Discuss Diversifying the Common Core Multicultural Literature Recommendations Nov 5 - Daily Hudson Valley News

Discuss Diversifying the Common Core Multicultural Literature Recommendations Nov 5

Nov 4th, 2013 | By | Category: Community Happenings

Jane Gangi, an associate professor of education at Mount Saint Mary College, and student contributors, will discuss multicultural literature recommendations for K-5 students  on November 13 at 7 p.m.

The free talk, open to the public, will take place at Aquinas Hall room 163, 330 Powell Avenue, Newburgh, N.Y.

Gangi, active in the Mount’s Collaborative for Equity in Literacy Learning (CELL) program, will discuss the importance of children seeing among their learning materials people whose appearance resembles theirs.

The group will speak fresh on the heels of presenting their findings at the New York State Reading Association Literacy for All Learners conference in Albany.

Out of 171 recommended texts for elementary school students in the English Language Arts Common Core, 18 are from authors of color.

“In the same way that children need mirror and window books, they need mirror and window authors,” said Gangi. “Kids of color need to see that authors and illustrators look like them.”

Good readers, she explained, make text-to-world, text-to-self, and text-to-text connections. That can be more difficult for children if the majority of books they read feature only characters of one race.

“It’s got to be so much more than Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King,” she said.

Common Core Literature Discussion

Jane Gangi, an associate professor of education at Mount Saint Mary College, discusses diverse literature with project contributors (left to right): Alexandria Hercules of Newburgh, N.Y, history major on the childhood and special education track; Anthony Hazzard of Marlboro, N.Y., a history major on the childhood and special education track; Lauren Feliciano of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a history major on the childhood and special education track; Bishop Dunn Memorial School fourth grade teacher Nancy Benfer; and Justin Lewis of Spring Valley, N.Y., a graduate student in literacy for K – sixth grade students. Not pictured: Jane Tejeda of Middletown, N.Y., a Hispanic studies major.

Recently, David Coleman and Sue Pimental, architects of the English Language Arts Common Core Standards, sent representatives to Mount Saint Mary College’s CELL program, requesting suggestions for literary diversity.

Gangi, Bishop Dunn Memorial School fourth grade teacher Nancy Benfer, and ten Mount Saint Mary College student annotators developed a list of more than 150 book suggestions to include in K-5 Common Core standards. The texts were recommended by educators across the nation, or had won multicultural awards.

“This is one of the first times that I saw myself in texts,” said annotator Lauren Feliciano of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a history major on the childhood and special education track. “That was a really big deal for me. That made me want to read more.”

Justin Lewis of Spring Valley, N.Y., a graduate student in literacy for K – sixth grade students, added, “Reading these books of color will help all children. In America, we are multicultural. To be successful, you have to know about other cultures, especially in the business world.”

Other Mount education faculty who have participated in the CELL program are director Janine Bixler, Reva Cowan, David Gallagher, and Matt Hollibush. Additionally, English professor Peter Witkowski recently lent his skills to the program.

Other CELL programs include Mount “book clubs” offered at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center. College volunteers help their young students to explore books that reflect various cultural backgrounds and interests of the Newburgh community. Children actively share their own ideas and stories as well.

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