactly the same reading challenges. By following the assessment process of screening, diagnosing, and progress monitoring to determine the diverse profiles of readers they have among their students, teachers are able to provide and adjust instruction appropriately for specific reader profiles. Teachers should utilize screeners to identify students who are struggling to read on grade level, but then diagnostic assessment should be used to determine the construct the student struggles with the most in order to target their instruction. In addition,


through ongoing progress monitoring, teachers will know whether a student is making gains and whether the instruction is the best match for the intended goal. Conclusion What is known from the science of reading is that assessment is the basis for designing evidence-based instruction depending on the reader profile (Valencia & Riddle Buly, 2004). Targeted instruction focuses on various needs and leads to improved reading performance (Riddle Buly & Valencia, 2003). It is imperative that administrators, scholars, and advocates who may not be involved in daily reading instruction understand: (a) reading is a dynamic process which is best understood through a more complete model such as AVR (Duke & Cartwright, 2021); (b) readers are multifaceted and should be analyzed according to their unique reader profiles; and (c) the existing framework (RtI) is best positioned to help educators continuously assess and design targeted instruction. Teacher educators are devoted to preparing pre-service teachers through the development of a professional knowledge base and opportunities to assess readers and design targeted instruction that meets the needs of today’s diverse learners. Inservice teachers are dedicated to using this information to help all readers achieve proficiency and beyond. References Blevins, W. (2017). Phonics from A-Z: A practical guide (3rd ed.). Scholastic. Chard, D. J., Stoolmiller, M., Harn, B. A., Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Linan-Thompson, S., & Kame’enui, E. J. (2008). Predicting reading success in a multilevel schoolwide reading model. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41(2), 174-188. doi: 10.1177/0022219407313588 Cervetti, G.N., Pearson, P.D., Palincsar, A.S., Afflerbach, P., Kendeou, P., Biancarosa, G., … Berman, A. (2020). How the Reading for Understanding initiative’s research complicates the simple view of reading invoked in the science of reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 55(S1), S161–S172. Clay, M. M. (2005). An observational survey of early literacy achievement. Heinemann. Dobler, E., Mann L., & Roop T. (2021a). Background information form [class material]. Emporia State University Canvas. Dobler, E., Mann L., & Roop T. (2021b). Concepts of text features [class material]. Emporia State University Canvas. Dobler, E., Mann L., & Roop T. (2021c). Evidence-based instruction—lesson plans and reflections [class material]. Emporia State University Canvas. Duffelmeyer, F. A., Kruse, A. E., Merkley, D. J, & Fyfe, S. A. (1994). Further validation and enhancement of the Names Test. The Reading Teacher, 48(2), 118-128. Duke, N. K., & Cartwright, K. B. (2021). Communicating advances beyond the Simple View of Reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 56(S1), S25-S44. doi: 10.1002/rrq.411 Fuchs, D., & Fuchs, L. S. (2006). Introduction to response to intervention: What, why, and how valid is it? Reading Research Quarterly, 41(1), 93-99. doi: 10.1598/RRQ.41.1.4 Gough, P. B. & Tunmer, W. E. (1986). Decoding, reading and reading disability. Remedial and Special Education, 7(1), 6-10.


Hanson, M. (2021, September 19). K-12 school enrollment & student population statistics. Harn, B. A., Stoomiller, M., & Chard, D. J. (2008). Measuring the dimensions of alphabetic principle on the reading development of first graders. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41(2), 143-157. doi: 10.1177/0022219407313585 Harn, B. A., Damico, D. P., & Stoolmiller, M. (2017). Examining the variation of fidelity across an intervention: Implications for measuring and evaluating student learning. Preventing School Failure, 61(4), 289-302. doi: Hasbrouck, J., & Tindal, G. (2017). Hasbrouck & Tindal oral reading fluency data 2017. Read Naturally. Hoover, W.A., & Tunmer, W.E. (2020). The cognitive foundations of reading and its acquisition. Springer. International Dyslexia Association. (2021, April 20). Definition of dyslexia. International Literacy Association. (2016). Dyslexia: A response to the International Dyslexia Association [Research Advisory Addendum]. Author. Johns, J., Elish-Piper, L., & Johns, B. (2017). Basic reading inventory: Kindergarten through grade twelve and early literacy assessments (12th ed.). Kendall Hunt Publishing Company. Johns, J., & Lenski, S.D. (2019). Improving reading: Strategies, resources and Common Core connections (7th ed.). Kendall Hunt Publishing Company. Johnson, E. S., Jenkins, J. R., Petscher, Y., & Catts, H. W. (2009). How can we improve the accuracy of screening instruments? Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 24(4), 174-185. Johnston, P., & Scanlon, D. (2020). An examination of dyslexia research and instruction, with policy implications [Literacy Research Report]. Literacy Research Association. Kibby, M. W. (2009). Why is the school psychologist involved in the evaluation of struggling readers? Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 19, 248-258. doi: 10.1080/10474410903128988 Kilpatrick, D. A. (2016). Equipped for reading success: A comprehensive, step-by-step program for developing phonemic awareness and fluent word recognition. Casey & Kirsch Publishers. McKenna, M. C., & Kear, D. J. (1990). Measuring attitude toward reading: A new tool for teachers. The Reading Teacher 43(9), 626-639. Mather, N., Sammons, J., & Schwartz, J. A. (2006). Adaptations of the Names Test: Easy-to-use phonics assessments. International Reading Association, 60(2), 114–122. doi:10.1598/RT.60.2.2 National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Oklahoma State Department of Education. (2010). Response to Intervention (RtI) guidance document. Author. Pearson, P.D. & Gallagher, G. (1983). The gradual release of responsibility model of instruction. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8, 112-123.


Pikulski, J. J., & Chard, D. J. (2005). Fluency: Bridge between decoding and reading comprehension. The Reading Teacher, 58(6), 510-519. doi:1598/RT.58.6.2 Rasinski, T. V., & Samuels, S. J. (2011). Reading fluency: What it is and what it is not. In S. J. Samuels & A. E. Farstrup (Eds.), What research has to say about reading instruction (4th ed., pp. 94-114). International Reading Association. Reading A-Z. (2021, April 21a). Benchmark books and running records. Reading Reading A-Z. (2021, April 21b). Benchmark passages and running records. Reading Reading Rockets. (2021, April). Concepts of print assessments. Reading Riddle Buly, M. R., & Valencia, S. (2003). Meeting the needs of failing readers: Cautions and considerations for state policy. University of Washington, Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy. /ctpmail/PDFs/Reading-MRBSV-04-2003.pdf Rose, J. (2009). Identifying and teaching children and young people with dyslexia and literacy difficulties. An independent report from Sir Jim Rose to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families June 2009. Rosenblatt, L. (1993). The transactional theory: Against dualisms. College English, 55, 377-386. doi: 10.2307/378648 RTI Action Network. (2021). What is RTI? National Center for Learning Disabilities. %20(RTI)%20is,in%20the%20general%20education%20classroom Scanlon, D. (2019, November). Dyslexia/reading difficulties and approaches to intervention (PowerPoint presentation). Presented at the 2019 New York State Reading Association Annual Conference, Albany, NY. Scarborough, H. S. (2001). Connecting early language and literacy to later reading (dis)abilities: Evidence, theory, and practice. In S. Neuman & D. Dickinson (Eds.), Handbook for research in early literacy. Guilford Press. Spear-Swerling, L. (2016). Common types of reading problems and how to help children who have them. The Reading Teacher 69(5), 513-522. Stanovich, K. E. (1988). Explaining the difference between the dyslexic and garden-variety poor reader: The phonological-core variable-difference model. Journal of Reading Disabilities, 21(10), 590-612. Valencia, S.W., & Riddle Buly, M. (2004). What struggling readers really need. The Reading Teacher, (57) 6, 520-531. Valencia, S. W. (2011). Using assessment to improve teaching and learning. In S. J. Samuels & A. E. Farstrup (Eds.), What research has to say about reading instruction (4th ed., pp. 379-405). International Reading Association. Zutell, J., & Rasinski, T. V. (1991). Training teachers to attend to their students’ oral reading fluency. Theory Into Practice, 30, 211-217.


Teddy D. Roop teaches in the Elementary Education/Early Childhood Education/Special Education of Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas. She can be reached at

Kathleen S. Howe teaches in the School of Education, Park University, Parkville, Missouri. She can be reached at


Chelsea K. Bradley

Online Learning Communities: Generated by Communication Introduction As online learning continues to gain popularity (Allen & Seaman, 2010/2016; Yuan & Kim, 2014), institutions of higher education, as well as K-12 educators, are tasked with creating spaces where learning can flourish. As students engage in online learning environments, the tools available to them through an online learning management system (LMS) are digital in nature. These digital tools and technologies afford students new modes to communicate and learn. Due to the important role of learning communities, the increase of online learning and its impact on higher education, and the important role of learners’ perceptions, the author designed a phenomenological study to gain insight into common lived experiences of learning communities among pre-service teachers within online undergraduate college courses. A phenomenology (Moustakas, 1994) focuses on peoples’ common experiences of a phenomenon and how those experiences are relied on to make meaning in the world. Since the author sought to understand how undergraduate pre-service teachers experienced learning community in their online courses through in-depth interviews, a phenomenological study was used. The data were derived from a broader phenomenological study to examine undergraduate pre-service teachers’ perceptions of learning community. The data identified three sources in which learning communities were generated within online settings. This article describes the first identified source: online learning communities are generated by communication. For the purpose of this article, learning community refers to a supportive learning environment generated by dialogue and collaboration (Yuan & Kim, 2014). Literature Review Research indicates that community is pivotal to human experiences. For example, Maslow (1954), in his work regarding humans and motivation, studied community, developing his theory of human motivation. His work was influential in describing how to best construct the foundation to properly fuel the development of human beings. Maslow’s work defined five basic needs that all human beings strive to acquire: physiological needs, safety and security, the need to belong and experience affection, respect and self-respect, and self-actualization (pp. 35-47). This hierarchy of needs is applicable to community formation in both offline and online spaces. For the purpose of the broader study, the focus remained on Maslow’s third defined need, the need to belong and experience affection, which speaks to the importance of belonging to a group. Maslow stated the following about the third need: “Any good society must satisfy this need, one way or another, if it is to survive and be healthy” (p. 44). When considering community formation, if a person does not feel like he or she belongs, his or her participation in the community will falter. Additionally, if other participants experience the same lack of belongingness, the community could experience failure. Doolittle and MacDonald (1978) developed the Sense of Community Scale, which focuses on community in relationship to communication. Additionally, Conrad (2005), in her


work regarding community and an online cohort of students, defined community as “a general sense of connection, belonging, and comfort that develop over time among members of a group who share purpose and commitment to a common goal” (p. 1). Not only does community formation enhance collaboration, it has also been found to increase engagement and feelings of satisfaction within a group atmosphere (Darby et al., 2013). When group members feel satisfaction within their group, they may become more motivated to contribute and work with colleagues. In their work examining academic service-learning, researchers Darby et al. (2013), found that students’ motivation increased when they enjoyed their experiences, formed relationships, and felt a sense of responsibility to their learning community (p. 188). Numerous studies show that learning communities play a vital role in online educational spaces (Cleugh, 2013; Jeong & Hmelo-Silver, 2016; Kozlov & Große, 2016). Learning communities provide a space for collaboration to occur, which positively impacts student learning (Cleugh, 2013; Luo et al., 2017). This collaboration among members in a learning community occurs in various ways, relying on multiple modes and tools. When learning communities are successfully generated, there is an increase in the effectiveness of the learning environment (Kucuk & Sahin, 2013). In an educational setting, the experience of learning communities is important to students’ success as well as feelings of satisfaction toward courses (Lear et al., 2010; Vlachopoulos & Cowan, 2010). The development of learning communities remains an essential feature of the classroom, either offline or online. Within the classroom setting, learning communities serve as support systems (Greene & Mitcham, 2012), safe spaces for experimentation and exploration (Greene & Mitcham, 2012), relationship builders (Murray et al., 2011), spaces to create (Murray et al., 2011), and places to engage in dialogue (Murray et al., 2011). To gain an understanding of undergraduate pre-service teachers’ common lived experiences of learning communities in online college courses, this study was guided by the following research question: What were the lived experiences of learning communities in online courses among undergraduate pre-service teachers? Methods The author’s phenomenological study was largely based on work by Moustakas (1994), Vagle (2014), and van Manen (1990), which relied on data collection and synthesis to generate meaning about the phenomenon of participants’ experiences of online learning communities. The participants in this study were undergraduate pre-service teachers attending one university in the Midwest. At the time, the author was an adjunct professor at the university. The author relied on a method of sampling known as the snowball effect (Creswell, 2007), where current students passed on her contact information to other undergraduate pre-service teachers who might be interested in participating in the study. Measures were taken to ensure none of the participants would have the author as an instructor as she taught courses which occurred at the beginning of the teacher education program and participants were advanced in their program of study. Participants were gathered from a wide variety of courses and backgrounds, but all were undergraduate pre-service teachers. The study included four phases: Orientation and Review, Connecting with Participants, Emergent Themes, and Interpretations and Conclusions. The purpose of the first phase, Orientation and Review, was to gain information about and become familiar with possible


participants, the phenomenon being studied, and the site in which the study took place. Phase Two, Connecting with Participants, consisted of communicating with participants. During this time, participants signed and returned consent forms and filled out a brief information sheet. The author also began scheduling interviews with participants and building rapport with each of them through email or phone conversations. The third phase, Emergent Codes and Themes, consisted of initial data analysis. Each interview was transcribed in its entirety by the author. Once an interview was transcribed, initial codes and themes were noted. These notes were used as a guide in future interviews and were also reviewed by two colleagues who served as reviewers throughout the entirety of the study. During Phase Four, Interpretations and Conclusions, emergent themes and codes were organized. The author conducted four rounds of analysis, as explained below. There was overlap between phases of this study as data collection and analysis occurred simultaneously. Data collection for the study included three in-depth interviews. The first interview focused on the life history of the participant. The second interview focused on the details of the experience. The third and final interview provided a space for participants to reflect on their experiences with the phenomenon and make meaning. The interviews were structured and conducted synchronously over the phone, as preferred by each participant. Each interview was recorded and later transcribed by the author. The author relied on transcripts and a research journal to collect data. Data analysis of the phenomenology consisted of constant comparative analysis (Vagle, 2014), which confirms collecting data and performing analysis simultaneously as an appropriate technique. Conducting analysis in this way assisted in reaching redundancy. After conducting and transcribing eight interviews, common themes regarding lived experiences of learning communities began to take shape. As coding of common themes continued, three main findings surfaced: learning communities are relationship-based, generated by communication, and technologically bound. The author’s main goal for data analysis was to reach redundancy. Findings from this study were confirmed after 10 participant interviews and reached redundancy with the completion of interviews 11 and 12. Results As mentioned, while data analyses indicated three sources for undergraduate pre-service teachers’ perceptions of learning community, for the brevity of this report, only one source will be discussed. Data analyses indicated that experiences of online learning communities were related to effective communication. The concept of effective communication included conversations, questioning, and responses. Whether participants divulged information about discussion boards, emails, group work, or video-recorded lectures, it became apparent the experience of effective communication was a common thread within online learning communities experienced by study participants. Without effective communication, there would be limited interaction occurring in an online course. Participants claimed they were not only more involved in courses when communication occurred frequently, but they also found themselves able to retain more information, both of which positively influenced experiences of learning communities in their online learning spaces. Evidence for these findings will be described. Every participant who was interviewed discussed the use of discussion boards within their online course. Participants claimed they were not only more involved in courses when communication occurred frequently, but they also found themselves able to retain more


information, both of which positively influenced experiences of learning communities in their online learning spaces. Sarah (all names are pseudonyms), a participant from the study said, “I keep going back to discussion boards, but I think that’s really what online courses are about, using those discussion boards to discuss with one another and learn from one another. You are more involved when talking through these [discussion] boards.” (Sarah, interview 3, December 22, 2017). Participants also found enjoyment in Parking Lot type discussion boards, where they were not required to post, yet if they had general questions or concerns, they could post in the Parking Lot and the instructor or another classmate could respond. One participant said, “It’s nice to be able to post and not have to worry about requirements from the instructor and making sure you’re going to get your points. Sometimes you just want to talk to your classmates. That’s why I like Parking Lot discussions.” (Adam, interview 3, January 25, 2018). In addition to discussion board posts, participants appreciated variety in the prompts to which they were required to respond. By incorporating diverse prompts each week, instructors were able to add a sense of variety to course discussions, which participants found engaging and important for building learning communities. One participant took an online course where the instructor still gave a weekly reading assignment, but instead of supplying a single prompt or question to answer, students were provided with two or more prompts or questions. From those prompt or questions, students were able to choose one to answer and post for the rest of the class to read. Heath, the participant who experienced this type of questioning, shared he enjoyed those conversations because the prompts and questioning were different than just “regurgitating what the text said and you got to know your classmates better and stuff” (Heath, interview 3, December 30, 2018). He considered the single question prompts and questions less beneficial for students, since everyone already read the same assignment. In continuing with the communication theme, participants spoke about being heard by their instructors and classmates. When participants deemed they were truly being listened to, they felt more connected and welcomed into the course, which positively affected their common understandings of learning communities. As participants completed assignments and posted on discussion boards, their experiences of learning communities increased as classmates and instructors responded to their work. Skyler, Sarah, and Rory specifically mentioned that when they knew their work was being read and taken seriously, they wanted to work harder. When their classmates took the time to read their work and genuinely responded to it, it motivated them to want to do the same, which ultimately made them more involved in their courses. Sarah said, “I know that what I’m posting is being received and not just being posted to receive a grade. It’s more for collaborating; you can ask questions and stuff” (Sarah, interview 3, December 22, 2017). In doing so, she was able to communicate more frequently with her classmates, which Sarah felt positively influenced her sense of learning community within her online courses. When participants read in-depth replies to their own work, they experienced validation and the sense that their original post was accepted and provided their classmates with a means to hold a genuine conversation. Sending email was another form of communication found important for experiencing learning communities and motivating students. Participants acknowledged the important role email played when communicating with members of an online course. Sarah shared an experience when a classmate emailed her after she posted a response on a discussion board. The classmate expressed to Sarah how she was struggling with the content, and it was apparent Sarah understood the content. Sarah felt pride in her knowledge of the course content as well as her ability to help another student be successful. Sarah expressed how her sense of learning


community was heightened by her classmate contacting her “outside” of the online classroom: “you have to feel comfortable with someone in order to do that” (Sarah, interview 2, December 15, 2017). Lilly, who revealed that she was extremely social, shared if she was unable to communicate with people, she felt like she was missing something. While Lilly did not experience the same connection to classmates that Sarah did, Lilly divulged that she constantly stayed in contact with instructors through email. She appreciated being able to email them questions and receive feedback right away. Overall, the use of email was perceived as a means to communicate and grow learning community. These findings correlate with work from Rigelman and Ruben (2012), Carlen and Jobring (2005), Beins (2016), and Ouyang and Sharber (2017), all of whom described how communication is directly linked to participation and facilitates development of community. However, this work grows the field in understanding participant desires for frequent communication, among both peers and instructors. This frequent and effective communication positively impacted participants’ experiences of learning community in their online spaces. This communication can occur through discussion board posts, email, or feedback on assignments. Implications Implications from this study addressed enhanced communication afforded by availability of different modes. The modes of communication participants relied on within their online courses to converse, collaborate, and produce with peers became activities that fostered connection within their learning communities. As participants described their experiences of learning communities in online courses, the theme of effective communication became increasingly apparent. While participants expressed their exposure to a variety to communicative tools, one concept emerged; the execution of effective communication was vital to students’ success in an online learning environment. Participants elucidated three main affordances of effective communication. Within their online courses, study participants had positive communication experiences through the use of discussion boards, email, and the realization that they were being heard by their peers and instructors. Every participant who was interviewed discussed the use of discussion boards within their online course. Since discussion boards are an important component of communication within online courses, it is vital that instructors design discussion boards in an accessible manner. This accessibility includes clear guidelines and expectations for posts as well as a variety in the types of prompts presented to students. Implications of prompt variety suggest instructors also integrate prompts that encourage students to consider their own experiences. These types of questions are beneficial and could generate thoughtful conversations among students because those prompts and questions urge students to explore their own understandings due to the reflective nature of questions that focus on applicability (Lohr & Haley, 2018). These types of prompts could create a space for learning communities to flourish as students share personal experiences with classmates (Dailey-Hebert, 2018). Participants also appreciated the optional Parking Lot discussion board, where they could ask general questions and engage in conversation with their peers. These Parking Lot discussions appeared to lead to experiences of learning community, as participants were able to converse with one another about topics of their choosing. Implications of this finding suggest instructors


consider including an optional discussion board space, such as the Parking Lot, within their online courses. Communication through email was another tool that positively impacted participants’ experiences of learning community. Participants felt personally connected to peers when communicating via email regarding various things about their course. Additionally, implications for email communication applied to instructors. As instructors read through posts and notice a misconception, they can email the student directly. This small gesture can make students feel connected to their instructors, while also validating the work they are putting forth in their online courses (Al-Asfour, 2014; Dailey-Hebert, 2018, Parenti, 2013). Additionally, if an insight is introduced that might be beneficial to the rest of the class, instructors should share such findings, as other students could have curiosities about the same topic. Participants experiencing a sense of being heard was another major theme that emerged within the importance of communication and learning communities. Participants felt encouraged and supported in their learning when they received thoughtful responses from classmates and instructors. Study participants described thoughtful responses as responses that built upon their own posts. This occurred when classmates posed questions or prompts that elicited deeper responses and created a space for conversation to continue; this encouraged more consistent involvement and also produced positive experiences of learning communities. These in-depth responses also created a sense of support and connection to the course because participants felt their hard work was being taken seriously and their classmates and instructors were reading their posts for content. Conclusion When the previously described forms of communication occurred, participants claimed they were more involved in their courses. Online courses need to be developed in ways that promote accessible, effective communication among classmates and instructors. Participants desired clear guidelines and expectations, while having opportunities to engage in authentic conversations with their classmates and instructors. By providing a variety of modes with which to communicate, instructors may assist in developing communication-rich learning environments, which, according to the findings in this study, help establish relationships and positively influence experiences of learning communities. While the broader study focused on institutions of higher education, the affordances of effective communication and the implications established in the study hold true for all levels of learning.


Table 1 Best Practices for Educators: High School & Institutions of Higher Education How to Build Community Discussion Board Posts:

Sense of Being Heard:

Sending Email:

High School Educators -Implement a variety in prompts -Encourage personal experience sharing -Model all types of discussion board posts: initial posts, responses, asking a clarifying question, etc. -Post clear guidelines and expectations for posts -Explain guidelines and expectations -Offer optional Parking Lot thread -Model what different responses look like, placing emphasis on detailed, in-depth responses -Encourage students to ask questions that elicit a deeper response from the author of a post -Encourage peer-to-peer communication, perhaps using whatever LMS is in place, which can build learning community in online spaces -Educators can use email or messages via the LMS to provide personalized feedback or provide insight about a student misconception

Educators at Institutions of Higher Education -Implement a variety in prompts -Encourage personal experience sharing -Model the types of posts the course will utilize -Post clear guidelines and expectations for posts -Offer optional Parking Lot thread

-Model what different responses look like, placing emphasis on detailed, indepth responses -Encourage students to ask questions that elicit a deeper response from the author of a post -Encourage peer-to-peer email, which can build learning community in online spaces -Instructors can use email to provide personalized feedback or provide insight about a student misconception

References Al-Asfour, A. (2014). Improving motivation and persistence of online human resource students through the use of E-mail communication: A study employing a single case study design. Journal of Learning in Higher Education, 10(2), 1-7. EJ1143340.pdf Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2010). Learning on demand: Online education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group. /fulltext/ED529931.pdf


Allen, I. E., Seaman, J, Poulin, R., & Straught, T. T. (2016). Online Report Card – Tracking Online Education in the United States, 2015. Online Learning Consortium. report-card-tracking-online-educationunited-states-2015/ Beins, A. (2016). Small talk and chit chat: Using informal communication to build a learning community online. Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship & Pedagogy, 26(2), 157-175. doi:10.5325/trajincschped.26.2.0157 Carlen, U., & Jobring, O. (2005). The rationale of online learning communities. International Journal of Web Based Communities, 1, 272–295. download?doi= ype=pdf Cleugh, C. (2013). Sense of community in post-secondary online blended courses: Importance of, opportunities and implications for course development. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions (2nd ed.). Conrad, D. (2005). Building and maintaining community in cohort-based online learning. Journal of Distance Education, 20(1), 1-21. https://files.eric.ed. gov/fulltext/EJ807822.pdf Dailey-Hebert, A. (2018). Maximizing Interactivity in Online Learning: Moving beyond Discussion Boards. Journal of Educators Online, 15(3). Darby, A., Longmire-Avital, B., Chenault, J., & Haglund, M. (2013). Students’ motivation in academic service-learning over the course of the semester. College Student Journal, 47(1), 185-191. Doolittle, R. J., & Macdonald, D. (1978). Communication and a sense of community in a metropolitan neighborhood: A factor analytic examination. Communication Quarterly, 26(3), 2-7. 09369297 Greene, K., & Mitcham, K. C. (2012). Community in the classroom. English Journal, 101(4), 13-15. /41415466 Jeong, H., & Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2016) Seven affordances of computer-supported collaborative learning: How to support collaborative learning? How can technologies help? Educational Psychologist, 51(2), 247-265. doi:10.1080/ 00461520.2016.1158654 Kozlov, M., & Große, C. S. (2016). Online collaborative learning in dyads: Effects of knowledge distribution and awareness. Computers in Human Behavior, 59, 389- 401. Kucuk, S., & Sahin, I. (2013). From the perspective of community of inquiry framework: An examination of Facebook uses by pre-service teachers as a learning environment. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology - TOJET, 12(2), 142-156. Lear, J. L., Ansourge, C. & Steckelberg, A. (2010). Interactivity/community process model for the online education environment. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 6(1), 71-77. Lohr, K. D., & Haley, K. J. (2018). Using biographical prompts to build community in an online graduate course: An adult learning perspective. Adult Learning, 29(1), 11-19. /pdfviewer/?vid=8&sid =f6027af3-e2dd-4d4a-b1aa-697cff845c8b%40 sessionmgr4006 Luo, N., Zhang, M., & Qi, D. (2017). Effects of different interactions on students' sense of community in e-learning environment. Computers & Education, 115, 153-160. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2017.08.006


Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. Harper. /pdfs/Motivation_and_Personality- Maslow.pdf Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Sage. Murray, T. A., Higgins, P., Minderhout, V., & Loertscher, J. (2011). Sustaining the development and implementation of student-centered teaching nationally: The importance of a community of practice. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Education, 39(6), 405-411. Ouyang, F., & Scharber, C. (2017). The influences of an experienced instructor’s discussion design and facilitation on an online learning community development: A social network analysis study. The Internet and Higher Education, 35, 34-47. /j.iheduc.2017.07.002 Parenti, M. A. (2013). Student Perceptions of Asynchronous and Synchronous Web Based Tools and Perceived Attainment of Academic Outcomes. Journal of Educational Technology, 9(4), 8–14. Rigelman, N. M., & Ruben, B. (2012). Creating foundations for collaboration in schools: Utilizing professional learning communities to support teacher candidate learning and visions of teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28, 979-989. http://essentialconditionswiki %20Rigelman%202012.pdf Vagle, M. D. (2014). Crafting phenomenological research. Left Coast Press, Inc. van Manen, M. (1990). Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. University of Western Ontario. Vlachopoulos, P. & Cowan, J. (2010). Reconceptualising moderation in asynchronous online discussions using grounded theory. Distance Education 31(1), 23-36. Yuan, J., & Kim, C. (2014). Guidelines for facilitating the development of learning communities in online courses. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30(3), 220-232. doi:10.1111 /jcal.12042

Dr. Chelsea K. Bradley is Assistant Professor of Reading at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She can be reached at


Teacher to Teacher Karen B. Coucke

OKLA Easy Grant Is as Easy as Sleeping and Helps Build a Classroom Library! In the Spring of 2019, I applied for and was awarded the OKLA (Oklahoma Literacy Association) Easy Grant. The purpose of the OKLA Easy Grant is to provide books for classroom teachers’ personal libraries. At the time I applied for the grant, I taught kindergarten in a diverse classroom. I incorporated a writing workshop model and wanted some more inspiration to motivate my budding authors. I needed to find a way to acquire more books to add to my personal classroom library. The OKLA Easy Grant seemed like my best option since the word easy was in the title! After I reviewed the requirements and submitted my application, I concluded the application process is easy. People have different interpretations of what is considered to be easy. I decided to ask kindergartners their perspective on what activities they thought were easy. Here are a few activities kindergartners believe are easy: “Math is easy because I know so many math. I’ve been in school a lot, so that’s why I’ve been so good at math.” “Making worms with playdough.” “Playing easy games.” “Sleeping is easy. When I’m tired, I just fall right to sleep, and my dogs don’t wake me up.” “Swimming because you move your arms and legs, and you go somewhere.” If you agree with these statements, then you will understand how easy it is to apply for the OKLA Easy Grant. All you have to do is be a member of OKLA and submit a bibliography of the books you plan to purchase along with the application. I applied for the grant and was awarded $100 to purchase books for my personal library for my kindergarten classroom. The purpose of this article is twofold. First, I will provide some basic information about the grant writing process. Secondly, I will explain how the books I received from the OKLA Easy Grant were used in my diverse kindergarten classroom. Writing a Grant Writing a grant can seem like a daunting process since organizations have different guidelines to follow, and there are many different types of grants to apply for. The process and strategies outlined here for the OKLA Easy Grant can be incorporated when applying for other grants. The OKLA Easy Grant is a simple way to become familiar with grant writing. General Information The first step in writing a grant is to identify a need in your classroom or school. At the time, my kindergarten classroom consisted of a diverse group of learners with varying abilities. My personal classroom library lacked texts that I could incorporate with our writing workshop


when teaching specific writing processes. I decided to look for opportunities to add mentor texts to my classroom library. The second step in grant writing is to find a grant that matches your identified need. There are many opportunities available when doing a Google search for literacy grants. As a member of OKLA, I decided to begin my grant search with the OKLA website. The purpose of the grant is to provide teachers with $100 to help them build their personal classroom libraries. I found the Easy Grant one way to address my identified need. Click the link to view the OKLA Easy Grant . Parts of the Easy Grant Once I identified my classroom need and reviewed the submission grant guidelines, I decided to apply. This grant has a few simple guidelines for submission. For this grant, in order to be considered, membership in the organization is required. Other submission requirements include having a cover page with the applicant’s contact information as well as that of the school district, a one-to-two-page description of the project, and a bibliography of the book titles requested. This was my first time writing a grant, and these submission guidelines seemed easy to accomplish. I began my search for a literacy grant in the middle of December, and the submission deadline for the OKLA Easy Grant is February 15. This gave me two months to prepare my submission. This was enough time to prepare my description and bibliography along with having a colleague edit my work before submission. Tips for Writing the Grant There are two main tips for writing a grant. First, review submission requirements and ensure there is enough time to meet the deadline. Second, have a colleague edit the submission to provide necessary feedback and suggestions before submitting. Being aware of all the requirements and meeting the deadline will help ensure the grant meets the basic requirements to be reviewed by the organization. Having a colleague edit the submission ensures there are no overlooked grammar or mechanics mistakes and that the description meets the submission guidelines. From Grant Writing to Teaching My goal in writing the grant was to acquire mentor texts to support the writing workshop process in my classroom. My students were eager writers, and I needed to encourage their enthusiasm by engaging them with mentor texts paired with our writing workshop. I needed mentor texts that showcased different writing processes such as narrative writing, expository writing, and argument/opinion writing. I consulted The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing (Culham, 2014) and found inspiration. Mentor texts are examples or models of a particular writing skill or trait being used by an author. Using mentor texts is a research-based strategy and provides students with real-world examples of an identified writing trait or process (Culham, 2014). These connections help students create writing that connects to their own lives. Having a mentor text as a model that focuses on a process or a trait incorporates reading along with writing and, as Culham (2014),


says, “A deep, thoughtful understanding of how texts works creates an understanding of what good writers do” (p. 32). The book lists over 90 mentor text examples and recommends mentor texts best suited for each writing process as well as components of the 6+1 Traits of Writing (Culham, 2005). My grant proposal included nine of the recommended texts. I tried to select books I was not able to find in my school library or through Scholastic. Each of the nine books I selected were between 8 and 15 dollars. See Table 1 for the list of books purchased with the OKLA Easy Grant.

Table 1 Books received through application of OKLA Easy Grant

Narrative Writing Shannon, D. (2012). Jangles: A big fish story. Blue Sky Press. Messner, K. (2011). Over and under the snow. Chronicle Books. Rubin, A. (2012). Dragons love tacos. Dial Books for Young Readers.

Expository Writing Davies, N. (2004). Poop: A natural history of the unmentionable. Candlewick. Perdomo, W. (2010). Clemente! Henry Holt and Company. Schafer, L. M. (2016). Lifetime: The amazing numbers in animal lives. Chronicle Books. Argument Writing Buzzeo, T. (2013). Just like my papa. Hyperion. Palatini, M. (2003). The perfect pet. Katherine Tegen Books. Willems, M. (2103). That is not a good idea! Balzer + Bray.

Once I received the books, I decided which of the mentor texts to use for our writing workshop. I decided to focus on the voice trait through narrative writing. Voice is the trait that recognizes “...the writer's unique way of looking at the world and interpreting it” (Culham, 2014, p. 108). In my experiences with kindergartners, they have unique ways at looking at many things. I just needed to guide their creativity during the writing process.


The mentor text I chose is Dragons Love Tacos (Rubin, 2012). This book describes a boy and his idea to have a party for dragons by making lots of tacos and what happens when he accidentally serves spicy salsa at the party to dragons who don’t like spicy food. My class loved this book! We had just recently finished an author study on Mo Willems. The class connected the taco party to the Pigeon character and his hot dog party. They made connections to themselves and the boy in the book. Additionally, they made connections to food, including a discussion on spicy and not spicy foods. Their connections were the foundation of our mini-lesson on using voice in narrative writing. As a group, some choices they decided on for writing narratives included writing about a party for people or animals they would like to have and some favorite foods they like to eat. We also decided as a class two sentences with illustrations would be a good starting point for our narratives. I had many emergent bilinguals in my class, so we created sentence starters for those who chose to use them. During independent writing time, there were many conversations and much sharing of ideas. The book was available for students to use to get ideas, such as illustrations and different ways to use words to grab the reader's attention. However, our main focus of this narrative writing piece was using our voice to create a narrative text. This workshop on voice lasted over 2-3 days. During this time, I had mini conferences with students on their writing, and students were with partners to share ideas as well. On the third day, we had time for sharing for those who chose to read their texts to the class. Share Time is an exciting time in kindergarten! The majority like to share their writing. I always have the option where they can have myself or a friend share their work if they are too uncomfortable to talk in front of the class. Some of their narrative pieces included having a party for fairies, having a party for their pets, having a party for their families, and included their favorite foods to serve at the party. Pizza was a big class favorite! Conclusion Writing a grant is a way teachers can acquire materials for their classroom. Identifying a specific need and finding a grant that supports this need is an important first step. Ensuring the submission guidelines and deadlines are understood is a critical part of grant writing. Before submitting any grant application, have a colleague proofread for any editing issues. The OKLA Easy Grant is a simple application process for teachers to use as a resource to help build their classroom libraries. If you are interested in applying for the grant, check out the OKLA Literacy webpage for the grant application process and deadlines: It is as easy as sleeping and helps build a classroom library! References Culham, R. (2005). 6 + 1 traits of writing: The complete guide for the primary grades. Scholastic. Culham, R. (2014). The writing thief: Using mentor texts to teach the craft of writing. International Reading Association. Rubin, A. (2012). Dragons love tacos (D. Salmieri, Illus.). Dial Books for Young Readers.


Karen B. Coucke currently teaches English Language Learners in grades 1-8 at John Rex Charter Elementary. She is also working on a Ph.D. in Reading at the University of Oklahoma. She can be reached at


Policy and Advocacy Dr. Julie Collins

Oklahoma Policy and Advocacy Oklahoma Education Legislative Updates The first regular session of the 58th Oklahoma State Legislature took place Spring 2021. Legislation considered included bills which did not receive adequate attention or complete the legislative process during the COVID affected legislative session during 2020, as well as new bills. This column will summarize important legislation affecting education in Oklahoma, a review of pertinent previous legislation affecting reading education, and information about legislative interim studies being held this fall. Recent Legislation Regarding Reading Education Over the past four years, legislation was passed that updated professional development and assessment in reading for teachers in Oklahoma. These new laws are aimed at helping teachers learn about dyslexia, how to identify it, and how to intervene with students who have dyslexia. House Bill 2008, authored by Representatives McCall and Baker and Senator Stanislawski in 2017, created the Dyslexia Task Force. This task force was charged with creating the Dyslexia Handbook to provide guidance to schools, students, and parents in identification, intervention, and providing support to students with dyslexia. House Bill 3313, authored by Representatives Baker, Mike Osburn, and Tammy West, and Senators Bice and Pittman in 2018, extended the deadline for the work of the task force. The task force was created and worked during the 20182019 year to create the Oklahoma Dyslexia Handbook, which was presented to leaders of the Oklahoma Legislature and the Governor on July 1, 2019. House Bill 1228, authored by Representatives Sanders, Albright, Josh West, Boles, Townley, Lawson, and McCall, and Senators Smalley, Kirt, Hicks, Haste, Bullard, and Bice in 2019, amended the law requiring professional development programs in schools. The new section of the law required a dyslexia awareness program be provided annually beginning with the 20202021 school year. This professional development should address training in awareness of characteristics of dyslexia, effective classroom instruction to meet the needs of students with dyslexia, and available resources for teachers, students, and parents. House Bill 2804, authored by Representatives Sanders, Albright, Conley, Townley, Davis, and Hill, and Senator Bice in 2020, requires screening for dyslexia. Annually, beginning in the 20222023 school year, any child in kindergarten through third grade who is found not to be meeting grade-level targets in reading following the beginning of the year assessments under the Reading Sufficiency Act will be screened for dyslexia. Screening for dyslexia may also be requested by a parent or guardian or certain school personnel. The Oklahoma State Board of Education was charged with developing policies for the screening. The Board was also charged with adopting a


list of approved dyslexia screening tools to address these components of dyslexia: phonological awareness, advanced phonemic awareness, sound-symbol recognition, alphabet knowledge, decoding skills, encoding skills, rapid naming, and developmental language. Beginning in June 2023, school districts will report data annually regarding the implementation of the screening, identification, and interventions provided. Information about the screening instruments to be used beginning next school year can be found on the OSDE Special Education Dyslexia Resources Page. You can find more information about dyslexia, assessing students, and providing intervention for students with dyslexia in Oklahoma on the OSDE Special Education Dyslexia Page. Legislation from the 2021 Session Affecting Education House Bill 1569, known as the “Oklahoma Play to Learn Act,” was approved by the Oklahoma Senate on April 21st and the Oklahoma House of Representatives on May 5th, and was approved by Governor Stitt on May 11th. This culminates the end of a three-year process for the bill’s author, Representative Jacob Rosecrants, from holding an interim study in 2019, having the progress of the legislation stall in 2020 due to the pandemic, and finally completing the process with bi-partisan support in 2021. In addition to the primary author, this legislation was coauthored by Senator Adam Pugh; along with Representatives Blancett, Phillips, Walke, Talley, Davis, Munson, Ranson, Conley, Dobrinski, Waldron, Provenzano, Pae, Miller, Hilbert, Boles, and Cruz; and Senator Stephens. The bill passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 81 Yeas, 13 Nays, and 7 excused; and passed the Senate with a vote of 42 Yeas, 5 Nays, and 1 excused. This intent of this new law is to support the “importance of child-centered, play-based learning as the most rigorous and most developmentally appropriate way for children in the early childhood grade levels to learn literacy, science, technology, engineering, art, and math academic concepts.” Many definitions related to implementation of this legislation are included in the law. Important terms included in literacy include “early childhood education” which means education provided in prekindergarten through 3rd grade classrooms; “play” means the spontaneous activity of children; and "Reading for pleasure" means reading that is freely chosen or that readers freely and enthusiastically continue after it is assigned. The legislation directs that, “Educators may develop physical, social, emotional, cognitive and academic learning opportunities in all curricular domains, which may include unstructured time for the discovery of each child's individual needs, abilities and talents.” Professional development is permitted in the law. Rules for implementation of play-based learning and professional development will be developed by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). The legislation was made stronger by Representative Kyle Hilbert, the vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee, who added an important component of the law (Gorman, 2021). This addition states, “A school district shall not prohibit a teacher from utilizing play-based learning in early childhood education.” This legislation is an important step forward for Oklahoma teachers and children, and this component is specifically beneficial. It is hoped that this addition to support teachers with the implementation of play-based learning opportunities in early childhood education may help invite certified early childhood teachers back to teaching and retain them in the classroom.


For more information you can read the entire text and follow its history in becoming a law at the Oklahoma Play to Learn Act page. You may also check out the Facebook page which offers encouragement and research to help with implementation of the law. You can find it on Facebook by searching for “Oklahoma Play-Based Learning Initiative.” House Bill 1593 addresses professional development requirements for teachers. The bill was authored by Representatives Provenzano and Davis, and Senator Stanley. This bill was approved by the House of Representatives on March 1st with a vote of 75-19, and by the Senate on April 14th with a vote of 42-1. It was approved by Governor Stitt on April 21st. There are three new requirements included. The first new requirement is to include digital teaching and learning standards to enhance instruction with the goal of improving student achievement. This professional development program will be provided the first year a certified teacher is employed by a school district and repeated as determined by the local school board. The second new requirement involves training certified teachers about the importance of recognizing and addressing mental health needs of students. This training will take place the first year a teacher is employed by a school district and repeated each third academic year. The information available for the training will include the community resources providing services related to mental health, substance abuse, and trauma; the impact that trauma and adverse childhood experiences may have on a student’s learning; availability of evaluation and treatment for mental health; and evidence-based strategies to use for prevention of at-risk behaviors. The final requirement is that each district shall implement a program for 7th – 12th grade teachers emphasizing the incorporation of workplace safety training into the curriculum. This training shall be provided the first year of a teacher’s employment in the school district, and at a frequency determined by the local school board. You can track the history of the bill and read the text by visiting the Bill Information for HB 1593 page. House Bill 1773 requires teacher candidates to learn about Multi-Tiered Systems of Support during their teacher preparation program. This new law amends the Oklahoma Teacher Preparation Act by requiring education of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), including evidence-based assessment, intervention, and data-based decision-making procedures. Education also needs to address interventions for literacy, mathematics, behavior, and the identification and impact of trauma on student learning. This section of law become effective November 1, 2021. This bill was authored by Representatives Conley, Sterling, Moore, Mize, Roe, Davis, and Nolan, and Senator Garvin. This bill was passed in the House of Representatives 91-0, with 10 excused, and passed the Senate 42-5, with 1 excused. It was approved by Governor Stitt on April 23, 2021. You can track the bill’s history and read the complete text on the Bill Information for HB 1773 page. House Bill 1775 has been tagged in public and the media as the “critical race theory” bill, but that term does not actually appear in the legislation. The bill was authored by Representative Kevin West and Senator Bullard, and they were joined by coauthors Representatives Stearman, Stark, Caldwell, Crosswhite Hader, Williams, Olsen, Rick West, Gann, Bashore, Kendrix, Smith, Grego, Pfeiffer, Martinez, Roe, Sneed, Marti, Steagall, Russ, and Conley, and Senators Hamilton, Jett Standridge, Dahm, Weaver, Bergstrom, Merrick, Pederson, Rogers, Burns, and


Stephens. This bill was passed by the Senate on April 21st, by a vote of 38 yeas, 9 nays, and 1 excused; by the House of Representatives on May 3rd, by a vote of 77 yeas, 18 nays, and 6 excused; and signed by Governor Stitt on May 7th. Part A of this legislation addresses higher education. The bill states that students within the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education shall not be required to engage in any form of mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling, although voluntary counseling shall not be prohibited. The law goes on to say that “Any orientation or requirement that presents any form of race or sex stereotyping or a bias on the basis of race or sex shall be prohibited.” The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE) is tasked with designing rules to implement the requirements of this bill, which will be subject to approval by the legislature. Part B of this legislation addresses education in school districts, charter schools, or virtual charter schools, and does not prohibit teaching concepts aligned with the Oklahoma Academic Standards. Requirements for these public school employees include that they MAY NOT require the following concepts in coursework: that one race or sex is superior to another; that individuals should not be discriminated against based on their race or sex, that a persons’ race or sex does not cause them to be considered responsible for actions committed in the past; and that no individual should be made to feel uncomfortable or guilty based upon his or her race or sex. The State Board of Education is directed to develop rules to implement the provisions of this section of the law. You can follow the history of this legislation and read the text of the bill on the Bill Information for HB1775 page. House Bill 1882 creates an “Out-of-schooltime Task Force” of nineteen members to be appointed by December 2021. This bill was co-authored by Representatives Stark, Tammy West, Munson, and Mize, and Senator Rader. The legislation identifies the appointed positions as well as who is responsible for appointing them. The task force will meet throughout 2022 and offer their recommendations for “a set of best practices for children, youth and families which will improve and increase the number of quality, affordable, out-of-school programs.” The bill passed on its fourth reading in the House of Representatives by a vote of 75 to 11, with 15 representatives excused. You can find the complete history and text of the legislation here. House Bill 2748 approves an alternative certification process for Early Childhood or Elementary Education. This bill was co-authored by Representative Baker and Senator Stanley, with additional coauthors Representatives Fugate, McDugle, and Waldron. The process for obtaining an alternative certification for Early Childhood or Elementary teaching is outlined. Requirements include holding a terminal degree, completing 6 hours in child development and math instruction, and completing 6 additional hours during the third year. You can track the history of this bill and read the text of the legislation on the Bill Information for HB 2748 page.

Legislative Ideas to Watch Representative Jacob Rosecrants held an interim study on October 5, 2021, titled “How more or more frequent recess leads to better academic outcomes and less behavioral issues.” Guest speakers presented information to support providing more recess time for all children. Presentations included one on Advocacy, Research, and Trends by Dr. Atkins, Professor at the


University of Central Oklahoma and one on Recess and the Mental Health Connection by Angela Wheeler, LPC, Registered Play Therapist. Dr. Rhea, TCU professor and Link Project Creator/Director, shared information on this program, which seeks to “bridge the gap between academics and the social, emotional, and healthy well-being of children.” The final presentation was “The Role of Recess in Children’s Cognitive Performance and School Adjustment,” by Dr. Pellegrini from the University of Minnesota. Keep your eye out for a bill regarding recess during the 2022 session of the Oklahoma Legislature. Representative Conley held an interim study on October 14th on “Evaluating Oklahomans Capacity to Enhance Student Outcomes through the MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support) Framework.” Presentations included one from the Oklahoma Preparation Program from the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability (OEQA), two about MTSS programs in school districts from Shawnee and Edmond, and one from Healthy Minds Policy Initiative regarding the mental health of students. The last two presentations were from Oklahoma State University, the leading partner with the state’s MTSS, Oklahoma Tiered Intervention System of Support initiative (OTISS). Legislation was passed during the 2021 Legislative Session. It will be interesting to look for any proposed bills that may come as a result of this meeting. There is a lot of focus on education now with concern for learning as schools continue to cope with the COVID19 pandemic as well as concern for academics and the best way to teach each content area. It is important for educators to advocate for their profession. Remember to watch the Oklahoma Legislature's website as the session nears for calendars and bill proposals, as well as the Oklahoma Literacy Association's website for updates. Reference Gorman, R. (2021, May 21). Rosecrants’ Oklahoma Play to Learn Act signed into law by governor. The Norman Transcript.

Dr. Julie Collins enjoyed all of her literacy experiences in Oklahoma City, Norman, and Putnam City Public Schools and at the OSDE, before becoming a professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. She can be contacted at


Tech Talk Shelley Martin-Young Teaching Digitally (or From Anywhere) I, like many others, am once again teaching face-to-face. However, with COVID-19 numbers still high, I often find that I am doing double duty with some students face-to-face, while others join us on Zoom. Because of this and the fact that I simply enjoyed the infusion of technology into my online teaching, I continue to use online tools to instruct my students whether they are in my classroom in real time or in my classroom virtually. In this article, I share how to create and use a digital, interactive notebooks. Why Digital Interactive Notebooks? I attended a workshop on using digital notebooks and I fell in love with them. At the time my classes were completely digital, so I was looking for a way to be able to interact with my students and also see the writing they were doing, even if I could not be in the same room with them, so digital notebooks made sense to me. Despite going back face-to-face, I have continued using digital notebooks in my classroom.

There are some great benefits to using digital notebooks. First, incorporating digital notebooks gets you one step closer to being a paperless classroom. A paperless classroom saves you time and energy by allowing you to provide feedback quickly and efficiently for your students, keep track of students’ works easily, and save time communicating with parents. A paperless classroom also helps to reduce waste and reduce your carbon footprint. Going digital also allows you to reclaim precious space in your classroom that is often overrun with textbooks, folders, and notebooks. Having a digital classroom also improves document security by storing your students work electronically. It is also great for helping you to be more organized. Second, a digital notebook is always available to you and your students. Students will be able to easily access their notebooks if they are home sick, on vacation, or just working on their assignments at home. They can read directions, watch videos, or interact with you or other students simply by accessing their digital notebooks. As the teacher, you always have access to your students’ work. You can quickly see the progress your students are making and leave them feedback in real-time. You can access digital notebooks from phones, iPads, or the computer. Third, grading is so much easier with a digital notebook. In the past, I had to lug 30 writer’s notebooks home with me. With a digital notebook, all I need is my phone. How many times have you had to wait somewhere and wished you could get some of your grading


completed? With a digital notebook, simply pull out your phone and you can get a few graded while you wait. Fourth, you can also easily differentiate your lessons. There is no limit to what you can put in a digital notebook. You can add videos to assist in teaching hard topics. Students can watch the videos over and over to help them grasp a concept. You can add links with extra practice or enrichment opportunities. With Google Classroom you can also give students different versions of the same interactive notebook. The possibilities really are endless. Where to Begin Start small. You may want to begin with using a digital notebook in only one subject. I teach Teaching Writing at OSU, so my students have a digital Writer’s Notebook. The first thing you need to do is pick your notebook. You can have all sizes and shapes. I like the notebook that is landscape because there is more room to write, but you can also choose portrait. I get my templates from Slidesmania. They have mini notebooks, notebooks with tabs and stickers, notebooks with calendars, and bullet notebooks. These templates work with both Google Slide and PowerPoint. You can find other templates at Slidesgo, Engageducate, and Ditch That Textbook. Finding the perfect notebook is the hardest part. Watch this video for a beginner digital interactive notebook tutorial. Make your notebook After you have chosen your notebook, you need to create a Master Notebook. This is your copy of the notebook that you will be able to add to easily. Students will not be able to write in the Master Notebook. When you create your Master Notebook and are ready to share follow these steps: 1. Click Share 2. Click anyone with the link can view 3. Copy the link 4. Highlight the word edit and everything after it in the URL 5. Replace those words with the word “copy” This forces your students to make a copy of the digital notebook so each student will have their own copy. You can also watch this video to learn how to do this. Next you will need to decide how often you share slides with your students. If you are new and want to start slowly you can add a page a day to the Master Slide. If you are super organized and have your entire year planned out, you can share the whole notebook with them up front. You might just want to start with your cover. Share the cover and let the students decorate it (Figure 1). They can easily add photographs, images, or videos to make their notebooks unique. Also decide if you want a table of contents to help your students stay organized. I share my notebooks weekly and have a weekly table of contents. Here is an example of Week 3 in my Master Writer’s Notebook.


Figure 1 A Cat-Obsessed Student’s Writer’s Notebook Cover

In the Week 3 Writer’s Notebook, you can see that I have added graphics to each slide. You can do that, leave them plain, or let your students decorate their own pages. The great thing about digital notebooks is that there are so many options. Accessing your Student’s Notebooks To have access to your student’s notebooks simply have them share the link to their writer’s notebook with you. I ask them to share with the can edit setting on their slides. I like to be able to add comments, questions, stickers, or other things to their notebook. I simply create a list with all my students’ names and the link to their notebooks. Now I have easy access to their work from anywhere. Uses for Your Digital Notebook Digital notebooks are used to support lessons, to continue student learning, and to assess student learning. Digital notebooks are great for reading responses, taking notes, and sharing resources. You can easily add graphic organizers to your digital notebook. Students can work together in a shared digital notebook. Annotating is easy with a digital notebook. Students can annotate articles or pictures simply by adding them to their notebook (Figure 2). Creating lab reports in a digital notebook is easy. Students can write the steps to an experiment and add photographs. Reflections in a writer’s notebook are simple and if you want to hear and see your students simply add a Flipgrid response. You can also include any of the great apps you are already using in your classroom. Add vocabulary quizzes in the notebooks using Quizlet, allow students to interact with videos in Edpuzzle, create mind maps using Popplet, and share entire lessons with Nearpod. Your imagination is the limit.


Figure 2 Example of Annotation

Note. From Ditch that Textbook Incorporating technology into our classrooms is not always an easy task. Knowing what technology to use and when to use it can be daunting. Incorporating digital writer’s notebooks into my classroom was revolutionary. They saved me time, they were easy to access, and grading was a breeze. With a digital notebook you can get rid of worksheets and add color, photographs, and media to your lessons. You can make lessons interesting and interactive all at the same time. We live in a world full of technology and finding ways to harness this in our classroom is powerful. Give a digital notebook a try. If you have questions or just want to share your notebook with me, do not hesitate to reach out.

Shelley Martin-Young recently completed her doctoral program at Oklahoma State University. She can be reached at


Professional Development: Off the Shelf Katheryn Shannon Adventures in Authentic Learning: 21 Step-by-Step Projects from an Edtech Coach: A Review Project-based learning (PBL) is an approach to teaching/learning that has gained much approval in elementary and content area literacy classrooms (Revelle et al., 2019; Ruddell, 2008). A good deal of evidence can be found that this approach engages learners and supports a deeper and integrated understanding of content and procedural knowledge (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018). PBL “focuses less on the learning outcome than on a learning process organized around a question or a problem” (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018, p. 151). Condliffe et al. (2017) assert that developing and/or implementing project-based instruction is a complex endeavor that should result in students becoming internally motivated. PBL should also engage students in productive struggle with central concepts of the content discipline via student-driven explorations that mirror the kinds of problems that adults might address in their work. These projects typically integrate knowledge and skills across disciplines, with literacy serving a central role. Hill (2014) found that middle school students engaged in interdisciplinary, project-based, multimodal (IPM) learning activities demonstrated increased motivation and engagement as well as increased comprehension. Students also demonstrated strategic reading practices and made connections between lesson content and their lives outside of school. Duke et al. (2019) found that students engaged in project-based learning experienced greater growth in reading skills and social studies knowledge and skills than their peers who were engaged in traditional learning activities. Kristin Harrington’s Adventures in Authentic Learning (2020) is a guidebook for teachers and educational technology coaches to integrate technology to support the development of meaningful and authentic project-based learning across the core disciplines. In her book, Harrington posits that “authentic lessons incorporate some element of student choice and topics relevant to students. They also involve students in solving a problem or creating something, while engaging in tasks that incorporate skills we typically use in the workforce and our world outside of school” (2020, p. 11). For clarification, references to authentic learning have foundations in the work of Archibald & Newmann (1988) as Authentic Academic Achievement and Newmann et al. (2016) as Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW). Over 20 years of research in authentic learning and in a nod to disciplinary literacy research, Newmann et al. (2016) revised the initial model to focus on addressing the practices of experts in their fields. These practices or components of the framework include (specific AIW components in italics): 1. The construction of knowledge by learners to apply their meaningful understanding of content and problems in novel contexts or to extend one’s understanding through examination of relationships. 2. Disciplined inquiry accessing prior knowledge as the base for engagement in learning activities which leads to “in-depth understanding rather than superficial awareness” and


supports one’s ability to “express . . . ideas and findings through elaborated communication” (p. 8). 3. Engaging students in intellectual tasks and accomplishments “that have utilitarian, aesthetic or personal value” to provide learning that has value beyond school (p. 9). Harrington (2020) integrates the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Student Standards and relevant content standards in the lesson plans discussed in Adventures in Authentic Learning. The ISTE Standards (2016) are student-centered and define specific proficiencies students are expected to develop as Empowered Learners, Digital Citizens, Knowledge Constructors, Innovative Designers, Computational Thinkers, Creative Communicators, and Global Collaborators. Technology integration choices and instructional strategies featured in each lesson focus on the development of student proficiency and skill using technology for communication, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and empowerment. The author also provides links to project examples discussed within the chapters and resources referred to as “the Adventures in Authentic Learning toolbox” in Appendix C. The toolbox includes 17 fully developed K-12 lesson plans and resources to teach the lessons that are discussed within the chapters, as well as links to additional resources mentioned within the text. Within each chapter, suggestions are provided for supporting synchronous, face-to-face, and online learning as well as asynchronous learning. Every chapter contains a variety of technology tools associated with the instructional strategies discussed to support readers to find an option that is right for them. Chapters close with a “Coach’s Connection” section to support educational technology coaches in their collaborative work with classroom teachers. Strategies addressed and the lesson content provided are designed to support student-centered, process-focused learning experiences. Chapter titles include: “Focus on the Learning, Not the Product,” “Creating Creative Communicators,” “Collaborate for Success,” “Designing Meaningful Projects.” For example, Chapter 1, “Focus on the Learning Not on the Product,” begins with an example of a project-based meteorology lesson/unit for elementary students. Following this example, Harrington encourages readers to “develop a project mindset” and integrate the processes of project-based learning within the design of lesson and unit plans rather than waiting until content instruction is complete before discussing project expectations and allotting time for collaborative work to support project completion (p. 15). Harrington advocates for goal setting, which is aligned with the ISTE Empowered Learner Standard, early during a project-based unit and provides opportunities for students to revisit their goals to self-assess progress frequently. High- and low-tech tools and strategies are discussed and selected based on their usefulness in supporting students to set and monitor their own goals. Assessing process in project-based learning is vital. To this end, Harrington discusses rubric development and encourages the use of rubrics for student self-evaluation. Other topics discussed in this chapter include teacher observations as assessment and role assignment. Finally, Harrington provides strategies and resources for creating a nurturing learning environment that will support collaboration and productive work, including the use of scripts to support prosocial behavior and critical thinking, cooperative learning structures, team building exercises, and culturally responsive teaching.


Topics addressed in Chapter 2, “Creating Creative Communicators,” include motivating students to create quality work, engaging shy and introverted students, supporting students to engage in a design process, and developing effective multimedia products. Chapter 3, “Collaborate for Success,” encourages teachers to join professional learning networks (PLNs) to support PBL in their classrooms and identifies a variety of sharing tools that educators might find useful for finding resources and PBL ideas. Guest speaker ideas, finding authentic audiences for student project presentation, and peer review are also discussed and relevant tools for these activities are provided. Chapter 4, “Designing Meaningful Projects,” provides support for the selection and development of project challenges and contexts that are relevant and engaging for students. Strategies to encourage risk-taking and getting students’ attention and investment in the project are discussed. Chapter 5, “Planning for the Unexpected,” provides a variety of tools to support research, the creation of student-designed service projects, public service announcements, and current events in a flexible environment that values and supports spontaneity and flexibility. Finally, Chapter 6, “Make the Most of Your Time,” offers numerous strategies to keep projects on track. As an educational technology professor, I have used Adventures in Authentic Learning as a course resource to support graduate students to create a technology-integrated, project-based curriculum. The technology tools incorporated are relevant and timely. It is important to note that literacy is central to 15 lesson plans that are provided for K-12 instruction, so teachers who provide literacy instruction and support will find this book an important resource in using PBL and integrating technology along with it in their classrooms.

References Archibal, D.A., & Newmann, F.M. (1988). Beyond standardized testing: Assessing authentic academic achievement in secondary schools. National Association of Secondary School Principals. Condliffe, B., Qint, J., Visher, M. G., Bangser, M. R., Drohojowska, S., Saco, L., & Nelson, E. (2017). Project-based learning. A Literature Review. MDRC. Retrieved from Duke, N.K., Halvorsen, A.L., Strachan, S.L., Kim, J., & Konstantopoulos, S. (2019). Putting PBL to the test: The impact of project-based learning on second-graders’ social studies and literacy learning and motivation in low-SES school settings. Retrieved from 0Kim%20Konstantopoulos%20November%202018.pdf International Society for Technology in Education. (2016). National education technology standards for students. International Society for Technology in Education. Harrington, K. (2020). Adventures in authentic learning: 21 step-by-step projects from an edtech coach. International Society for Technology in Education.


Hill, A. (2014). Using interdisciplinary project-based multimodal activities to facilitate literacy across the content area. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 57(6), 450-460. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2018). How people learn II: Learners, contexts, and cultures. The National Academies Press. Newmann, F.M., Carmichael, D.L., & King, M.B. (2016). Authentic intellectual work: Improving teaching for rigorous learning. Corwin. Revelle, K.Z., Wise, C.N., Duke, N.K., & Halvorsen, A. (2019). Realizing the promise of project-based learning. The Reading Teacher, 73(6), 697-710. Ruddell, M.R. (2008). Teaching content reading and writing, 5th ed. John Wiley & Sons.

Dr. Katheryn Shannon is an assistant professor in the Educational Instruction and Leadership Department of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, Oklahoma. She focuses on technology integration in education but has a growing interest in graphic novel research.


Children’s Book Reviews Sue Christian Parsons, Ph.D. Rebecca Weber, M.L.I.S.

DISABILITY REPRESENTATION IN CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE: GUIDELINES AND POSSIBILITIES Individuals with disabilities are considered the largest minority group in the United States (Disability Funders Network, 2021). In 2019-2020, 7.3 million students received services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (National Center for Education Statistics, 2021). Disability is a complex diversity, encompassing not only varied forms of disability but also every race, age, sex, and gender. Yet in conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion in books for young readers, disability is still frequently overlooked or excluded. As with any literary representation, we aim for authenticity, but authenticity has a broad range. When depictions are scarce across a body of literature, even an accurate portrayal can skew the big picture as a few books cannot effectively stand for a broad and varied experience. In selecting literature featuring individuals with disabilities, consider the following: The book should recognize and emphasize the humanity of people, not just their physical, emotional, mental, or learning differences. Avoid books for which the theme is ableism or overcoming. Such themes can be harmful, suggesting to non-disabled students that they are better than their disabled peers and putting unnecessary, and often unrealistic, expectations on students with disabilities. Look for books that accurately represent people and the characteristics of their disabilities while not necessarily making disability the only focus of their stories. Books should also show similarities and common interests between disabled and non-disabled individuals, as students with disabilities have many of the same interests, concerns, and goals as nondisabled students. Additionally, while disabled individuals do often encounter barriers, the writing should make clear that any barriers addressed are due to societal limitations, not a shortcoming of the person. Overall, the goal is to tell human stories respectfully, accurately, and engagingly. In selecting the books below, we have considered authentic and accurate disability representation as well as literary quality. For an extended list of thoughtfully vetted selections, we recommend the Schneider Family Book Award. Scan the QR code to access the award list.


Bodies are Cool by Tyler Feder, 2021; Dial Books. Bodies are Cool is a rollicking celebration of human bodies doing all the wonderful things that human bodies can do. Each two-page spread bursts with human figures of all ages, sizes, genders, ethnicities, and abilities, surrounding a quatrain describing and celebrating bodies. The rhythmic text begs to be read aloud, with verve and joy. In text and image, Feder recognizes the beauty in all shapes, sizes, and kinds of features, and ways of expressing individuality through bodies. All these busy bodies gather closely on pages enjoying life together—playing, dancing, creating art, swimming, eating--evoking an extended, intergenerational, interfaith, multicultural community that is kind and caring. Images include depictions of individuals using an assortment of medical and accessibility devices, as well. For example, one individual sports an ostomy bag, another an insulin pump, and another a nasal cannula—and more. People move about with guide dogs, wheelchairs, scooters, and prosthetics. Differences in skin go beyond varied skin tones to include other variances such as freckles, moles, and vitiligo. This extravagantly inclusive book concludes with this refrain: “My body, your body. / Every different kind of body! / All bodies are good bodies! / Bodies are cool!”

Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott by Joyce Scott (author) with Brie Spangler (author) and Melissa Sweet (illustrator), 2021; Alfred A. Knopf. Twins Judith and Joyce Scott were, from birth, inseparable. They shared everything and did everything together. “Two peas in a pod,” their mother would say. To Joyce, it seemed as if everything in the world came in twos. But Judy and Joyce were born in 1945, before Down’s Syndrome was wellunderstood—and Judy had Down’s Syndrome. Joyce began kindergarten, but the school didn’t allow Judy, who was nonverbal, to attend. Instead, as was the advised practice at the time, the Scotts sent Judy to a residential school where they were told she would be taught to speak. Joyce Scott herself is the narrator of this biography. The scenes detailing her grief and confusion at being separated from her sister are palpable but accessible for younger readers. When Joyce visits Judy, readers can see along with her that the “school” is no place for learning or for children to thrive. Because of Joyce’s perspective, though, Judy’s abilities and personality are centered in the text. Judy is warm and loving, loves to explore the world around her in person and through pictures in her beloved magazines. “She is perfect just the way she is. She knows things that no one else knows and sees the world in ways that I never will.” Years go by. Joyce has a family and a career. She’s shared her life with Judy as best she could, visiting and bringing people to meet her. When she’s finally in the position to do so, Joyce goes about bringing Judy to live with her. In the preparation process, Joyce learns something she never knew. Judy is deaf, something her family never knew. Her records label her as “not appropriate for any educational program.”


Once Judy is home, Joyce searches for a place for her to learn. She hears about the Creative Growth Art Center that offers a program for individuals with disabilities. At the center, Judy is offered paints, clay, and even woodworking, but she doesn’t engage. But when a teacher spreads a table with natural materials, Judy’s creativity seems to burst forth as she makes form after form from found objects, yarn and twine, and paint. “For years, Judy wraps and weaves, creating fabulous cocoon-like shapes filled with color.” Judith Scott died of heart failure at age 62, having lived longer than anyone expected her to. But when she leaves the world, her fame as an artist takes off and continues to grow. Artist Melissa Sweet’s mixed media work deftly carries the emotion of the story and evokes Scott’s own artistic process and style. The back matter is particularly strong, with photographs of Judith’s art and a detailing of its prominent place in the art world, information about Down’s Syndrome, and an explanation of the work and guiding tenets of Creative Growth. A timeline intertwines events in Judith’s life with milestones in disability rights legislation. Resources for future exploration are provided. This important biography doesn’t shy away from the difficult truths of Judith Scott’s life, but the focus is powerfully on love, promise, and the worth of every person. In her author’s note, Joyce Scott concludes, “One of the greatest riches in my life has been to be Judy’s twin, her heart so deep, her kindness without end. One of her blessings was being an artist at Creative Growth, where she gave the world new expressions of beauty and, in the process, found a voice and song all her own.

What Happened to You? by James Catchpole (author) and Karen George (illustrator), 2021; Faber and Faber. Imagine you were asked by strangers to answer the same question, repeatedly, every day. No matter what the question, responding again and again would be tedious, especially when you have other things you want to do and think about. What if that questioning stranger was asking you to reveal something you feel is deeply personal? Or that brings to mind a subject or situation you’d rather not dwell upon. Joe in What Happened to You? is busy playing a rollicking game of pirates and sharks…and possibly crocodiles. Wielding his cutlass (twig), he deftly wards off attack, “Not today, Señor Sharkface!” he sneers. Sharks are easy for Joe compared to meeting new kids. Another child approaches, encroaches on Joe’s game, loudly exclaiming, “You’ve only got one leg!” Joe doesn’t want to talk about that topic, so he deflects: “What do you think?” launching a barrage of speculation from a gathering crowd of children, some outlandish, some silly, others just plain nosy. Joe’s play is fully interrupted and, as the unwilling center of attention, is fully frustrated. Finally, he picks up on one of the more outlandish ideas: “Yes, it was a thousand lions!” “Really?” “NO!”


Joe went back to playing his game, but this time the first child, Simone, approaches and joins in his game. The others follow, all pirates, fighting sharks and crocodiles, and no one worrying one bit about Joe’s leg. After the play, Simone asks Joe if he gets tired of questions about his leg. “What do you think?” is Joe’s response. Simone knew the answer to that question. “Do you still need to know…?” asked Joe. And Simone did not. George’s watercolor and pencil illustrations show that Joe is as active and capable as his two-legged friends. Catchpole based the book on his own experiences as a child (and now adult) with one leg. An author’s note in the back matter offers suggestions for parents on how to address children’s curiosity about disability in ways that are respectful and kind.

Can Bears Ski? By Raymond Antrobus (author) and Polly Dunbar (illustrator); 2020; Candlewick. Little Bear feels much of the world through vibration. When Dad Bear wakes him in the morning, Little Bear feels the rumble of his steps and deep voice. At school, he feels his teacher’s footsteps as she tries to get his attention. He’s confused, though, about a question friends and family keep asking him: “Can bears ski?” A trip to the audiologist reveals that Little Bear is hard of hearing. With the help of new hearing aids, Little Bear realizes what people have been asking him again and again: “Can you hear?” The warm father-son relationship sets the tone for this piece that offers young readers insight into what it might be like to be hard of hearing. Poet Antrobus and artist Dunbar are a literary superpower team, their resumes littered with prestigious awards. For this small and very special book, they both draw upon their experiences with deafness. Antrobus was born deaf, a fact not discovered until he was six (Sethi, 2018). Dunbar’s mother was profoundly deaf ,and she began losing her own hearing in her 20s. Scan the QR code for interviews with both authors further illuminating the importance and appeal of this book.


Itzhak, a Boy Who Loved the Violin: The Story of Young Itzhak Perlman by Tracy Newman (author) and Abigail Halpin (illustrator), 2020; Abrams Books for Young Readers. Like its subject’s violin, this biography of Izthak Perlman sings. Newman’s text and Halpin’s art work in perfect counterpoint, and the book as a whole echoes the changing rhythms and moods of a symphony. The first section, addressing his early years, alternates spreads narrating his life with others evoking the thrill and expansiveness of music in his life. For instance, the first spread, shows and tells of the tiny one-room Tel Aviv flat where baby Izthak lived with his parents surrounded by music from the tabletop radio. With a turn of the page, the reader is invited into the music with sweeping, grand flourishes of musical notation swirling around the page, calling the eye to images of orchestras and cantors and folk musicians, with a smiling infant raising his hands to reach for it all. Another page turn brings more exposition of Izthak’s growing interest and yearning to make music with a violin. Izthak’s family found a way to get him one, his delight and anticipation captured in the next swirling spread ,where lyrical language pairs with ethereal images of his violin role models. As Izthak realizes with frustration that he can’t yet make those sounds, the text becomes staccato and deliberate, echoing the emotion of a disappointed boy who, ‘gave it a whack and threw it under the bed.’ Suddenly, in the next movement, the color-saturated pages give way to a stark white background littered with hospital beds as Izthak contracts polio. Throughout his slow, painful but determined recovery, “a steady melody played inside Itzhak, encouraging, energizing, empowering him.” As Izthak adapts, the book resumes its rhythmic interplay between narration and musical emotion. Halpin’s images set alternating stages for Newman’s clear storytelling and evocative poetry rich with sound play: “brilliantly bouncy spiccato/vivid, varied vibrato/speedy staccato strokes/playful pizzicato plucking/smooth, slow legato.” On one particularly powerful spread, Newman explains that people doubted a violinist could play well sitting down, a point Halpin brings home showing Itzhak at the base of a huge staircase, violin in hand. The storytelling strikes a productive balance between highlighting the very real struggles Itzhak faced because of his disability and his determination to find a way through. The book ends with his first big professional break, an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. Back matter picks up the story from there through today, including an extended biographical author’s note and detailed timeline. All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything by Annette Bay Pimentell (author) and Nabi H. Ali (illustrator) and Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins (foreword), 2020; Sourcebooks Explore. Jennifer Keelan is ready to GO! But as a child with cerebral palsy who relies on a wheelchair for mobility, trying to start school meant being told again and again to STOP! The local elementary school is not handicap accessible, so Jennifer’s family enrolls her in another school. But getting in doesn’t eliminate the barriers as Jennifer is confined to half-day school and is isolated from classmates. When Jennifer’s family learns about a group of activists working on making sure everyone has access to public


places, they attend a meeting. Jennifer is amazed to be surrounded by so many other people with disabilities. Though she’s the only child in attendance, she enthusiastically accepts an invitation to join a protest. At the rally, she takes the mic and tells her story. After the rally, she is eager to GO! again. Accompanied by her family, she participates in protests around the country where she and her sister are the only children’s voices raised. When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is proposed, hope swells in the community, but with little media coverage and legislators who can’t seem to see the need over the expense, the activist groups decide they have to show the importance in a very visible way. They organize a protest right at the door of the voting legislators in Washington D.C. Jennifer’s family purchases airline tickets and join the marchers heading down Pennsylvania Avenue, chanting: ‘What do we want?’ ‘The ADA!’ ‘When do we want it?’ ‘Now!’ The march dead-ends at the U.S. Capitol building, where the planned Capitol Crawl commences. As grownups slide out of wheelchairs and begin to crawl up the formidable steps to the building, Jennifer wants to join. The adults think she shouldn’t, but Jennifer is fueled by a desire for justice for all the children who are stopped each day because of a lack of accessibility. Pimentel describes Jennifer’s grueling climb with almost tangible detail, from dirt and rock digging into her skin to roaring crowds and reporters surrounding her. Pictures of Jennifer climbing get attention around the world. The media coverage leads to legislative conversations and, ultimately, to the passage of the ADA. But Jennifer is still going! End matter for this informative and engaging biography explains concepts related to disability, provides more detail on the ADA, and addresses the importance of activism. A photo of Jennifer crawling the steps and a timeline showing life before and after the ADA, both for Jennifer and the disability community at large, rounds out this intriguing offering. A child’s experience speaks strongly to young readers, so this book has the potential ignite important conversations about inclusion and the power of individuals, working together, to affect change.

Moses Goes to a Concert by Isaac Millman, 2002; Square Fish Moses has a new drum. As he plays, he enjoys feeling the vibrations through his hands and, when he takes off his shoes, his feet. Moses and his school friends (who are all deaf) take a field trip to see a concert with their teacher Mr. Samuels. At the concert, Mr. Samuels hands each student a balloon to hold in his or her lap. The balloon helps the students experience the concert more fully because it carries the vibrations from the orchestra’s instruments. On stage, Moses and his friends see a percussionist who is not wearing shoes! She uses the vibrations she feels through her feet to know when it’s time for her to play her instruments. The percussionist’s name is Ms. Elwyn and after the concert, she explains


to the students how she became deaf at age 7 and how she worked hard to master her art. On the way home and later that night, Moses talks about how he wants to be a percussionist, too. This book is a fun, accessible story for young children about some different ways deaf people experience music. There is a note at the beginning of the book on American Sign Language and how it’s expressed through the illustrations. There are directional signs as well as ASL signs that tell readers how their hands should move to sign correctly in ASL. Though not deaf, the author consulted with two deaf teachers to make sure the signs were correct. In the back of the book, there is an ASL alphabet so that non-deaf students can practice signing too. Millman has two other books about Moses, both featuring Moses and including material in and about ASL.

Just Ask: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor (author) and Rafael López, 2019; Philomel. In Just Ask: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor encourages children to ask questions, particularly related to each other’s differences. Sotomayor, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 7, takes an instructional approach but with a warm, inviting, conversational tone. Rafael Lopez’s richly colored, multimedia illustrations further the welcoming feel.

The opening scene, spread across two pages, features children working together in a garden. The narrator, a child who identifies herself as Sonia, notes that plants in a garden are all beautiful but different in many ways, including the various things they need to stay healthy. Kids are the same, she explains, in many ways the same but with many differences, too, some easy to see and others more hidden. “Each of us grows in our own way, so if you are curious about other kids, just ask.” On the next page, she (child-Sonia) explains, “Not everyone is comfortable answering questions about themselves, but I don’t mind,” going on to explain simply and directly why she is pricking her finger, what diabetes is, and how she manages it. The short section ends with a question turning the focus to commonalities, “Do you ever need to take medicine to be healthy?” On the next spread, a character named Rafael (who, like the illustrator, has asthma) introduces himself. His explanation follows the same formula as Sonia’s—naming the disability, addressing how it affects him and how he manages it, and ending with a question evoking common experience. The book continues with this pattern, a new child on each spread of the disability: mobility challenges (wheelchair), blindness, deafness, dyslexia, autism, fluency disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and Down’s syndrome. Children and their adults can benefit from the model of easy-to-understand explanations and respectful conversations. The text includes reminders that individuals may not want to field questions and suggests that children who are curious about disability may want to ask an adult. An important


reminder is that it’s okay to talk with each other and ask questions, but it’s also okay to stay you aren’t comfortable answering a question or don’t want to talk about it.

Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky (author), Patrick Downes (author), and Scott Magoon (illustrator). Jessica’s legs have been badly injured. The doctors hope her right leg will heal but they have to remove part of her left leg so she can be healthy again. Rescue, like other dogs in his family line, has been training to be a seeing-eye dog. But his trainer feels Rescue will do better as a service dog. Jessica works hard to learn new ways to do things that used to be easy for her. She learns to use a wheelchair, to transfer in and out of bed, and she puts on a prosthetic leg so she can stand and learn to walk again. It’s all hard and feels overwhelming. Rescue learns to stay by his partner’s side, to fetch various objects, and to open doors. When Rescue and Jessica join forces, she finds a way to move beyond her frustration and unhappiness to move ahead with confidence. The story is based on the experiences of Jessica Kensky, who was injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, resulting in the amputation of first one leg and later the other. She co-authored this book with her husband, Patrick, who also lost a leg in the bombing. Jessica’s character in the book is portrayed as a child. The authors matter-of-factly address the experience of acquired disability and rehabilitation and illuminate both the rehabilitation process and how service dogs work to help. Rescue’s character is somewhat uncomfortably anthropomorphized for a realistic fiction selection. He is sad to hear from his trainer that he won’t be a seeing eye dog, and he worries if he will do a good job for his future partner. Still, his reported feelings and progress mirror Jessica’s, highlighting the importance of their partnership and the hard work that went into their journeys. Scan the QR code for background information on Jessica’s and Patrick’s experiences.

Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari (author) and Patrice Barton (Illustrator), 2017; Roaring Brook Press. Moose loves hello! Moose dreads goodbye: “Goodbye was an itch that couldn’t be scratched.” So when Zara has to go to school without her, Moose does everything she can to get to Zara for another hello. Confined to the house, she rushes out the first open door and runs to Zara’s school. Mom and dad are called to get her, but in the meantime, Moose lies quietly for storytime. When it’s time to say goodbye, Moose “puts on her brakes,” so it takes Mom, Dad, Zara, and the teacher to get Moose to go home, where she is tied in the backyard. But determined Moose


breaks the lead and arrives back at school just in time for library time. Once again, Moose settles in until her ride arrives., enjoying Zara reading aloud to her while other children listen. This time it takes Mom, Dad, Zara, the teacher, and the librarian to get Moose to say goodbye. Once home, she breaks free again, this time arriving in the lunchroom where she politely listens to a book as she waits. The principal arrives and it’s time again for goodbye. “But Moose was tired of goodbye. A game of tag was on. Principal Evans was “It.” Pandemonium, complete with flying peas and carrots, ensues, but Moose is eventually tagged through the efforts of all the adults, including the lunch ladies. Crated at home, Moose yowls in sorrow. But the ending is a happy one in this cumulative tale. Moose goes to therapy dog school to become a certified reading dog, so she can spend her days with Zara and her friends at school. End matter includes an author’s note about therapy dogs and their role in supporting young readers. The cumulative structure of this energetic and warm story will, like Moose, support growing readers. Zara is depicted as using a wheelchair, but there is no mention of disability in the text. Barton’s illustrations, soft and gentle, exude love and good-naturedness, especially in Moose’s loving gaze. This is, simply and effectively, a charming love story between a girl and her dog. Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson (author) and Sean Qualls (illustrator). When Emmanuel was born, he was strong and healthy, but one of his legs was badly deformed. In his Ghanaian community, people often viewed babies born with disabilities as useful or even cursed. His father abandoned the family, but his mother, Comfort, had faith. As he grew, she told him he could have anything he wanted but he’d have to get it himself—and he did, climbing trees, carrying water, and shining shoes to make money. Though disabled children usually were not able to attend school, Comfort carried him there and back every day until he because too heavy to carry; then, he hopped all the way there on one leg. When other children wouldn’t play with him, he used his money to buy a soccer ball. He’d share, but the others had to let him play. Using crutches and his good right leg to kick, he gained respect and made friends. When his friends rented bikes, Emmanuel wanted to join them. With a friend pushing him fast so he could balance, he tried and fell and tried and fell—until he could ride. When his mother became too ill to work, Emmanuel set off for the city to help support his family, but people were reluctant to hire him because of his disability. Emmanuel secured work but is more aware than ever of the plight of disabled individuals in Ghana. Comfort did not recover. In her final words, she reminded him, “Be respectful, take care of your family, don’t ever beg. And don’t give up.’ Emmanuel determined to honor the gift of his mother’s last words “by showing everyone that being disabled does not mean being unabled.” Emmanuel hatched a plan to ride a bicycle around Ghana to spread his message. After trying closer to home, he finally received a bike and gear from the Challenged Athlete Foundation in


California. Emmanuel pedaled that bike “up, down, across, and around” Ghana, spreading his message and, in the process, becoming a national hero. Though not shying away from difficult truths related to social attitudes about disability, Thompson’s matter-of-fact narrative keeps the focus of every phase in Emmanuel’s life on the love, faith, courage, and ability that marks his story from the beginning. Quall’s soft-hued multimedia illustrations convey emotions to texturize and deepen the narrative. An author’s note addresses the global reach and significance of Yeboah’s work that continues today.

References Disability Funders Network. (2021). Disability facts and stats. Retrieved October 24, 2021 from Sethi, A. (2019, December 28). Interview: Raymond Antrobus: ‘In some ways, poetry is my first language.’ The Guardian. U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. (2021). Students with disabilities. Retrieved October 24, 2021 from

See information about these authors after the Young Adult column.


ABLE REPRESENTATION OF DISABILITY IN BOOKS FOR TEENS Since the voices of young people were a driving force in the social movements and shifts of the 1960’s, it’s not surprising that the late 60s and the 70s saw, for the first time, authentic, honest, and challenging representation of young adult experiences in literature. Real-world adolescent experiences were on display, as was the power of teens to transform and effect change. Taboo-busting authors like Judy Blume, Sue Ellen Bridgers, Alice Childress, Susan Cooper, Robert Cormier, Terry Davis, Paula Fox, Rosa Guy, Mildred Taylor, Katherine Paterson, Robert Newton Peck, Robert O’Brien (Batchelder et al., 1980) tamped a path for writers who, writing for teens, determinedly offer readers authentic glimpses of life and bold, interrogating takes on the world around us. Yet, despite the growing commitment to honest takes, inclusion, relevance, honesty, and accuracy, representation, both in numbers and authentic depictions of ways of being in this world, were and continue to be problematic in publishing. (The Cooperative Council on Books for Children offers extensive resources on trends in cultural representation in publishing. To explore, start by scanning the QR code, but be sure to follow the various links to interpretation and commentary.) When a community is underrepresented on the shelves, a single book may be tasked with standing for a complex cultural/social experience. Thus, even a well-crafted representation is, as a stand-alone perspective, skewed. A single book, or even a few, is unable to carry the load of accurate and authentic representation of complex experiences. Furthermore, representations of experiences of marginalized communities must stand in both historical and contemporary spaces, as readers often bring limited, often stereotypical perceptions to the interpretation. On the other hand, encountering experiences and developing knowledge from books has a strong potential for challenging stereotypes and dispelling myths. Experience with disability is a critical example of such marginalized and frequently stereotyped representation. CCBC data from 2019 indicate that only 3.4% of books published that year featured at least one primary character with a disability ( It is important to note that those statistics do not include analysis of accurate and authentic representation. U.S. Census data for 2021 indicate that 4.3% of individuals under the age of 18 have a disability, a number that doesn't take into account the vast number of children who have friends and family members with disabilities. In short, we must attend to the number and quality of disability representation in literature for young readers. The recently published books we introduce here are a great place to start for enriching your collection with disability representation. For further exploration, we recommend you follow the QR code. In selecting books, we were looking for authentic, accurate representation, fully realized characters, and realistic depiction of disability (for instance, avoiding stereotypes such as “they can just automatically heal,” or working harder or believing more will help them “get over” a disability.) In these books, and others you should consider


for your shelves, the disability experience is part of a full life, not defining aspects of the individual. The books below, fit the characteristics and, importantly, are inviting, engaging texts.

Get a Grip Vivy Cohen by Sarah Kapit, 2020; Dial Books. Vivian Jane Cohen is a knuckleballer. She’s worked hard to master the “pitch that defies the laws of physics” (p. 3) and dreams of playing in the major leagues someday. But she's been told that “girls don’t play baseball. Especially not autistic ones.” Vivy has an assignment for her social skills group to write an actual letter, not an email, to someone. She decides to write to Vincent James Capello, a knuckleball pitcher she met during a social event for the Autism Foundation. There, Capello showed her the knuckleball grip and encouraged her to try it at home. She did, practicing until she developed a wicked knuckleball. Capello is starting a new season after an embarrassing mistake that cost his team the World Series. Despite being a two-time All-Star and a Cy Young winner, he has to prove himself all over again. Certainly, he doesn’t have time to answer a letter from an eleven-year-old girl. Writing letters feels good to Vivy, though. She can share her thoughts and struggles more easily on the page, so she keeps going. Vivy writes about her excitement at being invited to join a baseball team after the coach sees her throwing knuckleballs in the park, about her frustration at her mother’s hesitation to let her, and about her therapist’s weighing in on the issue. She writes about finally getting a yes—with stipulations like going to social skills group every week, eating her vegetables, and having no meltdowns that involve screaming. In each letter, Vivi offers Capello encouragement, too. She never expects he will write back—but then he does. In the correspondence that ensues (appropriately monitored by Vivy’s dad), Vivy pours out her hopes and frustrations. Capello tries to offer guidance but, struggling with his own frustrations, is unsure how to help. Kapit tells the story entirely in letters, allowing Vivy’s strong voice to illuminate how autism might influence the lives of individuals and families. Relationships are warm but not contrived. Tensions are real but not played for dramatic effect. Characters are complex, not stand-ins for roles or perspectives. And Vivy, determined, vulnerable, courageous, smart, and funny, comes through clearly as the kind of person we’d all like on our team and someone we would root for. Author Sarah Kapit is a member of the autistic community and is committed to bringing authentic and diverse representation of autistic individuals to books for young readers. Kapit notes that her characters “do have some body movements and a few other traits that may be considered more stereotypical, but…if you look at their characters in full, they are so much more than the tired autism stereotypes." In fact, she worried "that some readers might think they’re not autistic enough because stereotypes have distorted people’s views of what autistic people are like. ” (Lavoie, 2021). Kapit’s middle-grade new release, The Mysteries of the Finkle Family, is about two sisters who are both autistic and their relationship with their big Jewish family.


Cursed by Karol Ruth Silverstein, 2019; Charlesbridge Teen. Everything has changed for Ricky, and certainly not for the better. As if her parents’ contentious divorce was not enough, Ricky has developed juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). The sudden onset of overwhelming and chronic pain necessitates a move from her mother’s two-story house to her father’s one-level “batch pad” where she sleeps on the “Sofa Bed from Hell.” Adding insult to injury, she was a freshman at her old high school, but her new school houses 9th grade in the middle school, where her classes are too far apart, she has no steady access to an elevator key, and is subjected to constant ridicule from other students. Exhausted, embarrassed, overwhelmed, and angry, Ricky gives up on attending school, covering her tracks by getting dressed in the morning, then climbing into her father’s comfortable bed, desperate for sleep. Writing the wrong phone number on the school paperwork helped her absences go unreported, so by the time the truth comes out, Ricky has missed six weeks of school and is unlikely to pass the year. Surprisingly to Ricky, her father advocates for her, pushing for accommodations and for Ricky to be given a chance to make up the work and graduate. Ricky finds a good friend in Oliver, the other kid who waits in the nurse’s office each morning instead of standing outside of school. Oliver, a cancer survivor, helps Ricky navigate the medical world and learn to advocate for her own needs. While other teachers accommodate Ricky's make-up work with kindness, her Public Speaking teacher, Mr. Jenkins, sees her potential and pushes her to reach it, becoming a fierce advocate in the process. Their support and the support of her family are instrumental, but it’s Ricky’s strength and determination that help her move forward to manage her new reality. Silverstein, herself diagnosed with JRA as a youth, paints a credible picture of what it is to live with chronic pain and the reality of a disease that can be managed but not cured. Information about arthritis and advice on how to navigate the medical system are woven heavily into the narrative, but good storytelling isn’t the least bit lost in the process.

The Aven Green books by Dusti Bowling Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, 2017 Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus, 2019 Aven Green: Sleuthing Machine, 2021. Illustrated by Gina Perry Aven Green: Baking Machine, 2021. Illustrated by Gina Perry. Aven Green has been known to make up outlandish stories to explain her “lack of armage” (2017, p. 6) to inquiring peers, but the truth is she was born without arms. Since her adoption at two, Aven’s parents have taught her to be “an extreme problem solver, like a problem-solving ninja” (2017, p. 30). Though she is disabled, Aven is certainly not incapable, able to use her feet and flexibility to do just about anything arms and hands can do except, she bemoans, “air quotes” (2019, p. 74). Aven is the kind of character a reader quickly forms a relationship with and begins to root for. Clearly emerging across Bowling’s Aven books is the truth that individuals with physical differences must constantly navigate other people’s


discomfort. Bowling has published four books featuring Aven, each addressing a different phase of her life. Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (2017) finds Aven suddenly transplanted from the Kansas town she grew up in, where she was surrounded by lifelong friends and played on the soccer team, to Arizona where her family will live on and manage a rundown Western theme park. With classic Aven humor, she notes that it’s not at all like living at Disney World but rather like “Disney Shanty Town” (2017, p. 21). Starting a new middle school is never easy but being the new kid who also doesn’t have arms makes it especially hard. Over the course of the book, Aven finds good friends in Conner and Zion (who both understand what it is to feel different), starts a blog, plans a festival to benefit their theme park, finds the guts to perform in it, and solves a park mystery that sheds light on Aven’s own origins.

Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus (2019) finds Aven taking on the “sucktastic beast” (p. 146) that is high school. Bowling doesn’t shy away from the challenges of disability or of being different in a high-school world that demands conformity. Aven’s foray into high school brings her face-to-face with an “unbearable level of meanness” (p. 96) that erodes her confidence. Her best friend Conner has moved away and made friends with another girl who, like him, has Tourette’s, so Aven is sure she’s lost him. Zion’s handsome, popular older brother seems to like Aven but, afraid of rejection and ridicule, she pushes him away. Her plans--to perform a jump on her horse and to play guitar before an audience—crumble along with her self-esteem. Aven's elderly friend Henry is declining, a fact that makes Aven particularly forlorn because he was raised in an orphanage and has no family. Though, in this second book, Aven loses sight of her strengths, the people who love her shine her worth back to her until she can see herself again.

Aven Green: Sleuthing Machine and Aven Green: Baking Machine, both published in 2021, introduce us to a younger Aven and are written for a younger audience. As with the two books for teen readers, Aven narrates with slightly cheeky humor and loads of confidence. Her disability is addressed matter-of-factly, including explanations of how she gets things done. Her abilities, from her “superpowered brain” (Sleuthing, 2021, p. 13) that help her solve mysteries to her flair for making friends, are on full display. Adoption is an important part of Aven’s story and is clearly and directly addressed in all four books. In the books for younger readers, the story of her parents finding and choosing her is told with warmth and celebration. In the YA selections, her adoption features more fully into the plotline as Aven investigates and learns more about her birth origins. Whereas adoption in YA literature is often misrepresented and exploited as a plot device (Parsons et al, 2017), Bowling approaches it openly and authentically as Aven’s growing interest in her birth origins is welcomed and supported by her parents.


Bowling does not have a limb difference or direct experience with limb differences. She was inspired by YouTube videos recorded by women without arms to demonstrate how they did things in their daily lives. Those women served as sensitivity readers to verify authenticity (Yingling, 2017). Though Bowling has family members with conditions similar to Tourette’s, she conducted extensive research there as well to ensure Conner’s experiences were realistically represented (Publisher’s Weekly, 2017).

The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais The tagline on the cover of the Silence Between Us reads “I see you, Now hear me.” It is the perfect summary of this coming-of-age novel. It’s senior year. Maya moves with her mom and little brother Connor (who has Cystic Fibrosis or CF) from New Jersey to Colorado. Maya, who lost her hearing at age thirteen, must attend a hearing school for the first time in five years. Maya prefers to communicate in American Sign Language (ASL), but she has a bold and snarky attitude and does use her voice when she needs to. On her first day, Maya meets Nina, the student assigned to show her around—and Bo, the kind of goodlooking, but slightly annoying, student body president—who keeps showing up in all her classes. Maya’s interpreter Kathleen is the only one who has any clue about Deaf culture in the beginning, but Bo and Nina have friend potential. As the novel unfolds, we see Maya’s struggles as the only Deaf student in a hearing school, her hopes for college, her love of art, the weight of helping care for a sibling with a chronic illness, and the beginnings of a romantic relationship with Bo. Author Alison Gervais (who is Hard of Hearing or HOH) uses this novel to both explain and explore Deaf culture. Anytime someone signs in the book, what they say is in ALL CAPS. Also, what they sign is written how it would be signed in ASL, not in English. For example, in English we might say “I’m Nervous” in ASL, it would just be the sign for NERVOUS. Later in the book, when Maya goes to meet other teens with hearing loss, she discovers that many of them have Cochlear implants (still controversial in the Deaf community)--and the concept of deaf and Deaf is explained through the characters’ dialogue. Gervias discusses this further in her author’s note at the end of the novel. The Silence Between Us puts emphasis on the importance of communication and language in the Deaf community and shows how hearing culture can exclude Deaf people. Gervais integrates all of this into Maya’s story and illustrates how being Deaf contributes to her experiences and interactions with the world around her. This novel is clean YA with no sexual content beyond kissing and no foul language. Though Maya and her classmates are seniors, this novel would probably appeal to younger teens as well as older ones. (Grades 7-12)


A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttman Created the Paralympic Games by Lori Alexander (author) and Allen Drummond (illustrator). Clarion Books, 2020. As noted in the title, A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttman Created the Paralympic Games is a history of the origins of the Paralympic Games—yet, it is so much more. Alexander begins the story when Guttman opts to finish high school early so he can volunteer in the German National Emergency Program which was founded to address domestic work shortages due to WWI. Serving in a hospital, Guttman encountered a young miner with a spinal cord injury that rendered him paraplegic. A doctor explained that such cases were hopeless; the patient would be dead in six weeks. Guttman watched the suffering and never forgot. An infection he caught working in the hospital disqualified Guttman for military service, so he entered medical school where his volunteer experiences served him well. Along with his studies, Guttman pursued his lifelong passion for sports, joining a fencing club for Jewish students and hiking the Black Forest mountains, a place he had loved since scouting trips as a child. When he and his soon-to-be wife learned Jewish children were no longer allowed to join scouts, they established a scouting group for them. Guttman completed a residency in neurosurgery with a prestigious mentor who eventually hired him as a colleague. When Jewish doctors we banned from public hospitals, he moved to an all-Jewish hospital where he became the director. Though he’d hoped to wait out the political situation, it soon became evident this was not an option. During Kristallnacht, Guttman told his staff to admit any male, no questions asked, then he managed to convince investigating Gestapo that the sixty men he sheltered were legitimate patients. But Guttman was now under the close watch of the government who made increasing demands for his service. With aid from a British Society of Protection of Learning and Science, the Guttmans, now a family of four, immigrated to England, leaving their home, belongings, and money behind. Unable to secure a job treating patients, Guttman moved into research, doing innovative work on identifying damaged and working parts of the nervous system. With WWII producing scores of paralyzed patients, Guttman was asked to head a new specialized unit at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital near London. Guttman agreed, as long as he was given free rein to try out his innovative approaches—community and care rather than isolation, abandonment of full body casts, constant turning to alleviate bedsores, catherization to ward off kidney infections, and nonsurgical responses whenever possible. Within a year, Guttman’s approach had reduced the expected 80% death rate for spinal injury patients to an 80% survival rate, but he wasn’t finished innovating. Guttman got patients out of bed and moving, and engaged them with hobbies and chances to learn new skills. Patients found hope and purpose, but the broader community still viewed their situations as depressing and hopeless. When Guttman noticed some patients in wheelchairs improvising with a stick, ball, and goal, he got the idea of engaging them in sports. Though the “clashing sticks and bashing wheelchairs” in wheelchair polo proved a bit much, basketball was a hit. It was archery, though, that shot the idea of paraplegics as capable athletes into the broader consciousness. Archery was great for developing upper body strength and control and the nature of the sport allowed players to compete against non-disabled opponents.


By participating in tournaments, Ludwig’s patients were able to show the broader community what they could do, changing attitudes about disability. In July, 1948, the same day the Olympic Games launched in nearby London, Guttman hosted the first annual Stoke Mandeville Games, an archery competition between patients from two hospitals. When a member of the International Olympic committee watched the games in 1956, he recommended Guttman and the games for a prestigious award acknowledging achievement honoring the Olympic ideal. That award launched the games into the international arena. By 1959, participation grew from 16 athletes representing two hospitals competing in one sport to 350 athletes, representing 20 countries competing in 11 sports. Today’s games, viewed by millions, involve more than 4,000 athletes from all over the world. Guttman continued working feverishly to share his methods, effectively transforming the perception and treatment of spinal cord injuries worldwide. Alexander concludes with a focus on contemporary athletes and their achievements on and off the playing field. In only 116 pages, including back matter with full timeline, index, and bibliography, Alexander not only details Guttman's vast contributions but also provides a wealth of knowledge on how medicine works and medical innovation happens. She explains the whats and whys of a dark and complex period of history accurately and movingly while highlighting and celebrating the incredible power of the human spirit. Photographs, diagrams, and informative sidebars extend the text and clarify concepts and contexts, working alongside Allen Drummond’s lightfilled, cartoon-style illustrations. Guttman’s commitment to the value and potential in every person and every situation, coupled with his problem-solving and tenacious agency, is an important model for teens today. Alexander’s tone and delivery is spot-on for these readers.

Roll With It by Jamie Sumner, 2019; Atheneum Books for Young Readers Ellie is a baker. Not just an occasional creator of treats but a baker who aspires to be among the very best. She pores over cookbooks and baking blogs and writes letters to the world’s best bakers, asking questions and seeking advice. Scones, galettes, challah, linzer cookies with homemade orange marmalade— Ellie is fearless in the kitchen. But at school, she’s the kid in the wheelchair, the one who needs an aide. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, she’s used to it, but she doesn’t like it. It seems that people expect the girl in the wheelchair to be all sunshine and cuddles, but Ellie has opinions. Having worked so hard for so long to gain strength and do things for herself, and especially now that she has outgrown seizures, Ellie is pushing for a little more independence. But Ellie’s mom, a single parent, who has lived so long in advocacy mode fighting to get Ellie everything she needs to thrive, is having trouble giving way a bit. When a phone call brings troubling news that Ellie’s beloved grandfather, struggling with Alzheimer’s, has driven a car into a storefront, Mom pulls Ellie out of school mid-year to head to Oklahoma to help out. In Eufala, they settle in to Mema and Grandpa’s trailer home. Mema, “a force of nature,” (p. 124) is reluctant to accept their help, but when Grandpa accidently sets a fire during the Christmas Eve service, it’s clear she needs it. For Ellie, Mema’s yellow kitchen is warm, familiar, and welcoming, but the rural school she attends is like nothing Ellie has ever


experienced. The bus can’t accommodate her and not much thought has been put into making space in the classroom, literally and figuratively. Ellie is used to being on the outside because of her CP, but now she’s on the outside because she lives in a trailer park, too. Yet, for the first time ever, Ellie has true friends beside her: Coralee, the determinedly sparkling, big-haired girl from the trailer next door, who has her eyes set on being a star, and Bert, whose father runs the local grocery. Ellie narrates the story, so we are along for the ride as she navigates the twists and turns of her changing life. Sumner’s multifaceted characters ring true. Challenge, including disability (Ellie’s CP, Grandpa’s Alzheimer’s, and Bert’s autism) and circumstance (such as absent parents and parenting partners), is addressed realistically and with respect for human resilience. Adults and youth alike find ways to navigate difficult pathways, fueled by love and determination with a steady dose of humor and grace. Sumner, who is the parent of a child with cerebral palsy, paints a vivid picture of what it is like for Ellie to live with CP. It is a significant part of Ellie’s life, but it doesn’t define her. Instead, whatever comes her way, Ellie is learning that she can “roll with it.”

Two recently published anthologies, one nonfiction and the other fiction, address the dearth of representation issues head on by including multiple representations in one book. I Am Not a Label: 34 Disabled Artists, Thinkers, Athletes, and Activists by Cerrie Burnell (author) and Lauren Baldo (illustrator), 2020; Quarto Publishing. I Am Not a Label is a multicultural collected biography featuring disabled individuals, historical and contemporary. Burnell directly addresses her choice to use identity-first language (e.g. disabled individual rather than an individual with a disability) to emphasize that “people are disabled by society and do not need to be fixed” (p. 3). The volume includes a wide range of artists—musical, theatrical, visual, and literary—as well as athletes, scientists, scholars, innovators, and activists. A broad range of disability is represented including physical, with the focus throughout on ability and achievement. However, Burnell also clearly addresses the struggles individuals encountered as a result of social stereotypes or systemic barriers. The brief biographies are clear and accessible, long enough to inform and well-written enough to inspire further inquiry. A glossary, index, and list of additional resources to explore round out the volume. Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens, edited by Marieke Nijkamp, 2018. Farrer, Strauss, and Giroux. Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens is a fiction anthology including short stories in multiple genres—fantasy (including a science fiction selection) and contemporary and historical realistic—and forms. Each story is written from the point of view of a disabled main character and by a disabled author who experiences that disability. The stories take place around the globe and in historical, contemporary, and futuristic settings. Representation is richly inclusive across race, culture, gender, and sexual orientation, and categories of


disabilities. From romance to mystery to magic to angst, there is something to appeal to everyone here. Additionally, the quality of the writing and range of styles make this book a rich source of mentor texts for teaching writers.


Batchelder, L., Kelly, P., Kenney, D., & Small, R. (1980). Young adult literature looking backward: Trying to find the classic young adult novel. Teaching English, 69(6), 86-89. Lavoie, A. (2021, March 23). Q&A with Sarah Kapit, The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family. We Need Diverse Books. Retrieved from Parsons, S.C., Fuxa, R. Kander, F. & Hardy, D.. (2017). Representations of adoption in contemporary realistic fiction for young adults. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 13(1), 70-92. Publishers Weekly. (2017, May 17). Spotlight on Dusti Bowling. Retrieved from Yinglin, K. (2017, September 20). Chatting with Dusti Bowling, author of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. School Library Journal. Retrieved from Suzii Parsons believes that books truly matter in the lives of young people. Suzii Parsons is the Jacques Munroe Professor of Reading and Literacy at Oklahoma State University. You can contact her at Rebecca Weber is an associate professor, serving as the Education and Teaching Librarian for Oklahoma State University. Her research interests connect disability and young adult literature. Contact her at


Authors are requested to submit only unpublished articles not under review by any other publication. A manuscript should be typed, double spaced, not right justified, not hyphenated, and should follow APA, 7th Edition guidelines (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association). Tables and graphs should be used only when clarification is needed. Include a cover page giving the article title, professional affiliation, complete address, e-mail and phone number of the author(s). Special sections have specific requirements that are described below. The editors reserve the right to revise and/or edit all copies.

The Oklahoma Reader welcomes manuscripts that support the growth and development of classroom teachers, reading specialists, and other literacy professionals throughout their careers. Manuscripts should successfully translate literacy research into practice through concrete strategies and techniques. Considering that the main audience of The Oklahoma Reader consists of PreK-12 teachers, manuscripts that offer practical ideas for successful literacy instruction are encouraged and prioritized. Manuscripts should be limited to 4000 words including tables, figures, and reference(s). Submit the manuscript electronically as a Word document attached to an email message addressed to Manuscripts will be reviewed anonymously by three members of The Oklahoma Reader Editorial Advisory Board. Manuscripts are evaluated on the basis of clarity, interest, organization, content, and style. If accepted, revisions may be requested. Manuscripts must be original work which has not been previously published nor is undergoing simultaneous review in another journal.

The Oklahoma Reader also seeks submissions dealing with instructional practices (teacher-to-teacher), classroom research (teacher research), and book reviews recommending texts that can be useful for individual or group professional development. These are described as follows. All submissions should be submitted electronically as a Word document attached to an email message addressed to

Teacher to Teacher: Submit descriptions of teaching activities that have helped students learn an essential literacy skill, concept, strategy, or attitude. Submissions should be no longer than 1500 words and align with the following format: Title: (if adapting from another source, cite reference and provide a bibliography) Purpose of Activity, including the literacy skill, concept, strategy, or attitude the students will learn Description of activity with examples, questions, responses. Please provide enough detail so someone can implement the activity. How activity was evaluated to know if purpose was achieved 67



AUTHORS for The Oklahoma Reader

Submission deadline for Spring 2022 issue: January 15, 2022

Guidelines for Authors Continued Teacher Research: Submit manuscripts that describe research or inquiry conducted in classrooms. Submissions should be 1000-2000 words and align with the following format: Description of the question or issue guiding the research/inquiry, including a short review of pertinent literature. Description of who participated in the study, what the sources of data were, how the data were gathered and examined. Description of the findings and conclusion from the research/inquiry. Title, author, publisher of the resource. Short description of the resource. Critical review of the resource including strengths and weaknesses. Short discussion of how the resource might be useful to a teacher.

Membership in the Oklahoma Literacy Association (OKLA) gives all persons interested in literacy education the opportunity to develop and support literacy initiatives and activities at the local, state, national, and international levels. Opportunities to participate in activities that support quality professional development, partnerships with other agencies advocating for literacy, research, as well as the promotion of quality instruction, materials, and policies are all extended and enriched through membership in OKLA. We invite you to become a member of the Oklahoma Literacy Association if you are not yet a member!

Membership information can be found here. 68

e h t e v Sa

! e t da

April 2, 2022 Oklahoma Literacy Conference with Tim Rasinski Rogers State University, Claremore



FALL 2021



Assistant Editors Editorial Review Board

Maribeth Nottingham Barbara J. McClanahan Susan Morrison

Southeastern Oklahoma State University Southeastern Oklahoma State University Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Cindy A. McClanahan Shelley Martin-Young

Georgia Institute of Technology Oklahoma State University

Shawna Hight Mollie Kasper Linda McElroy Becky Morris Claudia Otto Lynn Schroeder Donita Shaw Jackie Taylor Darla Tresner Jill Tussey Amanda Wilson Jodi Wolf

Oklahoma State University Phillips Elementary, Kaufman (TX) ISD University of Sciences & Arts of Oklahoma Bethany Public Schools Oklahoma State University Sequoyah Public Schools Oklahoma State University Jenks Public School Bartlesville High School Buena Vista University - Iowa Oral Roberts University Edmond Public Schools

Oklahoma Literacy Association Officers Chair Chair Elect Secretary Treasurer Past Chair ILA Coordinator

Rebecca Marie Farley Eileen Richardson

Oklahoma Baptist University Cameron University at Rogers State

Stacey Goodwin

Bartlesville Public Schools

Liz Willner

Oklahoma City University

Sylvia Hurst

University of Central Oklahoma

Linda McElroy

Univ. of Science & Arts of Oklahoma

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.