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"It's Basically Trading Reads for Likes": Black Adolescent Females Writing Across Classroom and Online Contexts

Sun, April 7, 3:40 to 5:10pm, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Floor: 700 Level, Room 706


Although research suggests that technological advancements have flattened the global economy and reduced barriers for developing transcultural identities as readers and writers (McLean, 2010), studies of Black girls who write across urban public language arts classrooms and online reading and writing communities are underexplored, despite national assessments indicating Black students in urban public language arts classrooms to be among the least prepared to write for diverse cultural audiences and communicative purposes (National Writing Assessment, 2011). Studies have shown dominant approaches to literacy instruction relying on views of writing as discrete skills routinely ignore, silence, and overlook Black adolescent females’ voices, identities and literacies as resources for teaching and learning (Muhammad & Haddix, 2016). Despite the inequitable experiences they encounter in the classroom, findings show that Black adolescent females are still voluntarily using technology to find and create spaces to affirm and nurture their literacies and identities as readers and writers inside and outside the classroom (Muhammad & Haddix, 2016; Kynard, 2011; McLean, 2010). Using Street’s (2011) theory of ‘multiple literacies’ and Guerra’s (2008) view of students as ‘transcultural citizens,’ the author examined how classroom and online writing communities constructed or constrained opportunities for Black adolescent females to construct and leverage their transcultural capital as, and in community with, readers and writers. Qualitative analysis of classroom observations, fieldnotes, student writing, and interviews revealed themes of constraint in the classroom, and use of technology to construct high-interest literary environments, equitable relationships with readers and writers, and social and cultural capital development through literary exchange. These findings suggest the need for community-centered conceptualizations of writing and reading, and technology-enhanced social approaches to writing instruction.
This session adds to the conversation around conceptualization of multiple literacies and identities Black female adolescents bring to the classroom, and the ways in which education and teaching generally, and literacy education more specifically, might leverage STEM orientations to curriculum and instruction to foster more equitable reading and writing transactions among and between students in urban public language arts classrooms. The scholarship around Black female youth and writing in school has revealed how students take up strategies of withdrawal and silence as strategies for negotiating inequitable classroom contexts (Muhammad & Haddix, 2016). This paper adds the voices of Black adolescents females who opt to participate in classroom reading and writing alongside participation in reading and writing outside of school as “strategies in resistance” and survival to the conversation (Robinson & Ward, 1991).