Literature has always had the power to take our minds to places near and far, to show us things we never thought about and affirm things we already knew. Freire emphasized the power of not only reading the “word but reading the world (Shor & Freire, 1987, p.135)”. Thus, reading should be committed to a broader scope, not just isolated words and skills but critical thought and reflection. A dual challenge exists in preparing teacher and students for a more globalized world that includes multiple perspectives. The teacher must initially embrace culturally responsive teaching and then reach out to one’s students. It is through the teacher’s guidance that critical literacy practices become part of the classroom. The collaboration of teacher and students recognizing the meaning of the printed word through discussion of multiple interpretations is the basis for an honest relationship with the world. These practices can be used in the elementary school classroom (Ciardiello, 2004). The literature (Stribling, 2008) highlights three different approaches to critical literacy: examining texts for voice and perspective, using texts as a vehicle to examine larger social issues and using student’s lives and experiences as the text and incorporating literacy practices. Also integrating critical conversations (Leland, Harste, Ociepka, Lewison and Vasquez, 1999) in the classroom will focus on how the students can identify the issue, interact with each other and analyze different perspectives of the issue. Student growth and understanding is greatly enhanced (Stribling, 2008) when teachers are prepared to implement these literacy practices.
|Keywords:||Literacy, Student Learning, Culturally Relevant Teaching Practices, Diversity|
Assistant Professor, Graduate Education Department, Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY, USA
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