October 20th | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! I hope you enjoy this week’s resources.

– Check out Rethinking School’s New way of teaching Columbus: Putting him on trial for murder. “‘It begins on the premise that there’s this monstrous crime in the years after 1492 when perhaps as many as 3 million or more Taínos on the island of Hispaniola lost their lives,’ says Bill Bigelow, the curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools and the co-director of the Zinn Education Project. ‘It asks students to wrestle with the responsibility in this.’

— Also from Rethinking Schools: there’s a second edition of one of our favorite books: Reading, Writing, and Rising Up by Linda Christensen. To learn more about what prompted this re-release and its importance for education today, read this interview with Christensen “on the second edition…what role the classroom played in revision, and what needs to change in how we teach.”

– Thanks to an interesting initiative in Washington, DC, we can gain a quick glimpse into how third graders are coping with and processing current issues around the world. Check out how The World According to Washington’s Third-Graders to hear how the students “were generous, thoughtful and eager to talk about everything under the sun: personal experiences with racism, environmental policy, whether it’s a good idea to clone dinosaurs.” It’s a good reminder that young children think deeply about the same issues as adults.

–If you get a chance, you should read why when students are traumatized, teachers are too. One teacher expresses, “When you’re learning to be a teacher, you think it’s just about lesson plans, curriculum, and seating charts. I was blindsided by the emotional aspect of teaching—I didn’t know how to handle it.”

— There is a soft bigotry of having to change your name. “… There’s a difference between a name you can choose for yourself and a name that’s given to you because other people can’t be bothered with pronouncing it, even if the same sounds exist in the English tongue.”

-Lastly, here is a list of books to help kids understand the fight for racial equality, with an emphasis on the history of the US. Thanks to Penguin House for putting together these “resources to help us move beyond tokens and icons to a deeper understanding of our history and its legacy, toward our own marches for liberty and justice for all.

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: A Splash of Color. Reprinted from Flickr username Tanguy Domenge under CC©.

En la Clase: Love, Community, & Poetry

Vamos a Leer | En la Clase: Love of Community Through PoetryThis week’s En la Clase post continues to look at ways in which to think, teach, and talk about love in our classrooms.  As I was writing last week’s post on teaching about love through immigration, I was reminded of another classroom resource that could also be used to teach about love.  In the fall we reviewed Linda Christensen and Dyan Watson’s book Rhythm and Resistance: Teaching Poetry for Social Justice.  The whole book is wonderful, but given this month’s theme of love, I’d like to highlight one of the lessons that I think could be particularly compelling for creating or deepening the ties of community within our classrooms.  The lesson is available as a pdf here.  In “Remember Me: A farewell poem,” Christensen asks her students to write a Remember Me poem about a fellow classmate.  Christensen uses it at the end of the year, but I also think it could be used during the month of February to expand upon conversations around love of community.  As students are bombarded with the commercialized representations of love, it’s important to provide the space for them to think through these messages, challenge them, and create their own statements on the meaning of love.

In the lesson plan, Christensen writes, “Students need to learn how to build new traditions–ones that don’t involve corporations telling them how to think and feel about death, birth, illness, goodbyes, celebrations, or each other.  By creating practices in our classrooms that honor our time together, our work, and our community, we can teach students how to develop meaningful new traditions.” I couldn’t agree more.  Incorporating “Remember Me” poems into the classroom allows students to think deeply about the people in their classroom community, and hopefully foster a sense of love for that community. Continue reading

En la Clase: Rhythm and Resistance~Teaching Poetry for Social Justice

It’s a bit of a celebration here at Vamos a Leer as today marks our 500th post!! It’s been a great three and a half years.  We’re incredibly grateful for all of you who read, comment on, and share our Vamos a Leer resources.  It’s been wonderful getting to know this online community!

Rhythm and Resistance coverIt seems fitting that for today’s En la Clase I’m sharing a book that comes from one of my absolute favorite organizations for teaching resources: Rethinking Schools.  While it was Paulo Freire’s work that introduced me to the powerful potential of education, Rethinking Schools radically changed the way I taught.  Their teaching resources empowered both me and my students through concrete representations of critical pedagogy that humanize the teaching and learning processes.  Last spring we were lucky enough to get to host three Rethinking Schools editors for a day-long conference at the University of New Mexico.  Bill Bigelow, Linda Christensen, and Wayne Au led panel discussions and workshops along side some of our College of Education faculty.  Months later I still hear our local teachers and teacher education students referencing things they learned from that conference.

Today, I want to share with you one of Rethinking Schools’ most recent publications, Rhythm and Resistance: Teaching Poetry for Social Justice, edited by Linda Christensen and Dyan Watson.  If you’re unfamiliar with the book, it “offers practical lessons about how to teach poetry to build community, understand literature and history, talk back to injustice, and construct stronger literacy skills across content areas and grade levels—from elementary school to graduate school. Rhythm and Resistance reclaims poetry as a necessary part of a larger vision of what it means to teach for justice” (taken from the book’s back cover).  While many of us may be familiar with Christensen’s lesson plan on “Where I’m From” Poetry, this book provides an entire year’s worth of such engaging lessons that go way beyond the haiku, rhyming poems, or sonnets we often ask our students to write. Continue reading

En la Clase: Where I’m From. . .

About a month ago, I wrote a series of En la Clase posts on multicultural teaching and its relevance for the classroom, or how to travel around the world in 180 days.  Recently, as many of my teacher friends return to the classroom and I hear conversations about Where I'm From Poetrybeginning of the year activities, I’m reminded of “Where I’m From Poetry,” one of my favorite lessons to teach at the beginning of every school year. While it didn’t occur to me earlier, this writing activity would be a great addition to any multicultural teaching curriculum.  If you google it, you’ll find lots of information and resources for using this in the classroom. I’ve included some below at the bottom of the post.

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En la Clase: Dialogue Journals

One of our main purposes in creating the Vamos a Leer blog was to encourage teachers to use literature that would bring Latin American content into their classrooms.  We hope that our book suggestions, curriculum materials, and compilations of available resources is helping you to do this.  But, we also wanted to create a space for discussions about specific teaching ideas and activities.  Each week we will be highlighting an interesting idea that can be implemented in the classroom and sharing it here in our “En la Clase” announcement.

Recently I was reading through Linda Christensen’s book Reading, Writing and Rising Up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word.  The whole book is great–I would definitely recommend it. Her “Dialogue Journal” is one activity that I think would be especially useful in teaching literature.  One of the goals in using a diverse canon of literature is to get students to really engage in thinking about different cultures, to have some knowledge of the cultures and backgrounds of their classroom peers.  Christensen’s dialogue journal provides a structure in which students can begin to do this.  Continue reading