social justice

Honoring the Word: Classroom Instructors Find That Students Respond Best to Oral Tradition

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Author: Michael Thompson

Summary: In this award winning essay, Native American teacher and NWP site director Michael Thompson, reflects on his own practice and shares findings from research interviews he conducted with instructors in tribal college and university classrooms to learn how they approach literature and writing. In particular, he wondered if assigned texts represented “the value that Native people have historically given to traditional stories, teachings, speeches, tribal journeys, and accomplishments.” Instructors reported that Native communities typically value the spoken word over the art of writing and described language practices such as collecting personal narratives of elders in documentary films and digitized recordings. Classroom teachers, study groups and professional development leaders interested in exploring resources and practices that support efforts to “reclaim and honor oral traditions” of native peoples may find this article of interest.
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Theory, Politics, Hope, and Action: Building Immersive Writing Experiences for Bilingual Writers

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Author: Carole Edelsky

Summary: How do you make schoolwork resemble out-of-school work? How do you [create] an immersion experience, setting up a context where kids want to acquire a Discourse that includes and values highly literate practices?” These are two of the questions Edelsky explores in her article which launches with two incredible pieces of writing produced by bilingual students. The student writing and Edelsky’s explanation for how it came to be will motivate educators ready to consider their roles as writing teachers and classroom culture builders who can advocate for just language policies both in and outside the classroom.
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Paradise Lost: Introducing Students to Climate Change Through Story

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Author: Brady Bennon

Summary: How does a teacher help students understand and care about global warming in a personal, meaningful way? Moving beyond policy and “big-picture” issues, high school teacher Brady Bennon focused on story. He asked his students to write about their own connections between place and identity, then showed them the documentary film “Paradise Lost.” Students’ poems expressed their thinking about the people in the film, and showed a strong sense of identification and caring. The ultimate goal was to help students “see themselves as truth-tellers and change makers” in response to global warming through the power of story, rather than through the abstract study of science and policy.
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Learning From Laramie: Urban High School Students Read, Research, and Reenact The Laramie Project

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Author: Marsha Pincus

Summary: In this story of an extended teacher research project, the author shares the design, purpose, and impact of a course called “Drama and Inquiry,” where she and her students explored multiple perspectives, shifting identities, and ethical dialogue through their study of non-canonical plays including “The Laramie Project.” Consider including this article in an advanced institute to support conversations about teacher inquiry and social justice.
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African American Learners Project Annotated Bibliography

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Summary: This collection of readings is intended to inform the thinking and practice of teacher-leaders and/or writing project sites interested in addressing the racial gap in achievement by expanding their own knowledge base as they seek to enhance the academic performance of African American learners. These texts have helped the contributors examine the history and status of African American education in our nation in the context of the landmark decision rendered in Brown v. Board of Education (1954; 1955). If you desire inspiring readings to further knowledge of social justice or culturally relevant pedagogy, this bibliography offers a place to begin and to build from, adding resources that go beyond its publication date of 2008.
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Supporting English Language Learners: What Happens When Teaching in Students’ Native Language is Made Illegal?

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: This inspiring story of Floris Wilma Ortiz-Marrero, a teacher-consultant with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project and 2011 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, describes how she became a vocal advocate for her ELL students in a time when the state made it illegal to teach students in their native language. In addition Ortiz-Marrero’s story, there are several important resources referenced and linked within the article. This article and the related resources would be a great starting point for teacher discussion groups focused on the ethics of ELL and/or bilingual education and legislation.
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Literacy, Technology, and the Underprepared: Notes Toward a Framework for Action

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Author: Glynda Hull

Summary: After introducing cases of underprepared students using computers in a community college literacy course, Glynda Hull raises important issues and tensions related to the role of technology in the teaching of writing. While she argues for the democratizing potential of “information technologies” to support a liberatory pedagogy, she also acknowledges that greater access within structural constraints of schools and writing centers must also be addressed to best support the diversity of these students. Although there are a few terms and technologies representative of its 1988 publication date, this piece may be explored from an historical perspective, perhaps as part of a study group or retreat focused on equity, access, social justice and advocacy.
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Students Take a Stand

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Author: Scott Glass

Summary: Are you looking for resources to help teachers to use digital media in safe and positive ways in their classes? This teacher’s brief essay describes the curriculum he created to support his students to develop a productive digital routine, craft a positive online identity, and use social media to be generous, kind, and thoughtful. As they developed skill using YouTube Editor, WeVideo, and iMovie, they addressed a real-life tension with anonymous, bullying posts on Yik Yak by leveraging social media in a positive way. The video they developed, as a class, is embedded in the article.
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Protest and Student Voice

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Author: Kathleen Hicks Rowley

Summary: This article describes how a teacher introduces her students to liberatory practices and protest movements as a framework for year-round readings, writings and curriculum. Based on the understanding that part of a teacher’s role is to help students make connections to moral responsibility within the world, the teacher/author designs curriculum that includes a classic novel like Lord of the Flies with its themes of injustice and places it alongside a study of trauma and mass incarceration. Reading/writing connection ideas like this are relevant to educators seeking curriculum that explores critical literacy and concepts of injustice. Community youth writing projects could also use this resource.
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Writing in Home Dialects: Choosing a Written Discourse in a Teacher Education Class

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Author: Eileen Kennedy

Summary:In exploring how to encourage her Caribbean teacher education students to use their vernacular dialects (vernacular Englishes, Spanish, and Haitian creole) in narrative writing, Kennedy discovered reluctant writers who lacked confidence, in part because their use of home languages had always been suppressed. Over time she helped her students compose drafts in their home language(s) and use Standard English for final drafts. For teachers and sites wanting to explore political and sociological implications related to suppression of home language and devaluing of students’ cultures and identities, this piece provides a rich narrative of possibility, strategies and theoretical grounding.
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