LEARN Marginal Syllabus (March)—“Untold Stories”: Cultivating Consequential Writing with a Black Male Student through a Critical Approach to Metaphor

March 02, 2020
By Educator Innovator

Our March reading for the 2019-20 Literacy, Equity + Remarkable Notes = LEARN Marginal Syllabus seeks to address the critical, creative, and cognitive writing and literacy of high-achieving young Black men. Sakeena Everett shares her critical ethnographic case study about Shawn, one such high school student, whose voice and writing is intentionally centered throughout this research article. This article describes Everett’s development of a consequential literacy pedagogy she employed while engaging Shawn in the composition of metaphor in a way that affirms his experience and identity.

This is the fifth month of LEARN 2019-20, a Marginal Syllabus co-developed with the National Writing Project (NWP) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Each month of the 2019-2020 academic year, we’ll collaboratively read and discuss an article, published in four different NCTE journals, that investigates the intersection of literacy and equity. Refer to the the 2019-20 syllabus for information on all the annotatable readings, which will go “live” on the first Monday of each month, along with related events hosted by the National Writing Project.

March Topic: The Consequential Writing of High-Achieving Young Black Men

Exposing Shawn (and the other scholars) to interdisciplinary framings of metaphor positioned him to cultivate creative, generative, problem-solving metaphors.

“‘Untold Stories’: Cultivating Consequential Writing with a Black Male Student through a Critical Approach to Metaphor”

As part of our close study of this text, Sakeena Everett joined the Marginal Syllabus team and readers Anna Smith, Andrea Zellner, and Sam Reed to talk about her article.

In March, we read about Sakeena Everett’s work with a high-achieving young Black male writer. Everett and Shawn learned alongside one another in a summer program called “We Choose to Learn.” This university-based program was designed to prepare high school students of color—like Shawn—for college, and to engage them in learning opportunities that also drew upon their career interests in education. Everett’s article shares her process as a teacher of composition as she fostered Shawn’s critical literacy through the study and composition of metaphor. At the same time, this rich ethnographic account calls attention to the way in which Everett supported Shawn to develop writing that lead him toward action against inequity.

In the article, Everett further details how her continued work with Shawn expanded into the school year following his participation in the summer “We Choose to Learn” program. Everett studied Shawn’s ongoing intellectual activities back at his high school. She shares how Shawn took action to create a writing program for elementary students, an effort that aligned with the ideas he had written about in the previous summer. Importantly, Everett also discusses how her pedagogical approach to literacy, writing, and metaphor is relevant to multiple contexts and can generatively support ELA teachers in fostering consequential writing with their own students.

Join the Annotated Conversation

We invite you to read “‘Untold Stories’: Cultivating Consequential Writing with a Black Male Student through a Critical Approach to Metaphor,” and annotate the text with your own thoughts, reactions, and questions. Annotations may be added using the web annotation tool Hypothesis. To add your own annotations, as well as to respond to others, sign up for your free account.

Share your annotations as you read or any time throughout the month of March. We also encourage you to use this reading and the opportunity to annotate however the Marginal Syllabus best suits your interests — organize a study group among colleagues, bring a class you are teaching to participate in this online discussion either publicly or privately, engage as an individual, or connect this text and conversation to other interest-driven activities.