Introduction | Task | Process 1 | Process 2 | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Teacher Page

Assignment 1:
Research Studies and Response

Due: Week 4 

The first assignment will be to research different seminal studies in your area of literacy.  To do this you will do Google searches about your topic.  You will also need to enter the National Society for the Study of Education website.  This website has documented many useful studies in the area of literacy.  Another website you will be required to go to is the History of Literacy (HOL) website.  Use these two links of  tips  and notes to help you navigate the HOL website.This site contains useful information about literacy and has information about important concepts in literacy, ground breaking research studies, and influential people in literacy.  The International Reading Association, Greater San Diego Reading Association, and California Reading Association are also useful sites that contain lots of information that will help you in your research.  These sites are dedicated to  helping teachers become better literacy educators. Other sites you might want to go to are the San Diego State Library and the Public Library.  If there are other educational sites that you know of that have related literacy information, please share them with your group members and with the rest of the class.

In the group, each member must read at least two seminal studies.  As you read these studies you must individually keep a journal.  The requirements for these journal responses include:

As you read make sure you are using your analytical skills as an educator.  Look for bias, look for factual information, and look for perspective.  As an educator you must always be analyzing the information you read to make sure that it contains research supported information.  Each journal response must then be typed and turned into me on week four.  You must also include the seminal studies that you have read.  Please make enough copies to give to each of your group members

Once you have read your two studies please share your findings with your group.  These studies should cover an historical period from the mid-1900s until today.  In total your group should have read at least eight to ten studies in your area of literacy.  Of course there are many more studies related to your topic and as a teacher you should always be reading these to help you become a better teacher.  Each person in the group should have a copy of all eight to ten studies.  

After the groups have shared their information with  all members, they will jigsaw into new groups.  To do this the original group members will count off from 1 through 4.  Then all of the 1s will get together, all of the 2s will get together, and so on until there are four new groups.  Each new group should have one person from each literacy section.  In this new group please discuss the seminal studies that  have been read by your original group members.  Discuss the importance of these studies, how they have developed a topical understanding over time, why you think the class should read them, and how they have impacted current day literacy instruction.

After each new group has met, the class will come back together as a whole and discuss what has been read and how it has helped build your knowledge of literacy education.

Assignment Two:
Biography of Important Literacy Educators

Due: Week 7 

This assignment is an individual assignment.  To complete this assignment you must choose two people (one contemporary and one from the past) from the list of notable literacy educators.  I have created a word document chart that includes many notable educators from all four sections of literacy.

First click on the Notable Educators link that I have provided and then download the document.  Once you have done this, print a copy for each person in your group.  Once each group member has chosen two people from the list, you will need to find information about each person.  The requirements for this research are:

To conduct this research you will again need to go to the IRA, CRA, GSDRA, HOL, NSSE, SDSU, Google, and Public Library websites to find information.  You are not restricted to finding information on line.  You may also look in books and journals because some of the earliest educators may not have information printed about them on the Internet.  The HOL website does, however, have yearbooks that date back to the beginning of literacy and includes lots of information about many of these educators.

The following table contains useful links that will direct you to information about your notable educators.

  A. Library Catalogs

The following web addresses link directly to library catalogs.  The holdings of the American Antiquarian Society (be aware that the AAS is useful only for those who were born before 1876), the Library of congress, and the New York Public Library will give a good overview of books that the notable literacy educators published but which your own library may not have.  The Kenneth Spencer Research Library of the University of Kansas houses collections of books related to American education, including the Charles and E. Jennifer Monaghan Collection (about 1,400 volumes) of literacy-related texts.  A search for an educator in the catalog will include the holdings of KU’s special collections.

Catalog of the American Antiquarian Association:
Catalog of the Library of Congress:
Catalog of the New York Public Library:
Catalog of the University of Kansas Libraries:

  B. Link to John Nietz Collection

John Nietz wrote Old Textbooks (1961) and The Evolution of American Secondary School Textbooks (1966) based on his own huge collection of textbooks.  His collection and other books (over 16,000) volumes in all) are housed at the University of Pittsburgh’s library.  Nietz’s own publications are available digitally, and 140 of the textbooks in his collection, including many literacy-related texts, are available in full text.  Go to  For a particular author, then go to Browse Books.

  C. Link to an Overview of Authors and Their Readers, 1640-1940

An article in the spring 1999 History of Reading News provides an overview of some of the readers listed and illustrated in E. Jennifer Monaghan and Arlene L. Barry, Writing the Past: Teaching Reading in Colonial America and the United States, 1640-1940: The Catalog (Newark, DE: International Reading Association, 1999). The catalog accompanied an exhibition of 74 old readers and spellers presented at the 44th annual convention of the International Reading Association, San Diego, California, May, 1999.  For the overview, go to and follow the directions in Approach A for the article in the History of Reading News (Spring 1999).

  D. Link to Article on Authors of Literacy-related Textbooks, 1780 to 1840

Go to for Charles Monaghan, “Webster to McGuffey: A Sketch of American Literacy Textbooks,” History of Reading News (Spring 2002), pp. 1-2, 6-8.


Many of the people you will be researching are still alive.  To be a good researcher you might want to contact these people to gain a deeper understanding of who they are and their philosophy about education and their contributions to literacy.

After you have completed this investigation you will be ready to develop two biographies.  There are seven different ways to present the biographies.  You need to choose two different formats so that you can present each biography in a novel way.   The projects are as follows:

  1. Graphic Organizer Timeline: For this project you will go into the program titled Inspiration.  This program is a great tool for teachers and educators.  It lets you create many different graphic organizers.  You can import pictures, link to the Internet, and design intricate layouts for your projects.  For this project you must include pictures that are relevant to your person's life, a timeline of important dates and events, and links to the Internet that relate to your person. You will then need to save this to a disk and show it to your group and other classmates.  Please print  a hard copy that you can turn into me on the due date.

  2. iMovie: For this project you can create an iMovie, which means a movie that can be played on the computer using the iMovie program.  To do this you will need a digital movie camera.  This project should include the important information you discussed about the person.  You can write a script and have people act it out, you can create a mock interview of the person, or you can  do a real interview if the person is alive and can be contacted.  The iMovie is a great resource for you as an educator and for this class because you can edit, import pictures, and include music.  Students will love this and you will also once you use it.  A copy of the movie must be saved on a disc and presented in class.  Make sure you give me a copy of the movie on the due date. I have included an iMovie of an interview I conducted with notable educator Dr. James Flood.

  3. Character Bag: To accomplish this project you will need to create a bag that has important information about your person.  Be as creative as possible.  You can design a box or a bag to include all of your information.  In this bag you will need to include items that are symbolic of the person's life, personal experiences, and philosophies.  You must also include important events about the person and what they contributed to literacy education.  This project is a great way for you to really learn about the person because you have to find useful items that pertain to the person you are studying.  This project is a very creative way for you to share your knowledge about the person.  Along with the character bag you must also include a short write-up about the relevance of the items you have placed in your bag.  Please inlcude what each item represents and your thoughts about why they were included.

  4. Scrapbook: For this project you will be creating a scrapbook about the person's life.    This scrapbook must include important details about the person's life, their contributions to literacy education, and the importance of their educational philosophies.  This scrapbook can include photographs, drawings, symbols, research notes, and fliers that help portray  this person.   You are able to explore your creative side while at the same time portraying the information you have learned.  This is also a great project for you if you are artistic and like to make scrapbooks.  Bring your scrapbook to class to share with your classmates on the due date.  Do not forget to turn this in me on the due date.

  5. Hero Card: For this project you will design your own literacy hero card.  On one side you will include a picture of the person you are researching.  On the other side you will need to include statistics and facts about the person.  These details must depict the entire life of the person or his/her life up until now if he/she are still alive.  It should include the time period of his/her participation in literacy, and his/her contributions to literacy education.  This project is great for those who really like baseball or sports cards.  You can create your own sports card by using the information you have learned.  Be sure to laminate the card and make enough copies of the card to give to your group and to turn into me on the due date.

  6. Written autobiography: For this project you will pretend that you are the notable educator you are studying.  Write an autobiography depicting the important events in the person's life.  You will also need to include the person's philosophy on literacy education, what they have accomplished, and how they contributed to education.  This write up should be approximately 10 typed and doubled spaced pages.  It can be longer if there is more information to include.   This project allows you to use your imagination by writing as if you were the person.  This allows time to write for fun while at the same time incorporating the information you have learned through your research.  Please make sure you make enough copies for your group and turn in one copy to me on the due date.

  7. Written biography: Ours is an age in which the line between fiction and nonfiction is constantly blurred by television and other media. Prepare a biography of your notable educator.  Be sure to reference all statements relating to their personal and professional lives.  Document any summary of the biographee's words as well as direct quotations.  Double check to be sure that every fact is substantiated by evidence.  Please identify all sources of evidence.  Please make sure you make enough copies for your group and turn in one copy to me on the due date.
On the day this project is due, the groups will again jigsaw.  Each time we jigsaw the groups need to be different.  For example, all the original number 1s will not be together again.  Each small group will again number off making sure the numbers are different.  The class will then divide into new groups and share the projects they have created.  Each person should discuss who their notable educators were and how they affected literacy. In your new groups you will need to pick two projects to share with the whole class.

Once the groups have shared with the class, you will then come together and share as a whole.  You will share your projects and discuss what you have learned about these important educators in literacy.

Assignment 3: 
Personal Conversation

Due: Week 9 

This is a group assignment.  To accomplish this assignment the group must pick two notable literacy educators, if possible one past and one current.  The whole group must become literacy experts on these two people in order to have an authentic conversation where all group members participate equally.   Each member must read multiple selections about both people on the Internet or in books and journals.  The person who did the initial research should help the other group members identify useful websites in which they found important information about the person.  The groups will then create a fifteen minute dialogue between the two educators.  This conversation must depict both peoples' philosophies about the literacy topic you are studying and their own personal research and findings. The project should be creative.  As a group you will need to create a conversation that shows your understanding of these two people and the topic.  Would they disagree with each other?  What would they have to say to each other if they could talk to each other?  Why would they want to talk with each other?  Set up this conversation in any setting; they could be at SDSU for a conference, at a coffee shop, or even through Instant Messenger online.  This conversation should help give others insight into what these two people believed and what they felt literacy education should be like.  This conversation will need to be typed, and as a group you will present it to the class.  Each person must participate equally.   Make sure you give a copy of this conversation to me on the due date.

On the date that this project is due, the groups will present their conversations to the class.  Two of the people will actually present the conversation.  The other members will give a brief background about the educators who are involved in the conversation.  This background should help give the class a foundation of knowledge about who these people are/were, their beliefs, and how they contributed to literacy education.  The groups should practice their presentations before they present them to the class.

Assignment Four:
Timeline of Famous People and Events

Due: Week 11

This assignment is a group project.  For this project you will be expanding on the studies you have read and the notable educators you have learned about and create a timeline depicting the famous people and events for your section of literacy.  You will need to go back and do further research on the IRA, CRA, GSDRA, HOL, NSSE, SDSU, Public Library, and Google websites.  For this timeline you will need to include important events that have shaped your literacy topic.  The timeline should also incorportate important studies that took place and the people who were influential to your topic.  To complete this assignment you will be using the PowerPoint program.  Your group must create a PowerPoint presentation that incorporates pictures, quotes, and information from the Internet.  You can also include music with your presentation if you think it will add to the overall effectiveness of your timeline.  The use of the powerpoint presentation is to help you creatively portray all of the information you have learned during the semester in a fun and creative way.  Each group member must participate in this project.  Everyone should be equally responsible for doing the research and for creating the presentation.  Once you have finished the presentation, give a copy of it to me on the due date.

On the date that this assignment is due each group will present their PowerPoint presentations to the class.  Every person must be included in the presentation.  These presentations should be about five to ten minutes in length.  By the end of the presentation the class should have  a deeper understanding of your topic of literacy, how it has evolved, what and who the influences have been, and possible projections about additional related questions of study. 

Assignment 5:
Personal Response: History of Literacy

Due: Week 15

This assignment is an individual assignment.  For the entire semester you have been doing indepth research that has helped further your knowledge about literacy education.  You first started researching important studies that have helped shape literacy education.  You then did further research looking into who contributed to education and how they affected what is taught in today's classrooms.  You then compiled this knowledge and more indepth knowledge you aquired by doing further research on your topic and compiled a detailed timeline of your topic.  You now have a solid base of knowledge that will help you become a better educator.  The knowledge you have aquired over the course of this semester is valuable to your education and to the education of your students.  This final assignment has been designed to capture some of this newly aquired knowledge.  For this assignment you will be writing a two page personal response about why the history of literacy education is important to understand, what it means to us as educators, and what it means to the future of literacy education.  This assignment should portray what you have learned throughout this webquest and your outlook on education for the future.  This personal response should be two pages typed and double spaced.  If you have more to say you can always write more.

On the last day of class you will present your responses to your group.  Each person will read his or her personal response.  As a group you will then select one person to share with the whole class. 

Final Whole Class Assignment

For the last few weeks in class we will be compiling a timeline that spans all of the aspects of literacy we have been researching.  We will incorporate each of your timelines and compile them to get an overall view of literacy education.  We will be creating this timeline using either Inspiration or PowerPoint.  This will then help you understand many of the important events and people who have influenced literacy education.