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Teaching Literacy in Troubled Times - Book Cover

Teaching Literacy in Troubled Times

Identity, Inquiry, and Social Action at the Heart of Instruction
By: Allison Skerrett, Peter Smagorinsky

Foreword by Mariana Souto-Manning

Engage your students in critical thinking, literacy activities, and inquiry using as a springboard the personal and social issues of pressing importance to today’s students.

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Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781071852842
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Series: Corwin Literacy
  • Year: 2022
  • Page Count: 240
  • Publication date: August 02, 2022

Price: $39.95



“Upending deficit narrative of learning loss, combating broken approaches to racial equity, and wading deep into the contested waters of democratic principles of learning within today’s schools, Dr. Skerrett and Dr. Smagorinsky offer an accessible guidebook for making our classrooms sites of justice and joy. Perhaps most importantly, theirs is a book that reveals classroom practices as they really are--the voices of teachers are situated as co-authors in this important journey. I cannot think of a more timely or relevant book for English educators than Teaching Literacy in Troubled Times.

Antero Garcia, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University

Relevant instruction to move education forward instead of “back to normal”

Educators often bemoan the so-called learning gap that followed the upheaval to schooling in 2020, but the real learning gap will occur if the watershed events and social shifts of the early 2020s are not integrated into school instruction and learning. For today’s learning to be relevant to today’s students, it must reflect their lives and the true social worlds they inhabit. But how?

Teaching Literacy in Troubled Times empowers educators to engage students in critical thinking, literacy activities, and inquiry to investigate the personal and social issues of pressing importance to today’s middle and high school students. Six units of study, each co-authored by a teacher who road-tested the activities in their own classroom, guide teachers through the process of teaching literacy around the topics of identity, social inequity, global justice, empathy, racism and racial literacy, and conflicting ideas of patriotism. This urgent, timely guide to creating a relevant classroom includes:

  • Instructional methods, content knowledge, and learning activities for each unit that engage students in critical inquiry and social action.
  • Insights and guidance from teachers who put the full unit plans in action with students.
  • Reflection questions to help teachers envision the work in their own classrooms.
  • Templates, rubrics, examples of student work, and other tools that help teachers to plan and implement activities that grow students’ capacity to understand and act in society.

Prime your students with the critical thinking, investigative, and communicative skills they need to connect themselves to broader social movements and create a new generation of educated changemakers.



Allison Skerrett photo

Allison Skerrett

Allison Skerrett is Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Director of Teacher Education in the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin. A former secondary English teacher in Boston Public Schools, Allison continues her commitment to secondary English teachers, students, and ELA curriculum and instructional practices through her teaching and research at the University level. Dr. Skerrett works with secondary English pre-service and in-service teachers as a teacher educator. Additionally, her research focuses on diverse adolescents’ literacy practices and the design and implementation of secondary English curriculum and instructional practices that reflect the strengths and needs of diverse student populations.

Allison writes for teachers, teacher educators, and researchers in secondary-English education focused journals such as English Education and Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. Her award-winning book, Teaching Transnational Youth: Literacy and Education in a Changing World (Teachers College Press 2015), is the first to examine the educational opportunities and challenges arising from increasing numbers of students living and attending school across different countries. Dr. Skerrett has received College- and University- level awards for her teaching at The University of Texas at Austin. She has also received awards for her research, such as from the Literacy Research Association. Dr. Skerrett also lends her expertise in secondary literacy/reading to national and international education advisory boards including the US National Assessment of Educational Progress in Reading (NAEPR) and Scotland’s International Council of Education Advisers (ICEA).

Peter Smagorinsky photo

Peter Smagorinsky

Peter Smagorinsky is Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at The University of Georgia, emeritus; and Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Universidad de Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. From 2012-2020 he served as the faculty advisor to the student-edited Journal of Language and Literacy Education at UGA; and from 1996-2003 he coedited, with Michael W. Smith, Research in the Teaching of English. Recent awards include the 2020 Horace Mann League Outstanding Public Educator Award, 2018 International Federation for the Teaching of English Award, and 2018 Distinguished Scholar recognition by the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy. His research and teaching take a sociocultural approach to issues of literacy education, literacy teacher education, and related social concerns. These interests have produced two 2020 books from Bloomsbury: Learning to Teach English and Language Arts: A Vygotskian Perspective on Beginning Teachers’ Pedagogical Concept Development; and coedited with Yolanda Gayol and Patricia Rosas, Developing Culturally and Historical Sensitive Teacher Education: Global Lessons from a Literacy Education Program. His interest in neurodiversity has produced two recent edited collections: Creativity and Community among Autism-Spectrum Youth: Creating Positive Social Updrafts through Play and Performance from Palgrave Macmillan; and, coedited with Joe Tobin and Kyunghwa Lee, Dismantling the Disabling Environments of Education: Creating New Cultures and Contexts for Accommodating Difference from Peter Lang.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Foreword by Mariana Souto-Manning


Chapter 1: Exploring Identity: Who am I in relation to Others and the World?

Chapter 2: Promoting Critical Inquiry: Discrimination and Civil Rights

Chapter 3: Developing Social Change Activists: Equity Audits

Chapter 4: Teaching Empathy and Understanding: Cultural Conflict

Chapter 5: A Blueprint for Racial Literacy Teaching: Distribution of Power

Chapter 6: Defining Disputed Terms: Patriotism




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