Victoria Purcell-Gates

Childhood literacy expert to speak at UTSA

By Tanya Hulbert
Student Writer, College of Liberal and Fine Arts

(Feb. 15, 2008)--Early childhood literacy expert Victoria Purcell-Gates will speak on the reasons for illiteracy at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 18 in the University Center Retama Auditorium (2.02.02) on the 1604 Campus. Sponsored by the Reading and Literacy Education program of the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development, the lecture is free and open to the public.

Purcell-Gates' research focuses on how communities value and practice literacy in all aspects of students' lives including representations in books, attitudes and beliefs. She maintains that it is crucial to design early literacy instruction that builds on the linguistic, cognitive, cultural and social models for reading and writing that children acquire in their communities.

According to Purcell-Gates, if curricula do not relate to students' lives outside of school, "their education slides right off of them." "The more relevant you make literacy instruction to their lives, the more development you see," she said.

Purcell-Gates holds the Canada Research Chair in Early Childhood Literacy in the Department of Language and Literacy at University of British Columbia, Vancouver. She earned a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. She was a faculty member at Harvard University and is former president of the National Reading Conference.

Her honors include the Reading Hall of Fame, Oscar Causey Award from the National Reading Conference for Outstanding Contributions to Literacy Research 2004 and the Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine Committee on Health Literacy 2002-2003.

Purcell-Gates has published five books including "Cultural Practices of Literacy: Case Studies of Language, Literacy, Social Practice, and Power," "Print Literacy Development: Uniting the Cognitive and Social Practice Theories" and "Other People's Words: The Cycle of Low Literacy."

For more information, contact Rosalind Horowitz, UTSA professor of interdisciplinary learning and teaching, at (210) 458-2672.

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