BUT IT'S JUST ONE CENT! Middle School ELLs Practice Critical Literacy in Support of Migrant Farmworkers

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2012


This article reports on a portion of a larger, mixed methods study on critical literacy and persuasive writing for English language learners (ELLs) in middle school. For six weeks, ELLs attending grades 6-8 were instructed in persuasive text composition strategies (Harris, Graham, Mason, & Friedlander, 2008). Using critical literacy (Behrman, 2006), the students also engaged with multiple texts to learn about local migrant farmworker issues. Students then composed letters persuading a major supermarket to sign the Fair Food Agreement. Letters were assessed using an adapted persuasive letter rubric (NCTE/IRA, 2005). Findings revealed that students applied persuasive text strategies with varying levels of success. They demonstrated some competence in composing topic sentences and conclusions, but required further scaffolding in sentence and paragraph structure, as well as argumentation. Overall, middle school ELLs in this study were eager to engage and were effective in academic text composition when writing for an authentic audience and valued purpose.