RSS
 

Archive for the ‘LESSON PLANS’ Category

MORE CALENDAR DATES FOR SEPTEMBER

15 Sep

sep. 15

 

September 15-October 15Hispanic Heritage Month 

National Hispanic Heritage Month is a national observance authorized by Public Law 100-402. The observation was initiated in 1968 as National Hispanic Heritage Week but was expanded in 1988 to include the entire 31-day period. See NEA’s National Hispanic Heritage Month resources.

September 16Mexican Independence Day

September 16 is Independence Day in Mexico and is considered a patriotic holiday. Each year, the president of Mexico rings the bells of the National Palace in Mexico City, celebrating the start in 1810 of Mexico’s struggle for independence from Spain.

September 17Citizenship Day (or Constitution Day)

On this day in 1787, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention met to sign the Constitution of the United States of America. By presidential proclamation, the entire week is given to observing this important anniversary. Visit the National Constitution Center and the Constitution Day website for more information and teacher resources.

September 21International Day of Peace

Established by United Nations resolution in 1982, this event is a global holiday when individuals, communities, nations, and governments highlight efforts to end conflict and promote peace. To inaugurate the day, the “Peace Bell” is rung at U.N. headquarters. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents, as a reminder of the human cost of war. For information, visit the International Day of Peace website.

September 24-26Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)

The Jewish New Year, also known as the Days of Renewed Responsibility, begins at sunset on day one and ends at nightfall the next day. The event is marked by solemn religious observances.

September 25School Desegregation Comes to Little Rock

On this day in 1957, nine teenagers became the first African-Americans to attend all-White Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The ensuing events riveted the nation and focused a spotlight on racism. President Eisenhower intervened and sent federal troops to protect the students and ensure compliance with the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. For more information, go to Central High School National Historic Site. See PBS Newshour Transcript on 40th anniversary (in 1997)

 
 

PLANNING YOUR SCHOOL CALENDAR

08 Sep

Here are a few guidelines for planning your school year calendar:Respect pinned on noticeboard

  • Set up a regular way to get input and feedback from community members. Constantly ask, “Who is not at the table?” It’s easy to assume you are getting a variety of viewpoints when what you are hearing agrees with your already held assumptions.
  • Continually demonstrate small gestures of inclusion so that if and when you need to negotiate conflicting belief systems, people will already feel they’ve been considered all along.
  • Be ready to compromise and create new hybrid celebrations. Never rest on sharpening your conflict resolution skills and learn how to structure meetings so that people are directed toward common ground.

 

Inclusive schools have been able to create and include celebrations that expand all students’ learning about special days and appreciation for each other’s feelings.

Prepare ahead of time by consulting more inclusive yearly calendars. Go to:

http://www.nea.org/grants/54006.htm

http://www.multifaiths.com

http://www.interfaithcalendar.org/2014.htm

 

Next week: More important dates in September

 
 

PLANNING FOR INCLUSIVE HOLIDAYS AT YOUR SCHOOL

02 Sep

Sep.2

Holidays and anniversaries only make up the tip of a culture’s essence, but even with these seemingly commonplace celebrations, we can find ourselves in the middle of unexpected cultural clashes. Start your year planning to be inclusive by setting your inner compass to listen to the landscape of each student’s and family’s treasured cultural meanings.

The truth is our country and, therefore, our schools started with one group’s values of what and how various cultural customs and anniversaries should be commemorated. Many of us went to schools with students from similar ethnic, income, religious and family backgrounds. Today, there is so much more variety in our schools. If we proceed with a “that’s the way we’ve always done it” attitude, we can easily find ourselves unintentionally alienating a part of our student body and community.

Simply put: students don’t learn if they don’t feel they belong. Welcoming every member of our school community isn’t a “nice to have” but a “must have” when we set our sights on academic excellence.

Important dates for the beginning of September include:

September
 Labor Day

Labor Day honors the American worker and acknowledges the value and dignity of work and its role in American life. Labor Day was first celebrated on September 5, 1882, in New York, and continued to be celebrated until June 28, 1894, when Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday. Learn more at Labor Day Resources.

September 2
 Christa McAuliffe’s Birthday

Teacher and NEA member Christa McAuliffe (1948—1986) was America’s first “ordinary citizen” in space. Along with six other crew members, she perished in 1986 on board the Space Shuttle Challenger.

September 8
 International Literacy Day

Celebrated since 1965, when it was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), this event focuses on reading from a global perspective. Visit UNESCO and International Reading Association for information and activity ideas.

Next week: Guidelines for planning your school year calendar

 
 

STOP TREATING PEOPLE AS EXOTIC OTHERS

28 Jul

Of course, we want to introduce students to the wider world. But I’ve seen teachers unwittingly introduce other groups and cultures as if those groups were the exotic others.Human zoo

For example, I’ve seen schools hold International Festivals that have the flavor of “look at these unusual foreign people.” When groups of people are seen as exotic or patronizingly precious that are no longer “real” people.

Plus, the people of the world are not only international. They are here. They are Americans, Americans with a wide array of viewpoints and desires. They are people to recognize, appreciate, respectfully disagree with, live with, love with, work with and study with on a day-to-day basis, not just once a year.

Without intending to, we can keep a group of people at arm’s length while, at the same time, giving ourselves the false feeling that we are being inclusive.

We want to remember that as recent as the 1950s, people from other parts of the world as well as African and Native Americans were displayed in the U.S. as if animals in a zoo. The displays were often part of a continuum that ranked groups from apes to real people i.e. Europeans. Without meaning to, our study of other cultures can have a tinge of the same feeling.

It takes more time, thought and true connections with people with whom we’ve had less experience to be able to honor the complexity and variety within other cultures as well as understand our own cultural backgrounds with their unique histories, oddities and perspectives.

 
 

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO BE MORE INCLUSIVE

14 Jul

One way to identify your prejudices is to think of any group with which you identify – city dweller, country, suburbanite, athlete, theater or certain type of music lover, ethnic group, Republican, Democrat and so on. Then, identify any groups viewed as different from or in actual opposition to your group.

teacher at front of class with students raising there hands

School is a great laboratory for this. The cliques even have names: The jocks, the theater kids, the dropouts, the brainiacs, the popular kids,

Trust me, if any group is seen as opposite or very different from your group, you will have been given some misinformation about them. Catholics have been given misinformation about Protestants and Protestants misinformation about Catholics. Young misunderstand old and old misunderstand young. Smokers think nasty thoughts about non-smokers and non-smokers say negative things about smokers.

What jokes do people tell about a neighboring state to yours? If you live in Minnesota, you know the Wisconsin jokes, but you don’t necessarily know what they say in Montana about people who live in Idaho. It’s almost like sibling rivalry. When you were growing up, you might have mocked your brother or sister because they were in close proximity and you’re were defining yourself against them.

Groups define themselves in part by who they are not. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just when we start to rank who’s cool (us) and who’s not (them) that we get in trouble.

Our prejudices can be endless and take consistent awareness to weed them out.

 
 

IF YOU CAN THINK, YOU CAN BE FREE OF STEREOTYPING

07 Jul

Because teachers are such thoughtful people who have chosen a profession precisely because they do care, it’s easy to believe we don’t have any prejudices.

Elementary StudentsPrejudice and discrimination are diseases of the mind and heart. When our thinking becomes faulty, it’s easy to draw assumptions about others that simply aren’t true. When you are not feeling good about yourself, when your own heart is troubled, you can project your negative feelings on other individuals or groups of people.

What happens in your mind and your feelings can make your and other people’s lives easier or harder.

It’s summer break. Finally, we’re away from the daily demands of our students. It’s a great time to reflect: what groups am I the most uncomfortable with or know the least about? What assumptions did I receive from my family, my ethnic and income group and this society that label others as “less than”? How can I dispute these stereotypes and learn more about and experience the complexity of other individuals and cultures?

What happens in your mind and your feelings can make your classroom, and this world, a kinder place.

 

 

 

 
 

A New 4th of July?

30 Jun

I never gave it a thought. The Pledge of Allegiance was just how we started each day in our grammar school classrooms. First we faced the crucifix at the front of the room and said our prayers, then we quarter-turned to the flag. The whole room filled with the smell of our newly-sharpened pencils laid to rest in long grooves at the top of our desks. That was how everyday started.

StudentsFold_FlagWe had our ritual beginning – pencil sharpening, prayers and the Pledge of Allegiance.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the Pledge of Allegiance wasn’t a mindless activity for many. Americans of color: Japanese-Americans, Latino Americans, African Americans, members of First Nations and others have told me that when the Pledge of Allegiance was recited in their classrooms they stood, but never put their hands to their hearts or said the words. Another colleague described how he crossed his fingers behind his back and mouthed his own words, “And to the Republic for which it lies.”

These friends’ and colleagues’ ancestors had been rounded up and herded onto slave ships or behind barbed wire “camps” or onto “reservations.” The heroes I celebrated without a thought – George Washington, Andrew Jackson or FDR – had kidnapped, tortured, massacred or imprisoned tens of thousands of my friends’ ancestors. When they were growing up, they knew first hand of the discrimination in housing, religion, sports, entertainment and education to name just that their parents faced. Of course, the Pledge of Allegiance meant something different to them. “It’s not that we didn’t love our country,” one storyteller friend told me, “but we were just a whole lot more realistic about how much the U.S. was living up to its promise of ‘freedom and justice for all’.”

It troubled me when I heard my friends’ young protests or awareness had to be hushed and hidden. Is it time that we can admit that this country has and does work better for some than others? Is there room in our American classrooms now for these alternative experiences and, therefore, expressions of anger and frustration?

When I was growing up in the 1950s, we were never taught the full American story and, because of that, our ignorance left us ill equipped to do our part to shape American ideals into American realities. This 4th of July, can we celebrate freedom from our ignorance of the full American story and freedom of expression for all our students?

 
 

Spotlight on Asian Americans: Time to Educate Ourselves

19 May

How much do you and your students know about Asian Americans? Do they know the discrimination Asian Americans have faced and survived?

 

In the first hundred plus years of living on U.S. soil, Asian Americans were singled out and victimized by discriminating behaviors and laws by European settlers. They were lynched, murdered, rounded up and marched out of communities. They were not allowed by law to stand witness against any white man in court, could not own land, were forbidden to immigrate, imprisoned in government incarceration camps, forbidden to marry out of their own ethnic group and more.

 
 

Fair Housing Month – The Third Wave of Segregation

21 Apr

City Council Chambers

We’ve taken a brief look at the history of segregation in the U.S. Well, things are different today, right?  Unfortunately, that isn’t so. Even though housing laws have changed, rather than being a break from our past, our current living patterns are the next reincarnation in a continual thread of inequality. Today, we’re experiencing a third wave of segregation, based on economics, needing no conscious ill-intent to or from any person or any group of people and, yet, this third wave can have the same effect of the last two waves by locking in poverty and segregation in our country for the next hundred years.

Make no mistake; there is still blatant discrimination. There are realtors who steer families to segregated neighborhoods. There are mortgage officers who refuse applicants loans for racial, ethnic and religious reasons. There are insurance agents who quote prices unfairly. These individual, illegal examples are serious.  But even more dangerous is the invisible segregation of today, precisely because it needs no ill-intent and can be so hard to see. For the most part, we do not have the cross burnings, mob violence, bullying realtors, and obvious unrestrained greed of old. However, we do have tax structures, other public policies and private business practices that are increasing the gulf between the have’s and the have not’s in this society at an alarming rate. We still have the myth of meritocracy: work hard and you’ll get ahead. But, when we study the less obvious public policies that are still in effect today and how the past is still influencing the present, we start to see the ways the deck is stacked for and against certain groups of people.

When we look back at the first and second wave of segregation, we can think, “How could people not know this was going on?” But will we ask the same thing about this, the third wave of segregation that continues today? Are we aware of the larger forces that control where we live, the opportunities that they open or close and what is happening to people in other parts of our cities. It is my hope that we won’t look back some day on this, the third wave of segregation, with the same surprised defense, “But I didn’t know!”

Next week: But What Do I Do?

 
 

For Black History and Always: I Am Somebody

24 Feb

Students need to know that their families and their cultures – and, therefore, they – are welcome in the classroom. A great way to do this is to take Linda Christensen’s idea featured in the wonderful book Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practice Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development called “Where I’m From: Inviting Student Lives Into the Classrooms.”

Have your students make up their own “I Am Somebody” or “I Am From” poems by first making lists of:

  • Items found in their homes
  • Items found in their yards
  • Items found in their neighborhood
  • Names of relatives – especially ones linked to the past
  • Family sayings
  • Names of foods served at family gatherings
  • Names of places where the family has lived or visited
  • People – past and present – from their culture who they admire

 

Then, with a link between images such as “I Am…” or “I Am From…” have students write a first draft. Next, have the students read to each other with no specific comments. Just being heard can help the students feel cared for. Then, you can have a general discussion of what made certain phrases stand out such as specificity of detail, metaphor or humor and the students can try one more draft.

Here are a couple excerpt examples from Linda Christensen’s article “Where I’m From: Inviting Student Lives Into the Classrooms”and my work with teens:

I am from awapuhi ginger

Sweet fields of sugar cane

And green bananas

*

I am from get-togethers

And Barbeques

Salsa dancing on the back porch

*

I am from Kunta Kinte’s strength

Harriet Tubman’s escapes

Phyllis Wheatley’s poems

And Sojourner Truth’s faith

*

In this video, storyteller, Linda Gorham, shares her “I Am Somebody” story and reminds us that “We are products of the people who came before us and the preparation for the future.”