Designing Socially Just Learning Communities : Critical Literacy Education across the Lifespan book cover
1st Edition

Designing Socially Just Learning Communities
Critical Literacy Education across the Lifespan

ISBN 9780415997621
Published March 6, 2009 by Routledge
248 Pages

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Book Description

Demonstrating the power and potential of educators working together to use literacy practices that make changes in people's lives, this collaboratively written book blends the voices of participants in a teacher-led professional development group to provide a truly lifespan perspective on designing critical literacy practices. It joins these educators’ stories with the history and practices of the group - K-12 classroom teachers, adult educators, university professors, and community activists who have worked together since 2001 to better understand the relationship between literacy and social justice. Exploring issues such as gender equity, linguistic diversity, civil rights and freedom and war, the book showcases teachers’ reflective practice in action and offers insight into the possibilities and struggles of teaching literacy through a framework of social justice.

Designing Socially Just Learning Communities models an innovative form of professional development for educators and researchers who are seeking ways to transform educational practices. The teachers' practices and actions – in their classrooms and as members of the teacher research group – will speak loudly to policy-makers, researchers, and activists who wish to work alongside them.

Table of Contents

Part 1. Beginnings

1: Introduction

2: A Framework for Critical Literacy Education Across the Lifespan: A Case Study of the Literacy for Social Justice Teacher Research Group

Part II. An Entry Point: Developing Critical Stances

3: Talking about War in a Second Grade Classroom, Melissa Mosley

4: Writing our Way to Cultural Understandings, Rebecca Light

5: Learning to Listen: Creating Socially Just Curricula for Middle and High School Classrooms, Sarah Hobson

6: "No Disrespect": Literature Discussion as Social Action, Carolyn Fuller

7: Response Chapter- Developing Critical Stances and Multiple Perspectives, Bridgette Jenkins, Mary Ann Kramer, Meredith Labadie, Melissa Mosley, Kathryn Pole and Ben Yavitz

Part III. An Entry Point: Critical Inquiry and Analysis

8: Shared Leadership, Adolescent Literacies, and Social Justice Education in the "Third Space", Melissa Mosley and Margaret Finders

9: Designing a Critical Literacy Lab in an Adult Education Center, Mary Ann Kramer and Rhonda Jones

10: The Center for Human Origin and Cultural Diversity: A Catalyst for Social Justice and Racial Literacy, Jacquelyn A. Lewis-Harris

11: Response Chapter- Critical Inquiry and Analysis: Making Space for Critical Literacy, Carolyn Brown, Ora Clark-Lewis, Aleshea Ingram, Mary Ann Kramer, and Melissa Mosley

Part IV. An Entry Point: Building Community

12: New Teachers Developing as Educators/Activists, Liesl Buechler and Kate Lofton

13: Working Within and Against Heterosexist and Homophobic Schools: Social Justice and High School Journalism, Janet DePasquale

14: Following the Circles: Organizing for Justice through Literacy Education, Sarah Beaman-Jones

15: Response Chapter- Building Relationships of Struggle and Solidarity, Angela Folkes, Cristina Mann, Melissa Mosley, Rebecca Rogers and Alina Slapac

Part V. What Is and What Might Be

16: Designing Socially Just Learning Communities Across the Lifespan: What Is and What Might Be

Appendix I: Declaration Statement

Appendix II: Frameworks of Critical Literacy Lab: Engaged Instruction, St. Louis Public Schools Adult Education and Literacy 

Notes on Contributors

Films and Children's Books



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Rebecca Rogers is Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her research focuses on language, identity, and power in and out of school contexts.  

Melissa Mosley is Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on critical literacy learning across the lifespan, particularly how teachers and students together use literacy practices toward social action in and out of the classroom.  

Mary Ann Kramer is Coordinator for Adult Education and Literacy in the St.

Louis Public Schools. Prior to this position, she served as Director of the Southside

Women’s Center, a community-based women’s resource center.

The Literacy for Social Justice Teacher Research Group is a grassroots, teacher-led professional development group dedicated to exploring and acting on the relationships between literacy and social justice.


"The authors in this book offer clear and passionate descriptions of their engagement with the four dimensions of critical literacy, giving readers a profound understanding of the complexity of implementing critical literacy practices. …This book speaks to educators from all areas, at all levels… [it] is a strong, vivid account of educators collaborating on a journey of professional and personal growth."--Language Arts, March 2010, p. 308-309