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Literacy and Voice Through Bookmaking

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Teachers College

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Literacy and Voice Through Bookmaking

August 21 and 22, 10:00 - 3:00
Teachers College

This two-day workshop is designed to involve participants in the process of making books— learning some binding techniques, considering how to utilize various book forms--journals, accordion books, pop-up books, secret room books, etc.--in connection with curriculum, age and skill levels of students. Some techniques of illustration, including collage, making pastepaper, using photo stories etc. will be considered. Crucial will be considering the process of writing of texts for books.

Bookmaking in educational settings is a vital part of literacy practice and arts integration. Students get to use writing in a directed and purposeful way. The writing of text for a particular book is only one part of many processes. The text supports, balances and may add counterpoint to illustrations and conceived of in relationship to image, space, design. Thus writing which often in school seems arbitrary with respect to theme, length, rules, etc. has a real function and is in context of the entire project

Using the processes of bookmaking in particular ways gives all students a greater centrality and power in curriculum, uses their own lives as subject matter, and give voice to students who often are at the margins of the classroom.

Books can bring in students’ lives and cultures and allow students to write their own stories and create a safe place for one’s own language use. Also, the importance of telling the story in the book helps shift the practice that students’ own stories are only the means to assess literacy competencies, grammar and “standard” English.

And these practices are part of a larger mission to give students voice and bring their often marginalized/hidden skills, capabilities and experiences to the center of curriculum. For all students, classroom practice must more and more focus on the diversity of student experience. Bookmaking projects focus on the lives of students who more often than not are not asked to share their stories.—allowing for students to learn about each others’ rich lives, resilience and diversity of experience and cultures. Important too is that students feel part of the process of creating curriculum and that their lives and communities are worthy of being highlighted and studied.


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