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Critical Literacy in the Elementary Classroom

Mazur, Anastasia Victoria (2023) Critical Literacy in the Elementary Classroom. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The goal of education differs for many, but working at a school where the impacts and intersectionality of poverty and racism are acute, education can only have one true aim, which is to empower. This qualitative study examined my own experience as a fifth grade ESL integrated teacher in an urban elementary setting implementing critical literacy through examining, discussing, and questioning texts using an Improvement Science framework. Students recorded their conversations around these texts to discuss issues of bias, equality, and equity. Students also reflected on their conversations, confidence levels, and set goals for themselves to better their own discussions, which culminated in developing two action projects to better their school and

The findings of this qualitative study resulted in three emerging themes. 1.) Students understand bias, which resulted in re-structuring my study to be less about teaching the concept of bias and more about building students’ self-perceptions as changemakers. 2.) Students emerge as
drivers of change, not only did they create change but empowered others, students and community members, to participate. 3.) Students have nuanced desires and beliefs of the world, these included: a desire for justice, a belief that people and animals deserve to live good lives, and a desire for a better world.
These findings provide considerations for teachers, school leaders, and policy makers to
take under advisement in the needs of urban, resource-poor communities and elementary-aged

Conclusions drawn from this research suggest that critical literacy has an essential place in the elementary classroom, especially as part of helping students develop their critical awareness, developing a culture of hope, and empowering young people to create the change they seek.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mazur, Anastasia Victoriaamazur1@ithaca.eduavm30
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGunzenhauser,
Committee MemberCopenhaver-Johnson,
Committee MemberRainey, Emily
Date: 21 September 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2023
Approval Date: 21 September 2023
Submission Date: 14 August 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 101
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social Justice Education, CRT, Book bans, student activism, critical hope
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2023 20:49
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2023 20:49


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