Free Minds, Free People
Contact Person: Melissa Mosley, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin
1 University Station
Mail Code D5700
Austin, TX 78712
Organization: Social Justice Teacher Inquiry Group, Austin, Texas in affiliation
with The University of Texas at Austin
Title: BorderLands/La Frontera Literature Study: Engaging K-12 students with
Racism, Community, and Local Issues
Summary: We will share the implementation of a literature study about
borders—physical, metaphorical, individual, collective and societal. After
hearing how this looked in various K-12 classrooms, participants will be invited
to plan their own literature study about BorderLands with a focus on
incorporating literature with critical social issues into the curriculum.
Description of Workshop: As a teacher inquiry group of K-12 teachers and
teacher educators from the greater Austin area, we focus on social justice
education. We address and share classroom projects focused on issues including
community building, racism, identity, language, child labor, human rights, war,
and immigration. This workshop is based on an action research project in which
we each took the central idea of BorderLands to our classrooms, choosing texts
and resources appropriate to the grade level, ethnicity and race of our students,
and our own goals. A literature study builds classroom community, as students
share narratives, interpretations of texts, and document their ideas over time.
In this workshop, we will spend the first 30 minutes together experiencing a
literature study focused on borders—physical, metaphorical, individual,
collective and societal. A literature study brings thematically connected texts to
students. The texts represent different perspectives, and also incorporate
different media, such as children’s books, photographs, film, and nonfiction
texts. Through literature study, participants will create meaning together as well
as write and produce artwork about the theme.
In the second 30 minute segment of this workshop, we will share in small groups
the projects we have completed and studied with our students.
Abby Ashford-Grooms read August Wilson’s Fences with her 11th graders,
a play set in Pittsburg in the 1950s. Her students engaged in a study of
fences as BorderLands, addressing power—who has the power to build or
dismantle fences—in relation to racism, property, ambitions, and
Katie McKay and her fourth graders read books that addressed racism,
from The Watsons go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis to the
picture book Rosa by Nikki Giovanni. They created a language chart
around key questions, such as “How are white characters/people of color
represented?” and culminated the project with a multimedia comic strip
that illustrated examples of discrimination and anti-racism in the past and
Angie Zapata, in a one-on-one tutoring program with bilingual Korean
student used literature as an entry point to exploring the permeability of
Frankie Monteverdi looked at a Norman Rockwell print of a Mexican-
American speaking at a public forum and accompanying texts with
preservice, bilingual social studies teachers and asked them to take a
stance through drama about school funding for bilingual programs.
All students have narratives about BorderLands, which makes this workshop
applicable to a wide audience, from K-12 teachers to teacher educators. In the last
30 minutes of the workshop, participants will be invited to embark on collective
work to plan a literature study for their classroom with the support of a group
member with a common interest.
Who is involved?
Abby Ashford-Grooms, High School English Teacher, Georgetown, Texas
Rachel Farley, Second Grade Bilingual Teacher, Austin, Texas
Diana Garcia, Fourth Grade Bilingual Teacher, Austin, Texas
Heather Augustine, Literacy Specialist, Austin, Texas
Frankie Monteverdi, Social Studies Teacher Educator, UT-Austin
Anna Mary Consalvo, Doctoral Student, UT-Austin
Melody Zoch, Doctoral Student, UT-Austin
Audra Roach, Doctoral Student, UT-Austin
Angie Zapata, Doctoral Student, UT-Austin
Melissa Mosley, Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy, UT-Austin
In addition, 3-5 students (elementary to high school) of the teachers listed
above will attend to include their perspective and describe their
Availability: We would prefer to present on Saturday or Sunday.
Handouts: Our handouts will provide an overview of the BorderLands Literature
Studies with samples provided from our classrooms that will include text sets
and resources. They will also include a space for participants to plan their own
literature study as well as our contact information.
Supplies Needed: AV projector
Financial Support would allow teachers and students with limited income to stay
overnight and attend two days of the conference. Any help will be greatly
appreciated, as we are not part of a funded project.