A commitment to celebrate the ethnicity and culture of the students in your classroom starts, I believe, with a cache of valuable resources. My job as instructional coach allows me to collaborate with teachers in different grade levels and that means lots of talk about picture books, middle grade books and some (content appropriate) YA books.
Websites you’ll want to check out if you haven’t already:
Last week in an upper elementary classroom, the week began with students being introduced to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The classroom teacher chose ten of the 50+ articles in that document and asked students to rank the articles in order of importance to them. The discussion that followed was awe-inspiring.
The students had previously read Eleven by Sandra Cisneros. They were now able to read other text selections, revisit the Rights of the Child document and view new excerpts to guide their discussions and their writing. Additional new excerpts they read included a short piece about Cassius Clay from Revolution by Deborah Wiles, a play about Sylvia Mendez from a recent edition of Scholastic SCOPE and another selection from Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin.
Additional book recommendations–some I’ve read and others were titles suggested during teacher planning sessions in the last few weeks:
Recently, I heard Loren Long speak about his experience in school as a vulnerable reader. He was speaking to a room full of educators, “Do everything you can to make that kid feel like a real part of your classroom community.” Loren was talking specifically about kids who feel they don’t do well in school. I’d like to suggest that we broaden his plea to include ALL kids. Kids from cultures, countries and ethnic groups different from our own deserve to see themselves in the books we read.
I’d like my teaching legacy to include making every kid feel like a highly-valued part of the learning community, wouldn’t you?