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The table below shows the comparison of data from pre-assessment to post-assessment.
In order to ensure that instructional time is wisely used to meet the learning requirements of students, upper elementary instruction needs two components: effective teachers and a clearly articulated daily literacy block along with literacy embedded within the content areas.
Literature has been shown to be advantageous in promoting empathy across cultural difference, an important component of critical global literacy. Research by Mar and Oatley (2008) has even found that fiction can help students build empathy for others across difference better than encounters with diverse people. Teaching cultural identity and intercultural communication helps students better understand how culture relates to them on a personal level, but that is not enough. Students also need to understand cultural relationships on a systemic level. Raising students’ critical consciousness helps students understand political relationships and systems of oppression (Falter & Kerkhoff, 2018).
Raising Critical Consciousness
To help raise students’ critical consciousness, teachers can have students read fiction that addresses sociopolitical issues. The poem “Telephone Conversation” by Wole Soyinka is short but powerful in its message about political and social injustice in apartheid South Africa. Before reading the poem, I explain to students that the setting is apartheid South Africa and ask students to share their prior knowledge about the history and culture of South Africa. For the first read, we focus on the storyline using the Somebody - Wanted - But - So protocol (Ellery, 2005). In other words, Who are the two characters, what do they each want, but what is the conflict preventing the characters from getting what they want, and so how did it end?
During the second read, I ask students to think about power relationships. We reread the poem and this time think about Somebody - Wanted - But - So with a critical lens. In other words, who has the political or social power in the poem, who is the person asking for what they want, what does the character want, but how does power affect the character’s ability to get what they want, so how does this relate to real life? After reading the poem this second time, we discuss the author’s purpose in writing the poem and the author’s message about real life.
Another strategy used to prompt discussions from a critical global lens is using Lewison, Flint, and Van Sluys’ (2002) four goals of critical literacy as literature circle roles. We read Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. In circles of four, each student chooses one role: (1) Disruptor of the Commonplace, (2) Interrogator of Multiple Viewpoints, (3) Investigator on Sociopolitical Issues, and (4) Promoter of Social Justice through Action. Each student is then given a strategic purpose for reading (as follows) and instructed to jot annotations that relate to that purpose. Before we break into circles, provide a think aloud of how to annotate a section of text for each of the roles.
1. Disruptor of the Commonplace problematizes and analyzes how the author is using language to position the characters and the readers.
2. Interrogator of Multiple Viewpoints pays attention to the voices in the text or that are left out of the text that are traditionally marginalized.
3. Investigator of Sociopolitical Issues presses beyond the personal to challenge the power relationships illustrated in the text.
4. Promoter of Social Justice through Action uses language to redefine and recreate narratives for a more just world.
Developing Critical Global Literacy
Culture acts as a lens helping us to zoom in on certain elements when there are so many images, sounds, and words swarming around us at all times. An intercultural perspective helps people to be able to zoom out and consider multiple perspectives on issues. Pushing our students a bit further, a global perspective requires the ability to zoom out even further to consider global systems and politics.