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Best Practices in Secondary EducationBest Practices in Secondary Education

While visiting a Boston public school, I
asked more than 120 teenagers to construct their textual
lineages, that is, a visual representation of texts that they
have found to be significant in their lives. On average,
the students identified two texts that held significance
throughout their entire, albeit young, teenage lives. The
reasons the text held significance converge on three
major themes: personal connection, empathy, and
identity shaping. The following comments provided by
the students illustrated the three themes:

I love The Skin I’m In (Flake, 1998) because
it’s something that has to do with me and
the girls in that book act like me.

The book, Forged by Fire
(Draper, 1998), is a book that
all young black males can relate
to of how your life can go from
negative to positive.

Just like any other book,
Tears of Tiger (Draper, 1994)
got me reading more and got
me crying.

I like a Child Called “It”
(Pelzer, 1995) because I
learned that my life is not so
bad compared to other people,
especially David’s.

The poem, “Our Deepest Fear”
(Williamson, 1992) had me
rethinking myself because I fear a lot.

I like the poem “Phenomenal Woman”
by Maya Angelou (1995) because it reflects
the pride of women and how they don’t care
what others think about the way they look.

Sadly, however, more than 30% of the adolescents
did not identify a single text they found significant.

Several of the students explained they did not believe
they were encountering challenging, meaningful texts.
One student shared, “It ain’t going down. I don’t see
how just reading is going to help me, I need something
more academic.” Another student offered, “We need to
learn harder vocabulary. [The vocabulary] is the same
we learned in elementary school.” The students were
complaining about the text because “teachers [were
giving] books that were boring and when the class
[didn’t] want to read, [the teachers] [got] aggravated.”

The students ascribed the absence of meaningful
texts in their lives to teachers’ refusal to acknowledge
their day-to-day realities couched in their adolescent,
cultural, and gender identities. A young man offered

that “I need to read interesting topics
like teen drama, violence, something
you can relate your life or other
people’s lives to.” A young woman
commented, “They give us different
books than we would read; the books
are boring.”

Summing up the sentiments that
many of the adolescents held towards
texts disconnected from one or
several of their identities, a student
shared, “I read them, but I do not
care what they say.” This reflects a
stark contrast to the students who
found value and direction in the text,
as reflected in this young woman’s

comment, “The Skin I’m In reminds me of real life in
school. A girl so black in school, and she wanted to kill
herself. If I was in her school, I would be her friend.
Even the teacher hated her.”

High school students need and benefit from a wide
range of texts that challenge them to contextualize and
examine their in-school and out-of-school lives. I agree

“Instead of
trying to score
with reading,
schools have
focused
on increasing
reading scores.”

Enabling Texts:
Texts That Matter
by Dr. Alfred W. Tatum

with Apple (1990) who argues that ignoring text that
dominates school curricula as being simply not worthy
of serious attention and serious struggle is to live in a
world divorced from reality. He asserts that texts need to
be situated in the larger social movements of which they
are a part.

However, in an era of accountability, where the focus
is placed on research-based instructional practices, the
texts that adolescents find meaningful and significant
to their development are being severely compromised.
Instead of trying to score with reading, schools have
focused on increasing reading scores. This is prob-
lematic because texts can be used to broker positive,
meaningful relationships with struggling adolescent
readers during reading instruction.

Powerful Texts
It is prudent to use a combination of powerful texts, in
tandem with powerful reading instruction, to influence
the literacy development and lives of adolescents. Texts
should be selected with a clearer audit of the struggling
adolescent reader, many of whom are suffering from
an underexposure to text that they find meaningful.
These students need exposure to enabling texts (Tatum,
in press). An enabling text is one that moves beyond a
sole cognitive focus—such as skill and strategy develop-
ment—to include an academic, cultural, emotional, and
social focus that moves students closer to examining
issues they find relevant to their lives. For example, texts
can be used to help high school students wrestling with
the question, What am I going to do with the rest of my
life? This is a question most adolescents find essential as
they engage in shaping their identities.

The texts selected for Edge are enabling texts. First,
they serve as the vehicle for exploring essential ques-
tions, but secondly, the texts are diverse—from classics
that have inspired readers for decades (Shakespeare,
Frost, St. Vincent Millay, Saki, de Maupassant,
Poe, et al.) to contemporary fiction that reflects the
diversity of the U.S. (Allende, Alvarez, Angelou,
Bruchac, Cisneros, Ortiz Cofer, Soto, Tan, et al.).

The texts are also diverse in subject matter and genre,
exploring issues of personal identity as well as cultural
and social movements. Here are just a few examples of
selections in Edge that deal with personal identity:

• “Who We Really Are”—being a foster child
• “Curtis Aikens and the American Dream”

—overcoming illiteracy
• “Nicole”—being biracial
• “My English,” “Voices of America,” “La Vida

Robot”—being an immigrant to the U.S.
And here are just a few examples of selections dealing
with social and cultural issues:

• “Long Walk to Freedom”—overthrowing apartheid

My English 405404 Unit 4 Express Yourself

Monitor Comprehension

into and must wisely use. Unfortunately, my English became all mixed up
with our Spanish.

Mix-up, or what’s now called Spanglish, was the language we spoke for
several years. There wasn’t a sentence that wasn’t colonized by an English
word. At school, a Spanish word would suddenly slide into my English like
someone butting into line. Teacher, whose face I was learning to read as
minutely as my mother’s, would scowl but no smile played on her lips. Her
pale skin made her strange countenance hard to read, so that I often
misjudged how much I could get away with. Whenever I made a mistake,
Teacher would shake her head slowly, “In English, YU-LEE-AH, there’s no such
word as columpio. Do you mean a swing?”

I would bow my head, humiliated by the smiles and snickers of the
American children around me. I grew insecure about Spanish. My native
tongue was not quite as good as English, as if words like columpio were illegal
immigrants trying to cross a border into another language. But Teacher’s
discerning grammar-and-vocabulary-patrol ears could tell and send
them back. 3

Key Vocabulary
countenance n., facial expression
discerning adj., good at making

judgments

began to learn more English at the Carol Morgan School in Santo
Domingo. That is, when I had stopped gawking. The teacher and some of
the American children had the strangest coloration: light hair, light eyes,

light skin, as if Ursulina had soaked them in bleach too long, to’ deteñío.
I did have some blond cousins, but they had deeply tanned skin, and as they
grew older, their hair darkened, so their earlier paleness seemed a phase of
their acquiring normal color. Just as strange was the little girl in my reader
who had a cat and a dog, that looked just like un gatito y un perrito. Her
mami was Mother and her papi Father. 1 Why have a whole new language for
school and for books with a teacher who could speak it teaching you double
the amount of words you really needed?

Butter, butter, butter, butter. All day, one English word that had particularly
struck me would go round and round in my mouth and weave through all the
Spanish in my head until by the end of the day, the word did sound like just
another Spanish word. And so I would say, “Mami, please pass la mantequilla.”
She would scowl and say in English, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. But would
you be needing some butter on your bread?”

WHY MY PA RENTS didn’t first educate us in our native language by enrolling
us in a Dominican school, I don’t know. Part of it was that Mami’s family
had a tradition of sending the boys to the States to boarding school and
college, and she had been one of the first girls to be allowed to join her
brothers. At Abbot Academy, whose school song was our lullaby as babies
(“Although Columbus and Cabot never heard of Abbot, it’s quite the place
for you and me”), she had become quite Americanized. 2 It was very
important, she kept saying, that we learn our English. She always used
the possessive pronoun: your English, an inheritance we had come

In Other Words
gawking staring
to’ deteñío too long (in Dominican Spanish)
un gatito y un perrito a kitten and a puppy
(in Spanish)
la mantequilla butter (in Spanish)

1 Ask Questions
Why does the
author put some
of the English
words in italics?
Why doesn’t she
put the Spanish
words in italics?

2 Chronological
Order
How does the
author interrupt
the chronological
order at this point
in the narrative?

Preview

Look at the first sentence of the selection and the photo.
What is the setting of the narrative?

I

The author grew up in Santo Domingo, the capital and largest city of the Dominican Republic.

3 Language
A simile is a
comparison of
two unlike things
that often uses
the word like or
as. What simile
does the author
use here and why?

In Other Words
colonized by mixed with
minutely closely, carefully
columpio swing (in Spanish)

Summarize
Summarize what
happens to the writer
as she learns more
and more English.

began to learn more English at the Carol Morgan School in Santo
Domingo. That is, when I had stopped gawking. The teacher and some of
the American children had the strangest coloration: light hair, light eyes,

light skin, as if Ursulina had soaked them in bleach too long, to’ deteñío.
I did have some blond cousins, but they had deeply tanned skin, and as they
grew older, their hair darkened, so their earlier paleness seemed a phase of
their acquiring normal color. Just as strange was the little girl in my reader
who had a cat and a dog, that looked just like un gatito y un perrito. Her
mami was Mother and her papi Mother and her papi Mother Father. Father. Father 1 Why have a whole new language for
school and for books with a teacher who could speak it teaching you double
the amount of words you really needed?

Butter, butter, butter, butter. All day, one English word that had particularly Butter, butter, butter, butter. All day, one English word that had particularly Butter, butter, butter, butter
struck me would go round and round in my mouth and weave through all the
Spanish in my head until by the end of the day, the word did sound like just
another Spanish word. And so I would say, “Mami, please pass la mantequilla.”
She would scowl and say in English, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. But would
you be needing some butter on your bread?”

WHY MY PA RENTS didn’t first educate us in our native language by enrolling
us in a Dominican school, I don’t know. Part of it was that Mami’s family
had a tradition of sending the boys to the States to boarding school and
college, and she had been one of the first girls to be allowed to join her

1 Ask Questions
Why does the
author put some
of the English
words in italics?
Why doesn’t she
put the Spanish
words in italics?

Preview

Look at the first sentence of the selection and the photo.
What is the setting of the narrative?

II

With humor and insight, Julia Alvarez recalls how
she left the Dominican Republic as a young person
and “landed, not in the United States, but in the
English language.”

Online Coach

“My English” reflects on the immigrant experience.

The Tour de Sol is an annual competition that honors the “greenest vehicles.” The goal
is to produce a vehicle that reduces gasoline use and greenhouse gas emissions by
100% . West Philadelphia High School’s Electric Vehicle Team won the Tour’s category
for student-built vehicles in 2002 and 2005—could they win again in 2006? 1 1 Problem

and Solution
The author
begins by
introducing
the team’s
main problem.
What is it?

2 Ask Questions
What questions
and answers help
you understand
this section
more fully?

3 Problem
and Solution
How do the
students realize
there is a problem
with the car before
they even get
there?

Monitor Comprehension

Explain
What is the Attack?
What happens during
its test run on
Locust Street?

354 Unit 4 Opening Doors The Fast and the Fuel-Efficient 355

Clayton Kinsler, auto mechanics
teacher at West Philadelphia High
School, scanned Locust Street to
make sure there were no pedestrians.
Then he hammered the throttle,
rocketing the mean little coupe down
the block. The car was the Attack—
the country’s fastest, most efficient ,
eco-friendly sports car. And it was
created by a West Philadelphia High
School team.

The asphalt-hugging, gunmetal-
gray roadster was preparing for the
Olympics of environmental auto
competitions—the Tour de Sol in

upstate New York. And much was
riding on this car.

The car had won the race in 2002
and 2005, earning national attention
for the team of about a dozen
mostly African American vocational
education students. If it won more
Tour de Sol victories, there could be
scholarships and well-paying jobs in
the auto industry for the students—
and badly needed grants, sponsor-
ships, or even partnerships with major
automakers for the city school’s auto-
motive academy.

Maybe Hollywood would come
knocking. 2

For the moment, though, on Locust
Street, it was time to cut loose and
show off. At each high-speed pass by
Kinsler, 47, the car’s student builders
whooped and cheered. Then, zooming
down Locust, Kinsler suddenly felt a
loss of power. When he pushed the
pedal, the engine revved, but nothing
happened at the wheels. He coasted
to a stop at 48th Street. And sat there.

The students looked at one an-
other and began walking, then running
toward the car, as they realized that
something had gone horribly wrong.
They moved around the car with
pit crew precision and removed the
engine cover. 3

Simon Hauger, 36-year-old head of
the school’s Electric Vehicle Team and
mastermind of the project, looked into
the tangle of wires, pipes, and hoses.
“The axle’s done,” he announced. As
he had feared might happen, the car’s
axle had broken in two.

The Attack in the shop. It is arguably the
country’s fastest, most efficient sports car.

A Test Run

West Philadelphia High School’s hybrid electric and biodiesel car goes from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in
under 4 seconds and gets over 50 miles to the gallon. It is built mainly from a car kit, donor parts,
and also has a number of custom innovations.

Under the Hood

Electrical control unit reprogrammed
to increase power

Racing intercooler cools
air for turbocharger

Body and frame assembled
from a kit and other parts
from a donor vehicle

200 horsepower
electrical engine
receives power from
batteries and uses
power from braking
to recharge batteries

Engine runs on
biodiesel fuel

Custom-built
radiator

Custom-built
axles connect
engine to wheels

Custom wiring
matches engine
to other parts

In Other Words
pedestrians people walking on the street
eco-friendly environmentally safe
vocational education students students
learning technical skills
scholarships awards that help pay for college
grants money to pay for the project

custom innovations special features designed
for this particular car

Key Vocabulary
efficient adj., working well without
wasting energy
solution n., the answer that solves
or fixes a problem

Interpret the Diagram What does the diagram show about the amount of work the students
put into the car?

In Other Words
with pit crew precision like expert teams
that work on racecars during races
hybrid electirc and biodiesel car car that
runs on battery power and fuel made from
vegetable oils and/or animal fats
donor parts parts from other cars

The Tour de Sol is an annual competition that honors the “greenest vehicles.” The goal
is to produce a vehicle that reduces gasoline use and greenhouse gas emissions by
100% . West Philadelphia High School’s Electric Vehicle Team won the Tour’s category
for student-built vehicles in 2002 and 2005—could they win again in 2006? 1 1 Problem

and Solutionand Solution
The author
begins by
introducing
the team’s
main problem.
What is it?

2 Ask Questions
What questions
and answers help
you understand
this section
more fully?

Clayton Kinsler, auto mechanics
teacher at West Philadelphia High
School, scanned Locust Street to
make sure there were no pedestrians.
Then he hammered the throttle,
rocketing the mean little coupe down
the block. The car was the Attack—
the country’s fastest, most efficient ,
eco-friendly sports car. And it was
created by a West Philadelphia High
School team.

The asphalt-hugging, gunmetal-
gray roadster was preparing for the
Olympics of environmental auto
competitions—the Tour de Sol in

upstate New York. And much was
riding on this car.

The car had won the race in 2002
and 2005, earning national attention
for the team of about a dozen
mostly African American vocational
education students. If it won more
Tour de Sol victories, there could be
scholarships and well-paying jobs in
the auto industry for the students—
and badly needed grants, sponsor-
ships, or even partnerships with major
automakers for the city school’s auto-
motive academy.

Maybe Hollywood would come
knocking. 2

For the moment, though, on Locust
Street, it was time to cut loose and
show off. At each high-speed pass by
Kinsler, 47, the car’s student builders
whooped and cheered. Then, zooming
down Locust, Kinsler suddenly felt a

A Test Run

Online Coach

Teens develop eco-friendly cars.

138 Unit 2 The Art of Expression Hip-Hop as Culture 139

The Beastie Boys
release the first rap
album to reach #1 and
the best-selling rap
album of the decade.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & the
Fresh Prince win the
first Grammy Award
for rap music.

Monitor Comprehension

I was born in 1969, so I am a part of the original hip-hop generation.
I watched hip-hop evolve from underground house parties in the
basements of my friends’ houses, to the first Run DMC video on cable
television to, today’s rap millionaires like Sean “Diddy” Combs, Master P,
Suge Knight, and Russell Simmons. 4 These successful
African Americans are more than just rappers.
As a matter of fact, Russell Simmons doesn’t even
rap. Simmons has been behind the scenes of hip-
hop—developing it from rap artists and groups to
films and clothing lines. Simmons, a true pioneer
of the culture, opened the door so that others in
the movement could start their own record labels
and develop their own clothing lines.

These innovators are the architects of culture. 5
They started from the streets of the city and now
influence suburban areas and even small rural towns.
They took the hustle of the street and turned it into a Wall Street
economy. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a city or suburb. It doesn’t
matter if you are Latino, Asian, or Irish. Hip-hop is influencing
your situation.

The H ip-Hop Influence
Kids may not love hip-hop, but they’re being influenced by it. If

teens are wearing oversized jeans with the tops of their boxers showing,
oversized athletic jerseys, or long chains around their necks, this is
hip-hop. Girls on a bus braiding their hair in the style of an Ethiopian
queen, that’s hip-hop. There are things around you that daily scream
at you, “long live hip-hop!” If you want to understand the culture teens
live in today, it’s important to understand hip-hop and understand it as
culture, not just music.

In the book Hip-Hop America, Nelson George writes this:

“ Now we know that rap music, and hip-hop style as a whole, has
utterly broken through from its ghetto roots to assert a lasting
influence on American clothing, magazine publishing, television,
language, . . . and social policy as well as its obvious presence
in records and movies. . . . [A]dvertisers, magazines, [television],
fashion companies, . . . soft drink manufacturers, and multimedia
conglomerates . . . have embraced hip-hop as a way to reach not
just black young people, but all young people.” 6

Kurtis Blow’s song,
“The Breaks,”
becomes hip-hop’s
first gold single.

Rick Rubin and Russell
Simmons form Def Jam
Records, one of the top
labels in hip-hop.

ZEarly to Mid-1980s

4 Author’s Purpose
Why does the
author include his
own experience
with hip-hop?
Explain.

In Other Words
its ghetto roots where it began in
poor areas
social policy the way the government and
leaders treat different groups
multimedia conglomerates organizations
that control TV, film, news, and advertising

In Other Words
underground secret
behind the scenes of working to support
and help
pioneer early leader
architects of designers who plan
and build

ZMid to Late 1980s

5 Language
Smith describes
Russell Simmons
as a “pioneer.”
What other words
does he use to
describe early hip-
hop leaders? How
is this different
from calling them
“artists” and
“producers”?

6 Determine
Importance
What is the
main idea of this
paragraph from
Hip-Hop America?

Explain
According to Smith,
how did leaders like
Russell Simmons help
later hip-hop artists?

Key Vocabulary
evolve v., to develop over time
innovators n., people who
introduce something new

Key Vocabulary
assert v., to insist on having one’s

opinions and rights recognized

I am part of
the hip-hop
generation

I was born in 1969, so I am a part of the original hip-hop generation.
I watched hip-hop evolve from underground house parties in the
basements of my friends’ houses, to the first Run DMC video on cable
television to, today’s rap millionaires like Sean “Diddy” Combs, Master P,
Suge Knight, and Russell Simmons. 4 These successful
African Americans are more than just rappers.
As a matter of fact, Russell Simmons doesn’t even
rap. Simmons has been behind the scenes of hip-behind the scenes of hip-behind the scenes of
hop—developing it from rap artists and groups to
films and clothing lines. Simmons, a true pioneer
of the culture, opened the door so that others in
the movement could start their own record labels
and develop their own clothing lines.

These innovators are the architects of culture. architects of culture. architects of 5
They started from the streets of the city and now
influence suburban areas and even small rural towns.
They took the hustle of the street and turned it into a Wall Street
economy. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a city or suburb. It doesn’t
matter if you are Latino, Asian, or Irish. Hip-hop is influencing
your situation.

4 Author’s Purpose
Why does the
author include his
own experience
with hip-hop?
Explain.

5 Language
Smith describes
Russell Simmons
as a “pioneer.”
What other words
does he use to
describe early hip-
hop leaders? How
is this different
from calling them
“artists” and
“producers”?

I am part of I am part of
the hip-hop the hip-hop
generationgenerationgeneration

Hip-Hop
as Culture

by Efrem Smith

Online Coach

Art has the power to build bridges.

• “Hip-Hop as Culture” and “Slam: Performance
Poetry Lives On”—the power of art to build bridges
and shape culture

• “Violence Hits Home”—how young people are
working to stop gang violence

• “The Fast and the Fuel Efficient”—how teens are
developing eco-friendly cars.
Unfortunately, many high school students who

struggle with reading are encountering texts that are
characteristically disabling. A disabling text reinforces
a student’s perception of being a struggling reader. A
disabling text also ignores students’ local contexts and
their desire as adolescents for self-definition. Disabling
texts do not move in the direction of closing the reading
achievement gap in a class-based, language-based, and
race-based society in which many adolescents are under-
served by low-quality literacy instruction.

It is important to note that meaningful texts,
although important, are not sufficient to improve litera-
cy instruction for adolescents. High school students who
struggle with reading and lack the skills and strategies
to handle text independently need support to become
engaged with the text.

Powerful Instruction
One of the most powerful techniques is to use the text
to teach the text. This is a productive approach to help
struggling readers become engaged. It simply means
that the teacher presents a short excerpt of the upcom-
ing reading selection—before reading—and then
models skills or strategies with that text. For example,
if the instructional goal is to have students understand
how an author uses characterization, the teacher could
use an excerpt of the text to introduce the concept.

There are several pedagogical and student benefits
associated with using the text to teach the text, namely
nurturing fluency and building background knowledge.
Because students are asked to examine an excerpt of a
text they will see again later as they read independently,
rereading has been embedded. Rereadings are effective
for nurturing fluency for students who struggle with
decoding and for English language learners. Secondly,
the students are introduced to aspects of Langston
Hughes; writing that will potentially shape their reading
of the text. Having background knowledge improves
reading comprehension. Using the text to teach the text
provides a strategic advantage for struggling readers
while allowing teachers to introduce the text and strate-
gies together. It is a win-win situation for both teacher
and student.

Conclusion
It is difficult for many teachers to engage struggling
adolescent readers with text. I hear the common refrain,
“These kids just don’t want to read.” There are several
reasons adolescents refuse to read. Primary among them
are a lack of interest in the texts and a lack of requisite
skills and strategies for handling the text independently.

It is imperative to identify and engage students with
texts that pay attention to their multiple identities. It
is equally imperative to grant them entry into the texts
by providing explicit skill and strategy instruction. The
texts should be as diverse as the students being taught.
The texts should also challenge students to wrestle
with questions they find significant. This combination
optimizes shaping students’ literacies along with shaping
their lives, an optimization that informs Edge. ❖

Bibliography
Agee, J. (2000). What is effective literature instruction? A study

of experienced high school English teachers in differing
grade- and ability-level classes. Journal of Literacy Research,
32, 303–348.

Alfassi, M. (1998). Reading for meaning: The efficacy of
reciprocal teaching in fostering reading comprehension in
high school students in remedial reading classes. American
Educational Research Journal, 35, 309–332.

Alvermann, D. (2002). Effective literacy instruction for
adolescents. Journal of Literacy Research, 34, 189–208.

Alvermann, D., Hinchman, K., Moore, D., Phelps, S., & Waff,
D. (In press). Reconceptualizing the literacies in adolescents’
lives, (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Alvermann, D., Young, J., Weaver, D., Hinchman, K., Moore,
D., Phelps, S., & Thrash, E. (1996). Middle and high school
students’ perceptions of how they experience text-based
discussions: A multicase study. Reading Research Quarterly,
31, 244–267.

Applebee, A. N., Langer, J. A., Nystrand, …

Dr. Alfred W. Tatum began his career as an eighth-grade teacher, later becoming
a reading specialist and discovering the power of texts to reshape the life outcomes of
struggling readers. His current research focuses on the literacy development of African
American adolescent males (Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males: Closing the
Achievement Gap, 2005, and “Building the Textual Lineages of African American Male
Adolescents,” 2007), and he provides teacher professional development to urban middle
and high schools. In this first article, Dr. Tatum draws upon his qualitative research with
high school students to make the case for using diverse and challenging texts that matter
to students, such as the texts included in Edge. In his second article starting on page 61,
Dr. Tatum draws on his professional development work with teachers to recommend
assessment strategies to more effectively develop students’ reading abilities.

While visiTing a BosTon puBlic school,
I asked more than 120 teenagers to construct their textual
lineages, that is, a visual representation of texts that have found
to be significant in their lives. On average, the students identi-
fied two texts that held significance throughout their entire, al-
beit young, teenage lives. The reasons the text held significance
converge on three major themes: personal connection, empa-
thy, and identity shaping. The following comments provided
by the students illustrated the three themes:

I love The Skin I’m In (Flake, 1998)
because it’s something that has to do
with me and the girls in that book act
like me.

The book, Forged by Fire (Draper,
1998), is a book that all young black
males can relate to of how your
life can go from negative to positive.

Just like any other book, Tears of Tiger
(Draper, 1994), got me reading more
and got me crying.

I like a Child Called “It” (Pelzer, 1995)
because I learned that my life is not so
bad compared to other people, espe-
cially David’s.

The poem, “Our Deepest Fear” (Williamson, 1992)
had me rethinking myself because I fear a lot.

I like the poem “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya
Angelou (1995) because it reflects the pride of
women and how they don’t care what others think
about the way they look.

Sadly, however, more than 30% of the adolescents did not
identify a single text they found significant. Several of the stu-
dents explained they did not believe they were encountering
challenging, meaningful texts. One student shared, “It ain’t
going down. I don’t see how just reading is going to help me,

I need something more academic.” Another student offered,
“We need to learn harder vocabulary. [The vocabulary] is the
same we learned in elementary school.” The students were com-
plaining about the text because “teachers [were giving] books
that were boring and when the class [didn’t] want to read, [the
teachers] [got] aggravated.”

The students ascribed the absence of meaningful texts in
their lives to teachers’ refusal to acknowledge their day-to-day

realities couched in their adolescent, cul-
tural, and gender identities. A young man
offered that “I need to read interesting top-
ics like teen drama, violence, something you
can relate your life or other people’s lives to.”
A young woman commented, “They give
us different books than we would read; the
books are boring.”

Summing up the sentiments that many
of the adolescents held towards texts discon-
nected from one or several of their identities,
a student shared, “I read them, but I do not
care what they say.” This reflects a stark con-
trast to the students who found value and
direction in the text, as reflected this young

woman’s comment, “The Skin I’m In reminds me of real life in
school. A girl so black in school, and she wanted to kill herself.
If I was in her school, I would be her friend. Even the teacher
hated her.”

High school students need and benefit from a wide range of
texts that challenge them to contextualize and examine their
in-school and out-of-school lives. I agree with Apple (1990)
who argues that ignoring text that dominates school curricula
as being simply not worthy of serious attention and serious
struggle is to live in a world divorced from reality. He asserts
that texts need to be situated in the larger social movements of
which they are a part.

Enabling Texts: Texts That Matter by Dr. Alfred W. Tatum

Instead of trying
to score with
reading, schools
have focused
on increasing
reading scores.

Enabling Texts: Texts That Matter Page 1 of 3

The Tour de Sol is an annual competition that honors the “greenest vehicles.” The goal
is to produce a vehicle that reduces gasoline use and greenhouse gas emissions by
100% . West Philadelphia High School’s Electric Vehicle Team won the Tour’s category
for student-built vehicles in 2002 and 2005—could they win again in 2006? 1 1 Problem

and Solution
The author
begins by
introducing
the team’s
main problem.
What is it?

2 Ask Questions
What questions
and answers help
you understand
this section
more fully?

3 Problem
and Solution
How do the
students realize
there is a problem
with the car before
they even get
there?

Monitor Comprehension

Explain
What is the Attack?
What happens during
its test run on
Locust Street?

354 Unit 4 Opening Doors The Fast and the Fuel-Efficient 355

Clayton Kinsler, auto mechanics
teacher at West Philadelphia High
School, scanned Locust Street to
make sure there were no pedestrians.
Then he hammered the throttle,
rocketing the mean little coupe down
the block. The car was the Attack—
the country’s fastest, most efficient ,
eco-friendly sports car. And it was
created by a West Philadelphia High
School team.

The asphalt-hugging, gunmetal-
gray roadster was preparing for the
Olympics of environmental auto
competitions—the Tour de Sol in

upstate New York. And much was
riding on this car.

The car had won the race in 2002
and 2005, earning national attention
for the team of about a dozen
mostly African American vocational
education students. If it won more
Tour de Sol victories, there could be
scholarships and well-paying jobs in
the auto industry for the students—
and badly needed grants, sponsor-
ships, or even partnerships with major
automakers for the city school’s auto-
motive academy.

Maybe Hollywood would come
knocking. 2

For the moment, though, on Locust
Street, it was time to cut loose and
show off. At each high-speed pass by
Kinsler, 47, the car’s student builders
whooped and cheered. Then, zooming
down Locust, Kinsler suddenly felt a
loss of power. When he pushed the
pedal, the engine revved, but nothing
happened at the wheels. He coasted
to a stop at 48th Street. And sat there.

The students looked at one an-
other and began walking, then running
toward the car, as they realized that
something had gone horribly wrong.
They moved around the car with
pit crew precision and removed the
engine cover. 3

Simon Hauger, 36-year-old head of
the school’s Electric Vehicle Team and
mastermind of the project, looked into
the tangle of wires, pipes, and hoses.
“The axle’s done,” he announced. As
he had feared might happen, the car’s
axle had broken in two.

The Attack in the shop. It is arguably the
country’s fastest, most efficient sports car.

A Test Run

West Philadelphia High School’s hybrid electric and biodiesel car goes from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in
under 4 seconds and gets over 50 miles to the gallon. It is built mainly from a car kit, donor parts,
and also has a number of custom innovations.

Under the Hood

Electrical control unit reprogrammed
to increase power

Racing intercooler cools
air for turbocharger

Body and frame assembled
from a kit and other parts
from a donor vehicle

200 horsepower
electrical engine
receives power from
batteries and uses
power from braking
to recharge batteries

Engine runs on
biodiesel fuel

Custom-built
radiator

Custom-built
axles connect
engine to wheels

Custom wiring
matches engine
to other parts

In Other Words
pedestrians people walking on the street
eco-friendly environmentally safe
vocational education students students
learning technical skills
scholarships awards that help pay for college
grants money to pay for the project

custom innovations special features designed
for this particular car

Key Vocabulary
efficient adj., working well without
wasting energy
solution n., the answer that solves
or fixes a problem

Interpret the Diagram What does the diagram show about the amount of work the students
put into the car?

In Other Words
with pit crew precision like expert teams
that work on racecars during races
hybrid electirc and biodiesel car car that
runs on battery power and fuel made from
vegetable oils and/or animal fats
donor parts parts from other cars

138 Unit 2 The Art of Expression Hip-Hop as Culture 139

The Beastie Boys
release the first rap
album to reach #1 and
the best-selling rap
album of the decade.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & the
Fresh Prince win the
first Grammy Award
for rap music.

Monitor Comprehension

I was born in 1969, so I am a part of the original hip-hop generation.
I watched hip-hop evolve from underground house parties in the
basements of my friends’ houses, to the first Run DMC video on cable
television to, today’s rap millionaires like Sean “Diddy” Combs, Master P,
Suge Knight, and Russell Simmons. 4 These successful
African Americans are more than just rappers.
As a matter of fact, Russell Simmons doesn’t even
rap. Simmons has been behind the scenes of hip-
hop—developing it from rap artists and groups to
films and clothing lines. Simmons, a true pioneer
of the culture, opened the door so that others in
the movement could start their own record labels
and develop their own clothing lines.

These innovators are the architects of culture. 5
They started from the streets of the city and now
influence suburban areas and even small rural towns.
They took the hustle of the street and turned it into a Wall Street
economy. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a city or suburb. It doesn’t
matter if you are Latino, Asian, or Irish. Hip-hop is influencing
your situation.

The H ip-Hop Influence
Kids may not love hip-hop, but they’re being influenced by it. If

teens are wearing oversized jeans with the tops of their boxers showing,
oversized athletic jerseys, or long chains around their necks, this is
hip-hop. Girls on a bus braiding their hair in the style of an Ethiopian
queen, that’s hip-hop. There are things around you that daily scream
at you, “long live hip-hop!” If you want to understand the culture teens
live in today, it’s important to understand hip-hop and understand it as
culture, not just music.

In the book Hip-Hop America, Nelson George writes this:

“ Now we know that rap music, and hip-hop style as a whole, has
utterly broken through from its ghetto roots to assert a lasting
influence on American clothing, magazine publishing, television,
language, . . . and social policy as well as its obvious presence
in records and movies. . . . [A]dvertisers, magazines, [television],
fashion companies, . . . soft drink manufacturers, and multimedia
conglomerates . . . have embraced hip-hop as a way to reach not
just black young people, but all young people.” 6

Kurtis Blow’s song,
“The Breaks,”
becomes hip-hop’s
first gold single.

Rick Rubin and Russell
Simmons form Def Jam
Records, one of the top
labels in hip-hop.

ZEarly to Mid-1980s

4 Author’s Purpose
Why does the
author include his
own experience
with hip-hop?
Explain.

In Other Words
its ghetto roots where it began in
poor areas
social policy the way the government and
leaders treat different groups
multimedia conglomerates organizations
that control TV, film, news, and advertising

In Other Words
underground secret
behind the scenes of working to support
and help
pioneer early leader
architects of designers who plan
and build

ZMid to Late 1980s

5 Language
Smith describes
Russell Simmons
as a “pioneer.”
What other words
does he use to
describe early hip-
hop leaders? How
is this different
from calling them
“artists” and
“producers”?

6 Determine
Importance
What is the
main idea of this
paragraph from
Hip-Hop America?

Explain
According to Smith,
how did leaders like
Russell Simmons help
later hip-hop artists?

Key Vocabulary
evolve v., to develop over time
innovators n., people who
introduce something new

Key Vocabulary
assert v., to insist on having one’s

opinions and rights recognized

I am part of
the hip-hop
generation

My English 405404 Unit 4 Express Yourself

Monitor Comprehension

into and must wisely use. Unfortunately, my English became all mixed up
with our Spanish.

Mix-up, or what’s now called Spanglish, was the language we spoke for
several years. There wasn’t a sentence that wasn’t colonized by an English
word. At school, a Spanish word would suddenly slide into my English like
someone butting into line. Teacher, whose face I was learning to read as
minutely as my mother’s, would scowl but no smile played on her lips. Her
pale skin made her strange countenance hard to read, so that I often
misjudged how much I could get away with. Whenever I made a mistake,
Teacher would shake her head slowly, “In English, YU-LEE-AH, there’s no such
word as columpio. Do you mean a swing?”

I would bow my head, humiliated by the smiles and snickers of the
American children around me. I grew insecure about Spanish. My native
tongue was not quite as good as English, as if words like columpio were illegal
immigrants trying to cross a border into another language. But Teacher’s
discerning grammar-and-vocabulary-patrol ears could tell and send
them back. 3

Key Vocabulary
countenance n., facial expression
discerning adj., good at making

judgments

began to learn more English at the Carol Morgan School in Santo
Domingo. That is, when I had stopped gawking. The teacher and some of
the American children had the strangest coloration: light hair, light eyes,

light skin, as if Ursulina had soaked them in bleach too long, to’ deteñío.
I did have some blond cousins, but they had deeply tanned skin, and as they
grew older, their hair darkened, so their earlier paleness seemed a phase of
their acquiring normal color. Just as strange was the little girl in my reader
who had a cat and a dog, that looked just like un gatito y un perrito. Her
mami was Mother and her papi Father. 1 Why have a whole new language for
school and for books with a teacher who could speak it teaching you double
the amount of words you really needed?

Butter, butter, butter, butter. All day, one English word that had particularly
struck me would go round and round in my mouth and weave through all the
Spanish in my head until by the end of the day, the word did sound like just
another Spanish word. And so I would say, “Mami, please pass la mantequilla.”
She would scowl and say in English, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. But would
you be needing some butter on your bread?”

WHY MY PA RENTS didn’t first educate us in our native language by enrolling
us in a Dominican school, I don’t know. Part of it was that Mami’s family
had a tradition of sending the boys to the States to boarding school and
college, and she had been one of the first girls to be allowed to join her
brothers. At Abbot Academy, whose school song was our lullaby as babies
(“Although Columbus and Cabot never heard of Abbot, it’s quite the place
for you and me”), she had become quite Americanized. 2 It was very
important, she kept saying, that we learn our English. She always used
the possessive pronoun: your English, an inheritance we had come

In Other Words
gawking staring
to’ deteñío too long (in Dominican Spanish)
un gatito y un perrito a kitten and a puppy
(in Spanish)
la mantequilla butter (in Spanish)

1 Ask Questions
Why does the
author put some
of the English
words in italics?
Why doesn’t she
put the Spanish
words in italics?

2 Chronological
Order
How does the
author interrupt
the chronological
order at this point
in the narrative?

Preview

Look at the first sentence of the selection and the photo.
What is the setting of the narrative?

I

The author grew up in Santo Domingo, the capital and largest city of the Dominican Republic.

3 Language
A simile is a
comparison of
two unlike things
that often uses
the word like or
as. What simile
does the author
use here and why?

In Other Words
colonized by mixed with
minutely closely, carefully
columpio swing (in Spanish)

Summarize
Summarize what
happens to the writer
as she learns more
and more English.

With humor and insight, Julia Alvarez recalls how
she left the Dominican Republic as a young person
and “landed, not in the United States, but in the
English language.”

Online Coach

Online Coach

Hip-Hop
as Culture

by Efrem Smith

Online Coach

“My English” reflects on
the immigrant experience.

Teens develop
eco-friendly cars.

Art has the power to
build bridges.

However, in an era of accountability, where the focus is
placed on research-based instructional practices, the texts that
adolescents find meaningful and significant to their develop-
ment are being severely compromised. Instead of trying to score
with reading, schools have focused on increasing reading scores.
This is problematic because texts can be used to broker positive,
meaningful relationships with struggling adolescent readers dur-
ing reading instruction.

Powerful Texts
It is prudent to use a combination of powerful texts, in tandem
with powerful reading instruction, to influence the literacy
development and lives of adolescents. Texts should be selected
with a clearer audit of the struggling adolescent reader, many
of whom are suffering from an underexposure to text that they
find meaningful. These students need exposure to enabling texts
(Tatum, in press). An enabling text is one that moves beyond a
sole cognitive focus—such as skill and strategy development—to
include an academic, cultural, emotional, and social focus that
moves students closer to examining issues they find relevant to
their lives. For example, texts can be used to help high school
students wrestling with the question, What am I going to do
with the rest of my life? This is a question most adolescents find
essential as they engage in shaping their identities.

The texts selected for Edge are enabling texts. First, they serve
as the vehicle for exploring essential questions, but secondly,
the texts are diverse—from classics that have inspired readers
for decades (Shakespeare, Frost, St. Vincent Millay, Saki, de
Maupassant, Poe, et al.) to contemporary fiction that reflects
the diversity of the U.S. (Allende, Alvarez, Angelou, Bruchac,
Cisneros, Ortiz Cofer, Soto, Tan, et al.).

The texts are also diverse in subject matter and genre, ex-
ploring issues of personal identity as well as cultural and social
movements. Here are just a few examples of selections in Edge
that deal with personal identity:

• “Who We Really Are”—being a foster child

• “Curtis Aikens and the American Dream”—overcoming
illiteracy

• “Nicole”—being biracial

• “My English,” “Voices of America,” “La Vida Robot”—being
an immigrant to the U.S.

And here are just a few examples of selections dealing with
social and cultural issues:

• “Long Walk to Freedom”—overthrowing apartheid

• “Hip-Hop as Culture” and “Slam: Performance Poetry Lives
On”—the power of art to build bridges and shape culture

• “Violence Hits Home”—how young people are working to
stop gang violence

• “The Fast and the Fuel Efficient”—how teens are developing
eco-friendly cars.

Page 2 of 3 Enabling Texts: Texts That Matter

An example of using the text to teach the text before reading — a powerful instructional technique.

Figure 1

Unfortunately, many high school students who struggle
with reading are encountering texts that are characteristically
disabling. A disabling text reinforces a student’s perception of
being a struggling reader. A disabling text also ignores students’
local contexts and their desire as adolescents for self-definition.
Disabling texts do not move in the direction of closing the
reading achievement gap in a class-based, language-based, and
race-based society in which many adolescents are underserved
by low-quality literacy instruction.

It is important to note that meaningful texts, although im-
portant, are not sufficient to improve literacy instruction for
adolescents. High school students who struggle with reading
and lack the skills and strategies to handle text independently
need support to become engaged with the text.

Powerful Instruction
One of the most powerful techniques is to use the text
to teach the text. This is a productive approach to help strug-
gling readers become engaged. It simply means that the teacher
presents a short excerpt of the upcoming reading selection—
before reading—and then models skills or strategies with that
text. For example, if the instructional goal is to have students
understand how an author uses characterization, the teacher
could use an excerpt of the text to introduce the concept. (See
Figure 1.)

There are several pedagogical and student benefits associ-
ated with using the text to teach the text, namely nurturing
fluency and building background knowledge. Because students

are asked to examine an excerpt of a text they will see again
later as they read independently, rereading has been embed-
ded. Rereadings are effective for nurturing fluency for students
who struggle with decoding and for English language learners.
Secondly, the students are introduced to aspects of Langston
Hughes; writing that will potentially shape their reading of the
text. Having background knowledge improves reading compre-
hension. Using the text to teach the text provides a strategic
advantage for struggling readers while allowing teachers to
introduce the text and strategies together. It is a win-win situa-
tion for both teacher and student.

Conclusion
It is difficult for many teachers to engage struggling adolescent
readers with text. I hear the common refrain, “These kids just
don’t want to read.” There are several reasons adolescents refuse
to read. Primary among them are a lack of interest in the texts
and a lack of requisite skills and strategies for handling the text
independently.

It is imperative to identify and engage students with texts
that pay attention to their multiple identities. It is equally im-
perative to grant them entry into the texts by providing explicit
skill and strategy instruction. The texts should be as diverse
as the students being taught. The texts should also challenge
students to wrestle with questions they find significant. This
combination optimizes shaping students’ literacies along with
shaping their lives, an optimization that informs Edge. v

Enabling Texts: Texts That Matter Page 3 of 3

Journal of Adolescen t & Adul t L i teracy 5 4 (3)
November 2 010
doi:10 .15 9 8 /JA A L . 5 4 . 3 . 3
© 2 010 In ternat ional Reading A ssociat ion
(pp. 181–18 9)

181

On the last day of the fall book fair, a shy girl I recognized as one of our
students with book-hungry eyes came to the circulation desk and said, “My
teacher sent me here to get a book.” Her voice grew soft. “But I don’t have
any money.” She looked at me with a puzzled expression. I explained that her
teachers chose her to receive a free book from the book fair and that she did
not need money. I watched as understanding washed over her features and,
skipping slightly, she went straight to the table with the graphic novels.

She critically examined only the graphic novels, and I did not say a word,
even though I stood by just in case she needed any help. She selected her book
with confidence and strolled to the circulation desk, where I recorded the title
and price on the sales sheet. She grasped the book in her arms folded across
her chest and skipped out of the library and up the stairs, beaming about her
new possession.

I thought about her selection and how she considered no other kind of
book. Checking that fall book fair sales sheet, I was surprised to see how
many graphic novels we sold—twice the number from last spring. I noted that
this was a new trend I needed to track for collection development. Because I
was never a comic book reader, the appeal of graphic novels puzzled me. As
the year progressed to its end, I read several graphic novels. I noticed that not
all graphic novels were equal, nor did they appeal to all sixth graders; how-
ever, those who read graphic novels were avid fans who selected these books
above all others.

I tried to remain objective about this new format and learned that graphic
novels incorporated all genres. My English training really rebelled in label-
ing any kind of novel as nonfiction. I realized that graphic novels were more
complex than I first thought. Most important, I had to learn how to select
age-appropriate graphic novels that would appeal to my sixth graders while
ref lecting some kind of “quality.” The biggest problem I could see at that time
was identifying criteria for age appropriateness and quality for a genre that
was new to me.

Paula E. Grif fithGraphic novels can provide

teaching and learning

opportunities for readers,

educators, and researchers.

In this article, discover

which graphic novels to use

and how to use them in your

classroom.

Graphic Novels in the Secondary Classroom
and School Libraries

Journal of Adolescen t & Adul t L i teracy 5 4 (3)
November 2 010
doi:10 .15 9 8 /JA A L . 5 4 . 3 . 3
© 2 010 In ternat ional Reading A ssociat ion
(pp. 181–18 9)

182

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additional need to understand how graphic novels
relate to child development and age appropriateness
as well as understanding what research has revealed
about graphic novels.

Are Graphic Novels Real Literature?
Some teachers and librarians do not consider graphic
novels to be literature. As a secondary English teacher
with a background in literature, I did not consider
them for classroom use until I noticed their popular-
ity among students; however, popularity alone is not
enough for inclusion in the classroom.

In 1992, the Pulitzer Prize Committee recog-
nized Art Spiegelman’s Maus for Special Awards and
Citation–Letters. In 2007, the Young Adult Library
Services Association (YALSA) awarded Gene Luen
Yang’s American Born Chinese the Michael L. Printz
Award. In 2009, YALSA created the “Great Graphic
Novels for Teens” list as an aid for teachers, librarians,
parents, and teenagers. In 2007, the Association for
Library Service to Children awarded Siena Cherson
Siegel’s To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel the
Robert F. Sibert Medal for nonfiction. Graphic novels
have recently won several prestigious literary awards,
which means that these books are considered litera-
ture for children, teenagers, and adults.

What is a graphic novel? Baird and Jackson (2007)
have argued that “a successful graphic novel starts
with a stellar story told with words and pictures that
augment the story, providing insight that text alone
cannot do” (p. 5). Krashen (2005) referred to graphic
novels as “new media” (p. 1), whereas Mooney (2002)
argued that graphic novels are different from comic
books because graphic novels are longer stories and
many are able to stand alone, unlike serial comics.
Gallo and Weiner (2004) argued the following:

A well-done graphic novel offers the immediacy of
the prose reading experience, with the pictures and
the words working simultaneously, making a graphic
novel not only something one reads but something
one sees as well, like reading and watching a movie at
the same time. (p. 115)

There are key concepts in these attempts to de-
fine a new media that will facilitate our quest for eval-
uation criteria: interdependent “words and pictures,”

Graphic Novels
and Pop Culture
During the summer, I moved from
my sixth-grade school library to
a university position teaching
library science classes in a school
library education program. One
of my responsibilities was teaching
a young adult literature course. I
realized that I would have to be-
come more than just familiar with
graphic works in print and media,
because this was a cultural trend in

the young adult literature field of study. The increased
interest in graphic novels on my small-town, sixth-
grade campus was not my imagination.

In 2006, Allen (2006) reported that, according
to Publishers Weekly, graphic novel sales in the United
States and Canada increased by 18% and represented
$245 million in total book sales. Also in 2006, book
and comics publishers gathered in New York City for
a national comic convention, the ICv2 Graphic Novel
Conference, a first-time event planned as an opening
to the New York Comic Con, a full-service popular
culture conference showcasing video games, mov-
ies, toys, and print publications such as comics and
graphic novels.

In 2007, graphic novel sales in the United States
and Canada increased 12% (MacDonald, 2008), and in
2008, graphic novel sales increased 5% during a year
of economic downturn (Reid, 2009). Graphic novels
have also become the focal point for other consumer
items such as movies, toys, and video games. From
1968 to 2000, 35 movies were created from comics
or graphic novels (Nash Information Services, 1997–
2009); however, from 2001 through March 2009,
61 movies based on comic books or graphic novels
opened in U.S. theaters, a dramatic increase.

Graphic novel characters such as those found in
the Danger Girl series were also re-created into action
figures or video game characters. As the popularity of
graphic novels increased, they integrated with popular
culture for children and adolescents via marketing and
mass production. School librarians and teachers be-
came aware of the need for criteria to evaluate graphic
novels for school libraries and classrooms. There is an

There is an

additional need to

understand how

graphic novels

relate to child

development and age

appropriateness.

183

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The artistic rendering of the story contributes to
half the ability to comprehend it fully; therefore, the
illustrations are equally as important as the text. The
illustrations add the information and detail missing
from the text. Although the clues may be evident or
subtle, the illustrations enable the reader to make in-
ferences and judgments separate from the reading and
understanding of words.

It is the illustrations that create the effect of
watching a movie. Similar to that experience, the
reader becomes part of the story through the illustra-
tions and the words. It is also the illustrations that set
the tone or mood of the story or nonfiction informa-
tion. Although personal tastes in art may vary greatly
from one person to another, the rule for graphic nov-
els is that the illustrative art must be true to the con-
tent. Criteria for evaluating graphic novel illustrations
include the following:

n Does the color palette (e.g., pastels, primary col-
ors, sepia tones) aid the reader in understanding
the tone and mood of the story?

n Do the illustrations refine characterization by
giving clues as to character emotion, mood, and
personality?

n Does the style of art (e.g., abstract, impression-
ist, surrealist) fit the type of story or informa-
tion in the novel or seem disjointed and out of
place?

n Has both positive space (i.e., the objects in the
illustrations) and negative space (i.e., the space
between the objects) been used to create a visu-
ally pleasing effect?

n Do the illustrations provide enough context and
action to keep the reader moving through the
story?

The final consideration is the fiction or nonfic-
tion content of the graphic novel. Format is much
like the bread on a sandwich and the illustrations like
the toppings, and the content is like the meat of any
graphic novel. For this category of criteria, evaluation
of a graphic novel becomes much like evaluating any
other book for the library or classroom. These criteria
are familiar, but they are listed here to emphasize that

“a stellar story” (Baird & Jackson, 2007), and “me-
dia” (Krashen, 2005). There is also the element Gallo
and Weiner (2004) described as interacting with two
forms of media at once, print and image.

Media is a means of communication, including
print formats such as newspapers, magazines, and
books; audio formats such as radio; and visual formats
such as television and film. Graphic novels include el-
ements of both print and visual in the creations of
characters that move through the narrative within se-
quential art panels that show the action and character-
ization and help establish tone and mood. McPherson
(2006) identified format and illustration as important
elements of graphic novels, and Christensen (2006)
argued that content is critical in a graphic novel, espe-
cially those selected for classroom instruction.

Graphic Novel Evaluation Criteria
Format is critical for any book, but most especially in
graphic novels. Format includes exterior and interior
elements such as font and font size, word placement
and appearance, and arrangement of the art frames on
the page. Format enables readers to effortlessly fol-
low the story or hinders readers in their attempt to
comprehend. Some criteria for format evaluation are
as follows:

n Does the graphic novel have an interesting cov-
er that correctly depicts the content?

n Are the illustrations arranged in a way that read-
ers can easily follow the sequence?

n Do the gutters (i.e., the spaces between the il-
lustrations) aid comprehension or distract the
reader?

n Is the text clearly readable with an appropriate
font and font size?

n Does the white space between the text, frames,
and illustrations help readers move through the
book, or are the pages too busy?

n Is there a glossary to assist with vocabulary in
nonfiction graphic novels?

n Is there a table of contents or index to help read-
ers locate information in nonfiction graphic
novels?

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librarian will consult the professional review sources
such as the School Library Journal or The Horn Book for
recommendations. These professional reviews can be
accessed using many of the book vendor tools, such
as Follett Library Resources’s Titlewave or What Kids
Are Reading: The Book Reading Habits of Students in
American Schools report (Renaissance Learning, 2009).

Adolescents usually like reading about protago-
nists two years older than their own age (Nilsen &
Donelson, 2009). It is important to look at the themes
in graphic novels and ask if the themes fit with your
students’ development level. Conf licts are also impor-
tant. Will your students be familiar with the conf lict
in the graphic novel you are considering, and will it
be interesting to them? As with selecting any read-
ing material, the maturational development of your
students should be a key concern for graphic novel
selection.

Some educators choose to look at readability lev-
els for graphic novels using tools such as Accelerated
Reader’s ATOS or Lexile measures. Readability for-
mulas are based on an analysis of words within sen-
tences or paragraphs. These numerical formulas do
not assess illustrations and the effect they have on
comprehension. Because word and illustration are
fused for meaning in a graphic novel, readability for-
mulas can mislead educators who are trying to match
books to a student’s reading ability.

For Peter Sís’s The Wall: Growing Up Behind the
Iron Curtain, the ATOS readability level is 5.2, or fifth
grade second month, whereas the Lexile measurement
is listed as 760, or third grade. I am not sure that ei-
ther readability level takes into account the political
and moral issues Sís describes in his autobiographical
graphic novel, which shows what it was like to grow
up in an intellectual prison and depicts his symbolic
use of color, especially red.

Although readability may be an issue for selec-
tion of fiction or nonfiction, children and adolescents
will select the graphic novels that appeal to them in
content as well as readability. The graphic novel for-
mat also enables some students to read materials that
were previously too difficult in length or in use of
language.

The Puffin Graphics from Penguin Group USA
are re-creations of classics such as The Wizard of Oz,

good graphic novels contain all the literary elements
we expect for quality fiction and nonfiction books.

For fiction graphic novels, evaluation criteria
should include the following:

n Does the graphic novel have three-dimensional
characters with characteristics similar to your
readers?

n Does the graphic novel have themes relevant
and important to your readers?

n Is the conf lict relevant and appropriate for your
readers?

n Are there age-appropriate moral, ethical, or po-
litical themes that resonate through the story?

n Does the action keep your readers’ interest and
motivate them to continue reading?

n Is the climax realistic and true to the rising
action?

n Is the denouement satisfying as a culmination of
narrative events?

n Does the resolution bring the conf lict to a sat-
isfying end?

Nonfiction graphic novels have different evalua-
tion criteria, some of which are as follows:

n Does the content have a clear organization that
aids reading comprehension?

n Is the information interesting enough to keep
readers actively engaged with the text?

n Are there appealing charts, graphs, and other
visual aids to help the reader understand the
concepts?

n Are there enough supporting details to explain
or describe each main idea? If the information
is sequential, such as a how-to, are there enough
steps so that the reader can replicate the process?

n Is the content relevant and age-appropriate for
the developmental level of your readers?

Graphic Novels, Adolescents,
and Readability
Age appropriateness is a concern when selecting any
materials for the classroom and library. When there
is a question of age appropriateness, a wise teacher or

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opportunity to examine and under-
stand the kinds of literacies created
by new technologies and graph-
ics. McPherson (2006) referred
to multiple modalities as the process
of comprehending a fused text/
illustration format. Kress (2008)
morphed multiple modalities into mul-
timodality, and multimodal reading as a
comprehension process becomes a
type of reading and thinking.

There is much need for further
research using graphic novels. We
need to know if graphic novels can provide a transi-
tion into more difficult reading materials for strug-
gling readers at all levels. We need to know more
about how this format assists ELs in acquiring English
literacy skills. We need to understand more about
how multiple modalities work and how they are re-
lated to adolescent comprehension.

The field of digital literacies is revealing a whole
new world of literacy that needs further explora-
tion. One such project is the MIT-supported Project
New Media Literacies (newmedialiteracies.org; 2008),
which is currently researching what kinds of skills
students need for social networking for information
on the Internet. Their mission is for students “to be-
come full participants in an emergent media landscape
and raise public understanding about what it means to
be literate in a globally interconnected, multicultural
world” (para. 1).

Graphic novels provide new learning opportuni-
ties for adolescents in both middle school and high
school. Many adolescents are already aware of this
format, even though the reading of these books re-
quires different skills than novels with prose only. My
graduate students, many of whom are left-brained,
linear readers, complain when they are required to
read a graphic novel. Adult readers who are not used
to reading a graphic format have some difficulty with
sequencing, which is why these books may not be for
all readers but instead for those students who know
and prefer this format.

Although I may not recommend a class study of a
graphic novel, teachers can use parts of graphic nov-
els that merge and connect with their instructional
units or offer a choice for a graphic novel book club.

Macbeth, and Dracula that stay true to the original
works but include beautiful illustrations that aid read-
ing comprehension. One of the reasons graphic novels
are so appealing to many readers is the wide variety
of appealing content: classic literature, manga, science
fiction, historical fiction, problem novels, and every
other genre existing in literature.

What Does Research Reveal
About Graphic Novels?
Although research has only just begun regarding this
new graphic format, there are some very interest-
ing results that we, as educators, should note. Stall
(2000) found that comics can aid in vocabulary de-
velopment for elementary students with language and
learning disabilities. Schneider (2005) discovered that
high school students who were identified as having
learning disabilities self-reported that graphic novels
motivated them to read and aided their comprehen-
sion. Crawford (2004) argued that graphic novels can
benefit English learners (ELs), and MacDonell (2004)
found that pleasure reading is critical for ELs, and
many select graphic novels for pleasure reading.

More recently, Poerschke (2005) found that al-
though graphic novels were the least selected category
of reading materials, students requested more manga
texts for their library. Female students reported read-
ing more in other categories, but more male students
reported reading graphic novels. Monnin (2008) dis-
covered that a teacher and a student read the images
on different levels and that graphic novels provided
new opportunities for developing in-school literacies.
Hammond (2009) found that high school seniors re-
sponded to graphic novels in many of the traditional
ways, such as critical analysis, but they adjusted their
normal reading process to include image analysis.

New literacy terms have emerged as a result of
closer scrutiny of graphic novels. Messaris (1994) and
Buckingham (2003) both delineated image literacy as
a complex understanding of image within a context.
Alvermann and Hagood (2000) connected graphic
novel reading to media literacy, related to Internet and
new technology literacies. Norton (2003) identi-
fied semiotic modes, connecting graphic novels to the
study of signs and symbols. Schwartz and Rubinstein-
Avila (2006) identified new literacy studies as the

We need to

understand more

about how multiple

modalities work

and how they are

related to adolescent

comprehension.

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manga parody and would fit into a study of the manga
format and other Japanese cultural studies.

High school selections (see Table 2) could include
George O’Connor’s Journey Into Mohawk Country: The
Journal of Harmen Meyndertsz van den Bogaert, a second-
ary English teacher’s dream because the entire story
was written using primary documents and is trans-
lated from Dutch. This graphic nonfiction selection
would be an excellent model for primary document
research and creating a graphic novel based on re-
search findings.

Further nonfiction study of famous people
might include Andrew Helfer’s Malcolm X: A Graphic
Biography, based on the autobiography Malcolm X
wrote with Alex Haley. This graphic novel situ-
ates Malcom X’s life within the context of the Civil
Rights movement, would fit into the study of black
history, the Civil Rights movement, and autobiogra-
phies, or biographies, and is sure to motivate readers
for further research.

For those students who are interested in realis-
tic fiction with punch, Mike Carey’s Re-Gifters looks
at the friendship between a Korean American teen,
Dixie, and her friend, Avril. Dixie learns a difficult
lesson and discovers the meaning of true friendship.
Cecil Castellucci’s The Plain Janes is a story of misfits
who, despite their good intentions, manage to gain
the attention of the suburban police while they earn a
reputation as outlaws. Gipi’s Garage Band is the story
of four very different friends who come together to
form a band. When they get a chance to sign with a
record label, a blown amp catapults them into an un-
expected brush with crime. All three of these books
would help students understand cause and effect and
have well-developed stories with some surprises. Re-
Gifters and The Plain Janes would appeal more to girls,
whereas Garage Band would appeal to both girls and
boys.

Graphic novels can provide a myriad of teaching
and learning opportunities for readers, educators, and
researchers. As an increasingly popular format, readers
will continue to select those books they want to read
in their leisure time, and many of these titles will be
graphic novels. Educators are observing this format
as a possibility for reading motivation and learning,

Graphic novels are also good for book talks and read-
ing motivation. If you agree that you want your stu-
dents reading, short book talks about popular teen
literature can alert students to titles that interest them
and motivate students to read in their leisure time,
which is often divided by extracurricular activities,
watching television, spending time with peers, and
checking the Internet.

Graphic novels for middle school readers should
include both fiction and nonfiction and engage the
readers as active reading participants (see Table 1).
Jason Lutes’s Houdini: The Handcuff King is a graphic
biography that allows readers to not only understand
Harry Houdini but also the world he lived in and
those people closest to him. This book could be in-
cluded in a study of famous people and would moti-
vate the reader for further research.

For those advanced readers who like graphic
novels, Shaun Tan’s The Arrival is a clever graphic
philosophical story in which the reader becomes an
immigrant to a strange, new land. This graphic novel
would be a wonderful connection to the discussion of
immigrants and their experiences.

For those readers of realistic fiction, Kevin Pyle’s
Blindspot is the story of a boy so wrapped up in play-
ing war games that he neglects his schoolwork until
he encounters a homeless war veteran who invades
the boy’s battleground and changes his perspective
of war. This novel would be a welcome addition for
units focusing on war and conf lict as well as the study
of characterization through image and text.

For those fantasy lovers and fans of Brian Jacques’s
Redwall series, David Petersen’s Mouse Guard series
provides a search for truth and a stunning betrayal as
the Mouse Guard protects the Mouse Territories from
hungry snakes and treachery. The Mouse Guard series
would aid any teacher who wishes to focus on the
elements of fantasy, story, tone, and mood with both
text and image.

Finally, for those readers who love humor,
Nathaniel Marunas’s Manga Claus: The Blade of Kringle
recounts the story of an unhappy elf who enchants
a ninja nutcracker that zaps the teddy bears with its
evil powers and turns the workshop into chaos as the
clocks ticks off the seconds until Christmas. Besides
being a humorous holiday read, Manga Claus is a

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Table 1 Graphic Novels for the Middle School Classroom and School Library

Author Title Summary Curriculum connection

Abadzis, Nick Laika Laika, a Russian dog pioneer, is selected to
man Sputnik II.

n Social studies: Cold War

n Language arts: Research op-
portunities, nonfiction

Almond, David The Savage When he loses his father, Blue begins to
write about a savage kid who punishes bul-
lies and has difficulty connecting to people.

n Language arts: Characterization,
story elements, story structure

Cavallaro, Michael L. Frank Baum’s
The Wizard of
Oz: The Graphic
Novel

True to the original, Dorothy embarks on a
journey to find her way home.

n Language arts: Classics, theme,
tone

Cover, Arthur
Byron

William
Shakespeare’s
Macbeth: The
Graphic Novel

This science fiction version of Macbeth
includes dragons and space armor.

n Language arts: Classics,
compare/contrast to the original
story

Lee, Tony Outlaw: The
Legend of Robin
Hood

This graphic novel tells the story of Robin
Hood from childhood through adulthood.

n Social studies: Crusades, British
history

n Language arts: Legends,
research opportunities

Lutes, Jason Houdini: The
Handcuff King

This Harry Houdini biography reveals some
of the secrets of his tricks.

n Language arts: Biography

Marunas, Nathaniel Manga Claus: The
Blade of Kringle

Santa is forced to “go ninja” to save
Christmas.

n Language arts: Manga

Moore, Stuart Redwall: The
Graphic Novel

The graphic rendering of Brian Jacques’s
Redwall book is about a brave mouse that
discovers the sword of Martin the Warrior
and defends Redwall against its enemies.

n Language arts: Fantasy

Petersen, David Mouse Guard: Fall
1152; and Mouse
Guard: Winter
1152

This is a fantasy story of a group of mice
who conduct themselves like Knights of the
Round Table.

n Language arts: Fantasy, legend

Pyle, Kevin C. Blindspot Dean learns that war takes on a much
darker meaning than the games he plays
with friends when he encounters a home-
less veteran.

n Language arts: Literary
elements, cause/effect

Reed, Gary Bram Stoker’s
Dracula: The
Graphic Novel

This is the graphic adaptation of the story of
an evil Transylvanian nobleman.

n Language arts: Classics

Sís, Peter The Wall: Growing
Up Behind the
Iron Curtain

Sís describes with illustration what it was
like to grow up in an intellectual prison.

n Social studies: Cold War,
communism

n Language arts: Symbolism

Sturm, James Satchel Paige:
Striking Out Jim
Crow

In this telling of Paige’s amazing story, the
reader gets a feel for what life was like
under the Jim Crow laws.

n Social studies: Civil Rights
movement

n Language arts: Research oppor-
tunities, characterization, setting

Tan, Shaun The Arrival An immigrant leaves his family and culture
to face the unknown and takes the reader
with him.

n Social studies: Immigration

n Language arts: Inferences

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from www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/07/27/entertainment/

main1843318.shtml?tag=mncol;lst;1

Alvermann, D.E., & Hagood, M.C. (2000). Critical media lit-

eracy: Research, theory, and practice in “new times.” The

Journal of Educational Research, 93(3), 193–205.

Baird, Z.M., & Jackson, T. (2007). Got graphic novels? More

than just superheroes in tights! Children and Libraries, 5(1), 5–7.

Buckingham, D. (2003). Media education: Literacy, learning and con-

temporary culture. Malden, MA: Polity.

Christensen, L.L. (2006). Graphic global conf lict: Graphic novels

in the high school social studies classroom. The Social Studies,

97(6), 227–230. doi:10.3200/TSSS.97.6.227-230

Crawford, P. (2004). A novel approach: Using graphic novels to

attract reluctant readers and promote literacy. Library Media

Connection, 22(5), 26–28.

Dylan, B. (1964). The times they are a-changin’. On The times

they are a-changin’ [CD]. New York: Columbia. (1963)

and some may be considering possible …

Teaching the Fundamentals PD13

Increasing Reading Fluency
by Dr. Alfred W. Tatum

“Research shows
that increased
reading fluency

is related strongly
and positively to
increased reading
comprehension.”

Efforts to develop instruction that more effectively addresses the reading and language needs of adoles-cent students must include attention to increas-
ing their reading fluency. When proficient readers read,
they achieve comprehension by applying what they know
about how to maneuver the challenges in a text, such as
word meanings and language structures and concepts that
are new or unusual. They can call on a store of skills and
strategies to negotiate these challenges to understand-
ing. Readers who lack these skills and strategies are stuck,
striving to make it though a text, and growing increas-
ingly frustrated with their inability to
understand what they read. Improving
reading fluency is one way to help these
readers move through text the way that
proficient readers do and so reduce
the frustration that often leads them to
give up on reading altogether. Indeed,
research analyses identify reading flu-
ency as one of the five key components
of effective reading instruction (National
Reading Panel, 2000). More specifi-
cally, the research shows that increased
reading fluency is related strongly and
positively to increased reading compre-
hension (Samuels & Farstrup, 2006).
Reading fluency is a critical component
of effective reading instruction and most
be considered as highly as decoding,
vocabulary and comprehension instruc-
tion (Rasinski, Reutzel, Chard, & Linan-
Thompson, 2011). Still, instructional
intensity around fluent reading at the secondary level is
less than adequate to create fluent readers (Paige, 2012).

What Is Reading Fluency?
Researchers offer varying definitions of fluency, but most
agree that, in broad terms, reading fluency refers to the
ability of readers to recognize and decode words and com-
prehend at the same time. As Pikulski and Chard (2005,
p. 510) explain, fluency is a developmental process that
is “manifested in accurate, rapid, expressive oral reading
and is applied during, and makes possible, silent reading
comprehension.”

Oral reading with speed, accuracy, and expression are
indicators of the ability to decode. For students to compre-
hend what they read, however, they must possess more than

well-developed decoding skills. Suppose, for example, that
students are given the following paragraph to read:

The national debate over the impoverishment of inner-
city populations and the presumed failure of New Deal
initiatives such as Aid to Families with Dependent
Children and public housing have, for the most part,
been structured by a group of theoretical perspectives
and empirical assumptions emphasizing individual re-
sponsibility for a variety of social ills such as economic
dependency, family disorder, and crime (Bennett,
Smith, & Wright, 2006, p. 9).

Some students may be able to accurately
decode each word of the paragraph, and
with a speed that is characteristic of a
moderately fluent reader. However, these
students may still be unfamiliar with the
words impoverishment, initiatives, and
empirical, and with concepts such as
New Deal or inner-city. Therefore, even
though they read with speed and ac-
curacy, these students do not read with
comprehension. For comprehension to
take place, readers must have sufficient
vocabulary and background knowledge
to access the information in the text.

Effective fluency instruction recognizes
that limited vocabulary and background
knowledge are major barriers to com-
prehension, particularly for striving
readers and English learners, and takes

care to address both vocabulary and cognitive development
(Pressley, Gaskins, & Fingeret, 2006).

For English learners (ELs), the English vocabulary and
language structures in their content area reading materi-
als pose a special challenge to fluency. As Palumbo and
Willicutt (2006, p. 161) explain, even when these students
determine the meaning of a new word in a text, they must
“have a place to fit the meaning within a mental framework,
or schema for representing that meaning with associated
concepts . . . . English words they decode may not yield
meaning for them.”

Palumbo and Willicutt conclude that if instruction is to
help ELs to decode and comprehend at a productive pace,
it must increase both their store of English words and their
familiarity with English story grammars, text structure, and,
perhaps, new concepts. Research shows that ELs benefit

Fluency and Foundational Skills

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PD14 Best Practices

when vocabulary support is incorporated into texts; when
students are afforded opportunities to read multiple texts
on the same subject; and when they receive explicit in-
struction about how to apply their own, culturally familiar
experiences to achieve understanding.

In addition to improving vocabulary and comprehen-
sion strategies, many striving readers also need practice
routines to develop their reading fluency. They may need
practice with intonation, phrasing, and expression. Striving
readers often benefit from repeated readings of familiar text
in which they gradually improve phrasing and intonation
and also record improvements in reading rate measured
in words correct per minute (WCPM). Readers enhance
textual meaning by reading with appropriate fluency (Paige,
Rasinski, Magpuri-Lavell, 2012).

Effective Fluency Instruction
Scientifically based research findings converge on several
practices that are essential for effective fluency instruction.
These practices include the following:

Identifying students in need of foundational skill de-•
velopment and providing age-appropriate, systematic,
explicit instruction for those students.

Selecting appropriate texts that are engaging and age-•
appropriate.

Building vocabulary and background knowledge so stu-•
dents can access new and unfamiliar texts.

Helping students become familiar with the syntax or lan-•
guage structures of different text genres.

Teaching students specific comprehension strategies that •
allow them to read successfully and independently.

Engage students in deep and wide reading.•

Allowing students to sometimes choose materials to read •
that they find interesting.

Teaching routines that combine teacher modeling with •
guided and independent student practice, along with
constant encouragement and feedback.

Practice routines to develop automaticity and fluency at •
the word level and in reading connected text.

Encouraging students to monitor and improve their flu-•
ent reading rates.

Applying the Research: Hampton-Brown Edge
Edge provides robust support for fluency development,
including all of the research-based practices cited above.
Explicit, systematic instruction in foundational reading
skills is provided through Inside Phonics. The Edge anthol-
ogies build fluency and vocabulary and the Language and
Grammar Lab addresses foundational and grade level
syntax and grammar skills.

Engaging Literature Student literature includes a wide
variety of selections on engaging, challenging, and age-
appropriate topics. Students are further motivated to read
through lessons that connect to their own experience and
generate curiosity about selection content. Narratives
that have a strong voice and that are useful for fluency
instruction are included. While students are consistently
and systematically exposed to more complex grade-level
texts, fluency practice focuses on short passages that are
accessible.

Vocabulary, Language, and Comprehension The instruc-
tional plan includes extensive exploration and development
of vocabulary, genre understanding, and language struc-
tures. Comprehension lessons provide scaffolded direct
instruction support to help students understand and inter-
nalize the comprehension strategies that proficient readers
use habitually.

Fluency Practice Routines Edge also provides daily prac-
tice routines for developing reading accuracy, intonation,
phrasing, expression, and rate. Fluency practice passages
are included for each week of instruction, with teaching
support that includes modeling of the target skill (for ex-
ample, phrasing), and a five-day plan for improving the skill
through choral reading, collaborative reading, recorded
reading, reading and marking the text, and reading to as-
sess. Assessment includes a timed reading of the passage
and reading rate in words correct per minute (WCPM).
Students are encouraged to graph their reading rate over
time so they can monitor their improvement.

Comprehension Coach
The Comprehension Coach interactive software at Levels
C–E provides a risk-free and private environment where
striving readers and ELs can develop their reading power
and fluency. All student literature selections are included
with comprehension and vocabulary supports. Students
can read silently or listen to a model of the selection being
read fluently. They can also record and listen to their own
reading of the selection. After a recording, the software
automatically calculates and graphs their reading rate in
WCPM.

Conclusion
Edge provides the full range of research-based support
that striving readers and English learners need to become
fluent, proficient, and confident readers.

Fluency and Foundational Skills, continued

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  • PD013_TE39686_B_R_FM_VS
  • PD014_TE39686_B_R_FM_VS

©2002 INTERNATIONAL READING ASSOCIATION (pp. 132–141)

J O U R N A L O F A D O L E S C E N T & A D U L T L I T E R A C Y 4 6 : 2 O C T O B E R 2 0 0 2132

Arlene L. Barry

Reading strategies teachers say they useReading strategies teachers say they use

A survey determined content area teachers’

favorite strategies and why they used them.

One of the undergraduate courses for
which I have primary responsibility at
my institution is entitled Teaching
Reading in the Content Area. It is the
only literacy course middle and sec-
ondary preservice teachers are required
to take. Required courses are not al-
ways easy to teach, and the content specialists (so-
cial studies, science, English, mathematics, foreign
language) who take my course would rather focus
on their content area. In order to maintain student
interest I must frequently reexamine my curricu-
lum and my personal motivation for teaching this
course. Do I choose the elements of my curricu-
lum because I have the academic freedom to make
that choice? Do I teach what I do because it is part
of my job description and I am required to do so?
Do I teach what I do because I truly believe it is
important and relevant? Fortunately I am able to
say yes to all of these questions. However, I am
most passionate about the third one because I
have a son, George, who has a learning disability.
George is bright, athletic, and social, but for all of
his 14 years reading has been a struggle and the
thought of reading out loud in class, painful. “My
heart starts to pound,” he said, “and my hands get
all sweaty when I have to read. I get so nervous I
can hardly think.”

I look at each one of my students as
George’s future teacher, the person with the

power to help or humiliate, and it is easy for me
to teach with passion. Does my earnestness trans-
fer and stay with them, I have wondered, or do
they learn and use the strategies to pass my

course but forget them when faced
with the demands of their own class-
room? I decided to ask. It was time to
find out if the material I taught was
being applied and, if so, which strate-
gies and methods were being used
most frequently. (Strategy here is de-
fined as “a systematic plan, conscious-

ly adapted and monitored to improve one’s
performance in learning,” Harris & Hodges, 1995,
p. 244.) If students did not remember my course,
or anything I taught, I needed to change. If I was
really going to help prepare teachers to help chil-
dren like my son it was time for me to honestly
reflect.

Background
In my content area reading class we examine a va-
riety of literacy strategies and supporting research
(see Sidebar). While I agree with Moje, Young,
Readence, and Moore (2000), that adolescent lit-
eracy extends beyond school-based work, and as-
sure the reader that my course is broader than
strategies, strategy use is the focus here. One goal
of content reading is comprehension, and, as
Fielding and Pearson (1994) noted, one of the
biggest success stories of the research of the 1980s
is that “this research showed over and over again
that comprehension can in fact be taught” (p. 5)
and “that comprehension strategy instruction was

Barry teaches at the
University of Kansas (447
Joseph R. Pearson Hall,

1122 West Campus Road,
Lawrence, KS 66045, USA).

E-mail: [email protected]

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B I B L I O G R A P H Y F O R S T R A T E G I E S

The following are three major resources that I have found especially helpful for providing research-based

information on instructional strategies.

Barr, R., Kamil, M.L., Mosenthal, P., & Pearson, P.D. (1996). (Eds.). Handbook of reading research: Vol. 2.

Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. See especially Chapter 33: Secondary school reading.

Kamil, M.L., Mosenthal, P.B., Pearson, P.D., & Barr, R. (2000). (Eds.). Handbook of reading research: Vol. 3.

Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Report of the 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. (NIH Pub. No. 00-4754).

Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. See especially Chapter 4: Comprehension.

The following more specific references are personal favorites, often seminal studies, that I have found

especially useful in my own teaching. These references are by no means exhaustive, and there are other

instructional strategies not included in this list. Categories could logically be combined and others added. The

following represent references for the instructional strategies used in this survey.

Visual aids/mental images
(Mental images, images, photos, slides, videos, charts, graphs, diagrams)

Barry, A.L. (1997). Visual art enhances the learning of Shakespeare. Education, 117, 632–639.

Barry, A.L., & Villeneuve, P. (1998). Veni, Vidi, Vici: Interdisciplinary learning in the art museum. Art

Education, 51(1), 16–24.

Kamil, M.L., Intrator, S.M., & Kim, H.S. (2000). The effects of other technologies on literacy and literacy

learning. In M.L. Kamil, P.B. Mosenthal, P.D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research: Vol. 3

(pp. 774–776). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Pressley, M., with Wharton-McDonald, R. (1998). The development of literacy, Part 4: The need for increased

comprehension in upper-elementary grades. In M. Pressley (Ed.), Reading instruction that works: The case for

balanced teaching (pp. 192–227). New York: Guilford Press. (Constructing mental images as a common

transactional strategy)

Analogy
(Comparisons established between the new and known)

Blachowicz, C., & Fisher, P. (2000). Vocabulary instruction. In M.L. Kamil, P.B. Mosenthal, P.D. Pearson,

& R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research: Vol. 3 (pp. 503–523). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Hayes, D.A., & Henk, W.A. (1986). Understanding and remembering complex prose augmented by

analogic and pictorial illustration. Journal of Reading Behavior, 18, 63–77.

Graphic organizer
(Content vocabulary chart that establishes relationships among concepts)

Alvermann, D.E. (1981). The compensatory effect of graphic organizers on descriptive text. Journal of

Educational Research, 75, 44–48.

Bean, T.W., Singer, H., Sorter, J., & Frazee, C. (1986). The effect of metacognitive instruction in outlining

and graphic organizer construction on students’ comprehension in a tenth-grade world history class. Journal of

Reading Behavior, 18, 153–169.

Berkowitz, S.J. (1986). Effects of instruction in text organization on sixth-grade students’ memory for

expository reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 161–178.

Clarke, J., Martell, K., & Willey, C. (1994, March/April). Sequencing graphic organizers to guide historical

research. The Social Studies, 70–75.
(continued)

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Notetaking
Berkowitz, S.J. (1986). Effects of instruction in text organization on sixth-grade students’ memory for

expository reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 161–178.

Rinehart, S.D., Stahl, S.A., & Erickson, L.G. (1986). Some effects of summarization training on reading

and studying. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 422–438.

Slater, W.H., Graves, M.F., & Piche, G.L. (1985). Effects of structural organizers on ninth-grade students’

comprehension and recall of four patterns of expository text. Reading Research Quarterly, 20, 189–202.

Writing to learn
(Journals, exploratory writing, research, notes, summaries)

Blachowicz, C., & Fisher, P. (2000). Vocabulary instruction. In M.L. Kamil, P.B. Mosenthal, P.D. Pearson,

& R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research: Vol. 3 (pp. 503–523). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Gaskins, I.W., & Guthrie, J.T. (1994). Integrating science, reading, and writing: Goals, teacher

development, and assessment. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31, 1039–1056.

Rosenshine, B., Meister, C., & Chapman, S. (1996). Teaching students to generate questions: A review of

the intervention studies. Review of Educational Research, 66(2), 181–221.

Wade, S.E., & Moje, E.B. (2000). The role of text in classroom learning. In M.L. Kamil, P.B. Mosenthal,

P.D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research: Vol. 3 (pp. 609–627). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Study guide
Herber, H.L. (1978). Teaching reading in content areas (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Wood, K.D., Lapp, D., & Flood, J. (1992). Guiding readers through text: A review of study guides. Newark,

DE: International Reading Association.

Vocabulary activities
(Morphemic analysis, context clues, semantic feature analysis, analogies, imagery, mnemonics, multiple

sources, multiple exposures)

Blachowicz, C., & Fisher, P. (1996). Teaching vocabulary in all classrooms. Columbus, OH: Prentice-Hall.

Blachowicz, C., & Fisher, P. (2000). Vocabulary instruction. In M.L. Kamil, P.B. Mosenthal, P.D. Pearson,

& R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research: Vol. 3 (pp. 503–523). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Anticipation guide
(Taps into prior knowledge and helps dispel misconceptions)

Duffelmeyer, F.A., Baum, D.D., & Merkley, D.J. (1987). Maximizing reader-text confrontation with an

extended anticipation guide. Journal of Reading, 31, 146–150.

Duffelmeyer, F., & Baum, D.D. (1992). The extended anticipation guide revisited. Journal of Reading, 35,

654–656.

Hynd, C.R., & Alvermann, D.E. (1985). The role of refutation text in overcoming difficulty with science

concepts. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED264525)

Merkley, D.J. (1997). Modified anticipation guide. The Reading Teacher, 50, 365–368.

Readence, J.E., Bean, T.W., & Baldwin, R.S. (1998). Prereading strategies—anticipation guides. In Content

area literacy: An integrated approach (6th ed., pp. 159–161). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

B I B L I O G R A P H Y F O R S T R A T E G I E S ( c o n t i n u e d )

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K-W-L
(What I Know, what I Want to know, what I Learned)

Ogle, D.M. (1992). KWL in action: Secondary teachers find applications that work. In E.K. Dishner, T.W.

Bean, J.E. Readence, & D.W. Moore (Eds.), Reading in the content areas: Improving classroom instruction (3rd

ed., pp. 270–281). Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt.

Summarizing
Berkowitz, S.J. (1986). Effects of instruction in text organization on sixth-grade students’ memory for

expository reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 161–178.

Brown, A.L., Day, J.D., & Jones, E.S. (1983). The development of plans for summarizing texts. Child

Development, 54, 968–979.

Rinehart, S.D., Stahl, S.A., & Erickson, L.G. (1986). Some effects of summarization training on reading

and studying. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 422–438.

Previewing
(Use of text aids to tap into prior knowledge)

Pressley, M., Almasi, J., Schuder, T., Bergman, J., Hite, S., El-Dinary, P.B., & Brown, R. (1992).

Transactional instruction of comprehension strategies: The Montgomery County, Maryland, Sail Program.

Reading and Writing Quarterly, 10, 5–19.

Preview
(Book talk, prereading)

Dole, J.A., Valencia, S.W., Greer, E.A., & Wardrop, J.L. (1991). Effects of two types of prereading

instruction on the comprehension of narrative and expository text. Reading Research Quarterly, 26, 142–159.

Graves, M.F., Cooke, C.L., & LaBerge, M.J. (1983). Effects of previewing difficult short stories on low-

ability junior high school students’ comprehension, recall, and attitudes. Reading Research Quarterly, 18,

262–276.

Graves, M.F., & Prenn, M.C. (1984). Effects of previewing expository passages on junior high school

students’ comprehension and attitudes. In J.A. Niles & L.A. Harris (Eds.), Changing perspectives on research in

reading/language processing and instruction. 33rd yearbook of the National Reading Conference (pp. 173–177).

Rochester, NY: National Reading Conference.

Question-Answer Relationships (QARs)
(Focuses on sources of answers—in text, from prior knowledge.)

Raphael, T.E. (1984). Teaching learners about sources of information for answering comprehension

questions. Journal of Reading, 27, 303–311.

Raphael, T.E. (1986). Teaching question-answer relationships. The Reading Teacher, 39, 516–520.

Problematic situation
(Problem established to set purpose for reading)

Gaskins, I.W., & Guthrie, J.T. (1994). Integrating science, reading, and writing: Goals, teacher

development, and assessment. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31, 1039–1056.

Student-developed questions
Rosenshine, B., Meister, C., & Chapman, S. (1996). Teaching students to generate questions: A review of

the intervention studies. Review of Educational Research, 66, 181–221.

Singer, H. (1978). Active comprehension: From answering to asking questions. The Reading Teacher, 31,

901–908.

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Think-aloud
(Teacher models thinking through difficult text or problems)

Baumann, J.F., Seifert-Kessell, N., & Jones, L.A. (1992). Effect of think-aloud instruction on elementary

students’ comprehension monitoring abilities. Journal of Reading Behavior, 2, 143–172.

Rinehart, S.D., Stahl, S.A., & Erickson, L.G. (1986). Some effects of summarization training on reading

and studying. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 422–438.

Rosenshine, B., Meister, C., & Chapman, S. (1996). Teaching students to generate questions: A review of

the intervention studies. Review of Educational Research, 66, 181–221.

Reciprocal teaching
(Uses questions, clarification, summarization, and prediction)

Palincsar, A.S., & Brown, A.L. (1984). Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and

comprehension-monitoring activities. Cognition and Instruction, 1, 117–175 (Study 1).

Rosenshine, B., & Meister, C. (1994). Reciprocal teaching: A review of the research. Review of Educational

Research, 64, 479–530.

Rosenshine, B., Meister, C., & Chapman, S. (1996). Teaching students to generate questions: A review of

the intervention studies. Review of Educational Research, 66, 181–221.

Directed Reading-Thinking Activity (DR-TA)
(Uses prediction, verification, judgment, and extension)

Baumann, J.F., Seifert-Kessell, N., & Jones, L.A. (1992). Effect of think-aloud instruction on elementary

students’ comprehension monitoring abilities. Journal of Reading Behavior, 24, 143–172.

Wilkerson, B.C. (1986). Inferences: A window to comprehension. In J.A. Niles & R.V. Lalik (Eds.), Solving

problems in literacy: Learners, teachers, and researchers. 35th yearbook of the National Reading Conference (pp.

192–198). Rochester, NY: National Reading Conference.

Guided imagery
(Concepts explored through mental images)

Samples, R. (1977). The wholeschool book. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Gloss
(Marginal notes that clarify and extend text)

Jacobs, G.M. (1994). What lurks in the margin: Use of vocabulary glosses as a strategy in second language

reading. Issues in Applied Linguistics, 5, 115–137.

Lomika, L.L. (1998). To gloss or not to gloss: An investigation of reading comprehension online. Language

Learning and Technology, 1, 41–50.

Stewart, R.A., & Cross, T.L. (1991). The effect of marginal glosses on reading comprehension and

retention. Journal of Reading, 35, 412.

Discussion web
(Question/discussion technique)

Alvermann, D.E. (1991). The discussion web: A graphic aid for learning across the curriculum. The

Reading Teacher, 45, 92–99.

McTighe, J., & Lyman, F.T. (1988). Cueing thinking in the classroom: The promise of theory-embedded

tools. Educational Leadership, 45(7), 18–24. (Information on the “think-pair-share” discussion cycle used in

discussion webs)

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found to be especially effective for students who
began the study as poor comprehenders—probably
because they are less likely to invent effective
strategies on their own” (p. 6). Pressley (1998)
found that teachers in effective instructional pro-
grams were aware of the comprehension strate-
gies in the research literature and selected
strategies and methods that made the most sense
to them. Teachers explained the strategies to their
students, showed them how to use them, and
helped students apply these strategies as part of
in-school practice. Studies of a number of these
strategies have been conducted and their use vali-
dated (e.g., Anderson, 1992; Brown, Pressley, Van
Meter, & Schuder, 1996; Collins, 1991).

We follow a similar process in my class. We
talk about the research, I model the strategies,
and students try them out. They apply the strate-
gies, using their own content material. According
to Pressley (1998), cognitive strategies like think-
ing aloud, constructing images, summarizing,
predicting, activating prior knowledge, question-
ing, clarifying, and analyzing text structure “can
promote reading instruction beginning in grade 2
and continuing into high school” (p. 216). These
are comprehension strategies used by excellent
readers. One problem in trying to determine the
strategies and methods used by my former stu-
dents via a survey is that comprehension changes
from a process to a checklist. However, in trying
to contact and question 550 former students, the
checklist served as a screening device from which
future research can grow.

To begin my personal assessment, I sent let-
ters to all former students who had completed
Teaching Reading in the Content Area. I ex-
plained that I was trying to do the best job I could
with the course and wanted to determine what
information they were able to apply. I included
the following request:

1. Please indicate the grade level and con-
tent area you currently teach, as well as
the total number of years taught.

2. Examine the list included and check off
any of the content reading strategies you
have used thus far.

3. Rate the strategies used: 1 = not effective,
2 = effective, 3 = very effective.

4. Check the strategies you would recom-
mend others use.

5. Include comments or remarks if you desire.

Brief descriptions of the 24 literacy strate-
gies listed were included on a separate page.
Addressed, stamped envelopes were included for
return of the surveys.

Information gathering
While I assumed the most difficult part of this
survey would be facing honest feedback from for-
mer students, the real frustration actually oc-
curred in trying to track down 550 School of
Education graduates. Even though 76% of the

Story impression
(Prediction writing activity based on key elements of a story)

McGinley, W.J., & Denner, P.R. (1987). Story impressions: A prereading/writing activity. Journal of

Reading, 31, 248–253.

Intra-act
(Framework for discussion that uses summary, prediction, and evaluation)

Hoffman, J.V. (1979). The intra-act procedure for critical reading. Journal of Reading, 22, 605–608.

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letters mailed came back to me, only a small per-
centage of them were usable. Unfortunately, even
with the expertise and willing assistance of the
Alumni Center and the School of Education fac-
ulty and staff, 286 of the 550 mailings, or 52%,
came back with staccato messages: “Moved Left
No Address Unable to Forward,” “Attempted, Not
Known,” “Not Deliverable as Addressed,” or
“Returned to Sender.” For another small group
(2%), the Alumni Center had insufficient infor-
mation or deemed them “Lost.” Only 123 of the
letters returned contained the information I
sought. However, many of the unsolicited com-
ments were heartwarming. First of all, it was great
to catch up with former students. I enjoyed hear-
ing about their children, their trials and tribula-
tions, and their nominations for teaching awards.
Several offered further assistance “in any way
possible.”

There were also many positive comments
about the class and its practical nature. One sci-
ence teacher, for example, said, “I have found
your class most helpful. I use the information and
strategies on a daily basis!” Another responded,
“I’m glad this survey arrived. It gives me the op-
portunity to tell you how useful the information
was and is, as I teach Spanish…. I’ve shared many
ideas with older teachers in my department and
they love them too!” A few who returned surveys
(6%) said they were not teaching. Information re-
garding their career choices consisted of such
comments as “I am currently not teaching. I am a
stay at home mom” or “I’m working and still do-
ing the band thing.” Sadly, another said, “After a
horrendous first year of teaching, I’ve switched to
a new, satisfying (both personally and financially
satisfying) career. Good luck with our teachers of
tomorrow.”

All of those currently teaching who re-
turned the surveys said they used at least some of
the methods and strategies. Of course it is the
quality of the strategy use that’s more important
than the quantity, but the fact that teachers are
applying what we did in class and providing re-
flective comments is a start. Evidence of transfer

and durability (some who returned surveys have
been teaching over 10 years) will allow me to
move to the next step of classroom observations.
Also, I realize that I am not the only professor at
my university who demonstrates the use of in-
structional strategies. Finally, because this study
involves self-report, the possibility of biased and
inflated responses exists. It is with these caveats
noted that I discuss survey results.

Results
Individuals listed primary teaching responsibili-
ties in 11 different areas: social studies,
English/language arts, mathematics, science, for-
eign language, geography, gifted, special educa-
tion, theater, music, and elementary education.
The number of years of teaching reported ranged
from less than 1 to 12 years. About 26 teachers
responded in each of the three content areas of
social studies, English, and science and about 15
each in math and foreign language. Social studies
and English teachers used the greatest number of
strategies (an average of 13), with science, foreign
language, and teachers of the gifted all averaging
12. The 16 mathematics teachers used an average
of 9 instructional strategies. The lowest number
of strategies used was 2, by a social studies teacher
who had been teaching for 7 years. The greatest
number reported was 22, by a language arts
teacher who had been teaching for 12 years. The
modal number of strategies used was 11 and the
mean 12. Again, these strategies are not meant to
be disjointed activities separate form the larger
comprehension process in which students and
teachers read, write, analyze, monitor, and dis-
cuss. They are all vehicles for helping students use
the kinds of cognitive strategies implemented by
excellent readers. Teachers noted application of
the strategies listed in the Figure.

Remarks were included at some point for
all strategies listed. There were clear favorites.
Regarding the use of visuals, for example, teach-
ers said things like, “An absolute must,”
“Indispensable,” and “Always! Always! Always! I

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challenge myself to bring in aids that use all the
senses.” For a related visual process, guided im-
agery, a biology teacher said, “Kids think it’s
cheesy, but they love it.” Teachers felt that analo-
gies could be used to help relate content concepts
to students’ lives and that students often pro-
duced very good analogies of their own. Graphic
organizers were praised as “Great organizational
tools” and a good way to allow students to organ-
ize chapters and review for tests. These conclu-

sions are in line with those found by Alvermann
(1981) in her work with 10th graders on exposi-
tory text. Teachers found that writing helped stu-
dents “make some of the strongest connections”
and that students “loved” a variety of vocabulary
activities. Another instructional tool that students
were said to “love” was the anticipation guide.
Because the anticipation guide consists of text-
related statements that students respond to before
reading, a Spanish teacher commented that her

T e a c h i n g s t r a t e g i e s

90%

80%

70%

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%

84%

77% 77%

74% 73%
70%

62%

53%52%
50%

45%
43%

41%40% 40%
38%

36%
34%

30%
28%

26%

9% 8%

P
er

ce
n

ta
ge

o
f

u
se

■ Visual aids 84%

■ Analogy 77%

■ Graphic organizer 77%

■ Notetaking 74%

■ Writing to learn 73%

■ Study guide 70%

■ Vocabulary activities 62%

■ Anticipation guide 53%

■ K-W-L 52%

(Know–Want to know–Learned)

■ Summarizing 50%

■ Previewing 45%

■ Preview 43%

■ Question-Answer Relationships 41%

■ Problematic situation 40%

■ Student-developed

questions 40%

■ Think-alouds 38%

■ Reciprocal teaching 36%

■ Directed Reading-Thinking

Activity 34%

■ Guided imagery 30%

■ Gloss 28%

■ Discussion web 26%

■ Story impression 9%

■ Intra-act 8%

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students “like to see how well they did after read-
ing” and that “they also search for the correct an-
swers.” A language arts teacher found it to be an
“excellent lead-in for a debate.” While overall use
was less frequent, individual teachers also provid-
ed supportive comments for Question-Answer
Relationships, reciprocal teaching, and Directed
Reading-Thinking Activities.

Criticisms of strategies were actually infre-
quent and generally more related to the process
and the time required for implementation. For ex-
ample, when referring to writing strategies one
chemistry teacher said, “With 110 kids, I only do
[writing] when I have lots of time.” Question-
Answer Relationships were also noted as being
“time consuming.” Referring to summary writing,
another chemistry teacher said, “students tend to
simply rewrite text, [they] must be carefully moni-
tored.” A second-year biology teacher did say he
found use of mapping, specifically concept maps,
negative for both students and himself. While he
rated maps “effective,” he said, “Kids hate them. I
find them difficult to assess.” He added, though,
“Love the theory behind them.” Some other
strategies students disliked but teachers found
useful were vocabulary (“kids hate it, but they
need to learn it”) and study guides (“boring, but
helpful”). Teachers described using a range of
study guides: “concept guides,” “pattern guides,”
“three-level guides,” “guides that came from the
publisher,” “guides I make up…you’d probably call
them selective guides.” Surprisingly, if teachers rat-
ed a strategy “not effective,” they concluded (as
did one second-year French teacher) that it was
“due to my use of the strategies, not inherent
problems with the strategies.” Also, many teachers
noted interest in trying strategies they had not
gotten to yet: “No, haven’t tried it yet, but I
should. I will.” Sensibly, teachers noted that they
adjust procedures to suit their needs and the
needs of their students. For example, one teacher
incorporated a variety of different questioning ap-
proaches in her “Socratic seminar.” Another said,
“I may use this a little …

arts

Article

Hip Hop Pedagogy as Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy

Melanie L. Buffington * and Jolie Day

Department of Art Education, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23284, USA;
[email protected]
* Corresponding: [email protected]; Tel.: +1-804-8283805

Received: 21 August 2018; Accepted: 28 November 2018; Published: 3 December 2018
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Abstract: This paper argues that Hip Hop Pedagogy is a version of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy
and should be a part of art education. Further, we believe that when exploring Hip Hop Pedagogy,
teachers need to reference the work of Black female and non-binary artists. After an overview of
Hip Hop Pedagogy and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy, we argue that these approaches should be
a consistent part of art education. Through the work of contemporary visual artist and DJ, Rozeal,
we offer suggestions for art educators about how they might transition their practice to embrace
some aspects of Hip Hop Pedagogy. Specifically, through sampling and the distinction of cultural
appreciation versus appropriation, we believe that art educators can change their practice to make
their teaching more relevant to their students and to contemporary culture.

Keywords: Hip Hop pedagogy; Rozeal; culturally sustaining pedagogy; art education; culture

1. Introduction

In this paper we argue that Hip Hop Pedagogy is an extension of culturally relevant pedagogy
(CRP) as originated by Ladson-Billings (1995) and Gay (2000) work in culturally responsive teaching.
Paris (2012) built upon their ideas to develop his idea of culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP). Rather
than using Hip Hop as a hook or as social currency (Kuttner 2016), we argue that CSP can be used in
the arts to teach about artists from the genre, going beyond cyphers and rap battles about academic
subjects. We argue that using Hip Hop as a hook toward enticing students into learning about
traditional topics de-legitimizes Hip Hop itself as an important cultural and artistic form and promotes
superficial understandings of cultural practices. Further, we argue that many calls to include Hip
Hop Pedagogy focus on male artists and that the practice needs to include Black and Brown women,
women identifying, and gender minority artists from Hip Hop. The call for this special issue includes
the names of five individual artists, Jay-Z, Nas, Kanye West, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne, all male.
Thus, we chose to focus on the work of a Black female contemporary artist and DJ, Rozeal, and the
implications for her work in art education settings.

We came to have the discussions that inform this paper through a graduate class, Curriculum
Development and Evaluation, in which Jolie was a student and Melanie was the professor. As a part
of this class, we addressed culturally relevant and culturally sustaining pedagogies. Throughout the
course, we emphasized the diversity of learners and educational settings. In addition to numerous
journal articles, we also read Emdin (2016) For White Folks who Teach in the Hood . . . and the Rest of
Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education. Through conversations we came to see the need
for more examples of Hip Hop Pedagogy, informed by Black feminism (Brown and Kwakye 2012;
Peoples 2008), in art classrooms. Our collaboration on this paper resulted from Jolie’s research into
Rozeal, a contemporary painter who remixes traditional Japanese woodblock prints with contemporary
Hip Hop imagery while questioning cultural appropriation, globalization, and representation. We saw
similarities between Paris (2009) and Emdin’s ideas (Emdin 2016) and Rozeal’s work and believe that

Arts 2018, 7, 97; doi:10.3390/arts7040097 www.mdpi.com/journal/arts

Arts 2018, 7, 97 2 of 11

the work of Black women artists needs to be as central to the discussion of Hip Hop Pedagogies as the
work of male artists.

1.1. Personal Connections (Positionality)

1.1.1. Jolie

I am a graduate student, a White woman, who grew up hearing Hip Hop on the radio. My father
loves jazz and that music was a prominent part of my home culture, but Hip Hop was not. I first
connected with Hip Hop in the sixth grade listening to a friend’s copy of “3 Feet High and Rising”
by De La Soul (1989). De La Soul’s sampling of jazz on this album was my entry point to Hip Hop.
I started listening to Hip Hop more actively as a teenager, not always understanding the complexities
of the subject matter or lived experiences that artists express. The energy of the music and the cadence
of voices in connection to the baseline drew me in. I am not a Hip Hop expert, and currently listen to a
blend of mainstream Hip Hop, old school, and current indie artists, including Princess Nokia, Angel
Haze, and Mykki Blanko.

1.1.2. Melanie

I am a White woman with 23 years of teaching experience who grew up during the 1980s and
1990s. In my middle school and high school days, Hip Hop and rap artists including Run DMC,
Salt-N-Pepa, NWA, Queen Latifah, and others were popular and I listened to their music. While I am
not a serious Hip Hop fan or expert, I notice how positively students respond to ways of teaching
that relate to their interests and contemporary culture. For instance, I have seen students respond in a
far more visceral manner to contemporary visual artists whose works relate to the students’ cultural
backgrounds than to historic artists. Thus, I have a deep interest in CSP and see Hip Hop Pedagogy as
one vein of CSP.

1.1.3. Our Collaboration

Neither of us (the authors) are women of color and we are aware of our positionality and, at times
during this writing process, felt like “posers.” At the same time, we fully believe that White people
need to do the work of dismantling structural racism and it is not right or fair to expect scholars of
color to do the heavy lifting while the White folks stand by and say, “It’s so hard.” Our job is to be allies
and to recognize and honor our limitations while we continually strive to do better and contribute to
the process of building a more equitable education system. This article is one of our attempts to be
allies, to contribute to the art education literature around CSP, and to educate ourselves during the
writing process.

2. Working Understanding of Hip Hop Culture

It is important to establish a working definition of Hip Hop to aid an understanding of Hip
Hop Pedagogy. Hip Hop originated in the early ‘70s in the Bronx with block parties thrown by DJ
Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc, a Black DJ from Jamaica (Jeffries 2014). Hip Hop spread quickly
as a community effort made under the specific contexts of working-class Black and Latinx youth
in New York City, and beyond during the ‘70s and ‘80s (Petchauer 2015). The economic and social
situations experienced by those in New York were not isolated, as economic shifts moved away from
manufacturing, leaving many working and middle-class families under-employed and unemployed
(Jeffries 2014).

Hip Hop was also a social movement that promoted constructive dialogue, and responded to
racial and class discrimination, lack of opportunity, and chronic poverty, as well as a resistance to
intensifying gang culture in New York (Hoch 2006; Peoples 2008). Originally seen as a recreation
and social space, Hip Hop represented a “ . . . resistance to social marginalization,” and gradually
developed as an active form of protest against institutional oppression (Peoples 2008, p. 23). Afrika

Arts 2018, 7, 97 3 of 11

Bambaataa founded the Universal Zulu Nation, a community organization that promoted peace
between gangs and local residents (Morgan and Bennett 2011). Bambaataa, among others, believed in
upholding equality, working against racial divides and hierarchies (Morgan and Bennett 2011).

With its Africanist aesthetics, rhythm, and layered meaning within lyricism, Hip Hop soon spread
globally (Fernandes 2003). Transnational Hip Hop becomes potentially problematic when non-Black
appropriations of Hip Hop do not address the racial dimensions, or cultural hybridity of Hip Hop
(Fernandes 2003). Fernandes (2003) examines the development of Hip Hop in Cuba, that Afro-Cuban
youth use Hip Hop as a mode of creative expression that addressing historical and racial conditions,
providing critiques of capitalism, and advocating for social justice. Noting this, Fernandes (2003)
stresses the importance of not idealizing transnational Hip Hop that disrupts convention as always
justice oriented. When addressing any dimension of Hip Hop, it is important to avoiding totalizing
statements, or generalizing assumptions.

Hip Hop has multiple components that are important to highlight, as often the genre is simplified
to rapping, and dance which can “exclude potential and actual sites of resistance within hip-hop
occurring outside rap” (Peoples 2008, p. 23). For the purposes of this paper, we consider the original
four elements under the umbrella of Hip Hop: “break-dancing, DJ-ing, graffiti art, and rapping”
(Peoples 2008, p. 23). The definition of Hip Hop is constantly evolving, and has more recently been
expanded to include: “(a) Breakin’, (b) Emceein’, (c) Graffiti Art, (d) Deejayin’, (e) Beatboxin’, (f) Street
Fashion, (g) Street Language, (h) Street Knowledge, and (i) Street Entrepreneurialism” (Bridges 2011,
p. 326). This understanding acknowledges that definitions of Hip Hop are fluid, non-homogenous,
and continually changing.

Defining Hip Hop Pedagogy

Hip Hop Pedagogy acknowledges the genre as an art form that may be more culturally relevant
to many students than a Eurocentric curriculum. Teaching a curriculum informed by Hip Hop might
help counter the problem Bridges (2011) describes as the ways traditional curriculum does not value
the unique lived experiences of students of color and perpetuates institutional oppression. One focus
of Hip Hop Pedagogy is cyphers, which Levy et al. (2017) describe as

highly codified yet unstructured practices where youth who identify with hip-hop culture
information exchange in the form of raps or dance. (Note: A cipher represents something
that is cyclical, such as in freestyle rapping where each participant in the circle takes turns
after the other). (p. 104)

Cyphers can function as a means for all youth to succeed in addressing their thoughts and feelings
(Levy et al. 2017). However, without ground rules that emphasize mutual respect and acceptance for
all members, cyphers can reproduce practices that exclude queer youth, young women, and young
men who do not identity as Black (Paris and Alim 2014). While cyphers are important, they represent
just one aspect of a Hip Hop Pedagogy.

Petchauer (2015) outlines the second wave of Hip Hop Pedagogy describing Hip Hop as an
aesthetic practice, and tool of research that might be used to study issues, such as urban education.
Alim (2011) describes this method as hiphopography, “ . . . an approach to the study of Hip Hop
culture that combines the methods of ethnography, biography, and social and oral history” (Alim 2011,
pp. 969–70). Hiphopography discourages distinctions of “researcher” and “researched” that might be
associated with ethnography (Alim 2011).

Hiphopography can be used as a framework, applying Hip Hop pedagogy to addresses specific
issues in an educational setting (Petchauer 2015). The outcomes could include using cyphers, elements
of activism, and promoting leadership skills that connect to social justice pedagogies (Petchauer 2015).
It is important to note that every student of color does not relate to Hip Hop, nor does it encompass
the entirety of young person’s experience (Jeffries 2014). Applying specific outcomes of educational

Arts 2018, 7, 97 4 of 11

practices informed by Hip Hop Pedagogy requires using multiple aspects of Hip Hop, and might give
students tools and a framework, applying this pedagogy to educational challenges (Petchauer 2015).

Teaching the history of Hip Hop, and creating spaces for youth of color to be counterstorytellers,
going beyond exclusively using cyphers in a Hip Hop based curriculum. An example of an
organization that more fully enacts aspects of Hip Hop is Project Hip Hop, a non-profit based in
Boston (Kuttner 2016). Teenage participants attend afterschool programs where they assume positions
as counterstoryteller (Kuttner 2016). A counterstoryteller is someone who creates narratives that “ . . .
challenge dominant conceptions about Youth of Color and their communities, uncover marginalized
stories of oppression and resistance, and offer transformative visions of change” (Kuttner 2016,
pp. 542–43). Project Hip Hop functions as a community center that provides space for young people to
amplify their artistic voices, earn stipends as organization leaders, and participate in programming,
such as theater, while receiving credit at a local community college (Kuttner 2016).

3. Outlining/Defining Culturally Sustainable Pedagogy

Paris (2012) is widely credited with developing the theory of CSP that is part of a tradition
of asset-based pedagogies (Kuttner 2016). Paris built upon the earlier groundbreaking work of
Ladson-Billings (1995) and her theory of culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP), which promotes that
teachers use the culture of students as a way to make learning relevant to them. Paris questioned if
Ladson-Billings’ ideas of relevance went far enough to honor the language, literacies, and cultural
practices of communities systematically oppressed. Paris writes, “Culturally sustaining pedagogy
seeks to perpetuate and foster—to sustain—linguistic, literate, and cultural pluralism as part of the
democratic project of schooling” (p. 93). Paris extended Ladson-Billings’ ideas and argues that teachers
need to go beyond making schooling relevant and also work to sustain students’ cultures, not merely
use them as a hook to build student interest. CSP also continues the tradition from CRP of viewing
students as having knowledge and recognizing their cultures and cultural identities as important,
meaningful, and worthy of study in classrooms. A pivotal part of both CRP and CSP is the shift away
from deficit-based thinking that emphasizes what is “wrong” with students and communities of color,
to an asset-based mindset that works to recognize, honor, and sustain the cultures of students is a
pivotal part of CSP. Paris (2012) also points out that a goal of deficit approaches was to, “eradicate
the linguistic, literate, and cultural practices many students of color brought from their homes and
communities and to replace them with what were viewed as superior practices” (p. 93).

3.1. Evolving CSP Practices

An important aspect of CSP that clearly relates to art education is the goal of centering education
outside of White middle class heterosexual male norms and values (Paris and Alim 2014). In an
art classroom, this would require teachers to carefully rethink the artists and artistic practices they
teach as well as their own pedagogical strategies. Teachers might make significant changes to the
artists they address, attending to equity and representation issues to ensure that all their students
see themselves represented in the curriculum. Further, CSP encourages teachers to recognize and
honor the validity, and increasingly important ability to speak outside of Dominant American English
(Paris and Alim 2014). From an artistic perspective, this might include moving beyond the traditional
language of elements and principles of art and adopting Gude (2007) principles of possibility and
going beyond these to develop locally-relevant principles within the classroom or community.

Another advocate of CSP, Paul Kuttner, adds to the arguments Paris advances and points out
that we need to think of CSP practices in relation to civic engagement and cultural practices as well.
Kuttner encourages analyzing detrimental practices within specific cultural contexts, as well as in the
dominant culture (Kuttner 2016). Within the arts, we might think of how women and people of color
were historically excluded from formal art training within the United States (Nochlin 1971). Now that
there are no systemic formal prohibitions, we might consider the financial prohibitions that many
people still face in accessing education. Further, we might investigate the work of the Guerilla Girls

Arts 2018, 7, 97 5 of 11

and how they document the difficulties that people of color and women face when seeking to exhibit
their work.

3.2. Hip Hop Pedagogy Informed by Art Education

When considering this call for papers, we noted the absence of women and felt the need to make
the point that as women are an important element of Hip Hop culture, they need to be represented in
Hip Hop Pedagogy. Because Hip Hop has traditionally been a male dominated, heterosexual space, it
has not always welcomed women, trans, femme, queer and gender minority Hip Hop artists who may
defy simplistic, hyper masculine, mainstream understandings of the genre (Chung 2007; Smith 2013).
Since the origins of Hip Hop, women and queer artists navigated a space that can, “often reiterate the
male privilege and assumed heterosexuality of everyday life in their music, leaving Hip-Hops’ women
and queer people marginalized in song as they are in reality” (Smith 2013, p. 326). Numerous scholars
advocate for feminism within Hip Hop (Brown and Kwakye 2012; Durham 2007), yet we were unable
to locate examples of what this might look like within art education.

Brown and Kwakye (2012) note that women have been a part of Hip Hop since its origins and
that their practices of playing games in public and creating dances for healing purposes like Urban
Bush Women need to be acknowledged. Further, they point out how the absence of women in many
histories of Hip Hop is not accidental, but the work of the “heteropatriarchy and the heteronormativity
that insidiously surround Hip Hop and structure our society” (p. 2). In explaining Hip Hop feminism,
Aisha Durham describes it as

a socio-cultural intellectual and political moment grounded in the situated knowledge of
women of color for the post-Civil Rights generation who recognize culture as a pivotal site
for political intervention to challenge, resist, and mobilize collectives to dismantle systems
of exploitation. (Durham 2007, p. 306)

Hip Hop feminism focuses on how to make Black women the subject of the movement, and move
away from only critiquing the misogyny of the genre (Peoples 2008). Further, Hip Hop feminists
believe the medium can be used as a platform to amplify the voices and provide space for young
women, trans, femme, and gender minority people of color that avoids a paternalistic, victim narrative
of saving young people (Peoples 2008). Some Hip Hop feminist scholars point out an emerging push
for LGBTQ+ acceptance in mainstream Hip Hop with singer/Hip Hop artists such as Frank Ocean,
and Syd the Kyd (formerly of Odd Future) (Smith 2013). At the same time, other authors believe
that Hip Hop promotes understanding and expressing complex identities that do not fit stereotypical,
damaging roles prescribed to women of color (Hay et al. 2018, p. 5).

To bring Hip Hop Pedagogies into classrooms, the framework of CSP may be one way to critically
engage with and question practices within Hip Hop that exclude others, or perpetuate discriminatory
stereotypes (Paris and Alim 2014). Specifically, we agree with Hay, Farrugia and Smith (Hay et al. 2018)
who believe that Hip Hop Pedagogy is a form of CSP applicable to lives of girls and women of
color. Brown (2009) states “ . . . hip hop feminism scholars advocate for ‘using elements of hip-hop
culture and feminist methodology for the purpose of transforming oppressive institutions, policies,
relationships, and beliefs” (p. 7). This is where we believe there is significant potential for Rozeal’s
work in art classrooms.

3.3. Teaching Rozeal’s Work as Hip Hop Artist

Rozeal is a contemporary Black female artist whose work addresses the representation of Black
people and Black Hip Hop culture, and the relationship of these cultures to Japanese pop culture. It is
important to note that the term ‘Black culture’ is a “shorthand for a complex range of practices, ideas,
and discourses, never meaning one thing” (Condry 2007, p. 639). Representation is not reality, but a
construct of history that passing through social, and ideological lenses (Desai 2000). Rozeal’s work
has evolved through the years, but her paintings from the early to mid 2000s depict figures inspired

Arts 2018, 7, 97 6 of 11

by ukiyo-e, woodblocks from Japan’s Tokugawa era (1603–1868) which depicted ‘the floating world,’
and contrasts them with contemporary Hip Hop styles, with figures often appearing in black face
(Abiko 2003; Condry 2007). Rozeal’s work examines racial stereotypes and how cultural identity is
always shifting in contemporary, global society (Powell 2012).

In 2001, after visiting Japan, Rozeal began studying the Japanese youth trends of burapan1,
and ganguro2 (Rowell 2015). These youth trends emulate the style of Black Hip Hop culture
(Anderson 2007). The crossover of Hip Hop in Japanese youth culture could be, as Condry (2007)
states, “ . . . both as a space for articulating alternative visions of Japanese identity and for providing a
comparative context for thinking about hip-hop’s border crossings in the United States and elsewhere”
(p. 640). The Japanese presentation of Hip Hop that Rozeal experienced relies on harmful racial
stereotypes, rather than exploring two intersecting cultures (Condry 2007). Rozeal’s work examines
the interconnectedness of our global society, the hybridization of different cultures, and the resulting
potential for misrepresentation, and fetishization (Powell 2012). In an interview with Rowell (2015),
Rozeal explains what she observed in Japan:

From the ages of sixteen to twenty-four they can play . . . . Come twenty-four or twenty-six,
whatever the age is, you have to get a job. So you stop going to the tanning salon and you
stop getting that afro perm and you get yourself an office job . . . So what are we really
talking about here? Because to me that is not blackness. Blackness isn’t something you can
just put on. It just is. (p. 809)

Rozeal’s work reflects Black identity as a signifier, rather than an identity one can shed (Rowell 2015).
Rozeal’s artwork explores cross cultural exchange, and the problems associated with mimicking other
cultures without understanding or appreciating the condition that comes with them (Figure 1). She
addresses the history of influence between African American Hip Hop culture, and Asian cultures
(Williams and Brown 2006). Condry (2007) suggests that some of the Japanese perception of Black
Americans came from racist portrayals, blackface entertainment, that were first imported to Japan in the
late 1880’s after Japan opened to trade at the start of the Meiji Restoration in 1863 (Abiko 2003).

Arts 2018, 7, x FOR PEER REVIEW 6 of 11

In 2001, after visiting Japan, Rozeal began studying the Japanese youth trends of burapan1, and
ganguro2 (Rowell 2015). These youth trends emulate the style of Black Hip Hop culture (Anderson
2007). The crossover of Hip Hop in Japanese youth culture could be, as Condry (2007) states, “…both
as a space for articulating alternative visions of Japanese identity and for providing a comparative
context for thinking about hip-hop’s border crossings in the United States and elsewhere” (p. 640).
The Japanese presentation of Hip Hop that Rozeal experienced relies on harmful racial stereotypes,
rather than exploring two intersecting cultures (Condry 2007). Rozeal’s work examines the
interconnectedness of our global society, the hybridization of different cultures, and the resulting
potential for misrepresentation, and fetishization (Powell 2012). In an interview with Rowell (2015),
Rozeal explains what she observed in Japan:

From the ages of sixteen to twenty-four they can play…. Come twenty-four or twenty-six,
whatever the age is, you have to get a job. So you stop going to the tanning salon and you
stop getting that afro perm and you get yourself an office job… So what are we really talking
about here? Because to me that is not blackness. Blackness isn’t something you can just put
on. It just is. (p. 809)

Rozeal’s work reflects Black identity as a signifier, rather than an identity one can shed (Rowell 2015).
Rozeal’s artwork explores cross cultural exchange, and the problems associated with mimicking other
cultures without understanding or appreciating the condition that comes with them (Figure 1). She
addresses the history of influence between African American Hip Hop culture, and Asian cultures
(Williams and Brown 2006). Condry (2007) suggests that some of the Japanese perception of Black
Americans came from racist portrayals, blackface entertainment, that were first imported to Japan in
the late 1880’s after Japan opened to trade at the start of the Meiji Restoration in 1863 (Abiko 2003).

Figure 1. Rozeal. You opened my eyes man, thought I had a man, but how could I eye scan. 2008.

Additionally, the term burapan stems from World War II, specific to a Japanese sex worker that
would prostitute herself to Black men (Condry 2007). Having historical context might cast ganguro in
a different light. Rozeal states that she was “initially pleased by the global influence and reverence of
hip-hop but ultimately troubled by the Japanese youth’s usually one-sided interpretation of it”
(DuBois 2009, p. 44). Rozeal views this imitation not as flattery, but as a caricature based in historically
damaging stereotypes (Rowell 2015).

Rozeal’s work pulls from the Ukiyo-e artist Kitagawa Utamaro who created counter narratives
showing women of the Tokugawa era (1603–1863) in more detail, and with more respect to their
identities (Abiko 2003; Anderson 2007). Utamaro’s work differed from others of that time, featuring
women in active roles and having a level of agency (Anderson 2007). Some of Rozeal’s paintings
mirror specific paintings by Utamaro, and like Utamaro, depict women as determiners of fashion,
engaged in personal activities (Anderson 2007). Rozeal expands on the theme of women as
independent subjects of the art, rather than depicting women in service to men, showing female
subjects, often in quiet moments with other women (Figure 2).

1 A form of blackface Hip Hop (Rowell 2015).
2 A style related to burapan that has heavy use of self tanner, and a whitening around the eyes (Rowell 2015).

Figure 1. Rozeal. You opened my eyes man, thought I had a man, but how could I eye scan. 2008.

Additionally, the term burapan stems from World War II, specific to a Japanese sex worker that
would prostitute herself to Black men (Condry 2007). Having historical context might cast ganguro in
a different light. Rozeal states that she was “initially pleased by the global influence and reverence
of hip-hop but ultimately troubled by the Japanese youth’s usually one-sided interpretation of it”
(Dubois 2009, p. 44). Rozeal views this imitation not as flattery, but as a caricature based in historically
damaging stereotypes (Rowell 2015).

Rozeal’s work pulls from the Ukiyo-e artist Kitagawa Utamaro who created counter narratives
showing women of the Tokugawa era (1603–1863) in more detail, and with more respect to their

1 A form of blackface Hip Hop (Rowell 2015).
2 A style related to burapan that has heavy use of self tanner, and a whitening around the eyes (Rowell 2015).

Arts 2018, 7, 97 7 of 11

identities (Abiko 2003; Anderson 2007). Utamaro’s work differed from others of that time, featuring
women in active roles and having a level of agency (Anderson 2007). Some of Rozeal’s paintings mirror
specific paintings by Utamaro, and like Utamaro, depict women as determiners of fashion, engaged in
personal activities (Anderson 2007). Rozeal expands on the theme of women as independent subjects
of the art, rather than depicting women in service to men, showing female subjects, often in quiet
moments with other women (Figure 2).Arts 2018, 7, x FOR PEER REVIEW 7 of 11

Figure 2. Rozeal. Untitled. 2016.

Rozeal samples from Utamaro while simultaneously showing how Japanese women
participating in ganguro appropriate African American culture through clothing and hairstyles.

4. Translating Rozeal’s Work with Hip Hop Pedagogy in Mind

Through class discussions, at conferences, and in casual conversations, the main way that we
hear of art educators utilizing Hip Hop Pedagogy is by engaging children in rapping about various
traditional topics in art education—the color wheel or the elements and principles of art. While there
may be good reasons to use rap in the classroom, we think that there may be other ways to implement
aspects of Hip Hop Pedagogy as well. A good …