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Community Activism Through Critical Social Literacy at Roosevelt High School

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Our objective is to cultivate a culture of community activism while developing and strengthening various forms of [academic] literacies. By developing critical literacy within the classroom, and with the aid of outside resources, we believe our students will have the skills, awareness and ability to create art and knowledge that is relevant and meaningful to their lives and identity. As educators, sustaining the development of critical pedagogy, life-long learners, and agents of change is our ultimate goal.


ES2013 students

Students dialoging at "Get Empathy: Building Community," a workshop part of this year's East Side Stories Conference held at Roosevelt High School.

How do we help students develop academic, social and critical literacies all while engaging in meaningful work within the classroom, the school and the community? 

Various projects were made possible and/or enhanced through TIIP Grant funding. Here is a list of projects our teachers, students, and community members undertook:


Voices of Change (Interdisciplinary Unit): 

Voices of Change is a interdisciplinary unit where students engaged in a problem-posing project that asked students to think about issues in their community that need to be addressed, and to investigate solutions. The unit's essential question was, "What needs to change to generate more justice and equity in Boyle Heights?" In their English class, students used the essential question to learn to develop counter-arguments, analogies, and persuasive speech.

BrizzyIn their math class, Ms. Perez helped students learn how to interpret, analyze, and create graphs driven by their own data collection in their community. 

Mr. Dean supported students to write a persuasive report on their selected community problem. In the writing piece, students included quotes from the community interviewees and government philosophers they studied in history, as well as quotes taken from texts they read in their English class.

In Mr. Lopez' class students wrote narratives of problems they have lived, with the support of 826LA and published student narratives in a book titled "Like a Shadow." Students celebrated the culmination of their work in a book release party and reading at Boyle Heights community bookstore Libros Schmibros


Critical Media Studies Course (Elective course)

film makingThrough the help of the grant Mr. Lopez's Critical Media Studies course was able to place media making technology in the hands of students.  Students were successful in creating documentary videos on social issues they found most meaningful in their community of Boyle Heights.  In the course students engaged in the analysis and production of media, in the process of media production students went out into the community to interview youth, social and cultural activists, artist, and members of Boyle Heights.  Students edited their own videos, and presented their work at East Side Stories conference in a workshop titled "Telling Lies to Your Vision: How Critical Youth Media Production Speaks to Truth and Empowers Young People." Youth produced videos were shared on YouTube, to amplify the voice and findings of youth and to counter corporate mainstream media.

Art Club (Extracurricular club)

Harvey Milk Day

The TIIP grant has enhanced and improved the scope and reach of RHS's Art Club by providing community youth a space of expression and opportunities to engage in empowering art projects. The after school art program is crucial in building youth identity through human artistic expression and community building. Political and socially grounded student clubs, such as the Art Club, create spaces that counter youth marginalization. Young people who participate find a liberating experience and grow empowered as community artists. Students have learned to work with various art mediums, and have painted several murals at Roosevelt High with professional community artists, creating a positive school environment of youth, identity, cultural history, and power.  Students from the club, and Mr. Lopez's Urban Ecology came together to paint a mural on "Food Justice" with the help from Cornerstone Theater Company and support form TIIP grant.  The Art Club has developed critical youth artists become learners and teachers who use the production of public art to educate community members, build unity, and raise consciousness.

Mono Lake Student Leadership Retreat (Student Event)

Mono Lake

In early Fall 2012, a group of students was selected to participate in our small school's first youth leadership retreat, which took place in Mono Lake, California. Students were selected based on their involvement in school clubs and organizations, with an emphasis on youth and community activism. During the week-long retreat, students participated in various community building activities: they went on hikes, they learned about environmental activism, and essentially developed their identity as peer leaders. Our objective was to prepare selected students to return to school as leaders, who could encourage their classmates to become involved in the various groups and organizations. The experience far exceeded our expectations.


East Side Stories Conference 2012-13 (Annual Event)

The Politics and Pedagogy Collective is a group of educators throughout the east side who meet regularly to discuss and develop ways to help build a platform for students and community members. 

East Side Stories: A Grassroots Vision for Education & Community from Producciones Cimarrón on Vimeo.

This conference also received press coverage in the Boyle Heights Beat and on the Good blog (the social network for social good).


TIIP Team Lopez

T4SJ 2012

The Roosevelt High School TIIP team members have been working closely together since Roosevelt’s transition from a complex-wide school to seven small schools. We have all worked together in the writing of our small school narrative. We have participated in numerous Professional Development workshops including LAEP’s Interdisciplinary/Humanitas retreat. Currently, the teachers are teamed in grade level, in interdisciplinary teams in our small school, and work together on regular basis to develop units between history and English teachers. Our teachers do not limit their collaboration to academic/curriculum collaboration. Our teachers also work closely together to support and incorporate individual endeavors of other teachers. Poetry Slam, Journalism, Art Club, and the Dreamers’ (AB540) Club, all guided by the teacher’s in this grant, have collaborated on larger school and community projects. All of these individual clubs depend on the support of other teachers within our small school.

Pictured from left to right: Mr. Dean, Ms. Perez, Mr. Lopez and Ms. Dueñas at T4SJ Conference in San Francisco

Professional Development

Our team attended various conferences, both individually and as a team. We had the opportunity to learn from fellow educators, but it also presented us with the opportunity to network, connect and in some cases even present the work our youth is doing. At the 2012 AERA conference Mr. Lopez presented the community activist work students are doing in his class. The following is a list of conferences we attended:

Additionally, teachers attended workshops to develop tech specific skills, such as Echo Park's Film Center series, where teachers learned how to shoot and edit documentaries using Final Cut Pro.


Youth Resistance Cultures in Boyle Heights from Maestro Lopez on Vimeo.

Students were also able to create and edit their own documentaries in the classroom with the resources from the courses as well as cameras and desktops obtained with TIIP funds.

video editing


School Information

Communications, New Media and Technology at Roosevelt High School

The School of Communications, New Media and Technology's mission is to prepare all students for college, career and civic engagement. The small school has a social justice and community approach, with the goal of connecting student learning to college and careers in its thematic emphasis, using an approach known as Linked Learning. CNMT's mission is guided and informed through research, educational theory, and critical pedagogy. 

  • CNMT Roosevelt High School, 456 South Mathews Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033
  • Tel: (323) 780-4557 Fax: (323) 269-5473
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