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Instructional Resources

Series Info

Episodes: 8

Length: 60 min.

Grade Levels:
Professional Development

The Arts

Video on Demand
Teachers Guides
Web Resources


Expanding Canon, The: Teaching Multicultural Literature in High School

This professional development workshop for high school teachers is an exploration of the richness of multicultural literature shown through four pedagogical approaches to teaching it: reader response, inquiry, cultural studies, and critical pedagogy. Eight one-hour video programs feature classroom footage illustrating these approaches, augmented by background information on featured authors and analysis of their works by leading scholars, educators, and the authors themselves.

Episode Guide

1. Reader Response: Pat Mora and James Welch—In Part I, Alfredo Lujan and his students at the Monte del Sol school in Santa Fe, New Mexico, explore My Own True Name, Pat Mora’s collection of poetry for teens and young adults. Pat Mora visits the classroom and shares her poetry with students. In Part II, Greg Hirst’s Wolf Point High School students on the Fort Peck reservation in Wolf Point, Montana, respond to the literature of Native American writer James Welch.

2. Reader Response: Keith Gilyard and Mourning Dove—In Part I, Alfredo Lujan’s students discuss poems in Keith Gilyard’s Poemographies. Gilyard reads his poem, “The Hatmaker” to the students and leads them in a response-based writing activity. In Part II, Greg Hirst’s students learn about and enact the oral tradition through the Salish coyote stories as written by Mourning Dove.

3. Inquiry: Rudolfo Anaya and James Baldwin—In Part I, Jorge Arredondo’s students at Charles H. Milby High School in Houston, Texas, begin an inquiry-based exploration of Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima. In Part II, Bo Wu and her students at Murry Bergtraum High School in New York City explore three works by James Baldwin and begin to create their own Web sites about Baldwin.

4. Inquiry: Tomás Rivera and Esmeralda Santiago—In Part I, Jorge Arredondo’s students begin an inquiry unit based on Tomás Rivera’s And the Earth Did Not Devour Him by visiting with Rivera translator and poet, Evangelina Vigil-Piñón. In Part II, Bo Wu and her students discuss Esmeralda Santiago’s memoir When I Was Puerto Rican and begin creating their own memoirs.

5. Cultural Studies: Ishmael Reed and Graciela Limón—In Part I, Betty Tillman Samb and her students at Raoul Wallenberg High School in San Francisco, California, explore Ishmael Reed’s poem “Railroad Bill, A Conjure Man” and related texts. Reed visits the class and reads excerpts of the poem. In Part II, Bobbi Houtchens and her students at Arroyo Valley High School in San Bernardino, California, discuss excerpts from Graciela Limón’s novel about Chiapas entitled Erased Faces. Limón reads passages from her novel and shares stories of growing up in East Los Angeles and visiting the Zapatistas in Mexico.

6. Cultural Studies: N. Scott Momaday and Russell Leong—In Part I, Betty Tillman Samb’s students study the mythological themes and historical shifts of Kiowa culture through N. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain. In Part II, Bobbi Houtchens and her students tour LA’s Chinatown with poet Russell Leong and explore the relationship between poetry and Tai Chi. Leong reads excerpts of his poem “Aerogrammes” and leads the class in creating Japanese Renga poems.

7. Critical Pedagogy: Octavia E. Butler and Ruthanne Lum McCunn—In Part I, Cathie Wright-Lewis’s students at Benjamin Banneker Academy in Brooklyn, New York, investigate the political, social, technological, and environmental issues in Octavia E. Butler’s novel, Parable of the Sower. In Part II, Sandra Childs’s students at Franklin High School in Portland, Oregon, discuss cultural and political issues as they relate to Ruthanne Lum McCunn’s novel, Thousand Pieces of Gold. Lum McCunn reads from her novel and discusses it with students.

8. Critical Pedagogy: Abiodun Oyewole and Lawson Fusao Inada—In Part I, Cathie Wright-Lewis and her class explore the tradition of spoken word and the works of poet Abiodun Oyewole. In Part II, Sandra Childs’s class studies the history of Japanese-American internment in the United States through the works of Lawson Fusao Inada. Inada reads his poetry to the students and addresses their questions.

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