Middle School Students, Slam Poetry and the Notion of Citizenship
The study of a middle school social studies and literacy project this paper addresses occurred in the national capital region of the United States, where perceptions of patriotism and xenophobic immigration policies were the subjects of frequent media reports. With this examination, the authors considered one overarching research question: How do middle school students describe and illustrate citizenship when given access to multimodal texts and media (e.g., digital photography and slam poetry)? The authors called on young adolescents to create slam poems with incorporated images to address the question “What does it mean to be a citizen?” The authors examined products of this project—which included surveys and slam poems—to address this research question, identifying findings that might inform social studies and literacy educators’ practices and curricula. Employing alternative and multimodal texts motivated students to engage with this project and to more candidly share expansive perspectives about what they believe makes a citizen—and, by extension, the more controversial and contemporary notions of public that might guide educators’ pedagogies and scholars’ inquiries.