Urban Teacher Education
elev8te: Exploring Global Black Arts Movements
My research project is a literacy and creative arts program that introduces participants to the cultural, historical, and political impact of six 20th century global Black Arts Movements. The program was implemented as a year-long literacy and creative arts intervention for African American elementary students at a local Indianapolis Public School. The program's foundation and focus draws from and builds on research from the domains of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy, Arts-based inquiry, and African Centered Education. In addition, elev8te's pedagogical and curricular framework is informed by the Six Culturally Inclusive Principles (developed by Dr. Joyce E. King, 2014, 2016, 2018) and the Six Dimensions of Culturally Responsive Teaching (Gay, 2010). I have developed an arts-based, culturally responsive curriculum that leverages students' heritage knowledge, deepens and reinforces academic, aesthetic, and cultural literacies, and situates the arts as a counter-narrative to reclaim and teach a usable past. In addition, with its emphasis on the culturally-affirming literature of 20th century global Black Arts Movements, the program enables students to leverage the power of the arts and humanities to develop, fortify, and expand geoliteracy competencies and cultural knowledge. There is a longstanding arts opportunity gap, specifically in Title I schools. elev8te is designed to address that gap by providing students with access to research-based, hands-on arts learning opportunities. A growing body of research affirms that when part of a well-rounded education in schools, arts learning contributes to increased academic achievement and student success in preparation for college, career, and life. The program encourages students to learn about and to make content connections across the curriculum, broaden their academic horizons, and deepen learning and engagement. At its core, elev8te is informed by Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT), a research-based pedagogical approach that creates and emphasizes meaningful connections between school learning and the students' heritage knowledge (i.e., their cultures, languages, traditions, experiences). By acknowledging and leveraging these connections, the program encourages the development of higher-level academic skills, as well as helping learners to see the relevance between what they learn at school and their lives. This is particularly important for African American children as their history, culture, and images is routinely marginalized and/or not emphasized in school curricula. In order to expand my program's reach and research potential, I applied for a grant from the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation. The grant (award in 2019) will fund two consecutive program interventions during 2021-2022.