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Possibilities in Practice

Social Justice Teaching in the Disciplines

Edited By Summer Melody Pennell, Ashley S. Boyd, Hillary Parkhouse and Alison LaGarry

This edited collection illustrates different possibilities for social justice practice in various grade levels, disciplines, and interdisciplinary spaces in P–12 education. Chapters in this unique volume demonstrate teaching with a critical lens, helping students develop critical dispositions, encouraging civic action with students, and teaching about topics inclusive of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Based on empirical research, each contribution is rooted in a critical theoretical framework and characterizes findings from sustained study of pedagogic practice, spanning subject matter from social studies, English Language Arts, music, mathematics, and science. Through this work, both pre- and in-service teachers as well as teacher educators will be inspired to practice social justice in their own classrooms.

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Chapter Thirteen: “Project Read Freely”: Using Young Adult Literature to Engender Student Choice in an English Language Arts Classroom 9th Grade (Ashley S. Boyd / Alyssa Bauermeister / Holly Matteson)


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“Project Read Freely”

Using Young Adult Literature to Engender Student Choice in an English Language Arts Classroom

9th Grade


Sometimes what you really want to do is just pick up a book and read it. Sometimes you don’t want to think about ‘oh my god why did he kill Lennie. Why would he do that?’ You don’t want to spend half an hour at 9 o’clock thinking about that. You just want to read.


In his explanation of aliteracy, the notion that individuals are capable of reading but choose not to, Donald Gallo (2001) famously wrote, “We are a nation that teaches its children how to read in the early grades, then forces them during their teenage years to read literary works that most of them dislike so much that they have no desire whatsoever to continue those experiences into adulthood” (p. 36). His statement echoes research that has shown cumulative declines in students’ attitudes towards reading over time, particularly in grades one through six (McKenna, Kear, & Ellsworth, 1995). What is it that is making our students no longer want to read? How can we empower them in a system where most decisions are made for them, where bells dominate their lives, and where curriculum is divided into disciplinary silos that, as a consequence, also separates...

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