Sunday, February 23, 2020

Black History Month Lesson

I love this animated short that won an Oscar this year. We've shown in to 3rd-6th grade students and it's created an atmosphere for good discussion about hair, cancer, and families. I worked hard to create an interesting history project for 5th and 6th grade students.  It's a Google Slideshow if you are interesting in checking it out or using it.

My students have been very engaged in research and creating their slideshows. I love their excited conversations as they find out facts. One group announced that John Lewis' birthday was on February 20th and he was turning 80. They've discovered a few Iowans like Anna Mae Weems and were excited to know she is from Waterloo and that she is still alive! Lonnie G. Johnson invented the Super Soaker. Wow!  I look forward to seeing their projects and knowing each of them learning a little something new which is what we all need to broaden our horizons.

I recently finished Maybe he just likes you by Barbara Dee which chronicles Mila as she navigates 7th grade with a group of unique friends and a group of harassing young men.  These boys play a game centered around touching or talking about Mila's body and she has a hard time fending them off. One of her friends keeps telling her she is taking it too seriously because maybe they like her or they are just joking. The boys continue the game even after Mila has asked them to stop. This is a wonderful book for middle or high school students to read although I personally didn't think the boys were truly understand how their behavior was wrong. It certainly will create good conversations for students. Last weekend I read The War that saved my life which was a huge hit two years ago in the library but has been gathering dust this year.  I took it home, read it and loved it so of course book talked the heck out of it with 5th-6th grade students and now it's circulating again as is the sequel The War I finally won.

I'm still working on Mary Pipher's book Women Rowing North.  Aging is tough and this book is an excellent navigational resource. I want to highlight the heck out of this book except that it isn't mine.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

So Much in February

Tomorrow is CAUCUS day-a pretty big deal here in Iowa but for everyone as well because if we pick well it can be a positive push for the nation. For example if my choice Mayor Pete Buttigieg has great numbers at all caucus locations than suddenly people in other states will be saying his name a bit more often.  It's exciting stuff. I'm ready for it and I'm kind of ready for it to be over. If you are politically active it makes for busy days. On Friday night Groovy Girl and I walked for 2 hours knocking on doors for Pete.  It was snowy, a little cold, and we had one or two really great conversations which made for a lovely Friday night.

February is Black History Month which I feel awkward about because I feel like this should be something integrated into our curriculum naturally all the time every day but I also understand the need to highlight and move beyond the quick Dr. King and Rosa Parks stories. The week surrounding Dr. King's birthday I shared his "I have a Dream" speech with 5th and 6th grade students and we discussed then vs. now and racism today. I was a little taken aback that so few students really understood the reason for the holiday is to celebrate his birthday. Clearly this area does need constant work!  My teaching plan for this month is to share stories about a variety of African Americans from history and the present.

I recently watched Ava DuVerny's documentary When They See Us on Netflix and I highly recommend everyone watch this. It was a struggle to watch because it made me so angry! It's helpful that it is offered as 4 parts which helped break it up for me. I literally couldn't wait to get the last one to find the positive for these young men so wrongly accused and abused by the police and the whole system.  It easily brings to mind all the more recent unjust deaths like Philando Castile. And while scrolling though Twitter I found Black History in Two Minutes narrated by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Challenge yourself to find something directed by, created by, or written by a Black/Brown American this month. I'll be following up with more throughout the month.

Be peaceful with one another...