Field Notes: Join Us in the Summer Sandbox - National Council of Teachers of English
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Field Notes: Join Us in the Summer Sandbox

While we are always filled with energy for serving our community, this summer has an unusually swift pace. We are in a highly generative time, filled with commitment to responding to and serving what has become a protracted and increasingly complicated environment for literacy education. This challenging time is met by our commitment to doing more and highlighting exemplary expertise from staff and our membership.

We invite you to join us in a new learning opportunity, a proverbial Summer Sandbox. Led by stalwart NCTE members and leaders in our field, we’ve cocreated a space to further explore culturally sustaining and antiracist English language arts education, paired with a variety of digital learning contexts. This promises to be an outstanding opportunity to learn and grow together this summer around the growing commitment to antiracist teaching practices while in hybrid, on and offline, learning environments. We appreciate the strong response to the Stamped event with Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, as well as the three follow-up learning sessions held in the weeks after the event. This is an effort to do even more.

The Summer Sandbox will run from July 22 to August 12, and we envision finding ways to share the work with our community members who cannot join us this summer.

Each week, we will host a live learning opportunity to hear from expert educators on integrating critical media literacy, culturally responsive literature, and writing for civic engagement into their practice. We have specifically designed this learning opportunity to bridge grade levels and to incorporate practicing teachers, librarians, and teacher educators. Delivering featured sessions are the following:

  • Ernest Morrell and Nicole Mirra
  • Tiana Silvas and Tracey Flores
  • Kim Parker and Julia Torres

Participants will select one of four inquiry areas—texts, tools, lesson planning, and advocacy—to commit to further study and exploration within the overall frame of antiracist teaching across online and offline settings. Each participant will develop a learning project of their choice over the four-week Summer Sandbox session. We envision sharing the projects with the larger NCTE community and working with participants to connect them with opportunities to share more broadly, such as through an #NCTEchat, an NCTE blog post, resources on NCTE’s ReadWriteThink site, or possibly writing future journal articles or seeding long-term conversation around our professional learning books.

NCTE’s members are lifelong learners and professionals with a thirst for progress. We invite interested members to submit their short application by Friday, July 10, at 5:00 p.m. ET at this link:

The following members have joined our staff team to create this opportunity and will be the content leaders for our inaugural Summer Sandbox:

ANTERO GARCIA is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University, a former high school English teacher, and co-founder of SLAM, NCTE’s Assembly on Studies in Literacies and Multimedia. His research interests include how technology and gaming shape both youth and adult learning, literacy practices, and civic identities. Garcia has been widely published; his most recent books are Good Reception: Teens, Teachers, and Mobile Media in a Los Angeles High SchoolDoing Youth Participatory Action Research: Transforming Inquiry with Researchers, Educators, and Students (with Nicole Mirra and Ernest Morrell), and Pose, Wobble, Flow: A Culturally Proactive Approach to Literacy Instruction (with Cindy O’Donnell-Allen).


DETRA M. PRICE-DENNIS is an associate professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the author of articles in Language Arts, The Reading Teacher, Reading and Writing Quarterly, English Journal, and the Journal of Writing Teacher Education. Her research interests include sociopolitical and sociocultural aspects of literacy learning in early and middle childhood education, digital literacies, literacy teacher education, and critical perspectives on children’s and young adult literature.


NICOLE MIRRA is an assistant professor of urban teacher education in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She previously taught high school English language arts in Brooklyn, New York, and Los Angeles, California. Her research explores the intersections of critical literacy and civic engagement with youth and teachers across classroom, community, and digital learning environments. Central to her research and teaching agenda is a commitment to honoring and amplifying the literacy practices and linguistic resources that students from minoritized communities bring to civic life. In addition to Educating for Empathy: Literacy Learning and Civic Engagement (2018), Mirra is the lead author of Doing Youth Participatory Action Research: Transforming Inquiry with Researchers, Educators, and Students (2015).

See you in the Sandbox!