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Personal Reflection: Literacy & Language

Learning Task #3, EDER 669.04 L03

Trina Penner

on 11 February 2015

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Transcript of Personal Reflection: Literacy & Language

LITERACY and LANGUAGE............
Sharing = being included
The Pink Voices Project......more background
The first group meeting was over a school lunch hour where I shared tea and homemade muffins with the group. I presented each gal with a white journal to begin collecting their writing in. I wanted them all to feel special and considered.
I asked each gal to introduce herself as I specifically chose young women that were not necessarily in the same social groups in an attempt to increase diversity and (hopefully) empathy within the group.
I did not know if any of it would work but, as I explained to them, I was willing to bet that if we were diligent and open, I believed each of them had the ability to grow personally and creatively.
Sunday writing intensives
We had several 'writing intensives' where we spent hours in front of computer screens and at tables, discussing, sharing, editing, redrafting, word-smithing, and contemplating writing as a group.
Feedback about the topics included things like: what is the purpose of the piece? How do you want the reader to feel? Is there another word to describe this?
Gradually we decided to categorize all the writing under common themes. It was these themes that became the foundation of an original collaborative script and developed into a performance.
Environment can be a
perception changer.
Some ladies had to combat their 'wounded writer' identities, sharing, "I have never been a good writer!" The safe climate I had endeavored to create in the group was key to combating this perception.
For some ladies, the idea of sharing their own voice, OUT LOUD, in the group was enough to make them quite fearful. Again, this made it crucial that the group was associated, by all, as a supportive and valuable place to share ideas and voice.
The Pink Voices Project
Personal Reflection: Literacy and Language - LT #3 EDER 669.04 LO3
is a free APP for teachers to use in order to send one-way only text messages to students (and parents).
I asked each gal to continue writing over the summer break (with/without the use of writing prompts).
I provided the information for them of how to sign up on the "remind.com" App for exclusive
Pink Voices
text messages from me. I texted them three times throughout the summer to remind them that I was writing along with them.
I started a file in
Google Drive
where we could all share and edit our writing in one virtual space.
I specifically asked that their writing be positive in nature so that we could cultivate a foundation of positive growth and energy within the group.
Great feedback breeds a common ground of
trust and respect.
Words have power
Once the 2014 school year began, we started to meet again over lunch hours and share our writing out loud.
This was the time I started to push for them to contribute
writing online
in the Google shared drive.
It was made clear that we would all have access to everyone's writing. We would all be able to provide feedback and edit writing that was shared in the spirit of collaboration.
The previously established ground rules about feedback were maintained and followed well by all.
Within literacy and language are experiences influenced by culture, religion, upbringing, economics, technology, accessibility, and personal experience. One of the concerns within schools is how to tackle all of this within a diverse student population.

H. Samy Alim (2011) points out that, "schools quickly fall behind popular culture... by completely ignoring youth identifications and self-fashioning"(p.134). Though he uses Hip Hop Culture as the basis of his study, there are huge connections to identity within his work that apply to
The Pink Voices Project
. He goes on further to reveal that Hip Hop Culture requires "making oneself vulnerable by revealing personal narratives"(p.135). This vulnerability was evident throughout the PVP group process.

My answer to tackling literacy, language, and their cosmopolitan influences is
The Pink Voices Project.
I wanted to explore language use and meaning making in a way that challenged students to be creative in collaboration with each other.

My hope was that the process had the transformative nature that Cope and Kalantzis (2012) refer to for the members within
The Pink Voices Project
When Mellinee Lesley (2012) describes the identity of a writer in her study,
Invisible Girls
, she narrows in on an area that I was very cognoscente of. I specifically made efforts to develop a climate of non-judgment and trust early on in the lunch meetings. Lesley states that, "in order to develop a positive identity as a writer...(the) group needed a safe space to write in which they felt free from peer and adult criticism" a place where they could "learn to value their own writing" (p.59). This is what I endeavored to create from the start with the group.
This is the page of story starters I provided to the group as summer writing prompts.
Examples of categorized themes included (but were not limited to):

Creative Spirit
I provide a glimpse below into the voice and diversity of writing from some of the
Pink Voices
group members.

I think it is important to note that each young woman experienced personal transformation as a result of sharing their writing.
Brenna wrote a piece about losing her Mom to cancer at the age of three. (She is currently fifteen.) The piece was entitled,
And one day, I know, I'll see you again
. Her Mom developed cancer when she was pregnant with Brenna and she decided to forgo treatment until her precious daughter was born. Brenna was able to find support within our group to come to terms with the pain this has caused her.
Maleisha was able to conquer growing up in a volatile home by listening to music. She wrote a piece called
Music is my shield
which chronicles the strength and resiliency she has learned to develop over time.
Music is my shield
reading by
author, Maleisha B.
Emily wrote a fantastic piece called,
ABC's of being woman
. It was exciting for the group to hear her 'try' the writing out loud as she fine tuned the details.
This piece ended up being performed collectively and served as the perfect finale of the show.
When we looked at the breadth of writing we had accumulated, it created a sense of pride and accomplishment within all the ladies!
It was at this point that we started rehearsing selected pieces with the intention of performing the writing in front of an audience.
We chose 18 pieces of writing to share publically.
The Pink Voices Project
is an example of how using a collaborative writing process, one can develop cosmopolitan traits within exposure to language and literacy. Not only did the students rise above fears of inadequacy and vulnerability, but they surpassed them. We learned valuable digital literacy skills. We used multiliteracy texts to influence and inspire writing. The process of turning the writing into a performance was key in incorporating multimodalities. All of the girls developed trusting relationships through the year-long writing process. It was indeed a transformative meaning-making experience!

They shared their writing and they shared themselves with the world by developing personal narratives.
SHAW TV interview clip
I invited each of the young women individually with a special card and message tucked inside.
I had hoped that as they wrote they would begin to negotiate and make sense of the mixed messages society gives youth, allowing their writing to drive this change. These messages are heavily connected to developing a sense of identity.

The excerpt from the 2003 United Nations World Youth Report, prepared by Steven Miles, comments that "young people are in the process of establishing a sense of identity in what is essentially and insecure world, and this underlying instability may serve to magnify the tensions and lack of control they experience on a daily basis" (p.293).

As youth negotiate the world, "we could begin to view literacy and multiliteracies as part of student' tool kits for understanding, critiquing, and engaging with the images and texts they confront daily" (Luke 2003, p.20).
Alim, H.S. (2011), Global Ill-Literacies: hip hop cultures, youth identities, and the politics of literacy.
Review of Research in Education
, 35, 120-146.

Cope, B. and Kalantzis, M. (2012).
. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kelly, R. (2008).
Creative expression, creative education: creativity as a primary rationale for education
. Calgary: Detselig Enterprises Ltd.

Lesley, M. (2012).
Invisible Girls: at risk adolescent girls' writing within and beyond school
. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Luke, A. (2003). Literacy education for a new ethics of global community.
Language Arts
, 81(1), 20-22.

Miles, S. (2004). Young people in a globalizing world. United Nations World Youth Report 2003: The global situation of young people (chapter 11). Retrieved from http://undesadspd.org/WorldYouthReport/2003.aspx

Semple, J. (Shaw TV Red Deer). (2014, June 9). Pink Voices Project. Episode retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=myZfkzb5y-Q
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