This article analyzes the quality of intellectual reasoning of a class of high school students with standardized reading scores in the bottom quartile. The analysis situates the intellectual work on 1 day of instruction in terms of the history of the activity system out of which the dispositions of these students were constructed over time. The analysis deconstructs the historical dimensions of the cultural practices these students learned to acquire. Using a framework of cultural-historical activity theory, the article examines the knowledge base of the teacher, in this case the researcher, to coach and scaffold a radically different intellectual culture among students who were underachieving. The framework for the curricular design implemented and the strategies modeled explicitly aligned the cultural funds of knowledge of the African American students with the cultural practices of the subject matter, in this case, response to literature.
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