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Coming Soon: The CFD Teaching Toolkit

By Tomeka Wilcher

I am always in search of a strategy, best practice, or innovative concept I can implement within the classroom or a course. But sometimes I may not have time to do a thorough search or I may not know where to start or what search terms to use. So the idea of trying a new strategy ends up in the "to do" list.

To help faculty members avoid such frustrations, the Center for Faculty Development is creating a Teaching Toolkit.

The toolkit will be featured on the Center's website and will consist of essays that provide insight on strategies, tools, frameworks, concepts, and best practices that can play a role in enhancing the teaching and learning experience. To ensure that faculty have what they need to incorporate the tool within a class or course, the essays will include some or all of the following features:

  • Guided questions
  • Research
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to implement or embed the concept or strategy
  • Key components
  • Videos
  • Templates
  • Artifacts

Once we launch this resource, we want to include faculty voices, experiences and expertise in the creation of the tools. In future newsletters and correspondences, we will provide more details. Stay tuned to learn how you can contribute!

See sample tool below:

Ensuring Criticality: The HILL Model

Spotlighting Faculty: Dr. Tomeka Wilcher is the educational program developer for the Center for Faculty Development.

Guided Questions: What is criticality? How can we ensure our students are engaging in authentic learning experiences that will motivate them to explore who they are, question their biases, employ criticality, and take action?

What is the strategy/topic/focus?

Transforming instruction to ensure criticality consists of intentionally crafting a course that inspires students to think critically about themselves, their culture, the world, and the information that is presented within these systems. It involves thought-provoking questions, opportunities, and assignments that shift paradigms and motivate students to employ criticality. Criticality is "the capacity to read, write, and think in a way of understanding power, privilege, social justice, and oppression, particularly for populations who have been historically marginalized in the world" (Muhammad, 2018 as qtd. In Muhammad, 2020, p. 120). When students have criticality, they are not passive in their learning experience but challenge what they read, see, and hear. Providing students with authentic learning experiences that allow them to explore social injustices and problematic elements of power and privilege within their discipline shifts a class's culture as well as their mindset and perspectives. Teachers can structure their course with objectives, learning targets, and learning outcomes that equip students with the tools to question their biases and play a role in dismantling policies that disempower and create inequitable circumstances for marginalized people.

Why is it important? (Significance)

When teachers engage students in the process of employing criticality, they move beyond critically thinking about a topic. They become change agents who are working toward social transformation. They learn to identify the difference between facts and truths because it is in the truths where lived experiences are captured (Muhammad, 2020) and empathy is evoked. Immersed within a learning environment that is culturally and historically responsive, students become responsible consumers of knowledge who learn discernment and practice reflection. Within this course all voices are heard and honored (Muhammad, 2020).

How is this strategy implemented? (Steps to Implementation)

In order to transform and humanize a course, teachers can implement the HILL Model. This model focuses on students' histories, identities, literacies, and liberation. The HILL Model is an equity framework grounded in Black education. Members of 19th-century Black literary societies created four goals in which this model is structured: Identity, Skills, Intellectualism, and Criticality (Ramos-Brannon & Muhammad, 2020; Muhammad, 2020).

Identity — The teacher provides opportunities for students to explore who they are as they explore the course contents. Students' identity must be explored because it aids them in making connections to themselves, the content, their peers, their teacher, their community, and the world. Students are complex and layered. Within these layers lie many identities that they must respond to so they can evolve and gain a fresh perspective as they tackle the content alone, with their teacher, and with their peers. As students are learning, teachers can provide space and opportunity to ask the question, "How am I learning about who I am and about the lives of others?"

Skills — In crafting the course, teachers create learning objectives and outcomes, which stem from the question, "What disciplinary skills am I advancing?"

Intellectualism — Assessments do not define intellect. To tap into students' intellect, teachers are introducing students to diverse texts with varying perspectives and thought-provoking ideas. They are also creating opportunities to tap into their students' emotional intelligence and social self-awareness. Students are asking themselves, "What am I becoming smarter about?" Teachers are asking themselves, "What must my students know and do to exemplify competence, ability, and expertise?"

Criticality — To ensure criticality, teachers craft lessons that encourage students to question information and to take action. Embed texts, writing opportunities, and projects to explore the social injustices, power, and privilege. Teachers as well as students should ask the questions, "How am I developing an understanding of power, equity, anti-racism, and anti-oppression?" Teachers should constantly reflect and ask the question, "How will I engage students' thinking about power, anti-oppression, and equity in the text, in communities, and in society?"


HILL Framework Planning Tool


Teaching Toward Genius: An Equity Model for Pedagogy in Action

Muhammad, G.E. (2018). A plea for identity and criticality: Reframing literacy learning standards through a four-layered model. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 62(2), 137-142.

Muhammad, G.E. (2020). Cultivating genius: An equity framework for culturally and historically responsive literacy. Scholastic.

Muhammad, G.E. (2009). Protest, power, and possibilities: The need for agitation literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy.

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