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As most teachers today know firsthand http://www.baseballtwinslockroom.com/byung-ho-park-twins-jersey/ , our classrooms are changing demographically and becoming increasingly diverse, and our pedagogy must change accordingly to meet students' needs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 40% of students in public education in 2000 were students of color, almost doubling in a 20-year span, with 90% of teachers in public schools being White (Ball and Ellis 499). In 2006, the percentage of students of color in our public schools grew to 43% (Planty et al.). This particular combination of increasing student diversity Discount Juicy Couture(http:www.juicycouturegirl) and a predominately White teaching staff http://www.baseballtwinslockroom.com/byron-buxton-twins-jersey/ , according to Arnetha F. Ball and Pamela Ellis, reinforces the need for "cross-cultural communication and identity development," which the authors regard as "key factors in students' academic achievement".

Steven Zemelman and Harvey Daniels in A Community of Writers: Teaching Writing in the Junior and Senior High School, a widely used resource on the teaching of writing, state that one of the most important elements promoting growth in student writing is the teacher's understanding and appreciation of "the basic linguistic competence that students bring with them to school". The authors emphasize the importance of social context as a leading contributor to gains in writing development and student learning:

Whether you are conscious of it or not, your classroom is a fertile social context for literacy learning. And if linguists are right that the social context is the driving force behind literacy acquisition http://www.baseballtwinslockroom.com/brian-dozier-twins-jersey/ , then the social context of your English Language arts classroom is the most powerful and important variable you can experiment with. More important than what textbook or speller or dictionary to use; more important than what kinds of assignments to give; more important than the criteria by which you assign kids to peer response groups; more important than 'teaching Graves' versus teaching Calkins or Hillocks.

The social context of the classroom embodies open and honest communication among students and between students and teacher, along with respect for and knowledge about linguistic and cultural differences. In writing about the linguistic varieties that fill our classrooms and, conversely, the privileging of Standard American English, Joan Wynne writes by fostering prejudice such as language biases, we stifle all students' cognitive development. Thinking their language is a superior language http://www.baseballtwinslockroom.com/bert-blyleven-twins-jersey/ , which is, after all, what too many teachers teach and too many in society believe, White [students] may become incapable of really hearing other cultures and, thus, learning from them. For as long as mainstream students think that another's language is inferior to theirs http://www.baseballtwinslockroom.com/ , they will probably not bother to understand it, and therefore, there will be much about the other they will fail to understand.

Wynne reminds us of the importance of talking about language differences so that students understand language, in all its diversity, as "embracing a wide range of human competencies and capacities" (Hale et al. 35). The student's language and cultural experiences are valuable resources, and when teachers create space for writing activities that value these differences and build positive social relationships http://www.baseballtwinslockroom.com/tony-oliva-twins-jersey/ , learning is a natural result.

The importance of a social context that is supportive and student-centered is manifested in Lisa Delpit's "No Kinda Sense," a narrative essay about her daughter Maya, one of only six African Americans attending a private high school. Growing up speaking mainstream English, Maya comes home from school one day and asks her mother's permission to have plastic surgery on her lips. Delpit tells us how she then placed her daughter in the public school where the majority of students were African American. Maya acclimates to her new school setting and comes home excited and happy, but she's speaking a different languageEbonics. Delpit then ponders how one can acquire a second language so quickly and effortlessly. She asks herself: What conditions were in force in the public school that enabled Maya to learn Ebonics, and how can we replicate those same conditions in our classrooms so that Juicy Couture Jewelry(http:www.discountjuicy) students will want to learn our language http://www.baseballtwinslockroom.com/rod-carew-twins-jersey/ , the target language of the schools? Her response is to provide topics that students find relevant and engaging and to create a social context in which students feel connected.

In my writing classes, I have revised my pedagogy so that students have greater opportunities to share their knowledge through self-directed writing. It is writing that brings new and relevant information into the classroom, builds positive relationships among the students and teacher as writers, and leads to gains in writing abilities. Self-directed writing is an opportunity for students to draw on their own resources, not only what they know and care about but also how they may choose to say it. And it is consistent with James Britton's theory of development in student writing, a theory based on analyses of student writing in British secondary schools.

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