Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Reading, Language and Literacy

First Advisor

Dr. Susan McMahon

Second Advisor

Dr. Sophie Degener

Third Advisor

Dr. Ruth Quiroa



Although the Common Core State Standards have the potential to guide teachers toward literacy practices that emphasize authentic literature and its use in discussions, high-stakes testing associated with the CCSS has prompted some educators to implement curricula that mirrors the tests. Standards that address authentic literature and discussions are often pushed to the background. Teachers now have access to a plethora of quality young adult novels with sociopolitical themes; that is, themes like gender, culture, abled-ness, immigration, economics, social class, poverty, racism, oppression, and peace. Discussions about such themes can lead to liberating dialogue, which presupposes social action (Shor & Freire, 1987). The current case study utilizes Critical Discourse Analysis power (Fairclough, 1995; Gee, 2004) to uncover the critical talk of five African American eighth grade struggling readers, one male and four females during discussions about sociopolitical texts. Over a three-month period, 22 discussions were audiotaped and analyzed using Lewison, Flint, and Van Sluys’s (2002) four dimensions of critical literacy. Analyses revealed the students spoke critically about the text approximately 25% of the time with the talk being distributed somewhat evenly across the four dimensions. Strategies that promoted critical talk are discussed as well as the implications of the teacher’s role as the More Knowledgeable Other. Ultimately, this research shows examples of the liberating dialogue that can occur when students who struggle with reading are afforded the literacy opportunities of reading authentic literature, partaking in discussion around such texts, and receiving the guidance of a More Knowledgeable Other.

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