Volume 1, Number 1, Winter 2009

ISSN 1949-8268

Editorial Board | pdf

Editors’ Note | pdf

A study of optimism among Latinos in a successful urban school

Kathleen A. J. Mohr, Ron W. Wilhelm, and Patsy J. Robles-Goodwin

pp. 1-14 | pdf


This quantitative study investigated the levels of optimism and self-concepts of 76, fourth-sixth graders who attend an academically successful, English-immersion, private school serving a majority Latino and urban population. Two instruments measured the students’ self-perceptions with expected and unexpected results. Although academically successful and functioning as the majority, these Latinos were not particularly optimistic. Gender, language proficiency, and grade level were all factors related to the significant findings. The related discussion challenges educators to explore the various aspects contributing to positive self-concepts and to better understand how to develop and sustain optimism among students often considered academically at-risk.

Vocabulary Development in the Science Classroom: Using Hypermedia Authoring to Support English Learners

Susan O’Hara and Robert Pritchard

pp. 15-29 | pdf


This study investigated the impact of authoring hypermedia projects on the academic vocabulary development of middle school, ESL students. Vocabulary definitions, in-process verbalizations, observations and semi-structured interviews were the primary means of collecting data and assessing vocabulary growth. The results of this study indicate that hypermedia authoring had a positive impact on students’ understanding of grade level, science concepts as well as on student engagement in and attitudes toward vocabulary building activities. Thus, the procedures implemented in this study provide a potential model for teachers to follow as they attempt to facilitate their students’ vocabulary and concept development.

Home to school transitions: A Guatemalan family portrait

Karen S. Vocke and Amanda Stearns-Pfeiffer

pp. 30-39 | pdf


Cultural and linguistic differences within the migrant population, coupled with the transient nature of these families, often present challenges that can inhibit the education of migrant students in our schools. How can schools and communities come together to provide resources and services for this vulnerable population? Through the theoretical lens of Paulo Freire, we identify the need to work against the current educational trend toward increased standardization and work towards a model of education that is both individualized and democratic. For migrant students, individualizing educational experiences often means reaching out to the families for linguistic support. We have found the current services and resources available to students and families in Michigan to be fragmentary at best, and absent at worst. Our vision is to create a resource center for migrant families at Western Michigan University that focuses on literacy outreach initiatives for all ages, thus potentially filling a desperate need.

Building a community for migrant education services through family literacy and farm worker outreach

Lisa Crayton

pp. 40-49 | pdf


This study applies a sociocultural perspective to examine the home to school transitions in literacy achievement of three low-income children from Guatemala. Through participant observation and informal conversations with the family during home visits, two factors appeared to influence the literacy development of the family's young children: bilingualism and cultural assimilation. Investigating the home literacy environment of an immigrant family provides an insider's perspective of the life experiences of children from non-mainstream homes. Understanding their home reading and writing experiences, and their transition to school literacy, is valuable for reading teachers facing increasingly diverse students from multicultural backgrounds.