Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Leadership Exchange
at ISTELive 21
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Encouraging DEI Through Critical Thinking With Literature

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Participate and share : Poster

Darshell Silva  
Karen Streeter  
Dr. Ruth Okoye  

We used trade books, critical thinking skills and reading strategies when helping teachers plan to spark conversations about diversity and inclusion during language arts instruction. Find opportunities to think critically about identity, bias, stereotypes and empathy using tech tools to facilitate activities throughout the reading and writing cycle.

Audience: Library media specialists, Teachers, Coaches
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Topic: Instructional design & delivery
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Language arts
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
For Coaches:
Digital Age Learning Environments
  • Coach teachers in and model use of online and blended learning, digital content, and collaborative learning networks to support and extend student learning as well as expand opportunities and choices for online professional development for teachers and administrators.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Many teachers are interested in learning how to help students understand the effects of bias and associated topics given growing social tensions. Using literature to set the stage for critical thinking around the concepts of inclusion, friendship, justice, race, and class allows students to draw their own conclusions without supplanting parental moral guidance.

The purpose of this presentation is to share examples of literature and activities that can be used when helping students to sift through issues surrounding bias. A variety of language arts and critical thinking activities will be shared. Some use technology tools such as Sway, Flipgrid and Synth. All can be used in remote/blended learning situations. While the books used in the examples are Strictly No Elephants, We’re Not From Here, New Kid, and Children of Blood and Bone, the activities are easily transferable to other books.

Participants will see examples of how to use popular books to spark discussions about challenging topics, learn strategies to help students draw real-world connections to the fiction they read, and leave with a proven approach for planning and executing discussion-based lessons.

Supporting research

Darvin, J. (2017). Critical conversations with children's literature: How cultural and political vignettes (CPVs) support young readers. Literacy, 51(3), 131-137. doi:10.1111/lit.12108
Eklund, H., & Hyman, W. B. (2019). Teaching Social Justice Through Shakespeare: Why Renaissance Literature Matters Now. Retrieved October 04, 2020, from
Kelly, K., Laminack, L., & Gould, E. (2020). Confronting Bias With Children’s Literature: A Preservice Teacher’s Journey to Developing a Critical Lens for Reading the Word and the World. The Reading Teacher. doi:10.1002/trtr.1949
Labadie, M., Wetzel, M. M., & Rogers, R. (2012). Opening Spaces for Critical Literacy: Introducing Books to Young Readers. The Reading Teacher, 66(2), 117-127. doi:10.1002/trtr.01097
Newstreet, C., Sarker, A., & Shearer, R. (2018). Teaching Empathy: Exploring Multiple Perspectives to Address Islamophobia Through Children's Literature. The Reading Teacher, 72(5), 559-568. doi:10.1002/trtr.1764

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Darshell Silva, Nathanael Greene Middle School
Karen Streeter, Cogent TLC, LLC
ISTE Certified Educator
Dr. Ruth Okoye, The Source for Learning
ISTE Certified Educator

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