Literacy Lenses

Focusing on The Literacy Work that Matters

Street Data: A Next-Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation

You can access our Wakelet chat artifact here

by Mary Howard

On 3/24/22, #G2Great chat welcomed first time guests, Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan. Professional books are published rapidly, even in a global pandemic, but the moment we discovered their remarkable book, we knew that Shane and Jamila had crafted a very special gift between two covers in the pages of Street Data: A Next Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation (Corwin, 2021). We quickly learned why Street Data was receiving so many accolades and we wanted to use our twitter chat platform as one more path to get their stunning book into the hands of educators and decision-makers.

Before I turn my attention to the incredible thinking that Shane and Jamila shared on our #G2Great chat, I’d like to begin by drawing from Street Data:


When I’m afforded the blessing of writing about a book spotlighted on our #G2Great chat, I always begin with a deep dive into reading, watching, and listening to whatever I can find that will offer me insight about the book ideas. I happened on a Corwin webinar that was done when the book was published in 2021 so I was delighted to find that it can still be viewed by registering after the fact. In this wonderful session, Shane and Jamila each shared their Street Data “WHY” and this was just what I needed to open this post:


“What would the world look like if my children, if black children, if all children were free? It’s the question I’m asking. It’s the dream I’m chasing.”


“This book is about radical dreaming and it’s about cracking open spaces of possibility first and foremost in our minds and our sense of imagination.”

Their heartfelt words further elevated the impact I felt when I first read Street Data. I can’t imagine a better extension to their wise words than the response we received from Shane and Jamila to our first of three questions.

What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?

The concept of street data was a seed planted in The Listening Leader (Jossey-Bass, 2017), Shane’s first book and our first collaboration, that people were really attracted to. We started playing with it and then Shane said, “We are learning a lot… we need to write about this.” I (Jamila) was out in the field with leaders, learning a ton about the challenges they were experiencing in leading for equity. We both have our own children who are working their way through this system, often with great struggle, and that is where it all emerged. 

Impact: Wanted to make the connection between theory and day to day pedagogy. Wanted to bridge the gap between what is traditionally framed as “equity work” and the transformation of teaching and learning.

Impact: Create a pathway toward an education system focused on agency of text test scores.


In the Prologue, Data in a Time of Pandemic, Shane brings clarity to the meaning of Street Data:

Street data is the qualitative and experiential data that emerges at eye level and on lower frequencies when we train our brains to discern it. Street data is asset based, building on the tenets of culturally responsive education by helping educators look for what’s right in our students, schools, and communities instead of seeking out what’s wrong….


There are some books that bring chills when reading and Street Data definitely did that for me. From the first word to the last, I was struck by how much this book is needed and should be read by every educator and school leader:

In one of our chat questions, we shared this wonderful book quote from Shane

I’m quite certain that there isn’t one person reading those words who does not recognize that Shane’s first sentence is tragically alive and well in education: “Current testing practices dehumanize young people and teachers while leading us further and further from educational equity.”

Now let’s pause for a moment and look at the response Shane and Jamila shared with us on our second question. I don’t know many authors who can speak volumes in so few words but they certainly demonstrate that here:

What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their teaching practices?

Data can be humanizing. Data can be liberatory. Data can be healing.

Equity work is first and foremost pedagogical work

I’d like to follow those three essential beliefs using the slide that we shared just before our chat with Shane and Jamila began:

It occurs to me that responding to the profound question that Shane and Jamila posed at the top of that slide should be at the center of our discussions in every school across the entire year. In page after page of Street Data, Shane and Jamila eloquently respond to their question, offering a call to action with a flexible template to support schools in bringing their words to life where it matters most – in the company of children. 

I can’t stop thinking about their first belief: “Data can be humanizing” since the way education has approached data across the years is the epitome of a dehumanizing view that has elevated the long existing educational inequities that blind us to who our children are both as learners and amazing humans full of potential. I often wonder how many future leaders we have lost because of these systems perpetuated year after year. We expend precious minutes collecting data and then use those numerical values to label children – sorting them into the haves and have nots without any perception of the child beneath the data. Then we further exacerbate the issue by enthusiastically reducing children to mere blips on a spreadsheet radar screen. Through a testing process entrenched in the very culture of our educational systems, we are asked to willfully ignore the brilliance that exists within each child just waiting for us to notice, celebrate and respond to if we can look beyond the numbers to see the child in front of us.

In Street Data, Shane and Jamila eloquently help us to understand the heart of equity with detailed suggestions to embrace the “street data” that surrounds us and humanizes the assessment process in ways that will lift our instructional choices. But to embrace “street data” we must also be willing to embrace student agency so that we can draw from experiences that keep students at the center of the learning process as teachers take a step back to admire and celebrate brilliance in action. By putting children in the learning driver’s seat and offering choice with space and time to use it, we are afforded on-the-spot access to rich assessment grounded in and inseparably linked to learning in action.

The authors make this point beautifully in Street Data:

“We have retained a vision of what is possible when we build classrooms and schools and systems around students’ brilliance, cultural wealth, and intellectual potential rather than self-serving savior narratives that have us “fixing” and “filling” academic gaps.”


I’d like to turn our attention back to our #G2Great twitter chat because the words of Shane and Jamila complement and extend Street Data beautifully:

Before I share closing words, I’d like to turn to a very important response from Shane and Jamila based on our third question:

What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind?

Be brave and start somewhere. Use the Equity Transformation Cycle in the book to listen deeply with a mindset of radical inclusion; uncover root causes of inquiry with a mindset of curiosity; reimagine current reality with a mindset of creativity; and move forward with a mindset of courage.

Grow your awareness of your ways of knowing and being by choosing the margins.

My Closing Thoughts

I am so grateful for the opportunity to write this post to celebrate the important ideas that I believe will become a transformational stepping stone for educators and schools who are wise enough to read and apply the vast wisdom in Street Data. When I was searching for insight for this post, I happened on a YouTube Video that was posted when Street Data was first published. In Author Reflections, Shane and Jamila each pose a question that asks us to make Street Data a reality:

“What would it look like for the student experience to be designed for them and even by them. My hope and intention is for every person who’s thinking about what it looks like for their child to have school designed with them in mind.” Jamila

“The book is just the seed but my hope is that together we can cultivate this thriving garden of student voice.” Shane

It seems appropriate to close with words of wisdom Shane and Jamila shared on our chat. We are so grateful to you both for inspiring us all!


Jamila Dugan’s Website

Shane Safir’s Website

Shane Safir on Twitter @Shane Safir

Jamila Dugan on Twitter @JamilaDugan

Street Data: A Next-Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation (Corwin, 2022) (purchase Street Data)

Author Reflections with Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan (YouTube Video)

Corwin Video Session with Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan (Still available for viewing)

Street Data: A Conversation with Jamila Dugan and Shane Safir (podcast)

Street Data: A Pathway Toward Equitable, Anti-Racist Schools (podcast)

Beware of Equity Traps and Tropes by Jamila Dugan

Authors Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan: 5 Things You Need to Know To Be A Highly Effective Educator or Teacher: An Interview With Penny Bauder

Teaching As A Radical Act

Read Islah’s Interview HERE • See Our Wakelet Chat Artifact HERE

Post written by Islah Tauheed

“One of the biggest lessons I learned is that we don’t empower children; we simply provide the tools for them to embody their inherent power.” ~ Arlène Casimir

I think at this point of the pandemic, we can all agree that the education system in America is deeply flawed. As teachers we gained insight and a first hand view of those problems up close and personal each day. We teach in buildings that are sterile and cold. We are told to implement a curriculum that is not reflective of the children in front of us. We work under leadership that silences many facets of our identity. When we choose to shift our thinking about teaching as a radical act, we make a decision to lead change in these problems. It was such a pleasure to join the Twitter chat this past week and join other educators looking to make big changes. 

Working to achieve this goal requires a deeper understanding of yourself. We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are. Taking on tasks such as dismantling a racist school system or implementing culturally relevant learning practices can seem vague and ambiguous to a team member who is uncertain, yet the only way to deal with adaptive challenges is to grow.  Restructuring a school system requires us to take on new mindsets or beliefs to find solutions. Often these mindset shifts can happen as a result of what we learn from children. There was so much advice given out this past year from “experts” on teaching during a pandemic. However, most of the chat members shared that their biggest lessons came from students within their own classrooms. 

The responsibility of healing a system is a collective responsibility. Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared human endeavor. In the case of radical education, the human endeavor that teachers want is to further society through education. Joining social media platforms like Twitter helped add members to my community of practice. I enjoyed reading about other people you follow and what you learned from them.

Transformational leadership seeks to advance universal freedom from oppression, exclusion, and violence, and freedom to participate in economic, political, cultural, religious and educational activities equally. (Perkins & Richards, 2007) Teaching is the beginning of our journey towards achieving this noble goal.  I am so proud to stand with all the teachers lifting the voices of students and putting them first every day. Though seemingly ideal, we remain future minded and aware that it is only together, we are strong enough to enact change. Holding on to this belief in the face of resistance is the most radical act.

A Few Words of Appreciation From Mary Howard

Midway through 2021 in the middle of a pandemic that showed no signs of slowing down, our #g2great co-moderators recognized that there was a need to celebrate educators who were doing truly remarkable things. We called this chat Educator Spotlight and had our first guest, Nawal Qarooni Casiano on 8/26/21 . We knew early on that Islah Tauheed needed to be celebrated for her dedication to children as a second grade teacher and now through her extended role as an Assistant Principal supporting her teachers in honor of children.

About two years ago, Towanda Harris told me about Islah Tauheed and shared some posts she had written as well as her My Two Cents Worth With Towanda Harris podcast she had done with Islah. I wrote about that podcast HERE. Before I knew it, I was looking for everything I could find with Islah’s name on it (see links at the bottom of the page). I was completely professionally smitten by the incredible things that Islah was doing and eager to learn even more. That appreciation has only grown since I have had the chance to visit with Izzie via Zoom in preparation for our chat.

We are so grateful that Izzie honored the #G2Great community who hunger for inspiration and information and she brought all of that and so much more. This beautiful post that Izzie wrote is one more reminder why she is much needed in education and why we feel privileged to honor her on our Educator Spotlight

Please read on with some resources below to get to know Islah Tauheed


Q1 Tonight we are reflecting on the title of our chat, “Teaching As A Radical Act,” based on an interview with our guest, Izzie Tauheed. What does that title mean to you? 

Q2 Tauheed said. “I teach for the children in front of me, so they feel safe and loved and affirmed in this classroom space.” How does student ownership show up in your classroom spaces?

Q3 When asked about my students, I described them as “They are brilliant, thoughtful, inspiring, and hopeful”. What has a student taught you this year?

Q4 I am influenced greatly by community we have here on Twitter and the resources that are shared. What’s one thing you’ve read that has made you a better educator?

Q5 Using strong literacy practices, we can guide our students to become engaged agents of change. My passion is to guide students in changing their communities through environmental justice. What are some areas of change you and your students are seeking to challenge?

More Read posts from Islah Tauheed

Bringing Community into the Virtual Classroom

Empathy as a Radical Act

Reading Heals the World: A Case For Literacy And Environmental Justice

Bringing Community into the Viral Classroom

The Power of a Black Teacher

Literacy is Liberation: Working Toward Justice Through Culturally Relevant Teaching

By Brent Gilson

For the archive of this chat please check out the Wakelet here

This week we had the pleasure of having Dr. Kim Parker join us to discuss her new incredible book Literacy is Liberation. The title caught me immediately when Dr. Parker announced this book would be coming out and made me think of other leaders in the field of literacy like Dr. Gholdy Muhammad and her important work.

At a conference a few years ago Kylene Beers and Robert Probst were speaking about literacy and asked us what we thought literacy was. Of course, we got the standard answers shouted from around the hall: Reading, Writing, Talking, Representing… Kylene then put forward the comment Literacy is Power and Privilege. This got the wheel turning, as I have been studying and trying to learn more about practices that we use in the classroom this idea of Literacy as power comes up often. As I read the title of Dr. Parker’s book I thought it was a perfect way to describe what Literacy really is and the power it has.

As the chat kicked off we had the opportunity to reflect on the title of the book and our understanding of what Literacy is Liberation might entail.

As we discussed our early thoughts the common link between all those in the chat was that literacy needs to be intentional for everyone in our classroom. That we need to be doing what is best to aid ALL students in being successful. This means we need to be responsive. Shift with the interests and abilities of our students. Plan with a strength-based mindset and then work to help all students realize their potential by addressing those individual needs.

The conversation moved towards our curriculum and the intentional decisions we as educators need to make to ensure that the literacy practices in our classrooms are indeed liberatory. What is the story our curriculum tells? Who does it provide opportunities to see themselves in? Who does it leave out? How can we as educators push our curriculums (often a political document) towards a more equitable and liberating experience? In my own classroom, I have found simple but purposeful steps to make my content more inclusive while still operating within the curriculum. Moving away from texts that are 30, 40, and 50 years old to texts that are more relevant today is often seen as some revolutionary act with those who lead these discussions (Dr. Parker is also a founding member of #Disrupttexts) being targetted by those who would prefer a curriculum that erases students in the name of upholding white supremacy. The idea of auditing our curriculum and the resources that support it is not something that should be seen as revolutionary it should be the norm. As the world has changed significantly since 1960 so should our resources and curriculum in a purposeful effort to provide liberation through our literacy work. These shifts might not always be easy but if we center our decision-making on our students’ needs, interests, desires, and experiences it provides us with opportunities to center around Culturally Relevant Pedagogy which is good practice regardless of student demographics.

As our chat wrapped up we spent some time reflecting on the topic of harm. Specifically how the choices we make in our classroom can harm our students. Two lessons I have learned in my visits over the years with Dr. Parker have really shaped a lot of my interactions towards intentionally avoiding potential instances of curriculum violence. The term itself was new to me and this article was one that Dr. Parker put in my path. I think about the unintended results of a Black student having to read a book like To Kill a Mockingbird which many have recalled being uncomfortable with because of the language used including the N-word. How can a Black student feel that sense of liberation that literacy work can bring if their white peer is given permission to read that word aloud in class? While not intentionally causing harm the impact is there and impact is always greater than intent. Another piece of wisdom Dr. Parker has shared with me is to not assume “best intentions” or extend the benefit of the doubt when people do make choices that oppress students or groups of people. We all make mistakes and calling attention to those mistakes and learning from them are important steps if we as educators intend to be co-conspirators in the quest to have liberatory classrooms for all students.

As I work through reading Literacy is Liberation I love the inclusion of Takeaways and To-Do’s that Dr, Parker includes in each chapter. She provides us with not only the theory but tangible practices that we can bring into our classrooms in the service of all students.

It is a bit of a scary time as we have political forces intentionally trying to limit discussion and erase whole parts of history around the world. Literacy is Liberation is another resource that can provide teachers with the support they need to create more equitable, culturally relevant, justice-focused classrooms where all students are seen, heard, respected, and uplifted as they develop into their full genius and brilliance.

Additional Resources

Mentor Texts That Multitask: A Less-is-More Approach to Integrated Literacy Instruction

Wakelet contains the entire chat here

Thursday nights are just awesome. The #G2Great chats are inspiring, intellectually fulfilling and soul satisfying. Our chat with Pam Koutrakos on March 3rd hit some new personal highs for me. As the chat ended, I was collecting tweets for this blog post. I had 17 “must haves” and then after three hours of sleep, I was wide awake adding more tweets to my document with a completely redrafted focus. And then the third version settled me as I deleted, rearranged, and redrafted headers and content. What is the essence of this text, Mentor Texts That Multitask? Let’s start with a definition.

What is a Mentor Text that Multitasks?

Here is Pam’s definition.

How will we chose mentor texts?

Pam has laid the groundwork for three reflective inquiries that can guide text choices: identity, community and curriculum. Let’s use a graphic from her text to delve a bit deeper.

So why this book? Why now?

Pam’s answer to the following question is one of the reasons that I love this resource.

What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind? ​​

Teaching is complex, challenging, and incredibly important. I appreciate teachers and celebrate all that is already being done in classrooms. In writing this book, I have not tried to create a new program or completely new approach to teaching ELA. Instead, I hope readers walk away with a reminder that hard work doesn’t have to be draining or depleting. Teachers can find energy and joy in tweaking or reworking some of the “great stuff” already in place. This book represents a sustainable way of moving forward. It shares an adaptable framework teachers can customize time and time again. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do this work and there is a lot of excitement found in tinkering with different ideas and seeing how students shift and shape what we initially imagined.

So without further “ado” let’s dig into Identity, Community, and Curriculum for just a few insights from the chat (and some illustrations from the text). We will keep this question in mind as we read, reflect, and begin our own work: “How can we ‘tweak or rework’ the great mentor texts that we already have?”


Identity deals with the “WHO” in the classroom? Whose voices? Whose experiences? How will we know? Placing this as the “first filter’ stresses the importance of “student-centered” classrooms. One very easy way to find out is included in this first tweet: an audit of the classroom library.

A second part of this identity work includes voices. At present that also means we need to consider translanguaging that moves beyond students “seeing” themselves in the books to students “hearing” themselves in the mentor texts. Maria Walther adds more information about translanguaging below.

The blog post from our chat for En Comunidad is here.


Community and Identity have some overlapping areas. I think honoring and encouraging student talk is a key to increasing engagement. Students have to do the work of learning. This means teachers and school staff need to be fluent in the languages in daily use in their community. Pam shares additional ideas about linguistic repertoires in the tweets below.


As the final area to be considered, curricula includes whatever occurs during the school day.

Additional Notes on Inquiry

Inquiry is critical in student-centered learning. It keeps the “curiosity” burning which is a key component of student-centered learning as Pam shares below in her definition, her list of misunderstandings, and her two examples.

Let’s see what Pam has to say about her motivations for this book.

What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world? 

When I worked as a consultant, I was able to visit so many wonderfully unique school communities. However, I noticed that there were two challenges teachers across districts shared most often: insufficient time and lack of quality resources. The ever-evolving nature of education (and insufficient funding!) frequently requires teachers to do the unimaginable with whatever they have on hand. Teachers are knowledgeable, skilled, creative, and dedicated, but this work can sometimes feel incredibly frustrating and overwhelming. 

On the flip side, I also considered the perspective of students. The fast pace set for learning often results in students feeling as if they are always being taught something brand new each time a bell rings. The concepts presented period to period and day to day often seem unrelated. Learning often feels compartmentalized and disconnected. 

I also reflected on my own personal journey. I could personally relate to these teacher and student predicaments.  As a young student, it never even occurred to me that I could use my experiences in one class to help me in another. And when I first started teaching over two decades ago, I was always searching for the “perfect” text to use with each lesson I taught – and the never-ending search for all those “perfect” mentor texts was not only time consuming, but also expensive – and often ineffective. When I look back, it hurts my heart because I now know I could have been using that time much more wisely (and efficiently). 

This all came together when I visited a local district. I started the week working with an experienced group of upper-elementary and middle-school teachers. They were feeling a lot of this familiar pressure and stress – too much to do and not nearly enough time to get it all done. That day, we deviated from the intended plan and set the playful goal of facilitating all whole-class and small-group experiences  and providing all 1:1 feedback with the same 2-page spread from the class’ current mentor text. The next day, I returned to that district to partner with kindergarten teachers (who taught using a half-day model). Time was tight- so we decided to co-plan and co-teach using one text to support reading, writing, speaking, listening, and phonics skills. We created integrated, “highly literate” experiences that transcended any one facet of literacy. Throughout both of these sessions, I could almost feel the collective level of stress decrease and the capacity for joy increase. It was then I knew for sure that I wanted to write about how we can thoughtfully craft lesson sets using a “short stack” of high-quality, multitasking mentor texts. In doing so, teachers recover more time and energy to plan, students gain more time to practice, and perhaps most importantly, everyone gets more time to play! 

When we re-allocate our time and reimagine current models of planning, we are freed up to focus on students and prepare joyful, asset-based, student-centered instruction.

And our final question with Pam’s response.

 What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will  embrace in their teaching practices? 

The day-to-day work we do as educators is complex and multifaceted. I hope teachers find a bit of “ahhhh” and a lot of joy in redefining the role of mentor texts. In the book, I share ways to maximize time. By curating just a few quality resources, we can enhance instruction. This “less is more” approach is not only appealing, but also effective! A lean selection of multitasking texts yields flexible, integrated, and multifaceted learning. By spotlighting these tools in inquiry experiences and more traditional modeled and guided lessons, teachers become prepared to not only weave together reading and writing, but also phonics, spelling, vocabulary, and grammar – and even content areas. Students create connections and begin to understand how to apply and transfer knowledge- across subjects and time. 

We can enact our deep commitment toward asset-based instruction that is unwaveringly responsive to students. We can invite learners into the endless possibilities for learning that exist within the pages of books. And none of this needs to feel depleting. I sincerely hope that after reading this book and discussing it with colleagues, teachers are able to reduce decision fatigue and feel prepared (with plenty of practical ways) to integrate multitasking texts students LOVE all across the curriculum… while of course, continuing to center students and keep them at the heart of all we do in classrooms. 

In Conclusion . . .

Mentor Texts that Multitask is not about finding perfect texts. It is also not about a brand new fancy idea that teachers need to learn. Instead it is about collaboratively working with peers to consider “How we can ‘tweak or rework’ the great mentor texts that we already have?” This will be an efficient and effective use of our time because we will be locating texts that can be used multiple times across the day and the year. And this final quote is why JOY will be able to return to teachers’ work!

Additional Resources:

Lesson Set for The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad (2019), With S. K. Ali Link

Preview of the text: Mentor Texts That Multitask Link

Video: Shake Up Literacy Learning with Multitasking Mentor Texts Link