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Gwendolyn Thompson McMillon, Ph.D.

Research interests:

My research focuses on identifying effective ways to negotiate the cultural borders between various learning environments, and improving literacy teaching and learning in and out of school. I examine literacy experiences in classrooms, homes and other learning environments (e.g. church, work and within organizations) for the purpose of developing connections within and across environments. For example, one of my current research projects helps teachers, administrators and parents develop creative ways to utilize out-of-school literacy experiences to improve in-school literacy teaching and learning.

  • Examining literacy experiences in various learning environments (including urban classrooms, the African American Church, homes)
  • Building home-school connections
  • Developing ways to utilize out-of-school literacy experiences to improve in-school literacy teaching and learning.

Past research activities/experience:

  • 6-year longitudinal study of literacy teaching and learning in K-8 urban classrooms in 8 schools (funded by the Michigan Department of Education Improving Teacher Quality Grants)
  • Pen pal cross-cultural project between 4th and 5th graders and Oakland pre-service teachers (funded by an Oakland University SEHS Investigative Research Award)
  • Cross-cultural projects examining literacy experiences of students at church and school (funded by Oakland Faculty Research Fellowship, Spencer Foundation, )

Selected research-related awards:

  • 2011 Edward B. Fry Book Award, Literacy Research Association
  • 2011 Oakland Faculty Research Leave Award, Oakland University

Selected publications:

  • Lazar, A., Edwards, P.A. & McMillon, G.M.T. (2012). Bridging literacy and equity: Guidelines for social equity literacy teaching. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Lazar, A., Edwards, P.A. & McMillon, G.M.T. (2012). Literacy beyond the mainstream: Infusing pedagogy with social equity. Reading Today.
  • McMillon, G.M.T. (2011). It takes a village to educate a child. News & Views. Michigan Reading Association Publication.
  • Thompson, M.T., Nuckolls, M.R. & McMillon, G.T. (2011) Weekly bully beat down. An eight week publication series to prevent and reduce bullying in and out of school. Utilized in 12 Michigan school districts during 2011-2012 academic year.
  • Edwards, P.A., McMillon, G.T. & Danridge, J. (2010). Change is gonna come: Transforming literacy education for African American students. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • McMillon, G.M.T. (2009). Pen pals without borders: A cultural exchange of teaching & learning. Education & Urban Society, 42(1), 119–135.
  • Brock, C.H., McMillon, G.M.T., Pennington, J.L., Townsend, D. & Lapp, D. (2009). Academic English and African American vernacular English: Exploring possibilities for promoting the literacy learning of all children. In Diane Lapp, Robert Rueda, and Leslie Mandel Morrow (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Literacy Instruction: Issues of Diversity, Policy and Equity.
  • McMillon, G.M.T. & Edwards, P.A. (2008). Examining shared domains of literacy in the church & school of African American children. In James Flood, Shirley Brice Heath, and Diane Lapp (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Teaching Literacy Through the Communicative and Visual Arts, Volume II, (pp. 319-328). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers, Inc.
  • McMillon, G.M.T. and McMillon, V.D. (2004). The empowering literacy practices of the African American Church. In Boyd, F.B., Brock, C. H. & Rozendal, M.S. (Eds.). Multicultural and Multilingual Literacy and Language: Contexts & Practices. (pp. 280-303). New York: Guilford Publications, Inc.

Current research activities:

  • Continuing to meet with K-8 urban teachers from 6-year longitudinal study to assist with sustainability of project teaching strategies.

  • Preparing for following academic presentations and publications:
    • McMillon, G. T. & Mason, P. (2013). Diversity-in-Action: Moving from rhetoric to results. To be presented at 57th Annual International Reading Association Conference, San Antonio, Texas.
    • McMillon, G.T., Bauer, E., Clift, R. & Washington, R. (2012). Exploring Practical Ways to Incorporate Culture, Language, Race & Ethnicity in Preservice Teacher Education. To be presented at the 62nd Annual Literacy Research Association Conference, San Diego, California.
    • Lazar, A., Edwards, P.A. & McMillon, G.M.T. (2012). Dialoguing About the Gap between Theory and Practice in Social Equity Literacy Teaching and What Teacher Educators Can Do About It. To be presented at the 62nd Annual Literacy Research Association Conference, San Diego, California.
    • McMillon, G.M.T. (in progress). Voices crying in the wilderness: Teachers share pockets of hope in urban classrooms. Charlotte, N.C.: Information Age Publishing, Inc. (To be submitted January, 2013)
    • McMillon, G.M.T.& Edwards, P.A. (in progress). I don’t know how to teach these kids. New York: Teachers College Press. (To be submitted June, 2013)

Research goals/plans for future projects

My future research goals/plans include the development of:

  • an English/Language Arts model for urban learners
  • a Christian education curriculum that reinforces school-valued literacy skills and strategies
  • strategies that reinforce school-valued literacy skills and strategies for parents to implement at home
Workshops, In-Service Institutes, and Community Events:
  • Innovative Approaches to Teaching ELA
  • Curriculum-based Parent Involvement
  • Addressing Classroom Cultural Dissonance
  • Developing Home-School Connections
  • Improving Literacy Teaching & Learning in Urban Schools
  • Reaching Non-traditional Families in Non-traditional Ways
  • Developing an Effective ELA Curriculum
  • Motivating Students through Inquiry-based Learning
  • Improving Teacher-Student Relationships: You must reach them to teach them
  • Cultural Competence in the Classroom, Workplace and Community
  • Utilizing Out-of-school Literacy Experiences to Improve In-school Teaching & Learning
  • Implementing Data-driven Instruction

Contact: mcmillon@oakland.edu