• Dr. Karen E. Smith
  • Dr. Karen E. Smith
  • The University of Manitoba, Canada
  • Title: Re-Imagining the Selection of English Language Arts Texts: A Future-Focused Human Rights Approach
  • Abstract:
    Selection of texts for English language arts has not changed a great deal in the past 70 years, yet technology to create texts has completely shifted in the past 20 years. This paper critically examines the current processes of text selection and then provides a re-imagining of that selection into the new futures of technology. Using the foundations of futuristic research methods, a revised plan of action for selecting texts is outlined. Authors such as H.G. Wells, who is often recognized as the first to acknowledge future studies as a research method, provide the stimulus for re-imagining text selection. Today’s literature selections for English language arts education are often rooted in histories of selection and histories of research. The canon emerged from this type of thinking. Evolving technologies are perhaps separating us from current literature if we continue to rearview mirror selection rather than forward focus our selections. Today’s world is wired through technology, rife with new technologies such as brain imaging (Carstensen, 2015) with a need for educators to direct students toward a new future. The future-focus selection method described in this paper does not eliminate human histories but instead frames thinking around ideas of change for better futures including those associated with human rights, living in a wired world, ultimately creating a thinking/reading/writing environment based on imagination for a better world.
  • Biography:

    Dr. Karen E. Smith is an Associate Professor of Language and Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, Canadawhere she works hard to support new literacy teachers into the profession and graduate students into their roles as literacy leaders in the Province of Manitoba. She worked in public schools for 23 years as a K-12 teacher, consultant, and administrator. During that time she created I Love to Read events, worked with youth at risk through a Gordon Foundation Grant, and established teacher peer-coaching in each school where she was an administrator. In that capacity she engaged herself with parent seminars on literacy, provided professional development, did grant writing/research, and led literacy promotion. From there Dr. Smith earned her doctorate in literacy and began to spread her interest in literacy even further. Dr. Smith has demonstrated literacy leadership through research and publication of over 40 peer-reviewed articles and research studies about literacy. Her articles have appeared in Manitoban, Canadian, and international journals and books. She served as the Editor of English Quarterly, the national journal for the Canadian Council of Teachers of English. She has served as a reviewer for the International Reading Association, Literacy Research Association, International Literacy Research Association, English Quarterly, Canadian Journal of Educational Research, Journal of Educational Change, Language and Literacy Researchers of Canada, Teacher Education Quarterly, Common Ground, and Canadian Materials to name a few.

    In her many roles, Dr. Smith has worked with adults, youth at risk of dropping out of school, public school students, and family literacy partnerships. She is the recipient of many awards including the MerronChorney Award for outstanding lifetime contributions to the teaching of English. Beyondnormal job duties, Dr. Smith serves the community through associations such as the Manitoba Association of Teachers of English (MATE) where she has been President and the University of Manitoba representative. In her role as President she assisted in setting up the Sheldon Obermann Award that is provided to help and recognize emerging teachers who have aspirations to be role models as teachers that writer. She continues to support this Award by encouraging new teacher candidates to apply. She has served on the editorial board as publications chair for the International Federation of Teachers of English conference and the Canadian Association for the Study of Language and Literacy (CASLL). As well, she writes poetry and reads the poems at spoken word events. Dr. Smith has served as the President of the Board of Directors of the Winnipeg International Writers Festival and Chair of Publications for Inkshed, a subgroup of the Canadian Association for the Study of Language and Literacy. She is an active member of the Manitoba Writers Guild, Harwood United Church digital photography group, Digital Literacies and Teacher Education study groups through the Literacy Research Association (LRA). She creatively connects literacy to art and music because she has degrees in those three areas. She has been a long-time member of the Manitoba Opera, Folklorama soloist, and won the Rose Bowl (for outstanding performance in opera).Recently, Dr. Smith has turned her full attention to research and writing about imagination. In so doing, she has a textbook on imagination coming out this year that reviews her past 10 years of research on digital literacies; and, she has published two children’s books that she has both written and illustrated.

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