New Frontiers of Literacies: Comprehension at the Juncture of the Verbal and the Visual

By Mayra C. Daniel and Karen Parada.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper presents preliminary results of an ethnographic investigation of how students access and use visual input. Students developed and completed graphic organizers in social studies classes as they organized their ideas, learned vocabulary, and expressed themselves in text. This work included 46 English language learners (ELLs) enrolled in history classes in their first and second year of high school. Students participated in informal pre-study interviews in which they were asked their familiarity and prior use of graphic organizers (GOs) in school, and post-study interviews to identify the ways they saw the GOs helped them learn. Anecdotal field notes address (1) the length of time required to master and benefit from GO use, (2) if GOs help struggling readers better comprehend text, (3) ways students perceive GOs help them to learn and express their ideas. Recurring themes suggest visualization is a challenge for ELLs, limited vocabulary in the home language and English influences organization and expression of ideas in GO completion, and expertise in GO use requires practice and re-teaching. Initial findings suggest recommendations for curriculum that may improve instructional delivery, promote metacognition, and increase students’ ability to understand text and express ideas.

Keywords: Graphic Organizer Use in Secondary Schools, English Language Learners

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 10, pp.139-148. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 532.259KB).

Dr. Mayra C. Daniel

Assistant Professor, Department of Literacy, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, USA

Mayra Daniel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Literacy at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL, USA. She teaches Multicultural Education, Bilingualism and Reading, Assessment of English language learners, and TESOL methods. She has taught English as a second language and bilingual education at levels k-12 and Spanish as a foreign language at the university level. The focus of her work and research is the preparation of teachers who work with linguistic minority populations, her desire to promote biliteracy, and empowerment of teachers through practitioner research. The seeds for Dr. Daniel’s work were planted when she left her native land of Cuba to flee communism at age 10, and was placed in a Chicago classroom where no one helped her to understand the language of instruction. Dr. Daniel is an avid scuba diver who loves the taste of the salt of the ocean, the swaying palm trees of her childhood, the music of el son cubano, and good pate in a sidewalk cafe in France where she can practice her French.

Karen Parada

Teacher of English Language Learners, East Aurora High School, East Aurora, IL, USA

Karen Parada teaches bilingual history classes in Spanish and English for English language learners at East Aurora High School, Aurora, IL, a school where 77% of the student population is Hispanic and reflect a graduation rate of 53%. Her students are struggling to succeed in school and to master their primary and secondary languages even tough for the most part they were born in the United States. Karen is committed to help students achieve biliteracy and graduate from high school. Karen enjoys ethnographic research and at heart is a cultural anthropologist. Karen’s participation in this study is part of her enrollment in Independent Research Coursework leading to a Master’s in Literacy Education at Northern Illinois University In DeKalb, IL.


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