Nicholas Ng-A-Fook, Linda Radford, Shenin Yazdanian and Tracy Norris

University of Ottawa


Students are bombarded daily with print, visual, and digital media. Whether it is on a billboard, listening to an iPod on the way to school, or text messaging a friend during class, youth culture is hardwired into these multiple forms of communication technologies. Nonetheless, the daily life and respective experiences of students are often still subordinated to the school curriculum. Our social action curriculum project, which targeted “at risk” youth at a vocational high school in the Ottawa region, attempted to disrupt this by integrating emergent digital technologies and differentiated instructional strategies into five Grade 10 courses over a span of two years. Devising what we call a “socio-culturally responsive media studies curriculum,” we addressed the following Ontario Character Development Initiatives: (1) Academic achievement; (2) Character development; (3) Citizenship development; and (4) Respect for diversity. But, what happens when social action researchers and teachers seek to institutionalize such taken-for-granted use of digital media within their design and implementation of the provincial curriculum and these character development initiatives? In response to this question, this paper will examine the curriculum we implemented with teachers and students in order to negotiate the four character development initiatives. As well, we examine how our curriculum research and the implemented program specifically created spaces for marginalized voices to be heard, and multiple literacies to flourish.

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Dr. Nicholas Ng-A-Fook is an Associate Professor of Curriculum Studies within the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. He holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a minor concentration in Women and Gender Studies from Louisiana State University. Nicholas Ng-A-Fook is currently involved in a collaborative social action research project Mobilizing a Global Citizenship Perspective with Educators: Curriculum Development, Equity and Community Partnerships, which is funded by the Knowledge Network for Applied Education Research (KNAER). This collaborative partnership among the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, Ottawa Catholic District School Board, NGOs, the Developing A Global Perspective For Educators program within the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa seeks to mobilize and disseminate research on global education in relation to equity, collaborative partnerships, and student engagement with school board administrators, teachers, and teacher-candidates. He continues to be actively involved in several community service learning social action projects with the teachers and students at the Kikinamadinan elementary school within the Kitigan Zibi Algonquin reserve near Maniwaki, Quebec. For more information about his research consult the following link: http://www.curriculumtheoryproject.ca/research-projects/.

Dr. Linda Radford is currently an Adjunct Professor at the School of Education at Bishop’s University delivering courses on interdisciplinary teaching and integrative learning, literacy, teaching methods and evaluation. She received her PhD in Education in the area of Society, Culture and Literacies at the University of Ottawa. Her recent and ongoing research projects address curriculum policy and renewal; education for sustainable development, digital memory-work with inservice teacher as a means of social action; digital storytelling with beginning teachers to foster self-reflexive reading practices; and the empowerment of marginalized youth through the development of reading situations to engage literacies in critical and productive ways.

Shenin Nadia Yazdanian is a PhD student at the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. She obtained her MEd from the same institution, concentrating in organizational studies, with a specific emphasis on organizational behaviour and human relations. Her scholarly interests span across a number of disciplines, including cultural studies, curriculum theory, literary theory, rhetoric and composition, and consumer research. Her doctoral work focuses on female adolescent identity and the changing conceptualizations of literacy through the use of emergent 2.0 technologies.

Tracy Norris taught with the Toronto Catholic District School Board for three years before moving home to Ottawa and completing her MEd in 2012 at the University of Ottawa. She is currently the Coordinator of Academic Partnerships at Algonquin College and teaches within the Environmental Studies program. Her research interests lie within the area of social justice and focus primarily on supports for marginalized youth within educational institutions and fostering positive transitions to post-secondary learning.