Read It Forward March 8, 2021

Hello WSRA!

Welcome and First RIF Conversation on Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy by Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

I hope you are having a Marvelous Monday! On behalf of the Read it Forward Committee, I want to welcome you to our first RIF book conversation. This year, we are beginning our conversations over the Keeping in Touch blog. We hope to spark thinking and conversations that can be continued at the April Leadership meeting and beyond. If you’re like me, the only thing I enjoy more than reading a great book is talking about that great book with a friend or colleague! 

Each Marvelous Monday, check out the Keeping in Touch blog for a new conversation starter. Consider your own values, perspectives, classroom experiences, and knowledge of research and best practice. Share your response to the conversation starter or extend a discussion started by another member. These are our norms to help guide our discussions on the blog.

  • Be courteous and professional in your comments.

  • Exchange ideas and useful commentary that add to the conversation.

  • Ask questions.

  • Disagree without being disagreeable. Stay positive.

  • Please do not drop any links in the comments.

This week, we are discussing the Introduction and Chapter One from Dr. Gholdy Muhammad’s book, Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy.

A powerful statement and call to action appeared on page 15. Dr. Muhammad stated, “If teachers do not recognize their own genius, they need to be striving each day for it. Mediocrity is not an option. The Historically Responsive Literacy (HRL) Framework is a universal teaching and learning model that helps teachers cultivate the genius within students and within themselves and teach in ways that create spaces for mutual empowerment, confidence, and self-reliance,” (Muhammad, 2020, p.15).

Here are a few conversation starters from page 37. Choose one (or more) and share your thinking!

  • What are your own beliefs about teaching and learning? What are your own learning goals in your school?

  • How do the 10 lessons from literary societies compare with pedagogy in your classroom? (Or school, or district)

  • How is literacy defined at the school and district levels? Does it focus on skills only or wider goals?

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to be part of the conversation. Thank you for growing in collaborative professionalism together! 

Read it Forward Committee

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Comments on "Read It Forward March 8, 2021"

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Sarah Schnuelle - Friday, March 19, 2021

Systemic racism is so deeply pervasive in all aspects of our world, and yet often so under the radar even people that are actively trying to combat it often don’t notice it. Case in point: I frequently used a book on the deadliest tornados (by a reputable publisher) to integrate math and literacy for a lower elementary book club. It was not until years later that I learned the tables of statistics were incorrect because at the time some of the death counts were recorded, southern Blacks were not counted as people, so therefore not included in the death toll. So here I was, teaching my kids what I thought was a high-interest topic that didn’t really relate to race in America, and yet - who had access to shelter? Who had help rebuilding? Who was even counted among the dead? The quote, “As long as oppression is present in the world, young people need pedagogy that nurtures criticality” really spoke to me. Because when I was in high school (which wasn’t THAT long ago!) the Three-Fifths Compromise was held up as a near miracle, even though it framed our country around the idea that not all of its people were fully human. The affects of that still permeate systems, including public education systems, today. Given that the fastest way to suppress people seems to be to deny their access to education, it makes sense that literacy was always connected to equity and social justice. We are standing at a precipice right now where we need to think about how exactly we use literacy to bring about social change and whether that literacy can be fairly and equitably accessed.

Gretchen Pratt - Monday, March 15, 2021

Q: How is literacy defined at the school and district level? A: In the text she states, "Literacy among Black people ... was also defined as liberation and power. In this way, literacy was connected to acts of self-empowerment, self-determination, and self-liberation... these ambitions they cultivated for themselves..." (p. 22). She speaks to this rich history of literacy being this optimal tool for personal advancement. When I see how literacy is used in school I just feel we miss the mark. Watch how young people engage in literacy in their lives - social media for example. From what I see on TikTok - that is authentic, vibrant literacy in action. These concise, organized, and engaging videos explaining sharing ideas, pushing back on norms, connecting people - that is literacy. These platforms are diving into content and curriculum that are not happening in school. Are there issues with social media, yes. But I see connection, enthusiasm, and authenticity that I don't always feel in the classroom. My point here is not to saw we need to replicate social media in the classroom, but it highlights the drive young people have toward literacy. In our schools we continue to see shifts in curriculum and resources, but they continue to focus on skill acquisition and individual learners. The sense of community and purpose is just lacking. I feel fortunate to be reading this book and learning from Muhammad and look forward to further discussion on this.

Joyce Uglow - Monday, March 15, 2021

Q: What are your own beliefs about teaching and learning? A: I love, love, love this quote from page 14. "Genius is the brilliance, intellect, ability, cleverness, and artistry that have been flowing through their minds and spirits across the generations." Definitely we all must cultivate the genius that lies within us.

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