Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xii
Introduction: Love Is Not Enough xvi
Learning to Read the World xvii
Essential Understandings for Social Justice Work xviii
            What We Need to Understand About Self xviii
            What We Need to Understand About Society xix
My Classroom, My Positionality xix
Watch xx
            Clip: The Value in Teacher Restraint
            Clip: Conversations for Mutual Respect

1 Identity: Knowing Ourselves 1
            Where Do You Fall in Historically Excluded and Included Groups? 2
            Social Identity as a Threat to Discussions of Injustice 4
            Who Is Given Voice to Speak to These Matters? Who Is Not? 6
            Which Perspectives Are Included? Which Are Left Out? 7
            Who Gets to Decide What This All Means? Who Does Not? 7
The Trap of the Good/Bad Binary 8
No Teacher Is Immune 11
Navigating Complex Discussions Despite Our Cultural Blinders 12
            Take Stock of Your Own Social Identities 13
            Engage in Discussions with a Diversity of Peers 14
            Access Texts That Expand Your Cultural Competence 15
            Engage in Reflective Thought 16

Watch 17
            Clip: Teacher Identity
            Clip: The Purpose and Goals of Social Justice Teaching

2 Classrooms That Center Social Critique 19
            Qualities of Student-Centered Social Justice Conversations 20
Integrated, Not Compartmentalized Social Justice Instruction 21
            Correlating Social Justice Goals with Learning Outcomes 23
            Correlation of Social Justice Goals with Skills and Strategies 24
Student-Centered Instruction in Action 27
            Framework for Evaluating Beliefs 28
                        Authority: “I was told by someone I trust.” 28
                        A Priori: “It just sounds right to me.” 29
                        Tenacity: “This is what I’ve always believed.” 30
                        Inquiry: “I need to work hard to make sure this is true.” 30
Setting Our Expectations 31
Watch 33
            Clip: Connecting History to Contemporary Media
            Clip: “Why Haven’t They Fixed It Yet?”

3 Identity: Knowing Our Students 35
Inquiring into Our Students’ Social Identities 36
            Classroom Practices That Affirm Social Identity 37
            Selecting Literature That Reflects the Social Identities of Our Students 38
            Celebrating the Contributions of All 38
            Inviting Family Members into the Class to Share 38
            Using Curriculum to Draw Out Personal Stories 39
Inquiring into Our Students’ Funds of Knowledge 39
Developing Intentional Practices to Better Know Our Kids 40
            Inquiring into the Histories of Our Names 41
            Intake Conferences 44
            Intake Conference Questions 44
            Family Book Recommendations 45
Watch 48
            Clip: Deep Community Building with Students and Families 
            Clip: Sharing Our Cultural Knowledge

4 How Children Navigate Diverse Perspectives 51
            Framework for Analyzing Students’ Responses to Oppression 52
Students Accepting Injustices 52
            Frames Used for Social Justice Discussions 54
            Relationships of Power 55
                        Socio-economic power 56
                        Racial power 57
                        Analysis 57
            Maintenance of the Status Quo 58
                        Analysis 60
            Effect of Learned Stereotypes 62
                        Analysis 63
Students Denying Injustice 64
            The World Is a Fair Place 65
            It’s Exaggerated or Untrue 68
                        Analysis 70
Watch 72
            Clip: Expectations for Our Children Over Time
            Clip: Challenges in Homogenous Classrooms

5 Using Issue-Based Literature 75
Goal 1: Using Issue-Based Texts to Build Understanding and Empathy 75
            Issues That Can Be Explored Through Children’s Literature 78
            How to Include Empathy and Understanding in Our Reading Curriculum 79
            Correlation Between Reading Standards and Social Justice Work 80
Goal 2: Using Issue-Based Texts to Help Students Gain Historical Context 85
            Books That Provide Historical Context 87
            How to Integrate Historical Context into Our Curriculum 88
            Process for Implementing Social Justice into Social Studies Curriculum 88
A Final Word of Caution About Incorporating Issue-Based Texts 91
Watch 93
            Clip: Why Issue-Based Literature Works
            Clip: “Reading” a Commercial and the Media’s Response

6 Placing Social Justice at the Core of Our Morning Meeting 95
Repurposing Our Morning Meeting to Meet the Needs of Social Justice 96
            Establishing Classroom Journals 97
            (Re)discovering a sense of wonder 100
            Modeling how to question the world 101
            Generating questions alongside our students 104
            Helping students take notice of the questions they’re already wondering about 105
            Inviting families and caregivers to help generate questions 106
Starting Social Critique with Gender 108
Elevating the Quality of Discussions 110
            Positioning Students as Primary Meaning Makers 112
            Gradual Release of Responsibility in Classroom Discussions 113
            Teaching Moves for Morning Meeting 114


            Supporting Students to Listen Closely 119
            Scaffolding Students to Build onto the Ideas of Others 123
                        Resisting the urge to dominate the discussion 124
                        Offer stems that promote connections to others’ thinking 125
                        Selectively call on those who want to make connections 125
            Learning to Value the Role of Disagreement in Exploratory Discussions 125
Watch 129
            Clip: Using Metaphor and Restatement with Kindergartners
            Clip: A Science Journal Entry Leads to Discussion of Ways of Knowing
            Clip: Examples of Short Classroom Journal Shares

7 Supporting Students to Speak Up 131
Perceived Lack of Knowledge: “I just don’t know much about those things.” 133
            Provide Our Students the Background Knowledge They Require 135
            Prompt Our Students to Share What They’re Thinking or Wondering About 135
Fear of Upsetting Others: “I was afraid I might say the wrong thing.” 136
            Help Our Students See Growth and Understanding as One of Our Primary Goals 138
            Model How One Might Respond to Something They Find Offensive 139
            How to Gently Fold Kids Back In After They’ve Miscued 141
Discomfort with Hearing Hard Truths: “It’s kind of scary.” 142
            Allow Our Students Space to Decompress and Breathe 144
            Carefully Determine What Is Appropriate and What Is Not 144
Lack of Trust in the Teacher: “I don’t want to go there with her.” 145
Watch 147
            Clip: Second Graders Ethan and Kiersten Explain Classroom Journals 
            Clip: The Slow Process of Learning How to Listen to Each Other
            Clip: Valuing Engagement Over Closure

8 When Talk Leads to Action 149
            Framework for Supporting Student Action 150
Actions That Get at the Root Cause(s) of Social Injustice 153
Inquiries That Led to Action: A Collection for Inspiration 154
Watch 158
            Clip: Students Talk on Local News 
            Clip: Children Find Their Voices and Solutions
            Clip: Respect as Activism

Works Cited 159