Confronting Racism with Technology: Grace in The Lion’s Den

Location: Room Tower View Lobby, Table 32

Participate and share

[Participate and share : Poster]

Sunday, June 25, 7:00–8:30 pm
Location: Room Tower View Lobby, Table 32

Dr. Rebecca Bauer   Marilyn Buckvold   Andy Charrier   Helen Fisk  
Grace in The Lion’s Den empowers students to deconstruct racism. This project is inspired by Princeton professor Ruha Benjamin who asks, “How do we make our schools laboratories of democratic institutions for social change?” Apps create a multimodal learning experience that responds to Matthew Desmond’s “five fallacies of racism.”

Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Any QR code reading app.
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Project, problem and challenge based learning
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: Performing/visual arts
ISTE Standards: Students : Creative communicator
Teachers : Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity
Students : Knowledge constructor

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

In an era where matters of discrimination and inequality confront students daily, Grace in The Lion’s Den empowers students and teachers to jointly use technology as means to inquire into racism. This project is inspired by Princeton University professor Ruha Benjamin who wrote, “How do we make our schools laboratories of democratic institutions for social change? Where we experiment with technologies of love, reciprocity, and justice? Our role as educators is to incubate a better world in the minds and hearts of our students” (Benjamin, 2016). An array of apps are used to create a multimodal learning experience; one that is responsive, what Harvard researcher Matthew Desmond defines as the five fallacies of racism (Desmond & Emirbayer, 2009). Students express themselves through photography, academic conversation, poetry, and public speaking.

Research shows that students from low-income urban schools have few opportunities to use technology for higher-order thinking whereas their peers from higher-income suburban schools frequently use technology for constructivist, thought-provoking activities (Daniel, 2004). The impact is that rather than resolving disparities, schools end up replicating inequalities beyond the school walls.

The purpose of this session is to share a technology-rich course design that is easily replicated, intrinsically interesting, gratifying and allows students to communicate an anti-racist message while at the same time activating dialectical thought. Specifically, students used photos as a starting point for a discussion matter of race with their teachers and the school community. Students discovered that there was a system to organizing and expressing their messages in written, oral, and visual arts. This was accomplished by studying famous photos of both the civil rights era and contemporary protests, asking what qualities make photos effective for communication, and creating works of art that represent concerns over matters of race.

Students and teachers used iPads, Snapseed, Inspire, and SeeSaw to generate and share both content and feedback.

The hope for this session is to be inspired and take away connections that can be related and adapted to your own teaching practice. Participants will be able to view artifacts created by students and teachers. Participants will be able to take away a course guide as a starting point for their own curricular development. Videos of students sharing their works will be on display as well as a small exhibition of student work.


Through a display of a poster, our session intends to show participants how students expressed themselves while using an array of applications to communicate their learning of anti-racists messages. Student artifacts such as photos and writing will be displayed on the poster for participants to view. This in school project gave students an opportunity to navigate the community around them, use their voices, experiences, and knowledge to express themselves in a time when they are reminded daily of discrimination and inequality.

Supporting research

Benjamin, R. (2016). Innovating inequity: if race is a technology, postracialism is the genius bar. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 1-8.

Cook-Sather, A. (2006). Sound, presence, and power: “Student voice” in educational research and reform. Curriculum Inquiry, 36(4), 359-390.

Cook-Sather, A. (2002). Authorizing students’ perspectives: Toward trust, dialogue, and change in education. Educational researcher, 31(4), 3-14.

Daniel, A. J. (2004). A Review of Computer-Based Technology Integration in Urban and High Poverty Schools. Online Yearbook of Urban Learning, Teaching, and Research, 37, 46.

Desmond, M. & Emirbayer, M. (2009). What is Racial Domination? State of the art, Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Social Science Research on Race, 6(2) 335-355.

Delgado, R., & Stefancic, L. (2012). Critical race theory. NYU Press.

Genishi, C., & Dyson, A. (2009). Children, language, and literacy: Diverse learners in diverse times. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

González, N., Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (Eds.). (2013). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms. Routledge.

Hetland, L. (2013). Studio thinking 2: The real benefits of visual arts education. Teachers College Press.

Hicks, L. E. (2013). Art education: Thing or device. Studies in Art Education, 54(2), 99-102.

Ladson‐Billings, G. (1995). But that's just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy. Theory into practice, 34(3), 159-165.

Page, M. S. (2002). Technology-enriched classrooms: Effects on students of low socioeconomic status. Journal of research on technology in education, 34(4), 389-409.

Sarup, M. (1991). Education and the Ideologies of Racism. Trentham Books, 13/14 Trent Trading Park, Botteslow Street, Stoke-on-Trent, England ST1 3LY, United Kingdom.

Seiler, G. (2001). Reversing the “standard” direction: Science emerging from the lives of African American students. Journal of Research in Science teaching, 38(9), 1000-1014.

Thiessen, D., & Cook-Sather, A. (2007). Handbook of Student Experience in Elementary and Secondary School.

Wilson, W. J. (2012). The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. University of Chicago Press.

Wunn, S.J. (2016). Classroom Debate: using soft-skills to takle hard content. Volume 3, 2 (5).



Dr. Rebecca Bauer, Global Academy

Marilyn Buckvold, Global Academy

Andy Charrier, Global Academy

Helen Fisk, Global Academy

learning starts here

San Antonio

June 25-28, 2017

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