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ReadWriteThink Connections: English Journal, Vol. 106, No. 4 (March 2017)

ReadWriteThink, created by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Literacy Association (ILA), provides free instructional practices and digital resources that support effective reading and language arts instruction for all learners. Most articles in English Journal include connections to ReadWriteThink lesson plans and other resources.

Theme: “Beyond the Dream”: Black Textual Expressivities between the World and Me

Students Contesting “Colormuteness” through Critical Inquiries into Comics
Stereotyped images create false ideals that real people can’t hope to live up to, foster low self-esteem for those who don’t fit in, and restrict people’s ideas of what they’re capable of. In this lesson, students explore representations of race, class, ethnicity, and gender by analyzing comics over a two-week period and then reenvisioning them with a “comic character makeover.” This activity leads to greater awareness of stereotypes in the media and urges students to form more realistic visions of these images as they perform their makeovers.

Beyond the Dream, the Journey: American Novels That Track the Path from Slavery to Freedom
In this lesson plan from, after reviewing the literary elements of tone and point of view, students work in small groups to read and summarize Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing,” Langston Hughes’s “I, Too, Sing America,” and Maya Angelou’s “On the Pulse of the Morning.” They identify the tone and point of view of each poem, citing specific text references. Finally, students compare the three poems using a Venn diagram, synthesize the similarities and differences they identified, and then discuss their findings with the class.

Revolutionizing the English Classroom through Consciousness, Justice, and Self-Awareness
This lesson from begins with the playing of the chorus of rapper Kanye West’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.” Students should be able to recognize the track and artist and might even sing along. This lesson makes a connection to popular culture by asking students to work in pairs to research and analyze contemporary and historic protest songs. After learning about wikis, each pair posts its analysis of the protest songs to a class wiki, adding graphics, photos, and hyperlinks as desired. The class then works together to organize the entries. Finally, students listen to all of the protest songs and add information
and comments to each other’s pages.

#WOKE: Employing Black Textualities to Create Critically Conscious Classrooms
The author talked about investigating all the different identifies each person has. This lesson from invites students to explore the different languages they use in speaking and writing, and when and where these languages are appropriate. They write in their journals about a time when someone made an assumption about them based on their use of language and share their writing with the class. Students then read and discuss Amy Tan’s essay “Mother Tongue.” Finally, they write a literacy narrative describing
two different languages they use and when and where they use these languages.

Racial Identity and Liberation Literacies in the Classroom
As part of their study of Richard Wright’s autobiography Black Boy (or another work of African American literature set in the post–Civil War, pre–Civil Rights era), students will participate in personal reflection and critical research of the current black-white racial divide in America. By examining Wright’s book in the context of three contemporary events in US social politics (the election of Barack Obama, the Gates-Crowley incident, and the Jena Six case), students will gain a richer understanding of the work and what it means to be an American today.

“Loving Blackness to Death”: (Re)Imagining ELA Classrooms in a Time of Racial Chaos
The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake is one of the texts suggested on the Black Literacies Text Set. Learn more about that text and others in the podcast episode, “Celebrating the NCTE African American Read-In.” Tune in for recommendations of both old and new titles by distinguished African American authors who write for teens. Featured books range from historical novels to contemporary explorations of African American life in both urban and suburban settings.








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