Creating my final make for the semester, in many ways, felt like a beginning. It is true that I am at the end of my graduate studies (for now) and will be graduating in a few days, but the projects that I have completed this semester feel like only the beginning. For my culminating master’s project, I research Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy (CSP) and Hip Hop Based Education (HHBE). I also did extensive research on the Keystone Literature Exam. I used this research to create a unit plan that focused on centering students’ interests and cultures in the classroom, with the added goal of helping my students achieve higher scores on standardized tests.
When I began to think about my final make for ED677, I knew immediately that I wanted it to be an extensive of my culminating project. I am extremely passionate about creating units that use CSP and HHBE to serve diverse groups of urban youth, so I knew that my connected project needed to continue moving this passion forward. I wanted to share my unit plan with others, but I didn’t want to just create a website and post the unit plan. Instead, I imagined two lessons that use CSP and HHBE to teach Common Core ELA Standards for 11th and 12th grade. After completing these lessons, I felt a whole new world open up in the creative space inside my head.
I decided to create a website where other educators can access my unit plan and my lessons aligned to Common Core Standards. I also created a spot where I can add examples of literary devices in different hip hop texts. What I want to focus on in the future is creating more lesson plans that use CSP and HHBE in ways that are aligned to the Common Core. I also hope to create more unit plans that focus on different standardized tests because, although I recognize that standardized tests are not valuable measures of a students’ intellect, I see it as my job to help my students perform well on tests. Performing well means overcoming language barriers, racial and socioeconomic bias, and years of disservice by the education and social systems we have in place in our country. Unfortunately, when I look for ready-to-go lessons that use Hip Hop songs, poems, or other texts, I find almost nothing online. I want to continue creating ready-to-go plans that other teachers can use.
It may be a far-off dream, but I want to continue the work that I have been doing so that I can build a more robust resource for other educators. I began my Connected journey last summer when I took
Meenoo Rami’s class “Teacher Practice in a Connected World” (and perhaps even before then when reading Kira Baker-Doyle’s Transformative Teachers). Kira’s book and Meenoo’s class showed me the importance of educators being connected, and I want to start contributing to the national and global network of educators that have been shaping my practice. Who knows, maybe I’ll see the day when a book with my name on it is sitting on the shelves!
Sharing my final make with other educators in ED677 confirmed for me that this is valuable work. I feel honored and grateful to have been able to spend a semester learning with educators who have completely different backgrounds, goals, and jobs than I do. I believe that it is our job to serve each and every one of our students in ways that are meaningful to them, and I want to do everything I can to contribute to that goal.