Social Studies

Remember: The Journey to School Integration

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Early Learning, Non-Fiction, People Smart, Range of Reading, Self Smart, Social Studies | 0 comments

Remember the Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison Yesterday was the 5oth anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech “I Have a Dream”.  School starts for most Michigan students next Tuesday, and I wonder how many of those students realize that there was a time when many school doors were closed to kids who weren’t white.

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison is a powerful and poignant nonfiction book full of photographs that bring to life this time in American history. We see a photo of a little African-American girl with a bow in her hair, reading from her school book, and Morrison writes, “The law says I can’t go to school with white children. Are they afraid of my socks, my braids? I am seven years old. Why are they afraid of me?”

We see three white boys wearing cardboard signs that say things like “WE WON’T GO TO SCHOOL WITH NEGROES” and Morrison writes, “I don’t know. My buddies talked me into this. They said it would be fun. It’s not, but these guys are my friends and friends are more important than strangers. Even if they’re wrong. Aren’t they?”

We see a white teenage girl and an African-American teenage girl smiling at each other at a school lunch table. We see a group of students with a variety of skin colors gathered around a picture book.  Morrison includes information about Brown vs. the Board of Education, a timeline, and notes on each photo at the end of the book, but even if you just share the photos and the captions, this book will spark discussions (and hit that CCSS of Range of Reading.)

Since this is a book about something that happened before your students were born, why share it? In Morrison’s words, “Why offer memories you do not have? Remembering can be painful, even frightening. But it can also swell your heart and open your mind… the path was not entered, the gate was not opened, the road was not taken only for those brave enough to walk it. It was for you as well.”

So share this beautiful book with your students. Make time for thoughtful, respectful discussion.  There’s a free teacher’s guide on houghtonmifflinbooks.com with discussion questions and research ideas. Encourage your students to put themselves in the shoes of kids who had to struggle for access to a good education. Take inspiration from the powerful photos you’ve seen. Bring a digital camera into your classroom so your students can take photos of each other and themselves and write, as Morrison did, what they think the person in the photo was thinking.  Celebrate the fact that each and every one of your students is safe and welcome in your classroom.

 

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Rosie Revere, Engineer

Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 in Art, Early Learning, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Logic Smart, Phonological Awareness, Range of Reading, Rhyming, Science, Self Smart, Social Studies, Vocabulary | 2 comments

 

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts

I have the best of reasons for posting late this week: I’ve been on Mackinac Island at the Michigan Reading Association conference, being inspired by dedicated educators and loving the slower pace of an island with no automobiles. Now I’m sitting in a white wicker rocking chair with a cup of coffee and my laptop, dear husband at my side, watching sailboats glide by. The only thing that could make this any better would be a great book, and luckily, I have one.

Rosie Revere, Engineer written by the marvelously talented Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts is one of the rare rhyming book gems: the story is as solid as the meter and the language isn’t dumbed down in order to make a rhyme. Rosie Revere is the kind of girl most creative people will relate to: joyfully inventive, but so fearful of failure and ridicule that she hides her inventions away. The “gadgets and gizmos” she creates are fantastic, and I love Roberts’ whimsical and yet credible drawings of them. (I myself would love a pair of Rosie’s helium pants.) Rosie’s desire to help her great-great-aunt Rose fulfill her lifelong dream of flying gives Rosie the courage to test one of her inventions.
The heli-o-cheese-copter sputtered and twitched.
It floated a moment and whirled round and round,
then froze for a heartbeat and crashed to the ground.”
Rosie is devastated by the failure, and by her great-great-aunt’s laughter, until she hears,
“‘Your brilliant first flop was a raging success!
Come on, let’s get busy and on to the next!’

So not only is the message of this book one that every creative person with perfectionist tendencies needs to hear (I’m keeping it by my bedside table as a reminder) but it has historical notes in it about Amelia Earhart and E. Lillian Todd (the first woman to design airplanes) and Rosie the Riveter and other strong women whose names and deeds should be known. For a social studies lesson, you could easily springboard from this book into studying awesome women inventors. For math-science-art, get graph paper and a bunch of doodads and thing-a-ma-bobs for students to plan, design, build, test, and refine their own inventions. If you ask people to donate old, broken electronic gadgets to your class and bring in small tools, your students can take apart old radios and remote controls to disassemble and use. Build those Phonological Awareness skills by focusing on the rhyme, then discuss the interesting word choices for a Craft & Structure lesson. To keep rocking those Core Standards in Reading, you can easily work in Integrating Knowledge & Ideas by comparing Rosie Revere, Engineer to Iggy Peck, Architect by the same power duo. 

So share this book with absolutely everyone you know, and get busy taking creative risks, because
Life might have its failures, but this was not it.
The only true failure can come if you quit.”

For more information on the author, please visit andreabeaty.com.
For more information on the illustrator, please visit davidrobertsillustration.com.

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Celebrate America with “Seed by Seed”

Posted by on Jul 3, 2013 in Biography, Early Learning, Holiday, Key Ideas and Details, Nature Smart, Non-Fiction, Range of Reading, Self Smart, Social Studies | 2 comments

seedbyseedWhat better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with a slice of apple pie and a beautiful picture book about an American legend? Seed by Seed: the Legend and Legacy of John “Appleseed” Chapman written by Esme Raji Codell and illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins is one of the most thought-full biographies I’ve read. Codell and Perkins invite children to leave behind the world of concrete, cars, and screens, and enter a time when one man made a huge impact on our country, seed by seed.

John Chapman, or Johnny Appleseed, planted so many seeds across America that chances are the apples you eat are descendents of his trees. His legend of humble generosity is a story every child should know. I love the five examples Johnny Appleseed planted that we can follow:

“Use what you have.
Share what you have.
Respect nature.
Try to make peace where there is war.
You can reach your destination by taking small steps.”

And I just want to hug the book every time I read the end:

“Seed by seed, deed by deed,
Johnny Appleseed changed the landscape of a nation.
And now it’s your turn.
One small deed, every day.
What seed will you plant?”

Pick this book to use in your classroom as a biography, as part of a unit on apples, in an American legends unit. Codell, who knows what works in the classroom (remember the terrific book about a teacher’s first year called Educating Esme? That’s her!) has great ideas in the back of the book, including a recipe for apple pie. There’s also a fantastic free teacher’s guide on harpercollins.com. I’d have students help me make a yummy apple treat to share as we discuss the five examples of Johnny Appleseed. Connecting what Johnny did in his life to each of those ideas will be a good Common Core Key Ideas & Details lesson (plus you can put a checkmark next to Range of Reading).  You can talk with your students about putting these examples into place in your classroom. Seed by Seed could inspire your students to plant seeds of kindness, and those seeds could spread through your school, your community, your nation. That is as wonderful and American as apple pie.

Have a happy Fourth of July!

For more information about the author, please visit planetesme.com.
For more information about the illustrator, please visit lynnerae.com.

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Drummer Boy of John John

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Art, Biography, Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Music Smart, Onomatopoeia, Print Concepts, Range of Reading, Social Studies, Vocabulary | 0 comments

drummer-boy-of-john-john-largeMaybe it’s the vibrant art or maybe it’s the tropical setting of Trinidad, but on this snowy March day, I am in love with Drummer Boy of John John by Mark Greenwood with illustrations by Frane Lessac. Knowing that it’s a biography (so it hits the Common Core standard of Range of Reading) that incorporates music and art makes me love it even more.

It’s almost time for Carnival and everyone in Winston’s town is getting ready to celebrate with calypso music. Winston wishes he were in a band, because the best band in the parade will get free rotis from the Roti King. (Is your Craft and Structure Common Core Standard alarm ringing? Lots of interesting word choices in this book!) But Winston has no gourds full of seeds that go “shoush-shap/ shukka-shac” and no bamboo to pound on the ground with a “click clack/ rappa-tap” (Check Print Concepts off on your Common Core score card). When Winston throws his mango pit into the junkyard, he hears a “pong ping pang” as the pit hits old metal. Winston makes his own instrument from the dented metal containers – the first steel drum. Winston’s friends hear this music and form a junkyard band. They paint pots, pans, tins, and cans rainbow colors and experiment with the dents and bumps in the metal to make different pitches. Winston’s band is crowned the best band in the Carnival parade, so they all feast on rotis and mango lemonade.

This book has so many tie-ins for art, music, and social studies. (I wish I’d found it a month ago, so I could’ve used it for Carnival/Mardi Gras, but it’s a fun lesson any time of year.) Students can use recycled cans, jars, bottles and containers to make their own instruments. Paint them in the tropical rainbow colors Lessac used in her art. Play a clip of steel drum music for students (you can get cd’s from your local library or use this Youtube clip: Steel Drums in Trinidad and Tobago. Bring in mangos for students to taste after they try dancing under the limbo pole like the Roti King does. Use your recycled instruments to play a “listen and repeat” rhythm game to build listening skills. Winston Simon began with junk from the junkyard and ended up touring London and Paris with the Trinidad All Stars Percussion Orchestra. Who knows where tin cans and this inspirational book might take your students?

For more information about the author, visit: markgreenwood.com.au.
For more information about the illustrator, visit: franelessac.com

 

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