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UW-Eau Claire Literacy Project Receives U.S. Department of Education Grant to Benefit Teachers in Northern Wisconsin

RELEASED: March 29, 2007

EAU CLAIRE — A project to enhance the knowledge of northern Wisconsin teachers who serve American Indian children will continue a second year with a $65,200 grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Wisconsin Improving Teacher Quality Grant Program.

Karen Horan, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire professor emerita of art and curriculum and instruction, is the project director for "The Visual Journal/Book Arts Project: Teaching Language Arts Across the Curriculum." The project began last year with funding from the same program. It's one of 16 UW System projects to receive funding this year from the grant program.

"The grant allows us to bring these opportunities to a new group of teachers," said Horan, who wrote the grant with Mary Kuzma, an alumna and former UW-Eau Claire instructor.

Project goals include improving student literacy achievement through the book arts, creating an understanding of traditional Ojibwe culture, increasing knowledge of the geographic area and environment of Lake Superior's south shore, and using the information in classrooms.

Horan is recruiting teachers from Ashland, Bayfield, Glidden and other northern school districts to take part in a two-week institute June 18-29 on the Red Cliff and Bad River Indian reservations. Language arts, journaling and book arts activities will be followed by curriculum implementation in the teachers' core subject areas.

Diane Bear DeFoe, Red Cliff tribal member and a teacher in the Bayfield district, will be a lead instructor for the summer institute. UW-Eau Claire art instructor Jane Herrick will teach a media workshop; Dr. Tamara Lindsey, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, will teach language arts and multicultural literature; and Dr. Debra Barker, associate professor of English, will teach contemporary Native American literature.

In addition to field studies on the reservations and Madeline Island, the teachers will visit the Ojibwe Museum at Ashland's Northland College and meet with Bad River and Red Cliff tribal elders to learn about their traditional practices and skills.

The project is based on research indicating that visual images are another form of language, and that their role in communication and knowledge acquisition is as important as language-based communication skills, said Horan, adding that research also shows the majority of Native American students are visual spatial learners.

Past program participants included 25 teachers from grades two-12 in all subject areas. Horan and Dr. Rick St. Germaine, UW-Eau Claire professor of history and evaluator for the two-year project, recently reviewed their projects. Inspired by the storytelling of the Ojibwe elders, many researched their family stories and created family story journals.

The teachers reported that their students were more motivated to learn, which resulted in higher student achievement and success.

For details about the institute, contact Horan at horankg@uwec.edu or 715-834-3620.

-30-

JW/JB

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