Category Archives: Social Justice

Discovering New Pre-service Texts

I (Cathy) find myself skeptical of books or articles that use the term ‘activities’ in reference to assigning work to students in the classroom. I was once told the term activities infers no purpose or goal and can be viewed as ‘busy work’. Instead, I was instructed to use the term ‘task’ which infers a specific result must be achieved to accomplish the work.  I was therefore skeptical of a book I recently encountered titled, Pump It Up: Literacy Activities for the Classroom.  However, the caption on the book jacket read “specifically aims to help pre-service teachers learn to implement hands-on lessons for their content area.” So  I decided to take a closer look.  I quickly recognized the editors Joanne Kilgour Dowdy (Kent State University, Ohio USA) and Yang Gao (Kent State University, Ohio) required the contributing authors to include learning objectives for each learning ‘activity’ included in the volume.  I also realized the editors use the term activity to refer to a series of tasks that comprise a lesson.  For example, the activity depicted by contributing author Jessica Wilson explains, “This activity is devised to demonstrate how literacy and creativity can be achieved through all disciplines including science” and describes a free write lesson designed to encourage students to interpret key vocabulary words and develop appropriate syntax and discourse of key terms.

I was delighted to discover the activities or lessons in the book explore an array of disciplines and topics (e.g., health and physical education; drama and other arts; social justice; multiculturalism through children’s literature; literacy/language arts; and mathematics) and the disciplines appear to cross (e.g., using dram to explore science and journaling to explore mathematics). Further, I was intrigued by the sections earmarked Becoming an Artist and Embodying Social Justice.

Well, having now moved past my fear of the term ‘activities’, I have ordered a copy. I proved to myself I not only should not  judge a book by its cover, I also should not judge a book  by its title! As I will be teaching pre-service drama next semester and plan to include as many cross disciplinary ‘activities’ as I can , I am hoping this will be a nice addition to the book collection I will provide for my teacher candidates.  Can’t wait for it to arrive!

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Click here for a sneak preview of the book:

https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/bookseries/other-books/pump-it-up/

 

 

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Authors and Amazing Tales: In Awe of Lawrence Hill

During the school year my night table fills with novels; one beautiful literary piece after the other, the books pile up. The vision is to retreat to my room early enough to read these marvellous texts at an enjoyable pace in order to get to the next… yet my  time during the academic term does not allow me the pleasure.  With the coming of summer and the end of an academic term I find some space where I can begin to read the books I attempted to read throughout the year.  This year, I begin with Lawrence Hill.  Most are familiar with Lawrence Hill, a Canadian writer whose most popular texts include: Blood: The Stuff of Life  and The Book of Negroes.

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Blood: The stuff of life was turned into a lecture series. You can listen to excerpts of the Massey Lecture series here:

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/the-2013-cbc-massey-lectures-blood-the-stuff-of-life-1.2913671

Two incredible literary works that move me to think about humanity… and inhumanity. The Book of Negroes was turned into a  television mini series. Based on historical fiction The Book of Negroes is the story of young African girl, her voice, her journey in the 1700s from Mali, Africa to South Carolina, New York, Cape Breton, and London. How impactful a process to explore the novel — to try to make sense of history and our present — to think about narratives and then consider the media and digital implications for developing such an intense story into a visual series.  I think of how high school teachers could use this novel to explore so many issues and then to look at the decisions one makes when transforming such a sensitive story into film.

As I read Hill’s novels I cannot help but consider how  the narratives in these literary texts can be used to improve my own practice in teacher education. I ask myself: Can they inspire the reader to more deeply understand the intensity of the relational acts involved in teaching in classrooms?  Why do certain groups of children have a greater likelihood of failing at school? How do our systems shut people out without some of us ever realizing it? What kinds (if any) of understandings should teachers have about the histories of our communities before ever stepping into classrooms? How in teacher education can we support a deep understanding of children’s learning?

There is just so much to know while in pre-service and so much to teach in teacher education. What is most important? Why? When I think about the construction of teacher education programs I am now thinking less in terms of required courses and more in terms of broad understandings and the connections across disciplines and understandings. For example, as we teach about child and adolescent development (psychology) we must thing about language and literacy development (content) inclusive of social context (equity and foundations).  After all, when we enter classrooms we know that our work as teachers is dynamic, complex, forever evolving and completely relational.

Global Conversations in Literacy Research

One of the amazing things about our research team is we share common interests in literacy teaching and teacher education while at the same time we explore our own avenues of research. My areas of interest are in critical literacy pedagogy and teacher development.  I (yiola) have been enjoying and learning a great deal from another amazing literacy research based website and would like to share it with you.

Here is the link: https://globalconversationsinliteracy.wordpress.com

Global Conversations in Literacy Research (GCLR) is a series of interactive open access web seminars that feature cutting-edge literacy research conducted by international literacy researchers. GCLR is grounded in critical literacy, and sees as its mission to use networked technologies to connect global audiences in a virtual space that allows participants to exchange ideas on literacy theory, research, and practice. Each year, GCLR features scholars whose work addresses a range of literacy areas of interest to international audiences.

Some of my favourite researchers in critical literacy have shared webinars on the site.  I appreciate the global nature of the site and the sense of shared understandings through varied contexts.

An inspiring site — enjoy!

Teacher Education for High Poverty Schools

Jo Lampert and Bruce  Burnett have recently edited an amazing text,Teacher Education for High Poverty Schools. The text is available from Springer.

http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319220581Image_LampertBookcover

This volume captures the innovative, theory-based, and grounded work being done by established scholars who are interrogating how teacher education can prepare teachers to work in challenging and diverse high-poverty settings. It offers articles from the US, Australia, Canada, the UK and Chile by some of the most significant scholars in the field. Internationally, research suggests that effective teachers for high poverty schools require deep theoretical understanding as well as the capacity to function across three well-substantiated areas: deep content knowledge, well-tuned pedagogical skills, and demonstrated attributes that prove their understanding and commitment to social justice. Schools in low socioeconomic communities need quality teachers most, however, they are often staffed by the least experienced and least prepared teachers. The chapters in this volume examine how pre-service teachers are taught to understand the social contexts of education. Drawing on the individual expertise of the authors, the topics covered include unpacking poverty for pre-service teachers, issues related to urban schooling as well as remote and regional area schooling.

Our (Clare) research team contributed a chapter to the text which focused on six literacy teacher educators who purposefully prepare student teachers to work in high poverty schools. Here is the chapter: TchingforHighPovertySchools

A New Book on Participatory Culture and Digital Technologies

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I (Pooja) have long been interested in the notions of participatory culture. Often considered  the opposite of consumer culture, participatory culture is defined by Henry Jenkins (2009, p. 5-6) as a culture in which there are:

1. relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement

2. strong support for creating and sharing creations with others

3. some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices

4. members who believe that their contributions matter

5. members who feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least, they care what other people think about what they have created).

I was excited when I learned authors Henry Jenkins, Mizuko Ito, and danah boyd authored a new book titled: Participatory Culture in a Networked Era: A Conversation on Youth, Learning, Commerce, and Politics (2015). I have provided the blurb on  the back of the book for those potentially interested in learning more about participatory culture in the 21st century like I am:

In the last two decades, both the conception and the practice of participatory culture have been transformed by the new affordances enabled by digital, networked, and mobile technologies. This exciting new book explores that transformation by bringing together three leading figures in conversation. Jenkins, Ito and boyd examine the ways in which our personal and professional lives are shaped by experiences interacting with and around emerging media.

Stressing the social and cultural contexts of participation, the authors describe the process of diversification and mainstreaming that has transformed participatory culture. They advocate a move beyond individualized personal expression and argue for an ethos of “doing it together” in addition to “doing it yourself.”

Participatory Culture in a Networked Era will interest students and scholars of digital media and their impact on society and will engage readers in a broader dialogue and conversation about their own participatory practices in this digital age.

 

Black Professor Speaks Out About Being Racially Profiled Near Campus

I (Clare) was reading this article by Kira Brekke on the Huffington Post which I found informative. If you click on the link you will get the entire article and an interview with Steve Locke and at the end of the article is a list of 16 Books On Race That Every White Person Should Read Right Now. I have read some on the list and already downloaded a few others that I feel I must read.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steve-locke-racially-profiled_56688025e4b009377b236c54

“A lot of my life has been organized around avoiding interactions with the police.”

Steve Locke, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, was left shaken after he was racially profiled by the police last week during his lunch break.

Locke, who wrote about his experience on his blog, recounted to HuffPost Live’s Alyona Minkovski on Wednesday that on his way to get a burrito near campus, he noticed a police car following him.

“The policeman got out of the car, said, ‘Hey, my man,'” Locke said. “He had his hand on his weapon, so I automatically knew that something had happened and he wasn’t coming to talk to me as a citizen. He was coming to talk to me as a suspect.”

Wearing his faculty ID around his neck, Locke immediately took his hands out of his pockets while the officer questioned him. The professor made it clear he was on his lunch break, but the officer — along with others who had showed up to the scene — detained Locke, telling him he matched the description of a suspected robber in the area.

“It was at this moment that I knew that I was probably going to die,” Locke wrote on his blog. “I am not being dramatic when I say this. I was not going to get into a police car.  I was not going to present myself to some victim.  I was not going let someone tell the cops that I was not guilty when I already told them that I had nothing to do with any robbery.”

Locke calmly stood still on the street corner alongside the police before being let go, sent away with apologies from the police for “screwing up your lunch break,” he wrote. But the experience recalled a lifetime of awareness about police profiling and violence.

“I am 52 years old. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan,” he explained to HuffPost Live. “A lot of my life has been organized around avoiding interactions with the police, but whenever I encounter the police, I understand that I’m encountering them differently than other citizens.”

 

Upcoming Book Release: Courageous Leadership in Early Childhood Education: Taking a Stand for Social Justice

I am excited for a new book edited by scholars Vivian Vasquez, Mariana Souto-Manning, and Susi Long. The book focuses on social justice practices in the context of pre-school and elementary schools.

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The book gives voice to educators, family members, and school administrators, offering several insights on social justice in early year classrooms, including:

* Highlights the actions of administrators as they take a stand to transcend standardized approaches to teaching and learning, creating more equitable educational environments.

* Portrays strategies and resources used to engage teachers in critical examination of self and the institutions in which they work.

* Describes principles and practices that guide administrators as they support the development of culturally relevant practices and policies.

* Offers powerful ways early childhood administrators can approach inequitable mandates. (http://www.amazon.com/Courageous-Leadership-Early-Childhood-Education/dp/0807757411)

The book will be released in the end of December/early January!

 

 

Heather Has Two Mommies

Heather Has Two Mommies, Lesléa Newman’s trailblazing picture book is celebrating a 25-year milestone. Many years ago advice from an acquaintance motivated Newman to write the book. She explained, “an acquaintance, who happened to be a lesbian mom, had stopped me on the street and as we were talking she said, ‘There are no books that show a family like ours. You should write one.’ ” Newman recalled. “I decided to take it seriously. I knew how those kids felt. When I grew up in the 1950s there were no books about a Jewish girl eating matzoh ball soup with her bubbe on Shabbat. I definitely felt like an outsider. It struck a chord with me.” Publisher Candlewick is celebrating by publishing an all-new illustrated edition of the book. See the link below to read more about how the book was initially received and some of the controversy surrounding the picture book: http://www.publishersweekly.com

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Henry Giroux Named 1st Paulo Freire Chair at McMaster University

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Henry Giroux was recently named the first Paulo Freire Chair in Critical Pedagogy at McMaster University. The McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning established the chair position to honour scholars who have made a significant advancements in studies of education.

The McMaster website describes Giroux’s work:

Giroux has been a celebrated scholar, author and cultural critic for more than three decades. He currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest, and is a professor in the Department of English and Cultural Studies.

His life’s work has been central to the development of critical pedagogy as a field — exploring intersections between the role of education in schools and universities, the role of educators and academics as public intellectuals, as well as topics related to public pedagogy and the educational force of the wider culture.

(http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/henry-giroux-named-paulo-freire-chair-in-critical-pedagogy/#sthash.Qen0HP02.dpuf)

Giroux speaks about his recent appointment. He answers questions such as:

  • What does critical pedagogy have to say about education?
  • Why is critical pedagogy significant to the important work of teaching and learning centres?

Watch the video here:

‘Shadiowing’ through Critical Reflection

I (Cathy) am currently working my way through a book on critical reflection.  ‘Working’ is the operative word, as this book, What Our Stories Teach Us, is set up as a guide to take us ( the teacher, professor, etc.) through an active critical analysis of our lives as educators using storying and  critical incidence.  The author, Linda Shadiow, loves to share stories herself.  Below is one of her favourites.  Apparently she has told it often and she uses it in her  book to illustrate how our stories can impact our lives.

A graduate student is attending a lecture being given by one of her intellectual heroes, the Brazilian educator and theorist Paulo Freire. She takes notes furiously, trying to capture as many of his words as possible. Seeing that she is keenly interested in what Freire had to say, his translator asks if she would like to meet him. Of course! She is introduced and he begins by inquiring about her work. Then he graciously agrees to respond to a set of questions she and her colleagues hoped they would get the chance to ask him. She is impressed beyond belief, but time prevents her from asking one last, difficult question. They meet accidentally once more at the event and he wonders if she asked all her questions? No, there is one more. “Given your work, we want to know ‘where is the hope’?” Without hesitating he moves toward her, takes her face in his hands, looks into her eyes, and replies, “You tell them, ‘you are the hope, because theory needs to be reinvented, not replicated … it is a guide. We make history as we move through it and that is the hope.”

(Taken from  http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/reflections-on-teaching-learning-from-our-stories/ )

The graduate student is, of course, Shadiow.  She explains in her book that her experience with Freire never left her.  It energized and motivated her.  She had to “give back “.  She invites us as both reader and participant to rediscover our incidences of profound learning and let them move us.

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