Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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the expanding canon teaching multicultural literature
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Reader Response: Pat Mora and James Welch Reader Response: Keith Gilyard and Mourning Dove Inquiry: Rudolfo Anaya and James Baldwin Inquiry: Tomás Rivera and Esmeralda Santiago Cultural Studies: Ishmael Reed and Graciela Limón Cultural Studies: N. Scott Momaday and Russell Leong Critical Pedagogy: Octavia E. Butler and Ruthanne Lum McCunn Critical Pedagogy: Abiodun Oyewole and Lawson Fusao Inada

Teaching Multicultural Literature
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REFLECTION - Interactive Forum

Explore two poems using four approaches.


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Notes about teaching multicultural literature

Multicultural Literature
In this series, multicultural literature refers to works written by African American, Asian American, Native American, and Latino authors. In the broadest sense, multicultural literature also can refer to works that deal with issues of race, gender, class, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, and nationality.

Each text featured in this series is explored through a particular pedagogical approach and set of strategies. However, there is considerable overlap among them. Any text can be explored through reader response, inquiry, cultural studies, and/or critical pedagogy. A reader's response can lead naturally into an inquiry, and cultural studies research may lead to political action.

Cultural Immersion
It's important to immerse students in authentic cultural experiences when exploring multicultural works of literature. In this series, teachers take their students on field trips to see Chinatown, museums, and murals. If these kinds of activities are not possible, there are many other ways to create culturally rich experiences. Teachers can inform students of cultural events taking place in their communities. They should invite community members who might serve as cultural guides into the classroom. Teachers and students can bring in artifacts, artwork, posters, music, and literature to transform the classroom environment. Films, videos (including excerpts from this series), television, and the Internet -- including virtual tours of neighborhoods, museums, and art galleries -- can provide students with exposure to a new culture.

Many of the programs in this series feature visiting authors, experts, and/or community members. Inviting guests into the classroom is important in any curriculum, but it is especially powerful when teaching multicultural literature. To facilitate this, teachers may want to check with department chairs, librarians, or curriculum coordinators to find out about local writers-in-residence. Teachers can also check with local bookstores, public libraries, or universities to find out about readings. Teachers may also want to contact authors or journalists through their publishers. An option to consider is sharing a writer's travel costs with a nearby school. Teachers may also bring video of author interviews -- from this series or other sources -- into the classroom.

Mature Themes
Most powerful literature deals with complex, mature themes such as sexuality, violence, and loss. Many schools have policies about teaching books dealing with these issues. Some schools have reading lists; some require teachers to alert parents to mature reading in the syllabus. It's important for teachers to find out what school policy is before assigning texts like some of those introduced in this series. It's also worthwhile to provide alternate selections for students who are not allowed to read mature books. In addition, teachers may want to schedule pre-reading discussions to ease students into the material. Finally, if someone in the school community objects to the material in class texts, the National Council of Teachers of English provides advocacy support for teachers facing censorship challenges.

Each session has its own resources section with information about the theory, teaching strategies, authors and literary works. The following links provide additional information about multicultural literature that is relevant to all sessions:

American Book Awards
The American Book Awards, established by the Before Columbus Foundation, acknowledge the excellence and multicultural diversity of American writing. The awards recognize outstanding literary achievement by contemporary American authors, regardless of race, sex, ethnic background, or genre.

Multicultural Perspectives
Multicultural Perspectives is a quarterly journal, published by the National Association for Multicultural Education, that includes literature and articles written by and for multicultural educators and activists worldwide. (Note: Of particular interest is Judith Y. Singer and Sally Smith's "The Potential of Multicultural Literature: Changing Understanding of Self and Others" in 5:2 (2003): 17-23. In it, the authors discuss the responses of racially different groups of students to the same piece of multicultural young adult literature.)

Multicultural Review
Multicultural Review is a quarterly journal dedicated to better understanding of ethnic, racial, and religious diversity.

National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
Connect with NCTE on Social Media.

Teacher-Talk is the mail discussion list for participants.

Each workshop session program reflects the Standards for the English Language Arts as outlined by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association (IRA).

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