Friday, September 28, 2012

LIKE...Ummm Let's Learn to Communicate...Dude!!

 Communication matters, and while "like" is an integral icon, word, and concept in our language and culture, it is severely overused.

 On the one hand...
 “We're the most aggressively inarticulate generation to come along since, you know, a long time ago!” ~ Taylor Mal
On the other...
"To speak and to speak well are two things.  A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks."  ~Ben Jonson
 "The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives."  ~Anthony Robbins (American self-help author and motivational speaker)


My husband went to Harvard University, his father went to Harvard and his father's father went to Harvard.  Our son did not.  Why? When he went to their information session (as a high school junior) he was aghast at how students 'communicated' the 'awesomeness' that is Harvard and decided this was not the school for him. While I hope these students were the exception and not the rule, they were chosen to represent this iconic institution.

So what happened? At this particular info-session there were, like, three students who, like, when discussing, you know, Harvard, their expressions of love and awe were, like, too disjointed, lacking, uhm, the force of language to, like, convey their content or conviction. Get the point?

And, if students from Harvard lack communication skills, what does this say about our culture, our kids, or our educational system? And even if these students knew 'how' to 'communicate' and were just trying to be cool - when speaking in public to high school students in the vernacular...they muddled what for many was an important message.  Given that speech directly reflects our thinking - is their thinking muddled or lacking in conviction too?

"The way we communicate is a reflection of the clarity of our own thinking." - Rav Agbby 

When you hear someone using the word "like" or "um..." or "you know?..." repeatedly in their speech, it should raise some concerns among teachers and parents.

When we confuse "who" and "whom" (which happens ALL TOO OFTEN), and when "if I was..." is mistakenly used for "if I were..." we sound that less educated, that less well-read. I further argue that accepting muddled communication is basically accepting muddled thinking. We should demand more of each other.

So what can parents and educators do?
 “Mend your speech a little, Lest you may mar your fortunes.” ~ William Shakespeare
  • Think before speaking:
    • Think about what you want to say
    • Thing about how best, most accurately, most succinctly to say it
  • Make sure you really have something to say before you say it. 
“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” ~ Ben Franklin 
  • Say what you mean as clearly and succinctly as you can.  The shorter your 'talk' the more able your listeners will be to follow and incorporate your opinions. 
“A good speech should be like a woman's skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest” ~ Winston Churchill
  • Practice expressing ideas and opinions. (See  Express Yourself which relates ways to do this). 
  • Discuss politics and current events at the dinner table, when commuting, or in the classroom. Listen to others.  IF one of the speakers uses 'um', 'like', 'you know', raise a finger or give her/him some cue of what s/he is doing.
  • Read a paragraph with your child and then practice paraphrasing it. Here too you may want to raise a finger or give the speaker some cue when s/he utters an 'um', 'like', or a 'you know'.
  • Critically edit written work which also reflects thought and relays conviction.  Attend to grammar, tense, and word choice.
  • Note of caution:  There are  many who are scared to express themselves so there must be a balance between reinforcing expression and monitoring/correcting it.  Sometimes, just get your kids to talk, particularly about what they are passionate about, and particularly with the reluctant speaker, you may not want to correct.  Instead, after that child is more confident speaking, arrange for 'practice speeches' where you intentionally just monitor the tone and word choice.
  • Make students more aware of their 'lack of conviction' when speaking and their over use of 'um', 'like', 'you know'.  Here is a game to help you introduce this:  "The Ummbrella Game"
Game of Ummbrella (compliments of Talia Hurwich):
Tell students/kids THE RULES:
"In this game, certain things go under the ummbrella and certain things don't.  What determines what goes under the ummbrella is a certain rule I have in my head.
The OBJECT OF THE GAME: is to figure out the rule.
The way to figure out the rule is by asking me if something belongs under the umbrella."

[Unbeknownst to the players - the RULE of the game is:  When asking if an item belongs under the ummbrella - if they ask, "Does _________ (any item) belong under the ummbrella?" the answer is "NO."
IF they ask, "Does ummm ____________(any item) belong under the ummbrella?" the answer is YES."]

IF this is going on too long and your kids are getting frustrated, when someone asks if "ummmm _____belongs..." answer "yes" and then ask the same person to ask if "______" belongs.  This should help them.

ONCE THE RULE IS DISCOVERED ASK:  WHY is this game called "ummbrella" - (note that the double 'm is intentional, I do know how to spell 'umbrella')? 
We normally think of the phrases we use based on their meaning, but there is more to a phrase than the meaning - there are the words and letters you put into the phrase and the pauses you use between those words that we may not be fully aware of.  This game and the final question will hopefully make them more literally aware of word usage and word choices when communicating.

In closing, two treats:

The first, an excerpt from poet/teacher Talyor Mali's Poem "Totally Like Whatever, You Know?" (the entire clip is provided below):
I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY.
You have to speak with it, too.

The second treat before closing is an example of how "LIKE" SHOULD be used - complements of Ellen Toole Austin and Jimmy Gownley:

Thank you all for your time and your visit.  Before you leave, I want to thank Adam and Talia Hurwich for their 'inspiration' and suggestions . 
Please leave your articulated opinions - left with conviction -  in the comments. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Kalamazoo Promise: Invest in Education and We ALL WIN!

College tuition scholarships for all high school graduates
The New York Times Magazine article (9/16/2012)  Why These Kids Get a Free Ride to College  by Ted C. Fishman related an outstanding initiative (started in 2005) promising all Kalamazoo County high school graduates college scholarships. I thought this merited further discussion and a second look.

First some background information collected from Mr. Fishman's article and from "The Value of Universal Eligibility in Promise Scholarship Programs" by Michelle Miller-Adams in Employment Research, the Newsletter (October 2011) of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research:
  • 39% of its students are white;
  • 44% of it's students are African-American
  • 1 of every 3 students in the district falls bellow the national poverty level
  • 1 in 12 students is homeless
  • Kalamazoo has one of the highest pregnancy rates among black teens in the state
And yet..
"...for the vast majority of the 500-plus students who graduate each year in Kalamazoo...[their] high-school degrees come college.
" November 2005...the superintendent of Kalamazoo's public schools, Janice M. Brown...announced that unnamed donors were pledging to pay the tuition at Michigan's public colleges, universities and community colleges for every student who graduated from the district's high schools...The Kalamazoo Promise...[is] blind to family income levels, to pupil's grades and even to disciplinary and criminal records... [and] would be the most inclusive, most generous scholarship program in America."
Aside from the philanthropic aspect of this program for Kalamazoo's youth, the Kalamazoo Promise is a bold social experiment aimed at boosting the community and Kalamazoo's economy as it is designed to keep families living and working in Kalamazoo with its long-term investment in human capital.

Some Background Information about Kalamazoo:
  • Kalamazoo population is 74,000 and is located half-way between Chicago and Detroit 
  • In the early 1900's it was called "Celery City" and Gibson Guitars and Checker Cabs were made near downtown
  • By the late 1950's Kalamazoo was "Paper City" housing one of the most productive paper-mill town in the world
  • In 1966 General Motors opened a stamping plant employing 4.000 workers.
  • For decades, Upjohn Company controlled by the Upjohn family cushioned blows to Kalamazoo economy
  • By 1974, Checker, the paper mills and G.M. were gone 
How does Kalamazoo's Promise to invest in education help community health and economic stability?

"...students who start in the Kalamazoo school district as kindergartners receive enough money to cover their entire tuition to public in-state schools. Students who later grades get less, based on a sliding scale; entering high-school freshmen, for example, get 65% of their tuition covered...To date, the Kalamazoo Promise has paid out $35 million for post-secondary study for 2,500 students...Students are responsible for their own room and board."

Length of attendance Proportion of full tuition
K–12 100%
1–12 95%
2–12 95%
3–12 95%
4–12 90%
5–12 85%
6–12 80%
7–12 75%
8–12 70%
9–12 65%
10–12 None
11–12 None
12 None

EDUCATION Changes resulting from the Promise:
  • The city's middle schools - several near the bottom of Michigan's rankings - have rearranged schedules and moved 120 hours a year into core-curriculum instruction enabling more remedial instruction in math and reading - after which 70% of the middle-schoolers increased their proficiency by at least one grade in math and reading.
  • High-school test scores have improved four years in a row.
  • GPA's have edged higher and there is an increased enrollment in advanced placement (AP) courses.
  • There has been a reduction in the number of days of student suspensions and an increase in a student's probability of being promoted to the next grade.
  • A higher percentage of African-American girls graduate from the district than they do in the rest of the state, and 85% go on to college.
  • More than 90% of Kalamazoo's graduates go on to higher education: 6 in 10 go to Western Michigan University of Kalamazoo Valley Community College and over time a greater number of students are attending the more selective University of Michigan and Michigan State.


  • The Promise enlists businesses, government, neighborhood organizations, churches, healthcare providers and in turn generates better schools, includes better nutrition for children, better housing, better medical care and universal prekindergarten programs.
  • Sevices such as tutoring and mentoring have proliferated within and outside the schools.
  • In the first year after the Promise, 1.000 additional students enrolled in the Kalamazoo schools
  • Altogether, the student population has increased by 2,450 students, or 24%.
  • With every added student, the school district gets another $7,250 from the state.
  • A new teacher can be hired for every additional 25 students; 92 have been hired so far.
  •  Many argue that not all young adults need a college education, especially those going into specialty fields and family businesses.For more discussion you may want to read: The UnCollege? The Five Minute College? Or Traditional Liberal Arts?
  • Students from low-income families have had an especially hard time finishing.  
  • Many of the high school graduates are still underprepared academically and attending college (free or not) imposes opportunity costs (delayed wages) as well and pose living costs as room and board are not covered.
  • A disproportionate amount of black males still drop out of high school (only about 44% graduate).
  • As of 2011, half of the students who entered the program have dropped out before finishing  

  •  Many people in Kalamazoo are saying that while the Promise is...promising, intervention must begin much earlier - they want to target early childhood education to complement the program and help prepare students academically, especially black males.
  • Similar programs have been established in El Dorado AK; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; New Haven, CT and Pittsburgh, PA. These communities have joined PromiseNet, a network of communities that run or plan similar place-based scholarship programs. 
Image from"The Value of Universal Eligibility in Promise Scholarship Programs" by Michelle Miller-Adams as found in Employment Research, the Newsletter (October 2011) of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

"We may never know those donors' names, but we know how they helped bring this community together and how you've embraced their Promise not just as a gift to be appreciated, but a responsibility to be fulfilled."   -President Obama

Clearly we will have to wait to see the long-term ramifications but I applaud the concept of investing in educations, in students, and in the future. If I were looking for a place to live/move, this would certainly carry weight in the decision. Furthermore their results seem to indicate greater teacher and student involvement.

Research has shown that quality education increases a child's lifetime income and based on growth in academic measures noted by the Upjohn Institute, there appears to be significant progress. I hope their good numbers continue to grow and improve. What is so impressive is the interest in INVESTING IN OUR CHILDREN. Building strong educational incentives and strong educational systems is vital to our national health, wealth and security and I would like to see this taken further. 

What do you think?  Please leave you opinions, experiences and ideas in the comments and thank you for your visit!!!
Here are some links to visit to find out more about the Kalamazoo Promise

NOTE TO READERS: I don't claim ownership for all the images on this blog.  If someone finds an image that belongs to you, please email me or leave a comment.  I will gladly acknowledge your work and/or remove the images as per your request.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"GREAT TEACHER!" Judgment Call or Objective Evaluation?

"When a high value added teacher joins a school, test scores rise immediately in the grade/subject taught...and falls if/when that teacher leaves...All else equal, a student with one excellent teacher for one year between fourth and eighth grade would gain $4,600 in lifetime income, compared to a student of similar demographics who has an average teacher." -economists Raj Chetty and John Friedman of Harvard and Jonah Rockoff of Columbia as reported in  The New York Times (1/6/12) article, "Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain"
"Those who can't do, teach. And those who can't teach, teach gym." --Woody Allen
Comedy aside, it isn't WHO makes a great teacher, but WHAT makes a great teacher and HOW do we determine "GREAT TEACHER?" Are there objective criteria or is it a JUDGMENT CALL? And what are the ramifications if it is a judgment call - especially now with the Chicago teachers' strike and teacher evaluations as a pivotal national domestic issue? 

In attempting to answer this question, let's first distinguish between "objective" evaluations and "judgment" calls:

    •  not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based of facts; unbiased.
    • intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings
    • of or relating to actual and external phenomena as opposed to thoughts, feelings, etc....existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality
According to many, using this last definition may make it promising for us to evaluate teacher effectiveness by measuring external criteria relating what students have LEARNED.  Granted this is easier said than done, but many believe that if you measure students facility with a subject matter at the onset of the year, one can assess 'growth of knowledge' by measuring their (increased) facility with those same skills at the end of the school year (as long as we don't go overboard with continuous testing and overly consuming overblown test-taking preparations).

BUT does teaching material make someone a GREAT teacher or just a GOOD/ EFFECTIVE teacher?

Furthermore, IF one looks at the first two definitions of "objective" I wonder and am somewhat doubtful if one can objectively determine what makes a great teacher. 

So what might a judgment call look like?

judgment calls ( judgment calls plural  (also use judgement call)    )
If you refer to a decision as a judgment call, you mean that there are no firm rules or principles that can help you make it, so you simply have to rely on your own judgement and instinct.   
According to
A value judgment is...based on a comparison or other relativity. As a generalization, a value judgment can refer to a judgment based upon a particular set of values or on a particular value system. A related an expedient evaluation based upon limited information at hand, an evaluation undertaken because a decision must be made on short notice.
Incorporating these definitions brings us awfully close to the current debate on teacher evaluations and merit and whether these can be measured at all.  While we need to hold both educators AND their students accountable for learning, are we ready to objectively define and evaluate "GOOD TEACHER?"  

Looking back at my experiences as student, as an educator, and as parent, I think there IS A PERSONAL COMPONENT to what makes a GREAT TEACHER - there has to be.  A great teacher must relate to his or her students, make learning come alive. bring out emotions and feelings in their students while addressing student fears and passions associated with learning.

Maybe we can objectively quantify an effective teacher but must make judgement calls on "GREAT" teachers... 

Whether 'Great Teacher' is a judgment call or objective reality (I leave the continuing debate to you in the comments) I want to focus on...the making of a GREAT teacher.
 Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson found in    
I have been an educator for over 25 years.  I have worked as a school psychologist, as a language arts/reading teacher (grades 1,3,4,5,6,7 and 8), as a teacher-mentor, and as an educational consultant, and was actively involved as a parent in my kids' education.  I have met, observed, and taught with many, many teachers - some who were outstanding, some who were mortifying, and most who were 'good'.  Here are the TOP TEN components I have found (based on literature searches and my own experiences) that make a teacher GREAT :
  • Great teachers exude INTELLECTUAL CURIOSITY  and they push their students to follow and feed the curiosity they model as they constantly question the world around them. When teachers can channel and push a 'need to know' attitude, learning and remembering are much more effective.
  • Great teachers exude PASSION - for their students and for learning.  Passion is motivating. It is exciting, it is engaging and it is catchy.  This passion motivates and pushes students to want more, to embrace more, and to contribute more.
  • Great teachers RESPECT their students' needs and perspectives.
  • Great teachers have KNOWLEDGE and expertise in the content they teach while- 
    • Knowing what they know
    • Knowing when they don't know 
    • Knowing how to acknowledge that they don't know (this is so important for modeling intellectual curiosity which in turn is so important for true, attainable learning)
    • Knowing how to find out what they don't know - or when to have their students find out what they don't know - and bringing it back to class.
  • Great teachers express CONFIDENCE and COMFORT in their subject matter AND  in not always knowing ALL the answers.  Modeling 'not (always) knowing' will make it easier for your students to acknowledge what they don't know while strengthening and modeling intellectual curiosity.
  • Great teachers set EXPECTATIONS high (but obtainable) for themselves and for their students, facilitating and nurturing their attainment.
  • Great teachers ACKNOWLEDGE that there are all kinds of minds in their classrooms and 
  • Great teachers have the FLEXIBILITY to build and integrate multi-modal components into their lessons addressing auditory learners, visual learners, students with longer and shorter attention spans, students who easily can move sequentially along steps of a problems and those who need more structure (to name just a few).
  • Great teachers ENGAGE students, making the curriculum meaningful, pertinent, exciting, and getting students to critically evaluate and perceive issues in a variety of ways.
  •  Great teachers form PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS with their students, listening to their needs and their comments, acknowledging the right for different perspectives while GUARANTEEING A SAFE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT for all.
Before closing I want to thank you for your visit and send you off with clips of inspiration...view them all or chose your favorites: From Dead Poet's Society: "What will your verse be?"
From Dead Poet's Society: "Just when you think you know something, you must look at it in a different way...triving to find your own voice...Dare to strike out and find new ground!"
And maybe, the question isn't "What makes a great teacher" but "What great teachers make...a god damned difference!!!!!"
Thanks for your visit, please leave you opinions in the comments. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Internet Safety for Kids (Grades K-12) Growing Up in the Information Age

With the use of Internet becoming more and more integral to education and our daily lives,  I wonder at how it has grown into this wonderful yet possibly grotesque beast that very few of us at this point can live without.

Our kids and students can be plugged into the world community at the touch of an onscreen icon - at home, at play, and at school.  They use internet technology daily text-messaging, on Facebook, blogging, Twittering, watching videos, gaming, and even doing research for school. With this world-wide community at their beck and call come certain risks that we as adults are aware of, but they may not be. 

Have you ever stopped to think what happens in an internet minute - or how the digital world has literally taken off?  Intel has...take a look this staggering image:
Internet minute infographic
Let me iterate a few choice data points (in case this image is hard to read). In one minute there are:
  • 30 hours of video are uploaded onto YouTube and there are 1.3 million video views;
  • over 2 million search queries on Google;
  • 277,000 logins on Facebook and 6 million Facebook views;
  • 320+ new Twitter accounts and 100,000 new tweets;
  • 100+ Linkedin accounts;
  • $83,000 in sales on Amazon;
  •  47,000 App downloads;
  • 204 million emails sent;
  • 1,300 new Mobile users;
  • 6 new Wikipedia articles published;
  • 135 Botnet infections;
  • 20 new victims of identity theft;
  • 639,800GB of global IP data transferred.

The positive and negative aspects of our digital world are still unfolding and the consequences of such an unfolding, amorphous, available world are mind-boggling (at least to me - as I often feel like a 'techno-dinosaur"). There are pros and cons to their surfing explorations and as adults, we must protect our kids and teach them how to surf, much like we teach them about crossing the street.

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR KIDS/STUDENTS SAFE?  Here are some suggestions (please add your own in the comments):
  • Go online together and share safety tips: Just as you would not go into a stranger's car, don't let them venture alone onto unknown websites.  Start surfing together and find agreed-upon 'safe' vehicles. For kids in grades 2-8, I would start at FBI-SOS scavenger hunt  (see below for more details).  At this site you may want to play a few games together with younger kids, older kids can and should navigate this sight on their own.
  • Before allowing kids to surf on their own, discuss together what makes a site 'safe'.  Compare and contrast the 'safety' of various sites and teach recognition skills - modeling how to recognize the safe, reliable sites. Decide together what may make it safe or unsafe.  
    • Teach them NOT to provide private information - addresses (not even just the town), phone numbers, family information, age
    • Talk about multiple 'identities' surfers might create and how to be careful about 'friending'
    • Talk about language used and what types of sites/language to stay away from or to NEVER us.
HERE ARE SOME SITES WITH SAFETY GAMES AND INFORMATION FOR KIDS GRADES K-8: (With younger kids I recommend you watch these together and discuss them. NOTE that below I have a more extensive list of sites that kids can navigate and 'play' with on their own as they continue to learn about cybernet safety.)
  • Here is an internet safety video for kids in grades K-3

  • "NetSmartz Workshop"partnered with The Boys and Girls Clubs of America  has webvideos on internet safety information for young kids ("Cliky's Web World"),  for older kids ("Net Smartz Rules") and for teens  ("I-360")
Here is a link that introduces these three programs:

  • The FBI teaches internet safety through their FBI-SOS scavenger hunt at  - it consists of games for kids in grades 3, 4,5,6,7, and 8.  Each grade has its own scavenger hunt with appropriate sites they direct kids to - each with games, information, songs/raps.  At the end of the "hunt" is a quiz.  I highly recommend this site for teachers, parents, and kids.
  • Here is another online safety video for pre-teens - Funmood's Online Safety Kit - Little Red Riding Mood

  • Yahoo! Safely- is the official Yahoo security tips website with sections designed specifically for parents and kids, teaching them internet safety.
  • Staying Safe on YouTube - this is more about posting than viewing but is worth watching with your kid/teen:
    • Google's Family Safety Center contains Internet security tips, videos and articles relating tools offered by Google as well as providing parents tips/videos and information on how to report abuse or inappropriate content on its services.
      HERE ARE SOME MORE INFORMATION/GAME SITES (GRADES 3-12)  with online safety tips and tools to protect kids, provide educational vehicles for teachers and inform parents:
      Here is a short list of some of the adcouncil cyber safety resources on youtube (from Online exploitation places - Online exploitation acyronms - Online exploitation exchange - Cyberbullying talentshow - Think before you post 1 -  Think before you post 2 -

      Resources you can download:

      I have given you a lot of options above. IF I were to recommend a place to begin, it would be at FBI-SOS scavenger hunt .  Each grade level gives kids a lot of different options and I would recommend looking at the various grade levels to determine which is most appropriate for your kids/students.

       This, clearly, is just the tip of the iceberg and as time and technology progress so will the list. Please feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments and SURF SAFELY!
      Thanks for your visit.  I hope to see you again soon.

      Thursday, September 6, 2012


      My editor, Emily Raij from Maupin House (publishing my book Using Content Area Graphic Texts for Learning: A Guide for Middle-Level Educators - sorry but I couldn't help plugging my work) has forwarded TWO CALLS FOR PAPERS that I thought I would pass on to you.

      A brief overview:
      1. The first call for papers is from The Conversations Project: Interdisciplinary Conversations About Comics, Literacy, and Scholarship. The editor, James Bucky Carter, is looking for "conversations" between two figures, from different professional or personal perspectives who can create a narrative interview where each voice relates their perspective of comics in libraries, in classrooms (grades k-12), or on the drafting board.  Submissions due January 1, 2013 -see details below.  (If you want to submit but don't have a 'partner to converse with' - contact me, maybe I can help)
      2. The second call for papers is from Comics and the American Southwest and Borderland.  The editors of Comics and the American Southwest and Borderlands and the University Press of Mississippi are seeking pieces addressing  the "creating, and illuminating the intersections of comics scholarship and established academic writing on the Southwestern United States, the U.S-Mexico border, and their literatures, identities, and cultures."  Submissions due January 1, 2013 -see details below.

      CFP: The Conversations Project: Interdisciplinary Conversations About Comics, Literacy, and Scholarship  Dr. James Bucky Carter seeks abstracts/papers for an edited collection currently entitled The Conversations Project.

      Comics scholarship has grown substantially over the last twenty years and has always inhabited an interdisciplinary domain. However, rarely do the myriad voices have an opportunity to intersect and interact like they might. This is especially true between those involved in humanities-based comics scholarship and those who explore comics from pedagogical potentialities – and an even more salient divide exists when one looks at those who are doing work with comics in the humanities and those who study comics’ k-12 applications and potentials.

      The goal of the Conversations Project is to bring together leading and emergent voices in often distinctive and divergent sub-fields of comics scholarship via pairing those who study comics primarily from a humanities scholarship perspective with those who study comics mostly from the social sciences/ education/ literacy perspectives.

      The editor argues that this has had a limiting effect on comics scholarship and offers the Conversations Project as a mode of addressing the issue (while, of course, recognizing that there are figures who work in and across multiple disciplines).

      Each chapter of the project will be a conversation between two figures, one involved mostly in humanities-based comics scholarship and the other mostly involved in literacy/education-based comics scholarship.

      Non-exhaustive examples of possible pairings:

      • A children’s literature scholar might pair with a literacy scholar.
      • Someone studying reader response theory in comics might pair with an education professor or practicing k-12 teacher
      • A librarian of a comics collection at a university might pair with a public. school librarian or a librarian studying literacy issues associated with comics.
      • A visual rhetoric scholar might pair with a social scientist studying how young people read or decode the language/systems of comics.
      • A scholar of a specific cartoonist or comics work might pair with a k-12 teacher who has used that artist’s works or the specific text.
      • A scholar-practitioner of Design might pair with a literacy educator or k-12 teacher.
      • An art historian might pair with an Art educator or k-12 art teacher
      • An academic who runs an after-school program connecting comics and literacy might pair with a practicing k-12 teacher who does the same.
      • Someone who studies media might pair up with a media literacy educator.

      Pairs will be instructed to craft their narrative in the form of a mutual interview, similar to and inspired by the format of the University Press of Mississippi’s Conversations series, where each voice is clearly distinguished and labeled each time it speaks. Editors will provide a brief introduction of both figures to introduce the readership to the authors, their areas of expertise, and the general gist of their arguments presented in the chapter.

      Pairs might consider the following:

      • What are your big questions and concerns regarding how the “other side” seems to view comics.
      • How could your own work be used to advance understandings for the “other side.”
      • Where do you see common ground in your work and theories and big ideas on comics, their value, use, and importance?
      • Where do you and your paired partner agree? Disagree? Mine these spots for communication. Cite scholarship to assert your claims. Can you find middle ground?
      • What major texts and figures inform thoughts?
      • What new perspectives have you gained from working with your partner? What new avenues do you feel you may have opened up for readers who might also be looking to bridge the space between one form of comics scholarship and another?

      The editor will craft a summative chapter that treats the bulk of the collection as qualitative data and will draw conclusions and make recommendations to readers based on emerging ideas, theories, and problem areas across the contributions. In this way, the book is similar to Aldema’s work in Multicultural Comics: From Zap to Blue Beetle and Your Brain on Latina Comics.

      Interested parties should contact general editor Dr. James Bucky Carter at Those who already have a co-author in mind are welcomed, but Dr. Carter can assist in finding possible partners. Once a pairing is approved, the authors should prepare a 300-500 word abstract and submit it to the editor by January 1, 2013.


      CFP: Comics and the American Southwest and Borderland

      The editors of Comics and the American Southwest and Borderlands seek submissions for this collection, which has interest from the University Press of Mississippi. We hope the collection does for the Southwest and Border region what Costello and Whitted’s Comics and the U.S. South did for that region and Southern studies via mining, creating, and illuminating the intersections of comics scholarship and established academic writing on the Southwestern United States, the U.S-Mexico border, and their literatures, identities, and cultures.

      Submissions might consider:
      • The impact of comics creators from the Southwest or Border region
      • The work of Jaxon/Jack Jackson, specifically
      • Characters or storylines set in and/or influenced by the Southwest or Border region
      • Depictions of the Southwest or Borderlands in comics
      • Examinations of how non-American artists have represented the American West (Charlier, Moebius, Blain, etc.)
      • U.S-Mexico relations in comics
      • Immigration; citizenship; nationalism in comics from or about the region
      • Race, gender, sex and ethnic studies in comics from or about the region
      • Nationalism; politics; violence in comics from or featuring the region
      • Liminal spaces; contact zones; politics of the region in comics
      • Westerns
      • Adaptations of Southwest, Chicano, Latina, or Mexican literature
      • Chicana/a or Latina/o studies as frames for analysis of comics
      • Class and economic issues in comics from or featuring the region
      • Depictions of Native peoples from the region in comics

      Submissions may explore comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, web comics, and editorial cartoons. Submissions may focus on any genre.

      Please send 300-500 word abstracts to both Dr. James Bucky Carter ( and Dr. Derek Parker Royal ( by January 31, 2013.


      Again, if you have any questions or need help find a conversation partner, please use the comment section as a bulletin board.  I would also love your comments and feedback.
      Thanks you, as always, for your visit, I hope to see you again soon!