2015 Background
Skip to Search Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content
Show/Hide University Links
Header Mast


College of Education and Human Development at The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

La Plaza de Lectura


La Plaza de Lectura

COEHD center is inspiring inquiry through literacy

Amidst the shelves of colorful books and the motivational posters that adorn the walls of La Plaza de Lectura (the Reading Place), a center housed within the College of Education and Human Development’s Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, sit empty plastic tubs.

At the start of the spring semester, each of these tubs will be filled with fiction and non-fiction books, poems, jokes, and other pieces of literature. Each tub, or inquiry kit, will be organized around topics of interest as identified on student surveys and will be used by UTSA students, La Plaza de Lectura staff, and children, the Roadrunner Readers. These materials are part of an oncoming, collaborative effort to improve literacy and inspire inquiry throughout the community.

“Current research indicates that motivation and interest positively impact student engagement and success,” said Teresa Sellers, senior lecturer in the Department of Interdisciplinary and Teaching and director of La Plaza de Lectura. “With these inquiry kits, we want to provide authentic literature and give students a real purpose for reading. The kits will support Roadrunner Readers as they seek answers to questions and explore ways to take an active role in the world.”

Ten inquiry kits, covering a wide range of topics, from natural disasters to sea animals to music and dinosaurs, will give children meaningful opportunities to immerse themselves in literature.

“I think that these kits are providing the children that we tutor with the opportunity to become experts,” said Alicia Villarreal, La Plaza de Lectura’s research coordinator. “Every kit has a social justice component to it, so it’s making them aware of how they can make a change.”

The benefits of these kits will also extend beyond the walls of UTSA. Undergraduate and graduate students will learn inquiry-based approaches to literacy instruction that will become hallmarks of their classroom practice.

“A lot of these books are presenting issues at the children’s level and from their point of view so that they can easily relate to it,” said Marcy Wilburn, graduate research assistant in La Plaza de Lectura. “I think the children find connections to themselves in a lot of these books.”

The inquiry kits are modeled after kits La Plaza de Lectura has already implemented through their Roadrunner Readers program in a local school district. The kits, Sellers said, have helped improve literacy in the district and, in turn, have inspired inquiry among the students

At the culmination of the semester, each Roadrunner Reader will share new learning and insight as they speak from positions of expertise.

“It is very exciting to see children take on this role of ‘expert’ and see their excitement as they read to learn about their world,” said Sellers. “The kits are helping us meet kids needs where they are in meaningful ways with topics that are meaningful to them. They make the kids want to read and want to be engaged.”

In addition, the inquiry kits will provide the college’s interdisciplinary studies students with an additional resource to encourage childhood literacy.

“We are giving our UTSA students an opportunity to engage in cuttingedge research that says that these kits are successful in how we develop and promote literacy,” said Sellers.

Funding for the inquiry kits was provided by a grant from Firstmark Credit Union, a local teacher’s credit union with ties to education and literacy promotion.


Current Issue: 2015 | Table of Contents