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Identity Texts and Literacy Development Among Preschool English Language Learners: Enhancing Learning Opportunities for Children at Risk for Learning Disabilities


by Judith K. Bernhard, Jim Cummins, F. Isabel Campoy, Alma Flor Ada, Adam Winsler & Charles Bleiker — 2006

There is little research on English language learners (ELLs) in relation to learning disability (LD) assessment and identification. More important, there is a scarcity of research on models and strategies that enhance learning opportunities and outcomes for ELLs prior to an LD diagnosis. We describe in this article an innovative language intervention program involving the creation of bilingual, student self-authored identity texts. Called the Early Authors Program (EAP), the intervention stands as an example of how spaces and opportunities for literacy development among young ELLs can be created in a classroom instructional environment. The EAP, which reached 800 families, was evaluated using a combination of methods and instruments. The goal of the evaluation component was to collect data spanning one year from 325 randomly selected participating children in both control and experimental groups. Among its several beneficial outcomes, the EAP had demonstrably positive effects on children’s language scores and appears to have strengthened their identities and fostered their self-esteem. Because a proportion of these students would be at risk for LD, we propose the implementation of programs of this type generally for ELL children, and especially for those considered likely to have future school-related difficulties.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 11, 2006, p. 2380-2405
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12809, Date Accessed: 6/23/2017 11:33:19 PM

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About the Author
  • Judith Bernhard
    Ryerson University
    E-mail Author
    JUDITH BERNHARD directs the Early Childhood Studies program at Ryerson University. Her research is focused on the experiences of bilingual children and their encounters with educational systems. An emphasis has been on educational innovations that move beyond universalistic assumptions about childhood and development. Publications include ‘‘Parent Involvement Reconsidered: A Latin American Parents’ Group Participates in Their Children’s Schooling’’; ‘‘Toward a 21st Century Developmental Theory: Principles to Account for Diversity in Children’s Lives’’; and ‘‘Struggling to Preserve Home Language: The Experiences of Latino Students and Families in Canadian School Systems.’’
  • Jim Cummins
    University of Toronto/Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)
    JIM CUMMINS is Canada Research Chair in Language and Literacy Development in Multilingual Contexts at the University of Toronto and teaches in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT). He has recently coauthored (with Kristin Brown and Dennis Sayers) Literacy, Technology, and Diversity: Teaching for Success in Changing Times (Allyn & Bacon). His research has focused on the nature of language proficiency and second-language acquisition, with particular emphasis on the social and educational barriers that limit academic success for culturally diverse students.
  • F. Campoy
    Transformative Education Services
    F. ISABEL CAMPOY is president of Transformative Educational Services and a renowned international speaker on issues of language acquisition and transformative education. She is coauthor of Authors in the Classroom: A Transformative Pedagogy Experience. In addition, she has written numerous children’s books in the areas of poetry, theater, stories, art, and nonfiction, and she has collaborated in many educational programs.
  • Alma Ada
    University of San Francisco
    ALMA FLOR ADA is professor emeritus at the University of San Francisco. She speaks internationally on multicultural education, literacy, and critical pedagogy. She has collaborated in developing numerous textbooks and is the award-winning author of over 100 children’s books. She is the author of A Magical Encounter: Latino Children’s Literature in the Classroom and coauthor of Authors in the Classroom: A Transformative Pedagogy Experience.
  • Adam Winsler
    George Mason University
    ADAM WINSLER is associate professor of applied developmental psychology at George Mason University. The topics of his current research and recent publications include the transition to school for low-income children attending various types of preschool programs, and private speech (selftalk) as it relates to behavior control in typically developing children and children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism.
  • Charles Bleiker
    Florida International University
    CHARLES BLEIKER is associate professor of early childhood education at Florida International University. His research interests are school readiness, early literacy development, and early childhood systems. His is author of Early Childhood Settings and Approaches(Merrill/Prentice Hall, 2005).
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