Professional Development Details

Teaching Literacy Through the Lens of Family Practices
Start Date
End Date

Intended Audience = Iowa City Community School District, Kirkwood Elementary School teachers. Please contact instructor if you are not a Kirkwood Elementary Teacher but are still interested in joining.


This course merges research and theories of home literacies and family cultures with current methodologies of teaching reading and writing. Teachers will consider points of entry between home and school literacies, exploring what counts as literacy in the current classroom and expanding on those definitions. Using Moll’s (2005) Funds of Knowledge theory that builds on family practices, teachers in the course will conduct family visits to develop a practical classroom literacy unit based on that family’s funds of knowledge.

  1. Build a deep theoretical understanding of the psychological, social, motivational, affective, socioeconomic, linguistic and cultural influences on literacy development
  • family diversity influences literacy development


  1. Learn to use formative literacy assessment to understand ways of differentiating instruction to accommodate students’ differences and exceptionalities in development, language, cultural background, and personal characteristics while expecting engagement and growth for all learners
  • sustaining students’ differences through differentiated instruction leads to growth for all learners


  1. Develop as reflective practitioner by taking a questioning and appropriately critical stance toward ideas, issues, readings, assessment strategies and instructional materials, programs, and mandates
  • questioning and critically approaching curriculum can lead to multicultural lenses presented in the classroom
Course Requirement


August 13 and August 16, 8:00 a.m -12:00p.m. in person: 

Presentations on research about family literacy practices and how to observe and interview to identify them.

  • Gonzalez, N, Moll, L, & Amanti, C. (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms.
  • Lea, V., Sims, E. J. (2008). Undoing whiteness in the classroom: Critical educultural teaching approaches for social justice activism.
  • Lareau, A. (2011). Unequal childhoods: Class, race, and family life, 2nd
  • Philips, S. (1983). The invisible culture: Communication in the classroom and community on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.
  • Delpit, L. (2006). Other people’s children: Cultural conflict in the classroom.
  • Heath, S. (1999). Ways with words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms.

On fieldwork exercises (to learn how to look for literacy practices)

  • Looking at subcultures
  • Selecting a site
  • Keep accurate notes
  • What surprised you?


September 13, October 18, 3:45-5:45:

Videos, lectures, and readings on family-school connections each week.

  • Amaro-Jimenez, C. (2016). Preservice teachers’ reflections of their involvement in a home-school connection project in teacher education.
  • Dudley-Marling, C. (2009). Home-school literacy connections: The perceptions of African American and immigrant ESL parents in two urban communities.
  • Irish, C. & Parsons, S. (2016). Sharing a reading technique with families.
  • Louie, B. & Davis-Welton, K. (2016). Family literacy project.
  • Pole, K. (2015). “Why downt you riyt back to me?”.
  • Zurcher, M. A. (2016). Partnering with parents in the writing classroom.

4 home/family visits and posting online in discussions


November 9, 3:45-5:45 : 

On application to the classroom

Work on literacy lesson plans to apply family practices to the classroom environment



  • Reading
    • Students are expected to come to class prepared from reading the assigned texts.
  • Funds of Knowledge Home Visit Project
    • Teachers will work with one family for 4 weeks throughout the course. Teachers will visit the families in their homes/communities to discover that family’s funds of knowledge and family literacy practices.
    • Teachers will develop a school literacy application (3-4 lessons) based on the specific family’s Funds of Knowledge and home literacy practices for your (or the student’s) grade level.
  • Journal/Posts
    • Throughout the course, teachers will reflect on the readings and class discussion online.
    • After reading the homework, teachers will post a summary with thoughts to prepare for discussion. After each class discussion, teachers will post about the ways they can apply the learning to their classroom.




* All materials will be provided by the instructor. 


Laura Szech

Baker Teacher Leader Center
Iowa Licensure Renewal Credit

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