‘Tis the season! It’s the end of the semester and students everywhere are frantically typing up projects for classes that all seem to backload 95% of the work onto the final week.
No exception here. Just finished a big ol’ “Literature Review” – essentially our program’s first year initiation right – synthesizing 30-or-so studies on a teacher-research topic of one’s choosing.
At some way-too-late hour of the night, on a whim, I copied and pasted the entire beast into a word cloud generator, the results of which you see above. Not only was it nice to see my main topics artistically arranged on a single page, but it was also useful for editing (making me realize, for example that I had used the word “practice” far more times than was humanly tolerable – to the thesaurus!).
If you’re curious as to why the words critical and literacy look like Godzilla and Mothra stomping toward a terrified-city-of-other-words in my word cloud, it’s because I reviewed research about using critical literacy approaches with English language learners: the idea being that “literacy” means more than just reading and writing, but is also a political act. As our society often uses literacy to “disempower those who, through an accident of birth, are not part of a class structure where literacy is a fundamental cultural capital” (Macedo, 2003, p. 12), I argue that this ‘accident of birth’ is compounded for those whose literacy skills fall within a non-dominant language (i.e. not English), so language learners must have access to critical approaches to literacy as well.
If you’re interested in reading more, let me know. Otherwise, if you’re finishing up a project, or want to try it out on something you already wrote, get started making your own word cloud! Feel free to post them below or on the blog’s Facebook page.
Either way – happy near-end-of-semester to all the folks out there in teaching and academia!
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