Response to Social Injustice and Hate

The death of George Floyd is a tragic reminder that none of us should ever sit idly by and allow hate, discrimination, and violence to infect our society. As we have witnessed in the days since his death, people across our country are angry and frustrated.

The Jewish Heritage Museum in New York City shared the following, “In the words of Elie Wiesel: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

James Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, shared the  words of Lancaster Hill, Peter Bess, Brister Slenser, Prince Hall, Jack Pierpont, Nero Funelo, Newport Sumner, and Job Look, African Americans appealing for equal rights during the Revolutionary War:

“…your Petitioners apprehend that they have, in common with all other Men, a natural and unalienable right to that freedom, which the great Parent of the Universe hath bestowed equally on all Mankind, & which they have never forfeited by any compact or agreement whatever—But they were unjustly dragged, by the cruel hand of Power, from their dearest friends, and some of them even torn from the embraces of their tender Parents—from a populous, pleasant and plentiful Country—& in Violation of the Laws of Nature & of Nation & in defiance of all the tender feelings of humanity, brought hither to be sold like Beasts of Burthen, & like them condemned to slavery for Life…In imitation of the laudable example of the good People of these States, your Petitioners have long & patiently waited the event of Petition after Petition by them presented to the Legislative Body of this State, & can not but with grief reflect that their success has been but too similar—They can not but express their astonishment, that it has never been considered, that every principle from which America has acted in the course of her unhappy difficulties with Great-Britain, pleads stronger than a thousand arguments in favor of your Petitioners…whereby they may be restored to the enjoyment of that freedom which is the natural right of all Men—& their Children…”

That plea is from 1777. It brings attention to the historical context of racism throughout American History. Protest and civil rights started way before the 1960s. Our students need to understand that.  Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi’s book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is a powerful book that examines the history of racism from the very first racist to the hate speech and racist stereotypes that permeates social media today. It will be the Global Read Aloud this upcoming October and is a book that every teacher must read. Stamped is one of many young adult books that be a catalyst for conversations about race, history, and hate. NCTE provides resources for your classroom in teaching Stamped including “Qualities of Anti Racist Curricula,” book lists, and a recording of the webinar with Kendi and Reynolds discussing their book with NCTE members.

Lucy Caulkins and the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project wrote in a statement about the current climate in our nation how to embark in conversations with students. She quoted Legendary basketball player, author, and activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who said, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands.” Caulkins continued to write, “Your conversations with students, the language and lenses you provide, let the sun in, illuminating injustices and making it possible to work toward better days ahead.”

Black lives matter now, and have always mattered. I am committed to anti-racism, respect, and love of ALL. I will continue to fight illiteracy and do my part to make the world a better place.

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Summer Months Virtual Learning Calendar

Virtual Learning Opportunities

One of the positive things that has emerged from COVID-19’s quarantine and remote learning is the wide abundance of virtual learning opportunities available now. I find that in-between teaching remotely, reading and writing I am also able to take classes, attend virtual lectures, and participate in enriching conversations. I have been lucky enough to expand my horizons virtually, travel the globe, learn new cooking techniques, and gain insight about history, writing, health, and so much more. This has allowed me to maintain my physical and mental curiosity and health.

I have put together a virtual learning calendar for my students and families for the month of June and will continue to share more opportunities for July and August. I want my students to have opportunities to “learn” this summer and even if it has to be virtually, there are incredible enrichment experiences online.

I want to share this virtual learning calendar with my readers so they can also access the abundance of opportunities online. When you click on each picture, it will take you to a different video, article, podcast, reading list, class, or virtual tour.

Wishing you a happy summer where you can quench your curiosity.

 

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Creating Quality Hyperdocs

Matt Miller (@jmattmiller) of Ditch that Textbook writes “a quality hyperdoc or hyper slide should: Share the day’s lesson and objectives, provide links to content, activities, and assessments, differentiate using those resources that provide students a choice over process and content, provide a common place where students can turn in work, and look good and seem well-themed” (2019).

I have been creating and using hyper docs (or playlists) with my students for a few years now and I love that they allow me to organize a unit or lesson in a clear fashion, front load student work so students can work at their own pace and even choose their own learning adventure. During remote learning, I have been using hyper docs weekly to give my students easy access to lesson material and interactive reading and writing experiences. On April 27th I blogged about the first week of a WW2  hyperdoc I created  and want to share how this reading inquiry has evolved in the past four weeks.

Each of the hyper docs has the same theme and format to indicate the unit. I added a screencast link to each hyperdoc to provide an overview of each element on the doc with specific directions students can access by clicking the “play button.” I have differentiated the unit allowing students to select their WW2 book, fiction and nonfiction choices.  As I reflect on this unit, I will add more differentiated options by product as well as content.

For Week One I wanted to build student’s background knowledge about WW2 and the Holocaust. I began with an anticipation guide on a Google Form and daily readings from Actively Learn. At the end of the week, students completed Hexagonal Thinking Maps (borrowed from John Meehan’s book EDredaline Rush, 2020) to make connections and show their understanding. Here are some examples of the completed work.

 

For Week Two, student began reading their independent reading books and I created a Podcast on Anchor for students to access a Read Aloud of Refugee by Alan Gratz in 30 minute blocks. My special education co-teacher has also been reading aloud and recording The Boys Who Challenged Hitler and posting on Google Classroom. Additionally, this hyperdoc provided two virtual field trips for students to explore Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel and the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Washington, DC through Google Arts and Culture.  Students wrote reflections on Padlet and Google Forms.

During Week Three, students viewed an online production ofThe Diary of Anne Frank: A special presentation created by artists in isolation produced by The Park Square Theater in Minnesota, available online until May 24th, 2020.  Park Square was set to open its 21st production of The Diary of Anne Frank to over 12,000 middle and high school students when shelter in place orders took effect. When it became clear that there was no way to assemble to record the staged version, the cast began rehearsing and recording a Zoom reading of the play. It was released on April 21, Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

These virtual experiences have been vital to help understand this time period and see, hear, and experience the rich artifacts from history. Students also took a virtual tour to Anne Frank’s Secret Annex in Amsterdam and created their own concrete found poem based on the themes emerging in their independent reading books. Students responded in a Flipgrid the lessons learned from Anne Frank as we continue to self isolate.

Anne Frank Flipgrid Response

This week, as well finish up our WW2 independent reading books, students are looking and author’s craft and drawing larger text to world connections. I created a flipped lesson on Authors Craft and Style. I want students to look deep within the surface of their text. Proficient readers are continuously drawing connections between the text and the world, and I have students reading an article about the rise of Hate Groups in the US today to compare to the rise of hate and anti-semitism prior and during WW2. Next week, students are working on a One pager about their WW2 independent reading book. There are no tests or quizzes, only opportunities for students to share their learning and understanding.

When designing hyper docs I keep the following in mind:

  1. Engage: Hook your students, get them engaged, and activate prior knowledge.
  2. Explore: Resources, such as videos, virtual field trips or articles for students to explore more information.
  3. Explain: Simplify and clarify the learning objective for students. By creating a screencasts my intentions are to provide explicit directions students can return to at any time throughout the week for clarification.
  4. Apply: Students create artifacts to demonstrate learning through Google Forms, Padlet, Google Drawings, and Flipgrid.

 

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Close Reading Stranger Things

What are the elements of gothic fiction and how can the Netflix series Stranger Things help to teach gothic fiction and close reading? This is the inquiry project my students are currently working on in our film elective.

Gothic Films contain the following elements:

● Dark & gloomy
● Supernatural beings, monsters and the paranormal
● Heroes, villains, damsels in distress and sometimes, romance
● Feelings of suspense, mystery and fear
● Settings of unease such as dark forests, storms and unnerving
places

I first polled my students to see who had access to Netflix.  As students are watching Season One of Stranger Things we have been focusing on why this film series is so popular and the elements of great storytelling and filming.

To help building background knowledge, students read an article about the Stranger Things creators, Matt and Ross Duffer in the New York Times. Students then completed a graphic organizer based on their reading and understanding.

Reading Response Graphic Organizer

As students watched Season One we focused on color, lighting, sound, and music to build suspense. Students learn film terminology to help better understand the ways filmmakers manipulate these elements for emotional responses from the audience. For example, Diegetic sound is a noise which has a source on-screen. They are noises which have not been edited in, like dialogue between characters or footsteps. Another term for diegetic sound is actual sound. Non-diegetic sound is a noise which does not have a source on-screen, they have been added in like the music interludes. I asked students what are some of the ways the film directors use non-diegetic sounds to build tension and suspense in the series.

Additionally, students have studied the character archetypes presented in the film series and mapped out the hero’s journey based on Joseph Campbell’s mono-myth.

I do not only want students to be consuming the show, but also use the show as a catalyst for their own creativity and movie-making. Students have had two film challenges, courtesy of The Jacob Burns Film Center.

Film Challenge No. 1 – Taking inspiration from Stranger Things and what you learned about match cuts. Create a short film about someone or something in your house that is not what they seem to be. Your film should use at least one graphic match, a way to connect two shots by having similar composition. Also consider sound, color, and lighting to help tell your story.

Check out this film posted on the JBFC website:

Film Challenge No. 2 – Think about Stranger Things and the moments when the characters were introduced to the Upside-Down (the Lab Scenes, When the wall in Joyce’s home reveals another world, when Nancy and Jonathan go into the Upside-Down.

Your second film challenge is to use some new camera moves and create a story about a mysterious room in your home.

IMAGE: Revealing a character’s reaction or a new piece of information at just the right moment can add the perfect amount of tension to your zombie love story or get a big laugh in your action-comedy.

A whip pan is a quick turn of the camera that can be a stylish way to make that big reveal. You must use a whip pan to reveal something to the audience. Check out the video about the Whip Pan Shot below for more information.

SOUND: What’s the sound of a sword made of light? What about a monster made of cosmic gas and time particles? Deep questions like these are the realm of the Sound Effect Designer and her team. They create all the sounds in a film from the common (footsteps), to the uncommon (Chewbacca). Create at least 3 sound effects for your film.

STORY: A new room has just appeared in your house! Nobody has ever seen it before. Was it there all along? How could you miss it?! Maybe it just appeared. However it happened, now it’s here and there’s a problem.
A few tips:

Every scene in your film should move the story forward in some way, big or small, and every scene should have conflict.

A character wants/needs something, and the story can’t move forward until they get it. Remember, the scene is only interesting if there is something in the way of your character and their goal.

Using frames from Stranger Things I created weekly check-ins with my students, like this  “Meme” Check-ins in a Google Forms and ask how students are doing under the current pandemic.

Stranger Things Meme Check In

Here were a few student responses:

I love creating films but I like watching and breaking down shows/movies better.

I enjoy when we watch little videos about something related to film making.

I like creating more than watching.

Class online school is has been good so far! The lessons and everything have been nice.

Class has been really good during this online school period. The amount of work is really good and the assignments can be fun.

Lastly, students are comparing what is real and what is fiction in the show. Students researched more about What Was Going on in the Hawkins Laboratory in Stranger Things? From the 1950s to 1970sProject MKUltra, also called the CIA mind control program, is the code name given to a program of experiments on human subjects that were designed and undertaken by the United States Central Intelligence Agency—and which were, at times, illegal. Experiments on humans were intended to identify and develop drugs and procedures to be used in interrogations in order to weaken the individual and force confessions through mind control. The project was organized through the Office of Scientific Intelligence of the CIA and coordinated with the U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories.

For a creative writing activity, student wrote out the dialogue for the scene between Dr. Brenner and Hopper in Episode 7 at the Lab. What did they say to each other that allowed Hopper to go into the Upside Down with Joyce. Having students write out edited scenes sheds light on inferential knowledge and understanding.

Television shows and movies are great visual texts to help students practice close reading skills and showcase their understanding in creative ways like movie making projects.

 

 

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Leading With Literacy in the Midst of COVID

Give More Hugs is an incredible organization that works with students and teachers at Title 1 schools to provide resources and facilitate a positive learning community. They support students who need educational materials by providing items such as books, basic school and art supplies, backpacks, and words of encouragement students need to reach their potential. GMHs also works with older students to get them involved in their own schools and communities through Ambassadors, BookShare, and Backpack programs.

GMHs is hosting its First Annual Virtual Leadership Conference May 11-13th, 2020.  Teachers, students and non-profit supporters have come together to present a conference to highlight the power of leadership, giving, caring and support of literacy and diversity.  All powerful messages, especially in this time of unprecedented change.

You are invited you to attend any or all sessions.  Each presentation will be about 15 minutes with 15 minutes allotted for discussion and questions.  Please sign up here if you want to join us:  https://forms.gle/BzfGeiPfPXwHTREK6

On Tuesday, May 12th at 2:30 EST I will be presenting LEADING WITH LITERACY IN THE MIDST OF COVID to address how we have shifted our literacy instruction in the midst of the current pandemic. I will share ways we can utilize literacy to go help cope and support our community in a time of need because literacy impacts all aspects of our lives. Building relationships, supporting social emotional needs and getting books into the hands of our students provide a path of healing and health. Below are the slides for the presentation.

“It takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb that means that an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. Now, more than ever, we need to come together as a community (locally, nationally, and globally) to support our students social, emotionally, and academically. This requires us to stay connected and share literacy resources that will provide students with access to information, insight, escape, and awareness.

 

 

 

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NCTE Verse: Sekou Sundiata

For the past month, National Council of Teachers of English has been sending its members a poet a day celebrating more than 20 poets, the majority of them contemporary and up-and-coming. The last one share for 2020 National Poetry Month was one that I wrote about the poet Sekou Sundiata. As a first year teacher in New York City twenty years ago, I saw Sekou Sundiata perform live at the New School University and still today, he influences my teaching and writing poetry with my students. For more information about past poets and teaching poetry check out NCTE.

Poet of the Day: Sekou Sundiata
Sekou Sundiata’s poetry touches on issues of race and identity. A poet and performance artist, Sundiata’s poetry performances infuse jazz, blues, and Afro-Caribbean rhythms. He wrote the plays Blessing the Boats, The Circle Unbroken is a Hard Bop, The Mystery of Love, Udu, and the 51st (dream) state. Sundiata was the first Writer-in-Residence at New School University where he taught literature and poetry classes. In 2001 he toured with Ani DiFranco, whose Righteous Babe record label released LongStoryShort. Sundiata was featured in Bill Moyer’s PBS series The Language of Life and the PBS series United States of Poetry, created and produced by Bob Holman. Sundiata said of his work, “This is poetry-as-living-word. That’s the tradition I come out of . . . the spoken word as a celebration of life, as expression of consciousness through the power and glory of language. Poetry not as monologue, but as dialogue; a chant, a call, a response, a riff, a refrain and whatnot.”
This poet belongs in our classrooms because . . .
Poetry is music and music is poetry. Sundiata’s poetry has a political edge and speaks of black culture and tradition. The topics he presents about race and identity are part of an ongoing conversation about America’s identity, citizenship, and individuality. Sekou Sundiata is considered one of the grandfathers of the spoken-word movement. Poetry in our classroom is not just for literary analysis, but for performance too. Poetry is meant to be spoken and heard. It evokes emotions, reactions, and is a catalyst for critical conversations in the classroom.
A Poem by Sekou Sundiata
Blink Your Eyes
I was on my way to see my woman
but the Law said I was on my way
thru a red light red light red light
and if you saw my woman
you could understand,
I was just being a man.
It wasn’t about no light
it was about my ride
and if you saw my ride
you could dig that too, you dig?
Sunroof stereo radio black leather
bucket seats sit low you know,
the body’s cool, but the tires are worn.
Ride when the hard time come, ride
when they’re gone, in other words
the light was green.
I could wake up in the morning
without a warning
and my world could change:
blink your eyes.
All depends, all depends on the skin,
all depends on the skin you’re living in
Up to the window comes the Law
with his hand on his gun
what’s up? what’s happening?
I said I guess
that’s when I really broke the law.
He said a routine, step out the car
a routine, assume the position.
Put your hands up in the air
you know the routine, like you just don’t care.
License and registration.
Deep was the night and the light
from the North Star on the car door, deja vu
we’ve been through this before,
why did you stop me?
Somebody had to stop you.
I watch the news, you always lose.
You’re unreliable, that’s undeniable.
This is serious, you could be dangerous.
I could wake up in the morning
without a warning
and my world could change:
blink your eyes.
All depends, all depends on the skin,
all depends on the skin you’re living in
New York City, they got laws
can’t no bruthas drive outdoors,
in certain neighborhoods, on particular streets
near and around certain types of people.
They got laws.
All depends, all depends on the skin,
all depends on the skin you’re living in.
Other Poems & Performance Pieces by Sekou Sundiata
New American Theater (Dodge Poetry Festival)
Teaching Connections
“Blink your Eyes” can be used for text comparison or text pairing with Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, or Nic Stone’s Dear Martin. Additionally, this poem can be part of a discussion about Jim Crow laws and racism throughout history. This poem was written in the mid 1990s addressing racial profiling and stereotypes, but provides context and connections to history and today. Looking at craft and structure, students can examine how Sundiata’s figurative language and repetition provide meaning and emphasis.
Discussion Prompts & Text-Dependent Questions
  1. What is the author’s message about racial injustice?
  2. How does the author use irony to describe his feelings for his readers?
  3. The poet uses details to guide our emotional response. What emotions do you believe the author intended the reader to experience and why?
  4. What is the significance and symbolism of “red light” emphasized throughout the poem?
  5. How does the personification of the law contribute to the poem?
As Jay-Z writes in Decoded, “Rhymes can make sense of the world in a way that regular speech can’t.” Listen to the poem multiple times; when we only deconstruct the poem on paper, it loses its full capability. Recognize how the music and rhyming adds an additional layer with the sound of language to make meaning. Check out Bryce Ware’s reading of Sundiata’s poem as well as Sundiata performing his poem.
All of Sundiata’s poetry can be used as a model and mentor text for students writing and performing their own poems about social injustice and oppression.
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Trapped in WW2: Inspiration from EDrenaline Rush

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This weekend I read through John Meehan‘s book EDrenaline Rush (Dave Burgess Publishing, 2020) and took copious notes. I have seen John’s classroom materials on Twitter and we have conversed in different gamification twitter chats. Whether it is his Fortnite Battle Royale or Great Gatsby Break In, Meehan has great energy that he ignites in his high school classrooms. The world is our inspiration and Meehan has taken inspiration from Disney World, Spartan Races, Escape Rooms to engage his students in deep learning and active learner centered classrooms.

This year was the first year that I participated in a Disney Marathon and spending the weekend in Disney with 20,000 other people for the marathon weekend I was immersed in the magical powers of Disney.  An avid marathoner himself, Meehan begins his book deconstructing the architecture of Disney’s Magic Kingdom based on his own experiences doing the Disney Marathons with his family. He breaks down not only the culture that Disney creates but the experiences that fuel each storyline in the different parks and rides. Meehan calls for classroom teachers to use Disney as a model to build and sustain a positive and engaging culture with students.

The book also covers Escape Rooms, races, and scavenger hunts as a means for learning experiences because learning is an experience that is fueled by curiosity. The book is filled with many games and lessons that provide students with exciting learning adventures that spark their sense of wonder. Based on my reading, I created a playlist for our WW2 independent reading unit to provide background knowledge. The format what something that “Miss Ryan” shared on Twitter two weeks ago and now I cannot find her tweet or Twitter account where she posted her own Progressive Era Playlist, but the design was inspired by her. Her playlist offered an audio link to hear the teacher go over the work. I love the audio or visual support for learners. I also added an audio button that links to a screen cast providing further directions and explanation about the playlist assignments.

WW Playlist Week 1

I know that this is reading heavy for week one and the readings come from Actively Learn. I might switch out a reading or two for an Edpuzzle video or web quest. The first activity is a Google Form and anticipation guide that asks students whether they agree or disagree with the following statements:

I would help someone I saw in trouble, no matter the danger.

Prejudice leads to violence.

Apathy is a critical issue in our society. *Apathy means to not care.

Everyone should always conform to the laws of society.

The bystander has an obligation to help a person in distress.

Violation of human rights in another country is none of our business.

The bystander who does not intervene is as guilty at the perpetrator.

For the final assignment for the week I have included a Hexagonal Thinking Map, adapted from EDrenaline Rush as a “show what you know” activity. The hexagonal thinking map is a collaborative discussion activity for making connections between concepts and visually presenting those connections to represent the big ideas of a topic. Students  have a set of hexagons, each with a term dealing with World War II and the Holocaust. The challenge is to link the terms to present an organized and annotated representation of the this time period.

With your hexagons, students will need to …

Categorize – As you make links with all of your hexagons, you should categorize them by color. Make sure to make a key on the graphic organizer to show the different categories. 

Synthesize – You’re going to take each of the hexagons and see how they combine to create your understanding of WW2. Each hexagon should touch at least one side of another, and you should be able to annotate their relationship – cause-and-effect, turning points, change in continuity, testimony.

Summarize – Using your categories, develop a succinct and complete definition of your understanding of World War 2 and the Holocaust. Your definition should be one or two complex sentences.

Evaluate – Did America do too little in WW2? Did they do just enough? Were they too slow in responding to Hitler? Did they go too far dropping the atomic bomb? Consider the actions of the perpetrators, bystanders, allies and pass judgment in some form or another. This could be ranking individual actions, summation statements, or anything else you develop.

I edited a Google Drawing Hexagonal Thinking Map from Ditch that Textbook so that all my students could annotate their own thinking and understanding from the readings this week. 

WW2 Hexagonal Thinking Map

A third assignment I am providing during the WW2 unit is the #Hashtag Hunt inspired by John Meehan. The teacher provides themed hashtags for students to look for during reading. For example, when students begin reading their independent reading books about WW2 and the Holocaust I want them to make note of the following hashtags and go on a text hunt – find places in the text and direct quotes that support these themes and ideas. Here are a few of the hashtags I have created:

#NaziLies – Examples of Nazi propaganda and laws utilized to maintain power

#WW2Destruction – Examples of destruction caused by actions of WW2

#Allies – Examples of actions from allies who helped protagonist

#Resistance – Examples of acts of resistance from the protagonists

#Dehumanization – Examples where the protagonist is reduced to an object and no longer considered human or worthy of human dignity

#Liberation – Any example where the protagonists are brought out of their situation and able to live freely again

If you are into games and gamification to fuel an active learner centered classroom, you are going to want to read Edrenaline Rush. I know that you will be inspired by John’s stories, games, and activities that engage students and inspire them to be innovative, critical thinkers.

 

 

 

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Distance Learning Book Clubs

As we continue to move forward with remote learning I am planning a World War 2 reading unit for the upcoming month. Thinking about how to get books into my students hands and continue to encourage them to read and reflect is my objective. I have reorganized my teaching to support all the learners in my classroom remotely and virtually.

The reading unit is grounded in choice. Students choose which book they want to read about WW2. To build background knowledge students are immersed in multimodal text sets reading and viewing nonfiction articles primary sources, photographs, videos, and movies about the time period.

To make sure that we get books in every student’s hands, my special education teacher and I will be reading aloud from one of the book every day on Google Meet for a live read aloud and also recording the read alouds for students to access on Google Classroom. The school librarian has made available many of these books as Ebooks for students to borrow the books and a handful of students will purchase their own books on Kindles, paper copies, or audio books.

WW2 Reading Choices

As students are reading the different texts they will respond in writing, discussion on  Flipgrid, and collaborating on Google Jamboards – collaborative whiteboards students can edit and add observations and insights – thanks to @tarahtesmer for the insights.

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Each week students will focus their reading on a particular topic or theme to help develop thinking and theories about their reading. For example, the first week of reading students will focus on characterization:

On a Google Doc, write a letter to the protagonist in your book in which you describe explain why you admire or do not admire the protagonist. 

In your letter, be sure to describe the characteristics of the protagonist in response to the war. Identify whether they are an upstander, bystander, ally or target. 

Be sure to include throughout your letter four (4) textual citations (including page numbers) that contain noteworthy information to support your reasoning. I provide students with a template to help get started and an exemplar to aim for.

Also, as students read deeper into their books I hope students will make connections between the hatred, bias, and violence that spread during WW2 and the hatred that has been on the rise around the world today. Students will research the rise of hate groups today.  After completing a Venn Diagram, students write a one page (double spaced, 12 point font) reflection that parallels to the events that took place around the world during WW2 in Europe and America after Pearl Harbor – as presented in your book and the rise of hate today. Students will use key information and direct textual evidence to address what social conditions would be necessary for hate groups to grow today. What they believe would be the most likely basis of another world war: pride, nationalism, fear, racism, economic interests, or religious intolerance? Here are two links to kick start research: 

NY Times Article “Over 1,000 Hate Groups Are Now Active in United States” 

Southern Poverty Law Center Hate Map

Throughout the current educational climate of distance and remote learning my goal is to continue to help students develop rich literacy lives, promote critical thinking, and make connections.

What are you working on with your students to do the same? Share the reading units you are working on during remote learning in the comments section on this blog and also we always want to know the strategies and tools you are getting the most at to support literacy learning.

 

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Supporting Diverse Readers in Virtual Spaces and Remote Learning #EdTechTeam Virtual Summit

#EdTechTeam is hosting three Virtual Summits this spring. The first is Saturday, April 18, 2020. The objective of the Summits is to support teachers and district leaders as schools move to implement remote learning, improve practice, implement new tools, design better online learning experiences, and continue to build relationships with students and families.

The learning begins at 10 AM EST with a key note speaker, then participants can access  presentations throughout the four session times,  and at the conclusion, a demo slam. I will be presenting at 2 PM EST on Supporting Diverse Readers in Virtual Spaces and Remote Learning.” I have shared the slide deck below.

My goal as an English Language Arts teacher is to promote a rich literacy experience for ALL the learners in my classroom. Shifting to remote learning has allowed me to refine the reading units I create with my students and make texts accessible to all my students. All of the assignments provide scaffolds to help students reach higher levels of comprehension.

These scaffolds include

models

graphic organizers

frontload vocabulary

using lots of visuals

dividing texts into manageable chunks

It is important to remember when teaching and planning lessons that every students is unique and valuable. I don’t want students to fall off my radar and it is important that students have a voice and choice throughout their learning. Providing multiple pathways to learning will help all students reach excellence.

 

 

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Arts & Culture in a time of Social Distance

I love visiting museums, watching theater, listening to symphonies, and seeing guest speakers discuss engaging topics. Now that we are ordered to stay home, my tickets for events scheduled these upcoming months have been rescheduled or cancelled. Despite these cancellations, closings, and rescheduling,  I will continue to engage in various arts and culture activities remotely.  If you are looking for more arts and culture to add to your daily listening and screenings, here are six websites that allow you to connect with these experiences.

  1. Google Arts & Culture is a great place to explore. My daughter and I spent a week exploring The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks in Utah, Alaska, Florida, New Mexico, and Hawaii. Each place allowed us to listen to interviews with park rangers, explore amazing places in the park with a 360 degree virtual tour, and see other magnificent videos of wildlife, flowing lava in Hawaii, and more. There are art collections and even space travel on this website arranged by themes, virtual tours, collections, and street views.

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2. In New York City the 92nd Street Y has offered so many wonderful programs, lectures, speakers, classical music, and readings. Unfortunately this center is currently closed, but you can still access some of their archived arts and culture events. This past week I listened to interviews with the cast of Schitt’s Creek and another interview with Lizzo. Check out the 92nd Street Y archives for lots more.

3. I miss Broadway theater so much and I have found that you can watch Broadway online. Some shows are streaming on Netflix like American Son, Sweeney Todd and Shrek the Musical,  others like SpongeBob Musical and Fiddler on the Roof on Amazon Prime, and a few classic productions are on BroadwayHD like the King and I, Cats, and Les Miserables. For a complete list and links, check out this article fromBroadway.com. If you just want to hear the music, BroadwayWorld partnered with Broadway performers to launch a series of “Living Room Concerts” to bring video performances direct to you from the living rooms of Broadway performers. The first video is from Jagged Little Pill’s Kathryn Gallagher, performing “You Learn.”

4. All of our museums are closed but that does not mean you cannot view current exhibitions. You can follow many of these museums on social media or visit museum websites. The Getty Museum in California wrote an article “How to Explore Art While the Getty Galleries Are Closed” for virtual visits and to keep people’s spirits up. There are podcasts, online exhibits, books, and resources that anyone can access to learn, view and interact with art, art history, and culture. In fact, if you haven’t seen or heard about the Getty’s art challenge for people at home, check it out on Twitter and get involved. Here is the challenge: Recreate a work of art with objects (and people) in your home.

The images people have shared have been amazing.

5. Open Culture is another resource that provides free movies, audio books, online courses. You can even find book recommendations from all different people who are known as experts in their fields like Carl Sagan, Henry Miller, and feminist reading lists. For example, Neil DeGrasse Tyson lists “8 books Every Intelligent Person Should Read.”  I now have a few more books to add to my to-be-read list.

6. We Are Teachers has provided “The Big List of Children’s Authors Doing Online Read-Alouds & Activities.” So many amazing authors, illustrators, and artists are sharing their work online. Some are reading aloud and others are offering writing prompts and drawing lessons. You can watch them all at once or take them in small bites. Those of you who grew up with Reading Rainbow, remember host and creator, LeVar Burton. Well, his podcast LeVar Burton Reads” is a collection of stories from all different authors and for all different ages. I cannot wait for him to read aloud Jason Reynolds’ Look Both Ways this spring.

Bottom line, there are so many amazing resources at our fingertips to keep us engaged with arts, culture, intellectual conversations, and rich experiences. Stay curious, be well, and be safe.

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