Word-slam was used with our high school urban students as instrument and method to elicit engagement with learning and develop agency through personal storytelling. The word-slam text (as it appears on YouTube and in hard-copy format as well) was chosen due to its being a personal story (of which we are all experts), an alternative, artistic and critical form of text that our students could relate to directly as the format and content were relevant to their lives and experiences. By using the text as a mentor text and studying the author’s craft together, students were able to write, rewrite and develop their own word-slam stories, carving out a space for themselves to be seen and heard.
Keywords: Word-Slam, Urban Youth, High School, Engaged Learning, Personal Stories, Agency
This paper describes the experiences and reflections of two scholars as they began an ethnographic research project attempting to rethink and re-imagine possibilities of learning/teaching with highly vulnerable students in an inner city high school. The work is rooted in critical theory and presents ongoing reflection and action regarding the students’ as well as the researchers’ mindsets, practices and interactions. Analysis of the data promoted the realization that voice in underrepresented groups resides in counter-narratives that must become part of the educational discourse in order for disenfranchised students to embrace school learning.
Literacy and Power: The Shiyour as a site of subordination and empowerment for orthodox Jewish women
Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Vol. 27(1), Spring 2011, pp. 53-74.
Once a week, late at night, a group of otherwise very busy Jewish women of the orthodox Jewish Chabad community, leave their children, husbands and homes to attend a shiyour- a religious lesson given by and to adult women. Within a situation of restricted access to literacy, the teachers use specific texts and language to reproduce cultural knowledge regarding group and personal identity. Deconstructing the shiyour will demonstrate the function of these literacy events in reiterating group borders and creating social and temporal networks, while covertly serving to uphold the traditional gender hierarchies that allow only males of the community access to public power and formal status positions. The women, however, manage to turn around this literacy practice into an empowering and equalizing experience
Possibilities inherent in a learning-centered pedagogy: Accessing and leveraging the richness of human capacity.
With Limor Pinhasi-Vittorio Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, Vol. 25(4), Winter 2012, pp. 1-19.
Learning is optimized in a physically, emotionally and mentally safe space where everyone belongs and every voice counts. Changing our practice from a focus on teaching and curriculums to a focus on learners and learning allows us to envision classrooms where experience, discovery and learning are accessible to all students. Incorporating knowledge about how the human brain functions, we are proposing an ability approach to education where all abilities and strengths are accepted and respected as important componebts of the social fabric.
Portraits and possibilities: Empowerment through literacy.
In Dr. M. Miller & Dr. K. P. King (eds.) Empowering women in literacy: Views from experience. Information Age Publishing, 2009.
Raising student voices begins with letting them take authority of their own life stories: becoming aware of the powers they have to define their own reality and tell their lives, valuing themselves and their experiences, dreaming and expecting better. One of the ways we work together toward these goals is through self-portraiture: different ways by which our class participants present and represent themselves and their experiences in writing and in art.