SN Final Project Proposal

In my 7th grade Reading Language Arts class, I will be teaching Brown Girl Dreaming this year. In the memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, Black author Jacqueline Woodson details her experience growing up in two places: South Carolina and New York and coming of age in the peak of the Civil Rights movement. Woodson’s memoir is her story, and it is full of joy, pain, hardship, love, family, religion, racial injustice, loss of innocence etc. etc. This book is jam packed full of cultural and historical references/artifacts that require bringing in supplementary resources in order for students to have a full understanding of the context of the memoir. For instance, Woodson’s mom went to Sterling High school in Greensville California with Jesse Jackson. Not only is this iconic in itself and requires supplementary information about Jesse Jackson, but Sterling High School- a successful all black high school- was burned down in a fire said to be set by angry white people. This requires research on a more obscure event that has limited resources upon initial internet research, but that is important for students to have resources on to grasp the context of this perspective, this life, and this time in history. So, my project will be some kind of mix between a topical research analysis/reading list summary/search analysis. Essentially, I will be grounding important moments/cultural artifacts/references in outside research by finding resources to provide the necessary information for me and my students to have a full understanding of the context of Jacqueline Woodon’s “Brown Girl Dreaming.” My primary motivations for this project are that I personally want to have the necessary and important background knowledge and information about this time in history and JW’s perspective to inform my own understanding and consequently the way I teach my students this text as well as other subjects. Additionally, my students deserve to have a full picture of a black woman’s first hand experience growing up in the South as well as the North and get to truly experience the richness and the fullness of the perspective that she offers. I would hate to not do this book justice and shy away from any reference that JW makes that I am not fully aware of because of my own education and positionality as a white woman. 

A key idea/theme that I will be exploring from the course is going to be centering the experience and narrative of a young black female narrator. Rather than learning about the Civil Rights Movement through the perspective of powerful and important black men like MLK, JJ, or John Lewis which we would have done through the graphic novel March, we are going to seek to explore this important time in history through the eyes of a female protagonist as she grows up. Questions within this overarching theme are how does JW’s changing positionality and POV impact our understanding of events? How does intersectionality come into play- JW is a young black woman, she is a Jehovas witness, she is a Southerner and a Northerner, she is a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a friend and many more things. 

In terms of course engagement, BGD has connections with many texts we read this semester. Although I will not be centering a particular text we read, I will be using our discussions of the texts to help with my research. For example, BGD is written as a memoir in the narrative form of free verse poems. There is  certainly a connection to be made between “The Color Purple” and the form of the letter writing and the form of the short poems of Brown Girl Dreaming. There are also thematic connections between the travel to different places in the US in Sassafras, Cypress and Indigo and the impact of location on coming of age/growing up as JW moves between the South and the North more than a few times during her childhood. 

The form will be a resource guide, hopefully multimodal. The hope is that this resource guide for BGD will be easy for me to refer to and access information throughout my preparation and teaching of the book. This medium is the most practical for me in terms of compartmentalizing information in an easy to access manner. It will be a guide for me and my own knowledge as well as include resources that I will share with students- some will be just for me and my understanding while others will be for everyone. 

The audience for this project would be other teachers. Hopefully, this resource guide will be something that other teachers could easily access and use to guide their teaching of Brown Girl Dreaming in the classroom. The format will be straightforward and practical while also fun, multimodal and teacher friendly. 

The steps I will need to take to complete this project are to 1. reread BGD. 2. Mark key artifacts and historical events in the book. 3. Research artifacts 4. Find literary resources 5. summarize/present literary resources 6. Create a user -friendly manual. I will need my computer, the book, access to a digital library, and google docs. 


For Me: How is this medium going to work? How creative can you be while staying within the project guidelines? How in depth are you going to go into resources? Does this guide need to fit into a literary mold or can I make it my own?

For you: How do you imagine this would best work out format wise? Do any examples come to mind? Does it need to fit into a pre existing mold? Should this resource guide  be centered around other literature or can it include shorter resources like websites, articles, etc. ?

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