This article brings together three conceptualizations —Disciplinary Literacy (DL) (Shanahan & Shanahan, 2008), Culturally Relevant Teaching (CRT) (Ladson-Billings, 1995, 2009), and the African Verbal Tradition (AVT) (Smitherman, 2000)— to demonstrate how a groundbreaking event in history, such as the Civil Rights March on Washington is taught through the confluence of literacy practices reading, writing, and thinking--specifically, historical practices in social studies such as sourcing, contextualization, and corroboration.
This mini-unit uses the classic sitcom The Cosby Show as a frame to teach students the investigative process of writing a historical analysis about a recent historical event. In the show, entitled “The March” (Knott,1987), 11th grader Theodore “Theo” Huxtable is perplexed as to why he received a grade of a C on his history paper about the March on Washington. When he discloses his teacher-deemed-average paper to his family (i.e., mom, dad, and maternal and paternal grandparents) who were a part of the historical event, they do not only tell why he was likely to receive a C, but they demonstrate why by recounting the event through the telling of rich stories, and thus inextricably relying on the AVT in doing so. This episode and Theo’s paper serve as cultural artifacts to launch a mini-unit on writing a historical analysis.
McMurtry, Teaira PhD
"Theo Huxtable Becomes a Historian: Culturally Relevant, Disciplinary Writing in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom,"
The Councilor: A Journal of the Social Studies: Vol. 84:
1, Article 1.
Available at: https://thekeep.eiu.edu/the_councilor/vol84/iss1/1