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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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Part Three: Middle Grades: Investigating Equity with Middle Grades Youth: Personalizing Justice for Students and Teachers


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Middle Grades

Investigating Equity with Middle Grades Youth: Personalizing Justice for Students and Teachers

Middle grades, typically categorized in the United States as sixth through eighth, are those in which classroom curriculum tends to become more local and personal. Social studies in these grades, for example, generally includes the history of the state of students’ residence, and in English Language Arts students often read novels that reflect their own positions as well as those of our diverse culture (Seglem & Bonner, 2016). Characterized as a unique time of life when students’ identities are burgeoning, they are developing relationships with varied individuals (Previts & Bauer, 2017), and their cultural and social knowledge is forming, the need for social justice education in these grades is urgent. As students distinguish who they are in relation to our society, we want them to be critically conscious and able to discern their place in a democratic society. The teacher’s role in middle grades education cannot be understated, as their respect and support can have drastic effects on student learning (Ryan & Patrick, 2001).

In this section, authors describe the ways they have studied social justice with middle grades students and explored approaches to teaching that accomplish equity-related goals within such spaces. Pennell and Fede’s work in Chapter 8 aids students in naming and analyzing social justice topics; their chapter examines marriage equality in particular, through the avenues of mathematics and...

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