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Exploring global religious traditions through artifactual literacy projects

Erin McNeill (Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Indiana University School of Education, Bloomington, Indiana, USA)

English Teaching: Practice & Critique

ISSN: 1175-8708

Article publication date: 7 April 2022

Issue publication date: 25 July 2022




The purpose of this study is an exploration of stories told by multilingual students participating in a literacy project in a secondary English course as part of a larger three year practitioner inquiry study, in which the author analyzed students’ literacy project to create a culturally responsive English curriculum. In this paper, the stories of two participating students were examined to derive ideas for an English curriculum in which students’ assets, such as cultural heritage and religious traditions, are recognized and honored.


Two objectives of the study were to learn about my students’ assets and to use them to complement the district-mandated texts in ways that honored students’ cultural traditions and accumulated knowledge. This paper focuses on an artifactual literacy project paired with reading the novel To Kill a Mockingbird in an English course for emergent bilinguals, in which the modified curriculum highlighted their experiences and traditions.


Two themes emerged from the analysis. First, religious communities are often valuable to emergent bilingual students. Second, although borders often separate the families of these students, they continue their religious traditions with those in their new communities in the USA, whose members have also carried traditions across borders to honor and preserve their families’ cultures, languages and religions in new places.


Religion is rarely discussed in public school English classrooms. This research project demonstrates the value of artifacts in secondary classrooms which provide a space for students to discuss personally meaningful religious and cultural literacy practices.



McNeill, E. (2022), "Exploring global religious traditions through artifactual literacy projects", English Teaching: Practice & Critique, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 295-306.



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