social justice

Making Classroom Writing Assessment More Visible, Equitable, and Portable through Digital Badging

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Author: Stephanie West-Puckett

Summary: Educator Stephanie West-Puckett describes her experience using collaboratively designed digital badges as a networked, contextual, and participatory form of writing assessment in a college first-year writing course. She describes how this “community-based assessment” supported diverse conceptions of writing and prompted critical discussion about what constitutes successful writing, pushing back against narrow definitions of success and deficit approaches often imposed by rubric-based assessments.
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This Is Who I Want to Be! Exploring Possible Selves by Interviewing Women in Science

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Author: Jessica Singer Early

Summary: This article examines how a classroom-based writing project, centered on interviewing and writing profiles of women in science, helped a group of high-school girls explore and articulate new possibilities for their future selves. It could serve as a useful model for educators engaged in equity and inclusion work, particularly in using research and writing to help underrepresented students connect to a larger world beyond their own experience.
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Reading, Writing, and Reflection in the Holocaust Educators Network

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Summary: Each summer for the past ten years, NWP teachers, many from rural sites, have participated in summer seminars offered by the The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI), a NYC-based organization dedicated to furthering the knowledge of teachers and students about human rights and social justice through the lens of the Holocaust and other genocides. TOLI seminars use an inquiry-based approach to provide educators with tools to heighten their students’ engagement with this sensitive subject matter, guiding students from shock and denial to compassion and social action. Teachers who complete the seminar become part of the Holocaust Educators Network.

Developed by Sondra Perl, one of the founders of the New York City Writing Project, TOLI seminars place writing at the center, both as a way for participants to process their learning and as a key dimension of the curriculum projects designed by participating teachers. If you are exploring ways to address issues of human rights and social justice in your work with other teachers or in your own classroom, check out the resources below to learn more about TOLI.
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Real World History: Six Videos that Model and Inspire

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Summary: Looking for ways to involve high school students in using historical tools to craft arguments and make personal connections to current issues? These six short NWP-produced videos spotlight Real World History, a high school course that frames history as an argument about the past and teaches students to think like historians. The video footage, focused on a study of the Great Migration of the 20th Century, could be a springboard for curriculum design or spark conversation in classes or professional development focused on disciplinary literacy with a social justice bent.
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Teaching in a Movement for Justice

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Author: Paul Allison

Summary: This collection of blogs, podcasts, articles, videos, and other media provides a variety of textual experiences you could use to give students a layered reading and writing experience related to Ferguson and Black Lives Matter. The collection creator, Paul Allison, poses two qustions: “How can we help students to connect around important issues of race and justice in our time?” and “How do we build curriculum, rituals, tools, and skills in modular, open, inspiring ways that will give students the permission to follow their passions, yet also invite them to go deep into important issues as committed and informed citizens?” While the collection focuses specifically on the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and its aftermath, it underscores the value of creating multimodal resource collections to encourage teachers and students to explore issues of social justice locally and more broadly.
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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: This article is a great resource for study groups, inquiry communities, and professional learning of all types with a focus on English learners and writing. After introducing two pieces of “gorgeous” writing from fifth graders in a dual language classroom, Edelsky explains how this writing came to be. First she provides a theoretical overview focused on how people develop language and identity through authentic work within a community of practice. Then she describes the genesis of a different approach to writing development among a group of elementary teachers dealing with the question of “how you make schoolwork like real out-of-school work.” Offering seven “partial answers,” this article is highly accessible with the potential to generate myriad inquiries into issues about language learning, writing, power, and equity.
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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 his global studies students “see themselves as truth-tellers and change makers” in response to global warming. With its science and humanities content, this resource may be useful in professional development settings as a way to explore cross-disciplinary themes and projects.
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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 teacher researchers 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 supported the contributors as they have examined 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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