September 2019
Friends refer friends.


Connecting diverse understandings of academic language to practice.

Let’s get physical, physical…

We’ve all been here: It’s the class after lunch and you’re losing the battle to keep students awake (let alone, paying attention). You reach deep into that teacher toolbox and pull out one of those handy “get them up and moving” activities to revive their sleepy little bodies.

Alright, STOP (collaborate and listen)! What are we assuming about students when we ask them to use their bodies in identical ways?

But, I like to move it, move it

And that’s terrific! But the ability to move it, move it is a privilege that doesn’t extend to everybody in the same way. Let’s break it down (we really can’t get enough of the dance metaphors here…).

An able-bodied person is someone whose daily movements aren’t hindered by their bodies or the physical spaces they enter. An able-bodied person runs into school (poptart in hand), crams their stuff into the top locker, and heads down to the gym to play basketball until the bell rings.

When we talk about able-bodied privilege, then, we’re referring to all the ways that the world is set up to benefit able-bodied folks. Let’s go back to the example above — that kid needed strong legs for the jog into school (not to mention the dexterity to hold onto that poptart at the same time!), the height, sight, and hands to get everything into that top locker, and the legs, coordination, sight, and hearing to play ball. Dude, that’s a lot to expect from a body! And an able-bodied person probably takes these seemingly mundane daily activities for granted.

That right there is privilege: the ability to use your body in ways and in spaces that you don’t even notice or think about. Want to check your own privilege? We got you with this handy checklist.

So, you’re saying not to move it, move it?

Oh, hell no! Incorporating movement into the classroom still has some benefits and can even support students in learning ELA course content. What we are saying is this: Plan consciously, and consider…
    • What space and furniture do you have access to and do they accommodate different bodies?
    • Will any students be left out of a movement-based activity?
    • Does the movement extend the learning or is it just a fun add-on?
    • What role does choice play? What alternatives could you offer?

    Reflections on able-bodied privilege don’t have to stop with you. Check out these great lesson plans and texts for teaching students about ableism and privilege.


    Reviewing a current topic + offering practical strategies for teaching.

    Calling all sports fans!

    And even the non-sports fans (if you only knew how much research had to happen for this section). We all think students should get to dig into topics that really interest them, right? From the US women’s team dominating on (and off) the soccer field to the start of football season [ahem, the NFL’s practice of ranking coaches by player success sound like another profession you know?], stories about sports-related topics are ev-ry-where. Why not use your classroom as a space to read and analyze them?

    Nice try. Some of us have standards to teach.

    We. Hear. You. It’s called sports literacy, and it’s an actual thing. Your first thought might be all those sports-themed YA books (thanks, Kwame Alexander & Mike Lupica for stocking our bookshelves). And sure, incorporating those sporty YA books is a great starting point.

    But reading a book about a kid who loves basketball is just the tip of the iceberg. Sports literacy also includes…
      • practicing those critical reading and thinking skills to examine sports culture. [Quick rec: From the rise in youth sports culture to government-sanctioned doping, these sports documentaries can spark lots of critical thinking].
      • playing with the language-of-sports to practice language skills and to learn about connotative and denotative meanings and purposes of words.
      • giving students opportunities to engage in critical media literacy to consider the ways that different sports and athletes are positioned on screens and in society (you could totally have students analyze able-bodied privilege in sports coverage and accessibility, right?!).

Give me an S! Give me a P! Give me an O! … you get the idea…

Need a roadmap to help you get started? Professors Alan Brown and Luke Rodesiler have a whole book for ya. Jam-packed with different approaches to incorporating sports literacy into the ELA classroom and teacher tips and tricks (we’re talking using The Great Gatsby to analyze the golden age of sports, writing sports fiction, and critically analyzing sports-based movies). And while you’re waiting for your local indie bookstore to deliver, check out the [free!] companion website — giving you all the handouts, lesson plans, and discussion topics you need to get started. Go team!


Taking a deep dive into a specific topic related to education.

Waste not, want not…

As educators, a large portion of our focus is on critical media literacies, or literacy skills that develop the critical, creative, and collaborative citizens required in an era of “fake news” (or the illusion of truth). But another part of that focus needs to be about the consumption of goods — becoming aware of who, how, where, and why products we purchase are being made by developing the literacy skills that support ethical, attentive and conscious consumerism.

Case in point — clothes — something we wear daily (well…maybe). We moved from the standardization of size in the ready-to-wear era of the 20th century to the one-use wearability of style in today’s fast fashion era. Much of the practices currently in the garment industry ensure people will buy more and more frequently by making products disposable through style and quality (use) as well as cost. A bargain that no doubt seems too good to be true, brings us to question: who’s paying the price for our clothing?

Fashion forward

The documentary The True Cost helps shed light on the perils of our apparel by telling the untold story of its making. For one, to offset the costs of cheaper products, fashion companies have outsourced their labor to countries (e.g. Bangladesh, India, Cambodia…) known to overlook ethical concerns like labor laws. In 2013, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed, taking the lives of 1,134 Bangladesh workers and debilitating more than double that number (one of the deadliest but not the only). Fast fashion is also physically detrimental to workers within the industry. Example: Workers in Texas are facing brain tumors as a result of the pesticides used on cotton crops. Additionally, the chemicals used to treat and dye textiles directly impacts the environment — including the work space. Starting to get the picture?

Fast fashion is a convenience for those who can enjoy the riches of the world at the expense of others. Turns out our real-life fast fashion craze may not be all that different from the gluttony of Collins’s fictional Capital*. Fashion fades but our environmental, physical, and ethical impacts will not.

*Btdubs, there’s another one headed our way.

Matter Matters

If we continue to treat materials as passive, lifeless, and disposable objects, it will be detrimental to our future. (Ready to deep dive into the theory of these vibrant matters? Our girl Bennett has that covered). Because whether we choose to acknowledge them as active agents or not, objects impact the ways that we interact with and construct the world around us. Next time you donate that shirt you only wore once, remember it doesn’t just disappear. It’s somewhere out there and that’s all of our problems.

Instead why not a #haulternative? Like… fixing-up your wardrobe… finding out who’s making your clothing… supporting ethical branding… thrifting or swapping with a partner… remixing your clothing… and tidy things up a bit.

#zerowaste #whomademyclothes #slowfashion


Taking a meaningful break to chip away at the silos in education.

Woke AF? Then read this…

Turns out the line between “killing ‘em with kindness” and “patronizing ‘em with kindness” is pretty dang thin. In his recent Netflix special, Aziz takes on society’s recent love affair with being woke. Comparing wokeness to a game of Candy Crush – that would undoubtedly appear on an episode of Black Mirror – Aziz calls out the seemingly regular practice of trying to out-nice each other by out-woking everybody else. But there’s more to this story…

Out (with) Woke

NPR dives right into the history and current misappropriate of the term. First of all, being woke isn’t a board game, folks. There’s no clear endpoint – wokeness is actually more about becoming than being. Second, attempts to use wokeness as a “linguistic weapon” of parody #GREB do little to recognize the long history of the term and its origins in the Black Lives Movement (like, way back in the 1960s).

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