Academic journal article Language Arts

Leveraging Students' Future Professional Identities for Literacy Learning

Academic journal article Language Arts

Leveraging Students' Future Professional Identities for Literacy Learning

Article excerpt

As educators, we encourage students to use literacy for personal purposes. But have we overlooked stu- dents' aspirations to use literacy for professional purposes? Anchored by college and career readi- ness, the Common Core State Standards aim to provide students with greater access to the complex literacy skills necessary for success in 21st-century careers. That's good news, because children already recognize that they will need to use literacy in sophisticated ways for their future careers.

In a recent study (Turner, 2012), I asked 37 chil- dren to draw pictures of themselves as future pro- fessionals and to discuss the importance of reading related to their chosen careers. Jayden, for exam- ple, depicted himself as President of the United States, noting that he would need to read "history books, [legislative] bills, and notes for speeches" (see Figure 1). Tamika drew herself as a hair styl- ist, remarking that she would read "books on dif- ferent textures and oils so people's hair doesn't get damaged, and books about business so I can open my own salon" (see Figure 2). Carlos drew himself as a football player, explaining that reading would help him "know the plays and sign contracts." And Aisha drew herself as a veterinarian reading "books about animal sickness, medicine [labels], and medi- cal bills."

So how might teachers leverage children's visions of their future professional identities for literacy learning in schools? …

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