Dr. April Sanders: Exploring New Literacies in the K-12 Classroom
Spring Hill College welcomes Dr. April Sanders to the education department this semester. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge about the use of "New Literacies" in the classroom, including extensive research on the impact of social media, graphic novels, and gaming on learning. Her dissertation work analyzed “Parallels between the Gaming Experience and Rosenblatt’s Reader Response Theory.”
Dr. Sanders, who graduated with her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of North Texas, currently teaches reading and literacy development courses at Spring Hill. As an assistant professor at SHC, she also supervises four levels of student pre-service internships, ranging from early childhood to high school.
Her background includes teaching middle school and high school English, coordinating assessment development, and developing curriculum for English language arts. Dr. Sanders has served as a featured speaker at conferences across the country on the topics of new literacies, heteronormativity in children’s literature, and action research with pre-service teachers.
SHC: Explain the concept of “New Literacies” in education.
AS: The expansion of literacy to include technologies is at the the core of the New Literacies. The New Literacies can include areas of concentration on modes such as the Internet, e-mail, instant messaging, avatars, virtual worlds, blogs, wikispaces, web page design, text messaging, multimedia applications, and gaming. The list is constantly changing as technologies are changing in the area of information and communication technologies. To begin to define New Literacies, the literacy must be able to include more than just traditional print text. The concept of literacy must also expand to include more than simple comprehension.
SHC: Tell us about your most recent teaching experiences.
AS: I graduated from the University of North Texas in May 2013. While there, I worked as a teaching fellow with the college of education. I taught literacy courses – primarily methods courses for preservice teachers. I also worked as a Cadre Coordinator, meaning that I supervised a group of preservice teachers while they completed a two semester-long internship during their senior year. Those experiences really helped me learn how to connect with students who were preparing to become teachers.
SHC: How you feel about joining the SHC team?
AS: I love working with my new colleagues in the Division of Teacher Education! They have made a concerted effort to welcome me and help me become oriented with SHC and Mobile. No matter how many questions I ask, they are all very patient and helpful. I look forward to building those relationships in my division.
SHC: Why is Spring Hill College a good fit for you?
AS: I am excited about working with the students at SHC. My interaction with students thus far has been so fulfilling. I have found the students eager to learn and willing to go the extra mile. Being a quality teacher is important to me; thus having the ability to work with students who are bright and curious makes my job interesting and exciting.
It is my job to shape and prepare my students to become educators, so to be at an institution that values education and the art of teaching is a perfect fit for me. I have also found everyone at SHC to be supportive of my research agenda.
SHC: What are your goals for the program?
I want to make a contribution to my program in the areas of both research and teaching. I would like to use my background in research with the New Literacies to bring a fresh perspective to how we understand the concept and definition of literacy. I believe pre-service teachers need to be prepared to effectively use various New Literacies in their future classrooms, so I hope to bring that expertise to my program.
SHC: How was your move from Texas to Mobile?
AS: Even though I have lived in the South, many aspects of the culture here in Mobile are new and different. I have found the people in Mobile to be extremely friendly and welcoming. And I am enjoying all the fresh seafood available in this area.
In the spring of 2014, Dr. Sanders will offer the following courses: Strategies and Resources for Teaching the Secondary School, Diagnosis and Adjustment of Reading Instruction, and Curriculum Instruction and Teaching for Secondary Education. Dr. Sanders’ office is located on the second floor of the Rev. Gregory F. Lucey, S.J. Administration Center.