Week 11

Rachel Richards


Dr. Ardito



Growing up in the Caribbean I did not have much access to a book or a library. My island has one library for the entire population about 200 000 people. The schools did not have a library, and families did not have a bookshelf with books at home. Therefore, whatever textbook we used in the classroom is the most access to books we had. Having limited access to text resulted in students facing many challenges in the classes. It was challenging to understand the language of complex texts when we barely got access to essential readings. When I migrated to the United States of America, I realize this was just a Demographic factor, for many small islanders. Almost every house I went into had a bookshelf, whether it was an upper class, middle class or lower-class family. Many times the children are not reading as much, but they had access to their homes, school libraries, but not as much in the classroom.

I realized it all had to do with the availability of resources, and in more developed countries there are abundant resources, and students need to get it. In the article Reading Between the Lines and Beyond the Pages: A Culturally Relevant Approach to Literacy Teaching by Gloria Ladson-Billing identify something similar happening among the states in the USA. She states, “The current demographic shifts in the public-school student population (particularly in urban areas and large states such as California, Texas, and New York) have forced educators to examine academic performance of students from various cultural ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.” Many students of color are not acquiring the Literacy skills adequately as whites students in school.

This is a severe issue African American are facing with, a gap in their literate competence, academic performance and social and economic problems facing African- American Students. African - American population is huge in the education system, and if these students are not having the same access to text in the classroom or education system. They can not own their own identity; this also cost the dropout rate to increase among African Americans in schools. This creates the question. Would these students be able to claim an identity, improve their history when they are still facing the same problems that their parents or fore-parents did? Are they honestly given a chance to advance in this changing world, or are they still limited to literacy?

What are schools doing in the classrooms, where there is a significant, minority population. How can we improve their literacy skills? How can we help our students as educators to read between the lines of text or comprehend text across different content areas?

Ladson- Billings also reported that this is primarily focusing on the cultural and ethnic condition of children and the relationship between these conditions and the structure of appropriate context for literacy learning”. I do believe that African - American students can overcome this challenge. However, researcher and educators need to incorporate more techniques in their pedagogy that is appropriate for teaching African - American students.

How can we help our students better comprehend a text no matter their identity or history? To embrace a text means we need to have the ability to process text, understand its meaning, and to integrate with what the reader already knows, and understanding his tone.  Do we need to include more “Culturally relevant teaching” as Ladson - Billings called it, where we could maximize learning? Ladson - Billings have used this term to describe the kind of teaching that is designed not merely to fit the school culture to the students’ culture but also to use students’ culture as the basis for helping students understand themselves and others, structures under social interaction, and conceptualize knowledge”. However, this type of teaching will, in this case, require the recognition of African - American Culture. If this is one filling for the gap in literacy in African American, how can we build on this strength and set up our pedagogy for this type of schooling experience? As educators, if we want our students to comprehend something, we need to feed them more of what they like, what they can relate too, or what they want too. It also keeps their attention and activates any prior knowledge. In the article Text are Mirrors, Texts are Windows by Katie Sciurba also pointed out if” Educators who wish to make reading relevant to each of their students can conduct investigations in their classrooms to find out how, why, and when individuals utilize texts in each of these manners. One way to begin might be to interview students”. Therefore, if our students can relate to the work in the classroom, bring in experience, activate their prior knowledge they are likely to do better. Tom Liam Lynch also pointed this out in his article Rereading and Literacy: How students’ Second Reading Might Open Third Spaces discussed giving students the opportunity “to bring knowledge from familiar aspects of their lives into the classroom, there is the possibility that they will learn more deeply and in new ways.”

One thing I have noticed in my classroom from teaching in a predominantly African American school, my students have not been exposed to many African – American Teachers or scientist. So monthly I try to include a research deliverable (I do weekly deliverable where I post critical thinking questions on google classroom on what we studied that week) to find an African American Scientist or researcher whose work contributed to this topic. In this way, I hope they can see hope and know it is possible to be whatever you want to be. There are scientists among our ethnicity as well. However, in the classroom we need to get our students to read, understand, or learn a concept, where they can master the content, and improve their literacy skills. To embrace a text means to comprehend literacy. We can believe that we are providing our students with a fair opportunity to truly understand any text one may read, no matter their ethnicity.

 As educators, our job in the class is to create this environment and provide students with numerous practice and opportunities using text in the classroom across all discipline. It is important as educators to include this in our pedagogy as often as possible and not when the Common Core State Standards say it.


    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito


      Once again, you have done an excellent job with this week's reading response.

      I was very struck by this:

      I realized it all had to do with the availability of resources, and in more developed countries there are abundant resources, and students need to get it.

      You are raising really important ideas here about equity and justice, even within a highly developed country and city.

      • Rachel Richards
        Rachel Richards

        Hi Dr. Ardito,

        Thank you. Growing up on a small island and complete both my primary school (Elementary) and Secondary (High school) in the Caribbean, gave me an opportunity to compare the big difference. 


      Group D

      Here is the online home for Group D.
      Sub-Group of ED 656 - Fall 2018

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