This curriculum seeks to engage and empower students by providing opportunities for students to go beyond discovering information on their own to contemplating what could be. They are asked to read and analyze multimodal texts with the purpose of looking for the voice of the “Other” and express themselves in counternarrative storytelling in the “traditional” sense or digitally when those voices are not heard. It asks students to view media, listen to music and examine visual images to discuss the social construction and presentation of concepts and ideas. It attempts to be culturally relevant in accordance with a study conducted by Talpade and Talpade (2014),23 where culturally relevant pedagogy for African American Gen-Y students includes technologically related strategies intertwined with those of the traditional past. For example, the use of storytelling as a teaching strategy, and the inclusion of non-verbal expressions along with digital storytelling for presentations, emerged as one of the most relevant strategies for African American students of Generation Y. Talpade stated that their research was further supported by Pero Dagbovie’s argument that educators must recognize the visually oriented learning style of African Americans and use such mediums for learning and teaching.
This curriculum is inquiry-based learning. It asks students to generate questions about the construction and meaning for concepts presented in or by texts. It asks them to identify what societal shorthand language is being used? How does meaning impact identity of those considered “Other?” Students are asked to discuss and debate interest convergence when a marginalized voice is misrepresented or not heard in literature, film or nonfiction. It asks students to drive the research about concepts of science and social constructs, collaborate with peers and teachers while they develop their awareness of what they are learning and when they need new information. Teachers are asked to fill in knowledge gaps or skills, scaffold learning activities so that students get the explicit information at a time when they can use it to make connections and build on prior learning or knowledge.
In Making Just One Change24, the authors offer a great strategy for teaching students to ask their own questions. The Question Formulation Technique (QFT) strategy asks student to a) produce their own questions, b) improve their questions, and c) prioritize their questions. I have often used this technique in heterogeneous student groups with much success. I have found that all my students benefit from the process no matter what level of question generation they fall in. My past student reflections noted the process was “really” judgment free brainstorming, removed ambiguity from what had originally been considered a great question and helped focus what aspect of a topic was most interesting to research.
Using a critical race theory lens, students will be asked to detail in their individual journal and a group(class) journal reflections of how they:
- analyzed text;
- discovered constructs of race used in the configuration of characters of color;
- determined the impact of such constructs on the text’s narrative; and
- altered fictional narratives to create or re-create a new narrative or counter-narrative.
Students are enlisted to engage in a mission25 of discovery, reflection, research, “revision” and then record such findings and reflections in journals.
Students are asked to use their journal compositions of reflections, analysis of texts, research and visual images for a culminating project in the spirit of Sankofa-looking back in the past for history that will help you to go forward in the future. Students will be required to create an “Afrofuturistic” narrative or counternarrative giving stage to a marginalized voice. Students will need to go to the “scene of the crime” or the point of silencing in order to create/recreate their utopian world. They will need to respond to the phrase: “If race or X (where X is an -ism that the student is free to substitute) is a social construct, then let’s go back into the past and find out what we can use to inspire and make the changes to race (or X) or other conditions surrounding the -ism to address the current problem and create my envisioned utopia.” The presentation of the narratives may be a “traditional” written writing of a utopian story that includes one of the science fiction motifs: alien encounters, robots and other created beings, travel through time or outer space, apocalyptic or perfected futures, posthuman descendants, and Artificial Intelligences or a visual/digital narrative exhibition of the counter-narrative. Student narratives or counternarratives must address convergence of interests and the costs paid to achieve their utopian world.