St. Lawrence Oral History Project

About the Project

St. Lawrence is a Catholic Community in Tampa, Florida. After fifty years of life, the parish and the K-8 school, looked inward to discover what and how St. Lawrence had experienced to become the community that we visited. The St. Lawrence Oral History Project was an attempt to understand the interaction of community literacy as a context for the training of pre-service teachers in media literacies and in more traditional method of teaching literacy. Researchers from USF's Contemporary Literacies Collaborative taught two back-to-back sections of Undergraduate Literacy methods courses (Teaching Writing and Reading and Learning to Read) at the St. Lawrence parish hall. The methods courses were linked for registration so that all 30 undergraduates took both of the courses. The tutoring took place in stable groups across the 16-week experience. Undergraduates formed 12 stable teams of tutors that each worked with pre-school, Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and sixth grade students. From the perspective of the methods course content, undergraduates were taught procedures, approaches, and techniques that are associated with these two courses. What is unique to these two projects is that the undergraduates learned literacy methods and media methods while doing and in the context of a real literate community. From the perspective of the elementary students, the project was about creating different media products that would all be posted on a web page created for the History of St. Lawrence project. The projects included preschoolers' views on a typical day at St Lawrence school, Kindergarteners' family memories about the parish and school, first graders' electronic alphabet books, second graders' biographies of school and parish personnel, and sixth graders' oral histories of parish notables. These projects showcased the oral histories of the people, places, and events of the school and church community and allowed the pre-service teachers to integrate technology into their teaching.

About the Research

For this project, our research focused on pre-service teacher preparation. The CLC investigated how offsite and community-embedded placement of the course instruction affected delivery and outcomes of the course. Building on a model proposed by Csikszentmihalyi (1990), we uncovered themes of "crash" and "flow" among the experiences of the undergraduates and instructors.

We analyzed observational, interview, and textual data and found a range of behaviors that reflected the pre-service teachers' familiarity/unfamiliarity with technology, teaching, and the community in which they were learning. As a result, their attempts at learning through and teaching with technology, along with our attempts to teach with and learn through technology, revealed a multiplicity of enactments of fast literacies. The themes that emerged from the analysis reflect Kinzer's (2005) notion of the "intersection" between school, community, and technology.

St. Lawrence Oral History Website