“By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I write because life does not appease my appetites and hunger. I write to record what others erase when I speak, to rewrite the stories others have miswritten about me, about you.” – Gloria Anzaldúa

In this course, we examine contemporary discourse and practice around writing instruction in the secondary English Language Arts (ELA) classroom. School-based composition is often framed and assessed as a specific set of discrete skills that can be developed through decontextualized “best practices.” We will interrogate the assumptions about writing and literacy that sustain these practices and contextualize them within larger (settler) colonial projects. Ultimately, we will develop our own writing philosophies and associated curricular innovations and pedagogical moves.

Specifically, throughout this course, we will:

  • Review the social, historical, and political contexts that shape contemporary approaches to standards-based writing instruction
  • Investigate our assumptions about the writing process and our conceptions of “good” writing
  • Explore the challenges, tensions, and possibilities of a decolonial educational framework 
  • Develop a range of creative, collaborative, and nontraditional approaches to standards-based writing instruction

This course is structured to feature Open Educational Resources and Open Pedagogy. Our work will serve as and culminate in the creation of a collaborative open-access resource for ELA teachers. This practical and public handbook will serve as a model for the kind of meaningful work we hope to facilitate with our students. 

Note: Cover photo “Grey and Black Alien Drawing” by khairul nizam is in the Public Domain, CC0