Developing a Culturally Responsive Social Studies Classroom with Trade Books


  • Jeremiah Clabough University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Timothy Lintner University of South Carolina Aiken
  • Caroline Sheffield University of Louisville
  • Alyssa Whitford Hope College


social studies trade books, disciplinary literacy, culturally responsive teaching


In this article, the authors focus on a one-week research project examining Frederick Douglass’s civic actions to challenge racial discrimination African Americans faced before and after the U.S. Civil War. Our one-week research project was implemented at a free public charter school in a mid-sized Southern city. Our project connects to the disciplinary literacy skills argued for in the indicators of the C3 Framework. The following research questions drove our study: (a) in what ways, if any, do students articulate the challenges African Americans faced in the slavery system?; (b) In what ways, if any, do students articulate the civic actions taken by Frederick Douglass to challenge racial discrimination in U.S. society? First, we define the concept of public issues and describe their importance in an abbreviated literature review. Next, our focus shifts to examining how disciplinary literacy skills advocated for in the C3 Framework helped to shape our project. Then, we briefly focus on the demographic information for the students that participated in our study along with giving the demographic information about the teacher that implemented this project. Next, methods utilized in our project will be given. Then, a description of the student data and analysis procedures is provided. Next, we talk about the findings from our study and give a discussion section to unpack our findings. Finally, we close the article with limitations from our study and recommendations for future research studies to build upon our project.