F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada combine inspirational examples and practical how-to’s to create a unique resource for teachers!
Thousands of teachers have experienced the awakening of their own creative writing voice through participating in the writing courses and workshops offered by Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy. The rich tapestry of these teachers’ voices is a major highlight of this book. In turn, teachers have used their own self-published works to inspire students and parents to write their own stories, and those voices are included in here as well.
In addition to offering a plethora of inspiring examples of works authored by classroom teachers, parents, and students, this book also includes practical, step-by-step activities and a solid grounding in theory. Written in a clear and reader-friendly style, this combination will enable teachers to experience the benefits of this creative approach to building strong classroom communities.
- Includes 10 thematic units, with writing starters and activities for teachers, parents, and children.
- Features sections on facilitating classroom dialogue and unlearning oppression/education for liberation.
- Showcases abundant examples of teachers’ self-published books, as well as students’ and parents’ writing.
This book represents the fruits of eight years of joint efforts of encouraging teachers to dare to experience the joy of writing. It has also benefited from the insights of Rosalma Zubizarreta, Alma Flor’s daughter, who collaborated enthusiastically in the making of the book.
While most teachers feel comfortable sharing their enthusiasm for reading with their students, few feel equally at ease in exploring the power of authorship.
The process suggested in this book for authoring self-reflecting books, has been embraced by numerous teachers who have found that in writing personal books about themselves, their families, their life journey, and their goals as teachers bring about three distinct kinds of benefits:
- a greater self-awareness and a possibility to reevaluate their own vocation as educators
- greater confidence and strength to guide their students in their own process of discovering of voice
- a new relationship, of greater trust and equality, with the students families’ based on shared human experiences
We are extremely grateful to the teachers, families and students who have shared with us their works to be included as examples in this book and to all those others, whose words have not been reproduced in the book, but who are present in it, through all we have learned from them in the process of teaching “Authors in the Classroom” courses, workshops and seminars throughout the United States and abroad. We know many of you have been anxiously awaiting the publication of this book and it is a joy to let you know it is finally available.
“This book is nearly perfect. It will become a classic.” – Stephen Krashen , University of Southern California.
“Authors in the Classroom shows us what education can be and should be: a safe environment for intellect and identity to expand and connect with the collective intellectual and cultural accomplishments of our global society. As evidence for its claims about what education can achieve this text provides neither empty theory nor soulless empirical research but rather the voices of teachers, students, parents, and the authors themselves, exploring through writing the limits of human reality and potential.” – Jim Cummins, University of Toronto.
“I want to start by saying that this is a powerful book which was a joy to read. The book provides a much-needed bridge between theory and practice of Transformative pedagogy. It is what every teacher/prospective teacher looks for: a step-by-step guide to putting lofty ideological ideals into practice. The examples speak for themselves about the rich potential of the model.” – Elsa Auerbach, University of Massachusetts—Boston.
“It is inappropriate to expect teachers to develop in their students skills with which they are not confident themselves,” claim Ada and Campoy (p.2). Authors in the Classroom shares years of these authors’ experiences working to transform teachers into authors, “from followers of other people’s agenda to shapers of our own ideas.” (p. 4). One of the most odious aspects of standardized curricula is the instruction of all students in the same way. In order to reach maximum educational potential, students; identities need nourishment. In the first chapter, Ada and Campoy educate readers in anti-bias ethics with informational text and exploration that readers can conduct on their own attitudes through journaling. This counterplay between information and reflection is the cornerstone of the book.
To live the process advocated by Ada and Campoy, teachers (readers) are encouraged to make their own writing public by “publishing” books; by doing so, they provide models that an instruct and motivate students and their families to write about and publish their own life stories and ideas. Honest, accepting dialogues, where individuals ask real questions, express different points of views, and help teach, model, practice and problem solve, provide classroom strategies that undergird the writing program.
The second half of the book contains ten units on topics such as Affirming Self, Understanding the Past, Creating the Future and Learning to Know. There are multiple examples of student-, teacher-, and family-authored writing, stimulated by rich children’s literature in many different genres. Annotated bibliographies of books for children and young adults accompany each chapter. Using this authoring process, individuals create many small books that can be read by others inside and outside their classroom. By the time you finish reading this captivating book, you have no doubt that the students who have engaged in this process will be readers and writers for life. No matter what happens during the rest of the day, this literacy format needs to fit between the cracks, for from there it will move to center stage. – Linda Leonard Lamme, School of Teaching and Learning, College of Education, University of Florida. Language Arts, Vol. 82, No. 3, January 2005, page 222
Midwest Book Review
An unusually well written and organized educational guide.
Collaboratively written by Alma Flor Ada (Director of the Center for Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults, University of San Francisco) and F. Isabel Campoy (a children’s books author and language acquisition expert), Authors In The Classroom: A Transformative Education Process is an unusually well written and organized educational guide aimed expressly at classroom teachers seeking to improve their own writing skills. Enthusiastically promoting creative literacy among students, teachers, and parents alike, Authors In The Classroom creatively and informatively explores means for educators to hone their own writing talents, as well as encouraging the students to live up to their fullest potential. An excellent, reflective, “user friendly” guide, Authors In The Classroom is an invaluable contribution to academic Education Studies reference collections. September 14, 2003
Fabulously Rich!, March 15, 2005
Reviewer: Catherine Carrison (Vancouver, WA USA) –
Authors in the Classroom: A Transformative Education Process is an amazing resource for today’s teachers. This book, wonderfully well written and organized, guides teachers in the process of strengthening the literacy skills of their students through the strengthening of their voices. In the first part of the book the authors walk the teacher through a discussion of transformative education and the role of creative dialogue in the classroom. The second part of the book is focused on the journey of writing as it reflects areas of exploration such as Recognizing Human Qualities, Strengthening Self-Identity, Building Communities, The Power of Transformation, Understanding the Past – Creating the Future, and Learning to Know. Ada and Campoy vividly demonstrate through the use of beautiful student, teacher, and family examples how the communities of the classroom and home can be merged through the medium of written expression. Perhaps most important, they show us how powerful the telling our own stories can be – how our stories can be shared to create an affirming and fabulously enriched learning environment in our classrooms for students, their families, and teachers.
The Reading Matrix, April 2005
Reviewed by Mae Lombos Wlazlinski, Berry College, Georgia
In Authors in the Classroom,A Transformative Education Process, Ada and Campoy delineate a writing program that allows teachers to become authors, multicultural brokers, and advocates for social justice. Providing suggestions for “unveiling the authors within” and developing a strong writing voice among the silenced, the authors believe that ultimately, “numerous voices that have gone unheard, lives about which no one has ever written” (p.3) can be listened to, recorded and disseminated. Authors speaks directly to teachers of language minority students. Promoting the program as a means for school and home collaboration, the authors assert that teachers authoring books and sharing them will inspire language minority students and parents to put their life experiences into words, validate their voices, and legitimize their identity.
Part I of the book is comprised of 3 chapters. Chapter 1 describes transformative education which frames the book. It sets the tone for the intention of the authors, which is to raise cultural awareness in the readers and move them to social action. The authors take the readers on a journey into, through, and beyond oppression, bias, and prejudice. Using several exploration activities and questions for reflection and written response, the authors simulate the journey for the readers. They believe that reflecting and writing about oppression will allow readers to personalize the oppressive experiences, raise consciousness, find their voice, and in doing so, help others find their voice.
Chapter 2, “Authors in the Classroom,” lists the benefits of authoring and publishing books. Influenced by the Vygotskian view of learning, the authors, in Chapter 3, underscore the importance of dialogue in getting to know and understanding our students and making connections between students’ prior knowledge and the text. Further, it facilitates the development and use of critical thinking skills, engages students in using language, and develops their critical literacy. Ada and Campoy explain that through dialogue, reading becomes a creative and critical act, and they distinguish four phases in what they term as reader’s creative dialogue with the text. Each phase is characterized by an interactional process. In the descriptive phase, readers focus on information contained in the text such as theme, characters, setting, plot, and author’s intent. In the personal interpretive phase, readers relate the information to themselves and respond to it influenced by their past experiences, interest, and previous knowledge about the topic. Then going beyond personal experiences, the readers, in the critical/multicultural/anti-bias phase, begin to critically analyze issues pointed out in the text and ask whose voice is represented or left out in the text, how other cultures will interpret the message, and what motive does the writer have in writing the piece. Finally, in the transformative phase, readers evaluate the insights gained from the text in order to take action that will benefit society.
Part II, “A Transformative Process,” includes ten thematic units: “Affirming Self;” “Recognizing Human Qualities;” “Strengthening Self-Identity;” “Building Communities;” “The Power of Transformation;” “Understanding the Past, Creating the Future;” “Discovering our Capacities and Strength;” “Learning to Know;” “Developing Relationships;” and “From Yesterday to Tomorrow.” In all these units, Ada and Campoy establish reading as a critical phase in writing preparation; they urge teachers to gather theme-specific readings in a variety of genres for exploration in order to lay the groundwork for writing. In fact, the authors clearly show how thematic books help generate ideas for writing on the same theme.
Each unit includes lesson objectives, writing prompts, and a process section. Every process, which reads like a blueprint, provides easily accessible pathways for teachers, students, and parents to engage in reading and writing. Each unit demonstrates to teachers how they can provide important scaffolding for their students and their parents to become writers. Consequently, reading and writing become transparent, non-threatening, and irresistible.
Authors is an excellent book for ESL and EFL teachers and teacher educators to read. It clearly illustrates how teachers may inspire and engage their students and parents in critical literacy. Cummins (1996) maintains that transformative teachers encourage the development of student voice through collaborative interaction and critical inquiry.
Authors’ narrative style is engaging, and its easy-to-follow lessons and numerous authentic samples of teacher-made books make writing tangible. Other good features are the publication ideas and the list of thematic readings recommended by the authors.
The book is an excellent source of ideas for integrating reading and writing. Each unit includes thematic readings that become models for thematic writing assignments. Students of all ages and levels of language proficiency can easily relate to the personal themes included by the authors. For example, the story behind a person’s name is a relatable theme for young and old across linguistic groups. In applying the creative literacy process on Ada’s My Name is Maria Isabel, the authors show that behind people’s names are life stories and histories of struggle and acceptance. Equally accessible to students is speaking to the theme of transformation in self-proclaiming “I Can” and “We Can” poems.
Ada and Campoy promote Authors as a home-school collaboration program; in this regard, it is a feasible program. Students and particularly parents can speak to all the themes explored in Authors. These themes, which invite readers to celebrate their identity through personal responses, recognize their worth and ability to transform and change their lives, and appreciate their past in order to build the present and the future, are issues that are best addressed collaboratively among teachers, parents, and students. Collective projects such as the book titled Thoughts from our Parents and Relatives provide an important venue for parents to share their experiences and wisdom. Here, parents may write books with their children or be interviewed by their children about their outlook on life and their experiences. Through this collaboration, teachers allow voices otherwise silenced to be heard. Undoubtedly, it is every teacher’s responsibility to make oppressed and marginalized students appreciate themselves and their parents (Nieto, 2004; Spring 2004). To conclude, teachers will find Authors’ accessible and meaningful ways of engaging students and parents in collaborative reading, creation, and publication of books quite valuable.
An unusually well written and organized educational guide, September 14, 2003
Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)
Collaboratively written by Alma Flor Ada (Director of the Center for Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults, University of San Francisco) and F. Isabel Campoy (a children’s books author and language acquisition expert), Authors In The Classroom: A Transformative Education Process is an unusually well written and organized educational guide aimed expressly at classroom teachers seeking to improve their own writing skills. Enthusiastically promoting creative literacy among students, teachers, and parents alike, Authors In The Classroom creatively and informatively explores means for educators to hone their own writing talents, as well as encouraging the students to live up to their fullest potential. An excellent, reflective, “user friendly” guide, Authors In The Classroom is an invaluable contribution to academic Education Studies reference collections.
Goodreads, June 2003
Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy combine inspirational examples and practical how-to’s to create a unique resource for teachers! Thousands of teachers have experienced the awakening of their own creative writing voice through participating in the writing courses and workshops offered by Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy. The rich tapestry of these teachers’ voices is a major highlight of this book. In turn, teachers have used their own self-published works to inspire students and parents to write their own stories, and those voices are included in here as well. In addition to offering a plethora of inspiring examples of works authored by classroom teachers, parents, and students, this book also includes practical, step-by-step activities and a solid grounding in theory. Written in a clear and reader-friendly style, this combination will enable teachers to experience the benefits of this creative approach to building strong classroom communities.
Includes 10 thematic units, with writing starters and activities for teachers, parents, and children.
Features sections on facilitating classroom dialogue and unlearning oppression/education for liberation.
Showcases abundant examples of teachers’ self-published books, as well as students’ and parents’ writing.
In Sweet Company: Conversations with Extraordinary Women about Living a Spiritual Life by Margaret Wolff on page 70.
“Using Teachers’ Volunteer Experiences in the Dominican Republic to Develop Social Responsibility in Canadian Middle-School Students: An ‘Authors in the Classroom’ Approach,” by Judith K. Bernhard, Lisa Evans, Yohannys Marmolejo, Teresa Cosentino, The Inter-American Journal of Education for Democracy
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