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 LEARNER DIFFERENCES

The teacher uses understanding of individual differences and diverse cultures and communities to ensure inclusive learning environments that enable each learner to meet high standards.

Course Outline: Redefining the Bildungsroman

Working with identity in the classroom presents teachers with a challenge: How do we teach about identity without being prescriptive? How do we imagine the wide range of our students' identities as learners, as family members, as members of different social, cultural, lingual, and racial groups, when we only have firsthand experience with our own? This inquiry project explores teaching coming-of-age narratives in an English Language Arts classroom at a high school level. After researching content, classroom practices, and forms of assessment, I created this course design with diverse learners and students in mind. 

I have always thought of education and self-discovery working hand-in-hand with one other. I am drawn to the conscious exploration of identity as a basis for the learning experience of students, especially of English Language Learners. While I was originally drawn to the idea of creating a unit on coming-of-age stories, I felt as though identity deserves more space than could be afforded in one unit. The exploration of identity and coming-of-age stories then became the basis for a course, “Redefining the Bildungsroman,” which aims to both inform students’ reading of contemporary works and to challenge traditional understandings of the meaning of coming-of-age as found in the bildungsroman framework. The course outline includes sustained practices that promote critical thinking skills, provide frameworks for meaningful classroom discussion, establish consistent learning practices, and set expectations for assessment — with the needs of English Language Learners at the forefront. I write in the introduction to my course outline, “If part of effective instruction of English Language Learners is the clear communication of expectations and purposeful choices, the outlining of methods that are backed by research in this content outline could serve as a tool for instructors or students.” The outline serves as a utility for teachers in providing content ideas, practices, and assessment, but the included components could also serve as a guide for students upon entering the classroom. 

 

Several questions informed the topic of exploration for the course: What does it look like to put traditional frameworks in conversation with contemporary texts? As 21st Century learners and thinkers, how can these traditional — and sometimes, exclusive — frameworks still be of value in a contemporary and more inclusive classroom space? How can contemporary ways of thinking help us look at traditions more critically? 

 

Paulo Freire’s ideas about the space for change in the classroom inform my justification for the unit, as he recognizes the place of the classroom as a “deeply civic and political project that provides the conditions for individual autonomy and takes liberation and the practice of freedom as a collective goal” (Giroux 2010). In my handout, I write that “in this way, the course itself also functions as an act of resistance, as the coursework and discourse challenges a framework accepted as standard, acknowledges a diversity of unique barriers and privileges of growing into different identities, and narrative construction exercises that gives power to students to take agency as writers of their own identity.”

Below, explore the handout outlining what the course looks like. Additionally, read the extended reflection and works cited in the attached document. 

INQUIRY PROJECT REFLECTION

Access full Word document here.

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