Living solidarity: Helping students with learning differences develop dignity for all humanity
Through Evangelii Gaudium (2013) and Laudato si’ (2015) Pope Francis has approached contemporary culture head-on with a call for Catholics to engage, and not retreat from, the changes and challenges of the 21st century. Traditional expectations and norms of society such as education, occupations, communication, and relationship have been shifting to new horizons through the influence of the recent technological boom.
The purpose of this lesson was to target the essential 21st century skills of analysis and synthesis in adolescent boys identified as struggling readers. These skills were targeted through the use of the multimodalities available via the iPad. A secondary purpose of the lesson was to increase social awareness and empathy for the marginalized, a group among which the participants could count themselves due to their delayed literacy skills. The theoretical frameworks applied to this lesson included Brain-Based Learning Theory, Systems Theory, and Social Justice. Participants were members of a reading class in a large, Midwestern parochial high school who fell below the 28th percentile in reading on the National High Schools Entrance Exam. A total of 24 freshman students in an all male environment were taught a lesson aimed at helping students identify stereotypes and then, through systems theory, identify the flaws in the system that allowed these stereotypes to continue. The lesson was taught over the course of one week, and the themes in the lesson were extended over the course of the school year. The lesson focused on the events that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, in November of 2014 involving the police shooting of an unarmed African American teenager. Technology was employed as articles were accessed through the interactive technology forum Newsela. This forum allows students to read current events articles at a level comfortable to them due to its flexible lexile level controls. Students may also take quizzes after reading and respond to teacher questions on the site. Students were also invited to use the Text-to-Speech function of the iPad for multisensory reading opportunities. A Padlet board was created for an active dialogue to take place, and kinesthetic learning opportunities were provided. Students also watched the movie Freedom Writers in order to learn more about the effects of marginalization on those in poor communities in the United States. The desired results were to develop an interest in reading by providing information of interest to the targeted population and then using this to suggest and encourage further reading on the topic. Additionally, the hope was to provide a greater empathy for the marginalized and to, through increased awareness, encourage active community involvement.
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Malewitz, T., & Pacheco, B. (2016). Living solidarity: Helping students with learning differences develop dignity for all humanity. Journal of Catholic Education. https://doi.org/10.15365/joce.2001162016