Centering Black Brilliance through Adapting Standards-Aligned Literacy Materials

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Are you interested in engaging with other educators around centering Black students’ brilliance, histories, identities, and cultures in the classroom? Are you looking to move from learning about culturally relevant pedagogy to putting that knowledge into action? Do you have college- and career-ready standards-aligned ELA materials, but know they aren’t enough? Wherever you are at in your journey toward creating more equitable learning spaces for all students, we welcome you to join us in a new asynchronous course this November through mid-February! 

This course will explore adapting K-12 standards-aligned literacy materials with a focus on cultural responsiveness. You will engage with the following topics in order to support your growth in purpose, pedagogy, and practice:

  • Knowledge of Self and Others, including a focus on Black brilliance 
  • Dr. Gholdy Muhammad’s Historically Responsive Literacy Framework
  • Equitable Design Thinking  
  • Building Community 

During the first part of this course, we will reflect on ourselves, our students, and our existing literacy instructional materials. Then, we’ll turn to taking action by developing a prototype of materials adaptions using the Historically Responsive Literacy framework with your specific students in mind. Along the way, you’ll learn alongside other course participants in our online platform, test out your prototype with students, and build community during optional live events! For more information, see the course brochure. 

Registration for this session of the course is now closed. Subscribe to receive our emails or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for information on future sessions.

Note: During this course, we will only be using open source and publicly available information to learn about the big ideas of the Historically Responsive Literacy (HRL) framework from Dr. Gholdy Muhammad. While purchasing Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy isn't required for this course, it will certainly enrich your experience and you will be provided with “read-along” opportunities from the text as you engage with course content. 


Duration:  12 hours (self-paced course, with two optional live events)
Course Dates: 11/1/2021 - 2/15/2022
Cost: Free
Primary Audience: K-12 Literacy Teachers (or those who support teachers)
Certificate: You will receive a professional learning certificate after completing all four modules included in this course (Modules 1 and 2 released 11/1/21, Modules 3 and 4 released 12/6/21). All work must be completed by 2/15/22. Additional certificates will be available for attending optional live events. Please reach out to your school district to ensure they will accept these certificates. 

See the accordion below to review the requirements, pacing, and syllabus. 

  • Course Requirements

    To earn your certificates showing 12 hours of professional learning, you must successfully complete the following: 

    • Review all course content, including videos and readings.
    • Complete all embedded interactive activities, including discussion boards.
    • Take the post-survey after each module.
    • Submit your materials analysis and example of a modified unit/lesson plan using the Historically Responsive Literacy framework.
  • Course Pacing

    There are four modules in this course. Modules 1 and 2 will open on November 1, 2021. Modules 3 and 4 will open on December 6, 2021. Course asynchronous content is self-paced, but all coursework must be completed by February 15, 2022. 

  • Course Syllabus

    In this course, you will think deeply about the adaptations needed to your instructional materials to work towards “cultivating the genius” (Muhammad) of all students, and in particular of Black students. This will include: 

    Module 1:  Identity & The Why


    • I can explore the histories of Black culture related to teaching and learning.
    • I can identify the 5 components of the Historically Responsive Literacy (HRL) framework and the instructional shifts in literacy and describe why they are important for high-quality, equitable instruction.
    • I can explore and name how my individual identity and the identities of my students and colleagues impact my practice.
    • I can make connections between the 5 components of the HRL framework and my personal “why” for pursuing this work.

    Module 2: Analyzing Your Instructional Materials


    • I can explore instructional materials created and curated by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and compare/contrast them to my own materials.
    • I can identify and describe the principles underlying the design sprint process.
    • I can analyze instructional materials for alignment to the HRL framework and the Shifts in order to identify opportunities for adaptation. 
    • I can identify ways in which my identity and bias impact my analysis of instructional materials and take steps to address their influence.

    Module 3: Designing Materials Adaptations 


    • I can explore design innovations of Black educators.
    • I can identify areas in which my biases, or the biases inherent in my school system, may impact my design.
    • I can explain the add/adjust/substitute approach to designing materials adaptations.
    • I can design a prototype of instructional materials adapted to align with the HRL framework and the Shifts that I can implement in my school context.

    Module 4: Refining and the Work Ahead 


    • I can explore inclusive approaches to feedback, revision, and continuous improvement and apply them to my prototype.
    • I can make a plan for eliciting feedback on my prototype from students, colleagues, and/or families.
    • I can share my prototype and communicate my biggest takeaways and challenges from the design sprint process.
    • I can reflect on my learning from the course and identify sustainable ways to share this work with others, and keep the work going.