Maisha Winn

Medical imaging Carillon Tower Glass blowing Laptop and lecture A smiling student Sunrise over the Education Building Chairs on the Memorial Union Terrace Bascom hall staircase Graduating students in silhouette Crowd of people on Bascom Hill A student tutoring Student with diploma Dance Department performance Night view of Bascom in the winter Memorial Union Terrace in autumn Memorial Union Terrace chairs Dance department performance Bucky Badger in front of a parade float Bascom Hall in the summertime Lincoln statue Students walking in the snow University of Wisconsin - Madison Crest Lincoln statue in the snow Forward Logo Student at graduation Bicycle in the snow Rathskellar Fireplace Sailboat with Capitol Building in the background A sailboat at the Memorial Union Bascom Hill in Autumn Bucky Badger studying with a student. Students among blooming trees at UW-Madison Bucky reading a book University flag on Bascom Hill Video camera view screen Student on a frozen lake Lincoln Statue on Bascom Hill Bascom Hill in winter Students collaborating Memorial Union Terrace chairs in the snow Kohl Center logo Graduates with diplomas A hands-on project Stacked, illuminated figures View from the top of Van Hise


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Maisha T. Winn

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Maisha T. Winn

Curriculum and Instruction (CI)

456A Teacher Education Building  binoculars icon
225 N. Mills Street
Madison, Wisconsin

Personal Biography

Maisha T. Winn (formerly Maisha T. Fisher) is a former public school teacher. She earned her doctorate in Language, Literacy, and Culture at the University of California, Berkeley and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Winn became a member of a community of scholars who are intent on examining everyday literacy practices among adolescents in the interest of expanding earlier work on literacy practices within families and neighborhoods. Her work is focused on expanding the discipline to include performance and oral traditions in the examination of what constitutes the study of literacy.


2003 - Ph D, Language, Literacy, and Culture
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California

1998 - MA, Language, Literacy, and Culture
Stanford University
Stanford, California

1995 - Cross-Cultural Language Academic Development, Single Subject-English
California State University, Sacramento
Sacramento, California

1994 - BA, English, African American Studies
University of California, Davis
Davis, California



Research Interests

Winn's research spans a wide variety of understudied settings including her earlier work on the literate practices extant in bookstores and community organizations in the African American community to her most recent work in settings where adolescent girls are incarcerated. Her work is multidisciplinary in that she examines the cognitive dimensions of the literate practices, the micro-level \interactional processes through which knowledge is constructed in these settings, and the socialization functions that take place through both peer relation and adult-youth relations as they emerge in these various institutions. And the substance of Winn's investigations further illuminate the roles that these institutions play within the larger cultural-historical development of racially diverse and low income communities -- including populations of Dominican, Puerto Rican, Columbian and African American descent.


  • Winn, M. (2013). Toward a Restorative English Education. Research in the Teaching of English. 48(1), 126-135.
    Online Publication/Abstract
    Abstract: In this essay I argue for a Restorative English Education—that is, a pedagogy of possibilities that employs literature and writing to seek justice and restore (and, in some cases, create) peace that reaches beyond the classroom walls. A Restorative English Education requires English language arts teachers to resist zero-tolerance policies that sort, label, and eventually isolate particular youth, embracing a discourse of restoration in which all young people have an opportunity to experience “radical healing” through engaging in deliberate literate acts that illuminate pathways of resilience.
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  • Paris, D., & Winn, M. (2013). Humanizing Research: Decolonizing qualitative inquiry with youth and communities. Humanizing Research: Decolonizing qualitative inquiry with youth and communities. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
    Online Publication/Abstract
    Abstract: What does it mean to conduct research for justice with youth and communities who are marginalized by systems of inequality based on race, ethnicity, sexuality, citizenship status, gender and other categories of difference? In this collection, editors Django Paris and Maisha Winn have selected essays written by top scholars in education on humanizing approaches to qualitative and ethnographic inquiry with youth and their communities. Vignettes, portraits, narratives, personal and collaborative explorations, photographs, and additional data excerpts bring the findings to life for a better understanding of how to use research for positive social change.
  • Winn, M. (2012). The politics of desire and possibility in urban playwriting: (re)reading and (re)writing the script. Pedagogies: An International Journal. 7(4), 317-332.
    Online Publication/Abstract
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  • Winn, M., & Johnson, L.P. (2011). Writing instruction in the culturally relevant classroom. Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English.
    Online Publication/Abstract
    Abstract: Maisha T. Winn and Latrise P. Johnson suggest that culturally relevant pedagogy can make a difference. Although it certainly includes inviting in the voices of those who are generally overlooked in the texts and curricula of US schools, culturally relevant teaching also means recognizing and celebrating those students who show up to our classrooms daily, welcoming their voices, demanding their reflection, and encouraging them toward self-discovery. _Writing Instruction in the Culturally Relevant Classroom_ offers specific ideas for how to teach writing well and in a culturally relevant way. Drawing on research-based understandings from _NCTE Beliefs about the Teaching of Writing_, Winn and Johnson demonstrate how these principles support an approach to writing instruction that can help all students succeed. Through portraits of four thoughtful high school teachers, the authors show how to create an environment for effective learning and teaching in diverse classrooms, helping to answer questions such as How can I honor students' backgrounds and experiences to help them become better writers? How can I teach in a culturally responsive way if I don t share cultural identities with my students? How can I move beyond a "heroes and holidays" approach to culturally relevant pedagogy? How can I draw on what I already know about good writing instruction to make my classes more culturally relevant? How can I create culturally responsive assessment of writing?
  • Winn, M. (2011). Girl Time: Literacy, Justice, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Girl Time: Literacy, Justice, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline. New York: Teachers College Press.
    Online Publication/Abstract
    Abstract: This original account is based on the author’s experiences with incarcerated girls participating in Girl Time, a program created by a theatre company that conducts playwriting and performance workshops in youth detention centers. In addition to examining the lives of these and other formerly incarcerated girls, Girl Time shares the stories of educators who dare to teach children who have been “thrown away” by their schools and society. The girls, primarily African American teens, write their own plays, learn ensemble-building techniques, explore societal themes, and engage in self analysis as they prepare for a final performance. The book describes some of the girls and their experiences in the program, examines the implications of the school-to-prison pipeline, and offers ways for young girls to avoid incarceration. Readers will learn how the lived experiences of incarcerated girls can inform their teaching in public school classrooms and the teaching of literacy as a civil and human right.
  • Winn, M., & Behizadeh, N. (2011). The right to be literate: Literacy, Education, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Review of Research in Education. 35, 147-173.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Winn, M. (2010). "Betwixt and between": Literacy, liminality, and the "celling" of Black girls. Race, Ethnicity, and Education. 13(4), 425-447.
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  • Winn, M. (2008). Black Literate Lives: Historical and contemporary perspectives. New York and London: Routledge.
    Online Publication/Abstract
    Abstract: Black Literate Lives offers an innovative approach to understanding the complex and multi-dimensional perspectives of Black literate lives in the United States. Author Maisha T. Fisher (now Maisha T. Winn) reinterprets historiographies of Black self-determination and self-reliance to powerfully interrupt stereotypes of African-American literacy practices. The book expands the standard definitions of literacy practices to demonstrate the ways in which 'minority' groups keep their cultures and practices alive in the face of oppression, both inside and outside of schools. This important addition to critical literacy studies: -Demonstrates the relationship of an expanded definition of literacy to self-determination and empowerment -Exposes unexpected sources of Black literate traditions of popular culture and memory -Reveals how spoken word poetry, open mic events, and everyday cultural performances are vital to an understanding of Black literacy in the 21st century By centering the voices of students, activists, and community members whose creative labors past and present continue the long tradition of creating cultural forms that restore collective, Black Literate Lives ultimately uncovers memory while illuminating the literate and literary contributions of Black people in America.
  • Winn, M. (2007). Writing in rhythm: Spoken word poetry in urban classrooms. New York: Teachers College Press.
    Online Publication/Abstract
    Abstract: This book examines how literacy learning can be expanded and redefined using the medium of spoken word poetry. Maisha T. Fisher (now Maisha T. Winn) tells the story of a passionate Language Arts teacher and his work with The Power Writers, an after-school writing community of Latino and African American students. Featuring rich portraits of literacy in action, this book introduces teaching practices for fostering peer support, generating new vocabulary, discussing issues of Standard American English, and using personal experiences as literary inspiration.


  • Winn, M.T., Presenter & Author Building "lifetime circles" and the remaking of the "peaceable classroom", Beyond Crime: Pathways to Desistance, social justice, and peace building, European Forum for Restorative Justice, Belfast, Northern ireland.

Awards and Honors

  • Faculty Fellow
    Organization: Institute of Urban Minority Education (IUME), Teachers College, Columbia University
    Purpose: Scholarship/Research
    Date(s): September 2011 - May 2012
  • Early Career Award
    Organization: American Educational Research Association
    Purpose: Scholarship/Research
    Date(s): April 2012
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