Critical Literacy Practices, Social Action Projects, and the Reader Who Struggles in School

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This study, conducted at an urban public school, explored the engagements of five, fourth grade, African American students who struggled with reading in school as they participated in critical literacy practices and social action projects with the assumption that critical analysis of written texts and concrete social actions were necessary for student empowerment. Using Discourse Analysis within a microethnographic framework, participants’ responses were analyzed. Early in the study, participants were hesitant to join in critical conversations about race. Over time, as participants deepened their critical literacy engagements, they divulged lived racism both in their private and public worlds. Specifically, the ... continued below

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Bauer, Courtney Marie December 2011.

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  • Bauer, Courtney Marie

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This study, conducted at an urban public school, explored the engagements of five, fourth grade, African American students who struggled with reading in school as they participated in critical literacy practices and social action projects with the assumption that critical analysis of written texts and concrete social actions were necessary for student empowerment. Using Discourse Analysis within a microethnographic framework, participants’ responses were analyzed. Early in the study, participants were hesitant to join in critical conversations about race. Over time, as participants deepened their critical literacy engagements, they divulged lived racism both in their private and public worlds. Specifically, the participants described the tensions and transgressions they experienced as minorities from civil rights curriculum, teachers and other students. The findings revealed instead of text based analyses, critical literacy practices transformed into the participants’ critical analysis of racism they experienced in their various worlds (home, school, and the larger, outside world) through language (not text). Similarly, the pre-conceived idea of social action projects changed from the creation of concrete products or actions into discussions in which mainstream discourse was interrupted. Tacit and overt understandings about race, identity and power suggested that the participants assumed multiple and contradictory identities (such as “victim of racism” and “racially prejudiced”) that both empowered and oppressed others in the social action group. Implications for critical literacy practices include that empowering and liberating pedagogy through ‘risky conversations’ is difficult, transitory and radical within the context of school.

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  • December 2011

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  • Oct. 2, 2012, 4:18 p.m.

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  • Jan. 21, 2014, 3:09 p.m.

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Bauer, Courtney Marie. Critical Literacy Practices, Social Action Projects, and the Reader Who Struggles in School, dissertation, December 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103287/: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .