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Release: Nov. 28, 2000

UI education professor DiPardo receives $12,500 grant

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Research Foundation of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has awarded University of Iowa education professor Anne DiPardo a $12,500 Grant-in-Aid for a program that pairs young students with senior citizens to read books and discuss their impressions.

The NCTE chose 24 scholars to receive Grants-in-Aid, a program designed to help educators learn more about the teaching and learning of reading, writing, and other facets of the English language arts. DiPardo, an associate professor in the UI College of Education, teaches courses in writing about education, observational research in classroom settings, literacy research and issues in teachers' professional lives.

DiPardo and Pat Schnack from the Iowa City Community School District were awarded the grant as an aid for a collaborative project, "Cross-Generational Literacy: Seniors and Adolescents Reading and Writing Together."

The project focuses on case studies of senior citizens and eighth-graders who -- over the course of six weeks -- read books in common and write back and forth in response journals. The senior citizens are recruited by Joan Cook, director of the local chapter of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.

The project began as an extension of a program Schnack started about seven years ago called "Partners in Reading," which links her eighth-grade language arts students with people in the community.

"Pat and I would like to write about her program for language-arts educators around the country, and we thought that by profiling particular kids and seniors, we could put some human faces to the experience," DiPardo said. "We're exploring how seniors and young people view the partnership, what they write about in their journals and how they construct and reconstruct their understandings of one another."

The two instructors plan to continue the project in the spring by assigning books about World War II and human persecution to the seniors and adolescents.

"The adults were alive during World War II and can bring a wonderful 'living history' perspective to what the kids are studying," said Schnack.