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Using Multicultural Literature as a Tool for Multicultural Education in Teacher Education

Juli-Anna Aerila

Abstract: Multicultural education has many challenges. In Finland, one of the largest challenges is the fact that the distribution of the immigrant population is imbalanced: almost 90 percent of the immigrants live in metropolitan areas and in other areas of Finland there are little or no immigrants at all. (Aerila & Kokkola, 2013) For this reason, schools and teachers' experiences on immigrant students vary a lot and even the teacher training schools may have difficulties in generating students with experiences on immigrant students. Reading multicultural literature gives the becoming teachers a chance to understand diversity of multicultural issues beyond the monocultural or tourist perspective (Dong, 2005; Norton, 2007; Short, 2007). Fiction is being increasingly used as a component of various university courses. Reading fiction enables us to learn about different situations, circumstances, and people not otherwise familiar to us. In addition while helping students to perhaps be more empathetic, fiction can give them factual information about various things (Boyles, 2006: Lu, 2000; Seeley, 1992). However fiction is used only in a little degree to support teacher students professional growth. This study presents an experiment where student teachers read and discuss multicultural literature in literature circles as part of their studies on multicultural education (Daniels, 2002; Fall, Webb & Chudowsky, 2000). The data of this research consist of 51 personal reading diaries and 15 memos on the literature circles. The research represents qualitative research and the data was analyzed by content analyses (Elo & Kyngs, 2008). In this study the data formed three categories/perspectives on multiculturalism and multicultural literature: the usefulness of multicultural books in education, the relevance of reading multicultural books for personal and professional growth and the assessment of the quality of multicultural books. The preliminary results show that students value reading multicultural literature as a useful tool for the adult readers in empathizing with multicultural themes and learning about immigration and multiculturalism. However, students are skeptical about the possibilities of using multicultural children's literature as part of multicultural education in primary schools. The present study confirms the results of previous researches which indicate that teachers are insecure in using multicultural childrens literature in their teaching (Shioshita, 1997; Lehman, 2011; Louie, 2006). They fear that multicultural childrens literature may be offensive to some of their immigrant students or establish prejudices toward immigrant students.

Keywords: Multicultural Literature, Multicultural Education, Literature Education

Aerila, J.-A. & Kokkola, L. (2013). Multicultural Literature and the Use of Literature in Multicultural Education in Finland. Bookbird Journal 51/2, 3950.

Boyles, M. (2006). The effects of multicultural literature in the classroom. Senior honors theses. Paper 62. Retrieved 12.6.2014 from

Daniels, H. (2002). Literature circles: Voice and choice in book clubs and reading groups. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Dong, Y.R. (2005). Taking a cultural-response approach to teaching multicultural literature. The English Journal, 94(3), 5571.

Elo, S. & Kyngs, H. (2008). The qualitative content analysis process. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 62(1), 107115. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04569.x.

Fall, R., Webb, N. M., & Chudowsky, N. (2000). Group discussion and large-scale language arts assessment: Effects on students' comprehension. American Educational Research Journal, 37(4), 911941.

Lehman, B. (2011). Reading globally: The readers responsibility in literary transactions. In L. M. Pavonetti (Ed.). Bridges to understanding. Envisioning the world through childrens books (pp. 916). Plymouth: Scarecrow Press.

Leming, J. (2000). Tell me a story. An evaluation of a literature-based character education programme. Journal of Moral Education 29(4), 413427.

Louie, B. (2006). Guiding principles for teaching multicultural literature. The Reading Teacher 59(5), 438454.

Lu, M. (2000). Multicultural childrens literature in the elementary classroom. Retrieved 21.4.2000 from

Norton, D. (2005). Multicultural childrens Literature: Through the eyes of many children. Upper saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Seeley, H. N. (1992). Teaching Culture. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company.

Shioshita, J. (1997). Beyond Good Intentions: Selecting Multicultural Literature. Retrieved 27.7.2013 from

Short. K. (2007). Critically reading the word and the World. Building intercultural understanding through literature. Bookbird, 2, 210.

Using fiction in teaching mathematics in Finland

Juli-Anna Aerila & Miikka, E. Wikholm

Abstract: Several studies have shown that boys and girls differences in reading are the result of different attitudes towards reading. Literacy development is strongly linked to how committed and motivated the students are in reading. (Merisuo-Storm & Soininen, 2010; 2012; 2013) Finland has prooved to be successful in many areas of literacy in variety of international studies (e. g. PISA). However, the motivation to read in Finland is clearly under the international average. Especially negatively Finnish students are committed to the reading in schools. (Merisuo-Storm & Soininen, 2013) Therefore, it is important that students, especially boys, commitment to read is strengthened with different new approaches and the use of literature in schools is constantly developed further (Brozo, 2002; Grossman, 2001; molloy, 2007). This study focuses on finding out how and to what amount fiction is being used in math lessons in primary schools in Finland. The aim of this proposed study is thus to ascertain the extent to which the integration of childrens literature in primary mathematics lessons benefits children in terms of the attractiveness of reading and fiction especially for boys in Finland as well as their confidence level in and attitudinal change, if any, towards these subjects (e.g. mathematics and literature Billings & Beckmann, 2005; Caparo & Caparo, 2006). The study presented here is a part of an international study Teachers beliefs on the integration of childrens literature in primary mathematics and learning: A comparative study, which aims to find out 1) what are the beliefs concerning the integration of childrens literature in primary mathematics teaching and learning as espoused by teachers of different personal and professional characteristics in England; Hong Kong, Australia and Finland and 2) what extent does the integration of childrens literature in primary mathematics teaching and learning benefit children. The data was collected from teacher students and primary school teachers in Rauma district with a questionnaire. The preliminary results show that fiction is used in math education frequently in primary schools with children aged 7 10 years. The main purpose of using fiction is to motivate and concretize the learning. One of the reasons that fiction is seldom used with older students in math is the lack of suitable material in Finland.

Keywords: motivation to read, literature education, childrens literature, mathematics


Aerila, J.A. & Niinist, E-M. (2014). Lukuilo syntyy mukavista lukuhetkist, hyvst seurasta ja kiinnostavasta kirjallisuudesta. [The joy of reading comes from nice reading times, good company and from an interesting reading]. In K. Karasma & S. Rauramo (eds.) Juhlakirja Inkeri Vikaisen 100-vuotispivn. idinkielen opetustieteen seura, 106 130.

Billings, E. M. H., & Beckmann, C. E. (2005). Children's Literature: A Motivating Context to Explore Functions. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 10(9), 470-478.

Brozo, W. G. (2002). To be a boy to be a reader. Engaging teen and preteen boys in active literacy. The University of Tennesee: Knoxville, Tennesee USA.

Capraro, R. M., & Capraro, M. M. (2006). Are you really going to read us a story? Learning geometry through childrens mathematics literature. Reading Psychology, 27, 21-36.

Grossman, P. (2001). Research on the teaching of literature: Finding a place. In V. Richardson (eds.): Handbook of research on teaching. 4. painos. Washington D.C.: American Educational Research Association, 416 432.

Merisuo-Storm, T. & Soininen, M. (2013). Developing boys reading comprehension skills with interesting reading material. Proceedings of ICERI2013 Conference, 799806.

Merisuo-Storm, T. & Soininen, M. (2012). Constructing a research-based program to improve primary school students reading comprehension skills. IJCDSE, International Journal for Cross-Displinary Subjects in Education 3 (3), 755762.

Merisuo-Storm, T. (2010). Primary school students comprehension skills. In The National Institute of Educational Resources and Research (eds.) Educational theory and practice in Finland. Taipei: NIOERAR, 267286.

Molloy, G. (2007). Nr pojkar lser och skriver [When boys read and write]. Studentlitteratur. Denmark: Scangraphic.

Book trailers as reading motivators

Satu E. M. Grnthal & Johanna Pentikinen

Abstract: Our paper focuses on literature pedagogy, and especially on new ways to support reading motivation. Today, many teachers and educators feel that motivating pupils to read fiction, especially novels, is more challenging than before, because social media, new technology and hectic life style take the major part of their lives.

In order to take advantage of pupils interest and skills in new technology and to use them in favor of literature education, we planned and organized a book trailer project in subject teacher education in the University of Helsinki in fall 2014. Our paper presents and discusses this project.

In our project, teacher students of Finnish language and literature planned and filmed book trailers for 9th grade (1516 year old) secondary school pupils. Trailers were based on novels that are often read on 9th grade, and the focus of the task was to motivate and enhance reading and promote intense involvement with the book (not to summarize the plot).

In addition to finding and testing out new ways for teaching literature at schools, the project also targeted at improving teacher education in mother tongue and literature. It aimed to give teacher students possibilities to develop their IT skills and to find out new possibilities to use technology in literature pedagogy. Such possibilities have been tried out and developed by Anders (2013) and Maa (2010), among others.

Before and after the project, students filled in an e-survey about their motivation and ability to use technology in literature education. Preliminary analysis of the results shows that a number of students found the amount of technological support during the process insufficient, and the majority also thought that the project was quite time-consuming. However, the project as a whole was considered as motivating and inspiring.

Final results of these surveys are analyzed and discussed in the paper. They are also tied to theoretical views on shared readership and authorship (Jacobs, 2012) and the idea about affility spaces (Gee, 2003), where shared interests, goals and projects enhance literary skills.

Key words: reading motivation, book trailers, new technology


Anders, Petra. 2013. Lyrische Texte im Deutschunterricht. Grundlagen, Methoden, multimediale Praxisvorschlge. Seelze: Klett & Kallmeyer.

Gee, J. P. 2003. What video games have to teach us about literacy and learning. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jacobs, Gloria E. 2012. Rethinking Common Assumptions About Adolescents Motivation to Use Technology In and Out of School. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 56(4), 271274.

Maa, Claudia. 2010. "Lyrik live" - Poetry Slam, Poetry Clip, Poesiefilme, in: Deutschmagazin Nr. 05/2010, Oldenbourg, Mnchen 2010.

Writing assignments in the context of learning conceptions: A systematic analysis on Finnish writing studies during 21st century

Elina Harjunen & Johanna K. Pentikinen & Mari Hankala & Merja Kauppinen & Pirjo E Kulju & Sara Routarinne

Abstract: This paper focuses on the forms of writing and writing assignments in language and literature classroom, and aims to present findings from a systematic analysis on Finnish writing studies during 21st century. The data consist of 78 peer-reviewed studies, doctoral dissertations and national surveys on writing in Finnish basic education. The purpose of the systematic review (Harden & Thomas 2010 ) was to investigate how much and what kind of research was conducted in the beginning of the 21st century as this was not previously studied. The results show that Finnish writing studies can be divided in to three main categories: psychological, linguistic, and pedagogical. In the majority of these studies the informants are between 7-10 years, whereas there is a few research from other age groups. In the presentation we discuss findings in the context of learning paradigms and conceptions and analyze their relation to socio-political writing practices and their validity in the multiple present-day writing contexts (Boscolo 2008; Ivani 2004). In addition to that we will compare our findings to the short history of writing education starting from the national awakening in the end of 19th century where reading was considered as an approved skill in the community but writing remained a privileged capacity (Leino-Kaukiainen 2007).

Keywords: writing assignments, Finnish basic education, systematic review, writing studies


Boscolo, P. (2008). Writing in Primary School. In C. Bazerman (Ed.) Handbook of Research on Writing. History, society, school, individual, text. New York & London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 293309.

Harden, A. & Thomas, J. (2010). Mixed methods and systematic reviews: Examples and emerging issues. In A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie (Eds.) SAGE Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social & Behavioral Research. Second edition. Los Angeles: Sage, 749774.

Ivani, R. (2004). Discourses of Writing and Learning to Write. Language and Education 18 (3), 220245.

Leino-Kaukiainen, P. (2007). Suomalaisten kirjalliset taidot autonomian kaudella. Historiallinen aikakauskirja 105 (4), 420438.

Multimodal and aesthetic possibilities and positions in future L1 research and education

Heidi Hglund & Hannah Kaihovirta & Ria Heil-Ylikallio

Abstract: The presentation aims at discussing the subject of L1 from a multimodal an...


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