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From Personal to Social: Politics, Multi-Layered Narratives, and Social Justice in the Secondary Literacy Classroom

This workshop will explore teaching writing as a political act. How do we address issues of social justice—race, class, gender, sexuality, religion—through literacy practices in secondary classrooms? One way is to look at our world and respond to it, placing ourselves in it and writing from a personal perspective. From there, by using critical literacy practices, we can offer students a way to expand their writing to move from their own, individual experiences, and toward social commentary or the writing of "social narratives."

This writing is a process of becoming. It is messy and can be hard. It can be emotionally challenging, but the process helps us challenge the dominant discourses around us, encouraging students to look outside themselves and ask "Why?" In this workshop, participants will:

  • Engage in interactive writing activities that move from "personal narratives" to "social narratives" grounded in social justice frameworks

  • Learn how those activities can create a space in the classroom to address controversial, political topics that are relevant to their students

  • Leave with a plan for teaching social narratives in their classrooms


Jennifer Jackson Whitley is a doctoral student in the Department of Language and Literacy Education and instructor of record in the Institute for Women's Studies at the University of Georgia. Previously, she taught secondary ELA for eight years. Her research interests include social justice pedagogy in rural school settings, youth participatory action research, and investigating the lives of rural teachers. She has several academic and creative publications, one of which won the Journal of Literacy Innovation's 2016 Article of the Year Award. When she isn't grading papers or reading for class, Whitley loves cooking, playing with her dogs, Bendrix and Scout, and traveling with her husband Kyle.

This workshop is part of the Red Clay Writing Project Saturday Morning Series and is an opportunity for teachers to receive in-depth training on important literacy education issues from teacher consultants who are experienced presenters and experts in their fields.


Cost: $45

Registration and cancellation deadline: April 27

Cancellation and refund policy: All cancellations must be submitted via email before the cancellation deadline in order to receive a full refund. Cancellations after the cancellation deadline are non-refundable. If cancellation is not made by the deadline, and you are not able to attend, you or your organization is still liable for payment.


UGA Gwinnett Campus
2530 Sever Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30043