Posted in #Deconstruct, #ProjectLit, Anti-racist work, Argumentative Reading and Writing, being a better colleague, Being a better teacher, Big Questions, Close Reading, Communication, Culturally Responsive Teaching, ELA, ELL, Equity & Cultural Competency, Series: White People Homework, Writing

Series: White People Homework- What’s in a name? (14) (Updated)

We’re not a football family in our house. And like many areas of fandom, it’s okay–no judgment on those who love football, and as far as we know we aren’t judged by others. Wouldn’t matter. So forgive me for not knowing who Emmanuel Acho is. Turns out, he’s pretty amazing! And I am so grateful for other media formats who bring people such as him into my life and help me learn.

And I am an ELA/ELL teacher; however, full disclosure, I was not an English major in college. Most of what I learned about mechanics, style guides, and conventions I relearned and created lessons while teaching. My next question is what are the current grammarians and style guide writers determining about the capitalization of Black and White. Here’s what I’ve found:

Black should be capitalized. “White” — not as clear. From the Diversity Style Guide, they link further articles. The consensus isn’t clear (as are many grammatical discussions).

The National Association of Black Journalists does not capitalize Black in its publications, including the NABJ Style Guide. Many of the terms related to Black and White people in The Diversity Style Guide come from 100 Questions & Answers About African Americans. The team that put together that guide decided to capitalize Black and White, according to editor Joe Grimm. After much research and consideration, the editor of The Diversity Style Guide elected to capitalize Black and White when used in a racial context, but most would say it’s not incorrect to lowercase those words.

https://www.diversitystyleguide.com/glossary/white-white/
This article was written in 2011: When referring to race, should ‘black’ and ‘white’ be capitalized?
Original Post: http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/10/when-to-capatalize-black-and-white/

However, when words labeling an entire people are at the root of a language dispute, that’s reason enough to seek direction outside of our usual resources, especially if the resources are outdated. If your editorial directive is to call people what they want to be called—including names, pronouns, and labels—then look to Black media outlets like Ebony and Essence for accepted usage and avoid overriding their terminology. By capitalizing black and white, we also make necessary distinctions between color and race—black hair and Black hair—similar to distinguishing between native and Native. Don’t wait for your style guide to catch up, because it’s waiting for you to demonstrate sufficient usage.

From https://consciousstyleguide.com/capitalizing-for-equality/

This article lead me to this page: Center for the Study of Social Policy: https://cssp.org/2020/03/recognizing-race-in-language-why-we-capitalize-black-and-white/

This is the dilemma we need to address:

We believe that it is important to call attention to White as a race as a way to understand and give voice to how Whiteness functions in our social and political institutions and our communities. Moreover, the detachment of “White” as a proper noun allows White people to sit out of conversations about race and removes accountability from White people’s and White institutions’ involvement in racism. We are also reckoning with the threatening implications of capitalizing “W” in “White,” often used by White supremacists, to establish White racial dominance. The violence of capitalizing White in this context makes us grapple with the history of how Whiteness has functioned and thrived in the United States; acknowledging that, yes, White people have had power and still hold power in this country. While we condemn those who capitalize “W” for the sake of evoking violence, we intentionally capitalize “White” in part to invite people, and ourselves, to think deeply about the ways Whiteness survives—and is supported both explicitly and implicitly.

https://cssp.org/2020/03/recognizing-race-in-language-why-we-capitalize-black-and-white/

Language is powerful, and oftentimes I think ELA teachers don’t teach the true power of capitalization, punctuation and syntax. Because it “wasn’t on the test” we spent the past 14 years teaching to a test that uses excerpts like out-of-context entrails on an autopsy slab. I am going to call on my other experts on history and language to ask their thoughts. I will and do capitalize Black when referring to race, and have been using lower case “w” for white people. My instinctual response was because capitalizing the “w” felt like a nod for white supremacy. However, CSSP makes a strong case. (No pun intended.) Language is ever-evolving and shifting, sometimes for honest, descriptive and precise communication and sometimes for nefarious and subtextual racist communication. This article was written in 2015 by the Columbia Journalism Review: I think we can all agree that we need to be mindful of language and do our best to stay current and mind the impact.

And also, ELA teachers, be especially mindful of your use of Martin Luther King’s, Jr. works.

Update:

Posted in #Deconstruct, #ProjectLit, Argumentative Reading and Writing, Being a better teacher, Books, Culturally Relevant Teaching, Series: White People Homework

Series: White People Homework: Joy (10)

When I first began teaching, I used a lot of picture books. I still do, actually; I didn’t this past year as much because well, it was this past year. One book I loved as a read aloud was Skippyjon Jones by Judith Byron Schachner. And something didn’t sit right after a few readings. And then the book was panned by critics, and yes, it’s racist. No question about it. So, out it went. I never read it again or shared it. Know better, do better (Angelou).

Let’s start taking a look at how books impact our students. If white kids are only taught a narrow narrative about enslaved Blacks, that narrow line of thinking will shrink their critical thinking and empathy processes. And since I taught 7th and 8th grade most of my teaching career, this quote from Nic Stone took my breath away. Is this why my students stop reading in 8th grade, because they’re tired of waiting for books, mirrors, and sliding doors (Rudine Sims Bishop)?

Up until that point, required reading was either minimal or animal—shout-out to Mrs. Frisby and her NIMH-ish rats—but then eighth grade hit. And I started to disappear.

Nic Stone, “Don’t Just Read About Racism–Read Stories About Black People Living.”
Link to this article: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/books/a32770951/read-black-books-nic-stone/?fbclid=IwAR3X0tOp-gIjexv8hSa_ptftOW64N85hxHnfkWjn2MURSnVP3RnqR6KDGs0

And though I’ve watched this probably over fifty times, it’s worth watching again:

Start curating your own collection, and I’ll continue to share the resources I discover along the way.

And immediately follow Dr. Kim Parker @tchkimpossible and the other woman who created and sustain #DisruptTexts

Posted in #Deconstruct, #ProjectLit, Anti-racist work, Argumentative Reading and Writing, Equity & Cultural Competency, History, Series: White People Homework

Series: White People Homework: The Cost (9)

The emotional, spiritual, education, and economic costs of racism are complex, chaotic, and connected. But there are verifiable receipts to these costs, and if I was a better statistician or social mathematician perhaps I could write with more scholarly credibility. But I do know the data are available, and historically white people have ignored these costs to others, themselves, and future generations. It costs billions to clean up fractured lives, and it can’t possibly cost as much to build sustainable, equitable lives for us all. Think about the amount of money and conscious choice it takes for Republicans to maintain their racists infrastructure of voter suppression. Think of the economic health of our nation if we ended racism and racist practices in law, civil interactions, and upheld our principals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This post provides links to articles and data regarding the economic cost of racism.

The economic impact of racism is nearly immeasurable. Life is precious and priceless, yet we treat each other as commodities. And the enslavement of people in our own nation is a sin that demands reparations.

Read these articles and consider using them in a Socratic Seminar, argumentative reading resources, etc. Ask students if they think racist policies and practices in this country have affected them, either by privilege, benefit or disadvantage.

One of the costs of racism in American society by Michelle Singletary

The economic impact of racism by Michelle Singletary

The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehesi Coates

ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/students-rights/

Why should students know their rights? What if their rights are violated? What does that cost them in time, emotional and mental health, money, and opportunities? How do students advocate for themselves and others safely?

Anti-racist work for white educators: prioritize understanding how this looks like in your own classes and your relationships with students:

Finally, consider the economic costs of trauma. Racism and violence cause trauma. While trauma and injuries are not always connected with racism and racism violence, it is clearly a portion of the costs represented in the $671 billion dollar figure.

From the Center for National Trauma Research

Childhood exposure to trauma costs society $458 billion annually

https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/childhood-exposure-trauma-costs-society-458-billion-annually

There are real, calculated costs to racism. Racism and systemic racism props up wealthy white people. It maintains their vast wealth. It maintains their infrastructure of police protections and brutality. If we continue to work toward a more just nation and world, always consider the money: who benefits, and who seeks to maintain the status quo. And speak directly to that with your voice, power, votes, and information.

Posted in #Deconstruct, Argumentative Reading and Writing, Being a better teacher, Essays, Reflection, Writing

Dismantling Essays: essays in the wild

I have broken every single one of these rules.

In my continuing effort to change how and why teachers approach essay writing, I’ve come across some amazing resources. One of the most discussed posts was one I shared, via Sarah Donovan, via Three Teachers Talk: Three Reasons to Stop Teaching The Five Paragraph Essay .

I am a huge fan of John Warren’s writing, Why They Can’t Write: I believe it should be required reading and professional development by every high school English and History teacher (and Science, Math, PE, Orchestra, Art, etc.) for one important reason: he provides a road map to where our students are headed. If the five-paragraph essay is the only path and scaffold to instruct students on organization, we have lost our why. So, this is not a hit on the five-paragraph essay structure as much as it is a call to look closely at the why of explaining organization. Continuing the curation of mentor texts and redefining what an essay looks like is of utmost important to me. I am constantly striving to reconsider, rethink, and reflect on the practice of teaching and learning about writing.

Some of my previous posts on this topic:

Essays Revisited:

And Shawna Coppola wrote Writing Redefined (and I’m kicking my lazy, procrastinating self for not getting to my own writing book) and provided this take on multimodal learning: https://threeteacherstalk.com/2020/03/04/the-power-of-multimodal-composition/ Multimodal is my thing. Here are some more mentor text examples of essays in the wild and using multimodal pathways to redefine what an essay is:

Interactive Projects:

https://projects.seattletimes.com/2020/femicide-juarez-mexico-border/

http://projects.seattletimes.com/

https://catalyst.blackburn.ac.uk/about/
Posted in Argumentative Reading and Writing, Big Questions, Critical Thinking, Curriculum Ideas, Lesson Ideas, Uncategorized

Summer Series of Saves: Discuss, please

Twitter, well, Twitter is a lot of things but it does provide some great discussion/debate threads if you’re patient to find the gems.

Here are five threads that gave me some ideas for discussion questions:

What causes poverty: moral failures or society’s failures? (*remember, in strong argumentative reasoning there is always the third rail)

Why don’t more girls sign up for computer or technology classes? 

Is talking and learning about controversial topics more or less important than not causing conflict in school?

What is going on here?

Is it possible to stop gun violence?

 

Posted in Argumentative Reading and Writing, Being a better teacher, Big Questions, Close Reading

the devastating abyss

 

I am not a fan of Ayn Rand.

At all.

Clearly, this is not an image of Ayn Rand.

It’s Colin Kaepernick.

There is a name on this T-shirt of someone I have seen. I didn’t know him, but my colleagues did. His name is on our gymnasium wall as an athlete of the year from a previous time.

A few months ago at a gathering, a dear acquaintance stated how much she hated Colin Kaepernick. Since I was a guest in someone else’s home I didn’t pursue the topic nor challenge her opinion. We’ve already been divided and our friendship diminished by these current political times. She would be the first to say life is about choices, and she’s chosen identity politics.

And I cannot tag her in a social media post to let her know that one of my school’s former students, who was shot and killed by police, is another name in a long, heartbreaking legacy of names that many respectfully and somberly ‘take a knee’ for. Young men and woman of color whose lives were cut short in a nation of violent responses for prejudicial fear.

We all have this story. We all know friends, relatives, and colleagues with whom we now look upon with disdain and suspicion because of 1. their political views 2. their apathy which leads to 3. privilege –their personal endowment of their own rights to ignore what is happening because they don’t perceive it’s happening to them. It’s happening or affecting “others.”

That is not to say that those who chose to remain silent are not affected, nor does it mean they don’t help the affected. There are many teachers out there who may have voted for the current president, and believe themselves to be good people: they’re not, though.  They may coach teams, help struggling students, continue to give to charities, work long hours to create the best lessons and instruction they can. They’re working hard to help students read, write, tap into a love of science and wonder. (Well, maybe not science. That would be a hard cognitive dissonance working there.) But they can’t possibly be helping anyone if they support racism and bigotry, even if indirectly. Because there is nothing indirect about it.

My horrifying epiphany came when a few things came on my radar from varying social media teacher pages, this T-shirt, and just thinking about things in general: my own identity politics led me to believe that banning books is bad, censorship is always wrong, and we all need access to great writers.

Coming back full circle, I still believe that.

But I hate Ayn Rand’s works.

And I realized that teachers who use her novels in singularity, without commentary, juxtaposition or nuance may be selling students the same load of garbage I was sold when I was in high school. But now, more than ever, her novels may need to be taught so students have historical context.

In other words: some teachers are still teaching crappy novels, and posturing them as great works.

But that is just like, my opinion, man.

The same thread occurred over To Kill A Mockingbird. However, so many amazing educators provided critical analysis from authors about this seminal work. I love Scout, but I can also criticize her father.

It’s a mourning process when we revisit beloved texts and find out that they may not be the pillars of justice and societal right we once believed. And I guess my wish, my hope –is that educators, have the responsibility above all to make sure students know not what to think, but how to draw their own conclusions.

We are faced with students who come to us with very different political views than we have. There are conservative teachers who are making the more liberal child feel embarrassed. There are liberal teachers who may lecture only one side of an issue.

Please: help students curate and discover connection and nuances in thinking. Support them when they grieve the loss of a favorite media or text.

This is a daunting task. Just please: we must consider and reflect deeply on what we’re offering to students. There is too much anti-intellectualism out there in the ether for us educators not to be incredibly mindful of this. Be brave.

 

Posted in Argumentative Reading and Writing, Being a better teacher, Big Questions, Summer Series of Saves

Saving Summer: Flat-lining.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpermalink.php%3Fstory_fbid%3D980549355418923%26id%3D402441646563033%26substory_index%3D0&width=500

The Ongoing Battle Between Science Teachers And Fake News

NPR-Ed posted an article this morning about how science teachers encounter young minds already signed onto misconceptions and falsehoods. This touched a hard nerve with me, as for years I’ve done my best to straddle the dangerous tightrope between critical thinking skills and teachings of celebrities/prophets. Every time I teach a mythology or origin mythology unit I state a disclaimer that this is just what other cultures believe, and if they practice a religion/faith, their leaders at their place of worship have studied these same stories, too, to gain better understanding into their own ideas, beliefs, and faiths. This seemed to work most of the time. I strove for diplomacy and inclusion.

But these are not ordinary times, and I need to think differently.

https://giphy.com/embed/qGS2Wbjr0SJWg

via GIPHY

And I appreciate the final piece of advice, perhaps the only piece of advice there is available to us:

“For cases like this, Yoon suggests teachers give students the tools to think like a scientist. Teach them to gather evidence, check sources, deduce, hypothesTize and synthesize results. Hopefully, then, they will come to the truth on their own.”

Though I am not a science teacher, last time I checked I am a human on this planet and am bound by the same rules of physics and biology. The ELA teachers’ tasks include those critical thinking skills in any discourse about literature or informational media. The same advice for the science teachers serve all content area teachers, but it may not go far enough. The questioning techniques such as flipping a question around, as well as helping students understand their neurological processes of being stuck in “right-fight” mode. When we think we’re right without evidence or based on wobbly beliefs/bad arguments, we are already on the defensive. How can one come to ‘truth on their own’ if they already think they live there?

Examples:

What if the earth is flat? How did thinkers prove it wasn’t? Why do people want to believe this?

What would result if they’re right? What does it mean if they’re wrong? Is it okay to believe something that isn’t factual? When?

Why is this cartoon funny?

 

https://embed.ted.com/talks/lang/en/julia_galef_why_you_think_you_re_right_even_if_you_re_wrong

How to Prove to Yourself (or Shaq) the Earth Is Round

Top 10 Ways to Know the Earth is Not Flat

How To Tell Someone They’re Wrong (And Make Them Feel Good About It)

A philosopher’s 350-year-old trick to get people to change their minds is now backed up by psychologists

And if you need a list of handy-dandy critical thinking skills, here you go.

In the daily bombardment of hateful rhetoric, dog whistles, and profanity, perhaps cooling down and allowing for mindful space to think is going to keep us all sane. We are all a mix of beliefs, truths, opinions, and facts. Maybe just remind our students that some things they believed when they were little they don’t believe now, and that it’s okay to change minds. What things do they want to see in the world to change, and what is their plan on trying to get others to think about things differently?

 

Posted in Argumentative Reading and Writing, Being a better teacher, Best Practices, Big Questions, Summer Series of Saves, Themes, Writing

Saving Summer: Rethinking Themes, Essays, and Media

I’m about to do a dangerous thing: post a document long before it’s “ready.” It is not even close, and I think–that’s where it should be. A finished document would mean there is no room for growth or adaptation; it’s a sketch. Flipping my thinking around about the silo type of units, students would be better served if we took a gravitational, or centrifugal force idea. While we’re spinning, we stay connected and use metacognition to be cognizant of what draws us in. Choices are key, here, with a map for guidance. In essence, every UBD and essential questions demand a variety of genres and modes of texts. We think about big issues in a kaleidoscope way, not linear. I started thinking about units I’ve created in the past, and some of the theme topics, and came up with this document:

[embeddoc url=”http://mrskellylove.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/texts-and-media-playlist-2hzrw2w-wngihv.docx” download=”all” viewer=”microsoft” ]

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByKyQvl3l_F5QWxjM09NbzAyZjA/view?usp=sharing

Ethical ELA is a huge influencer, and sites such as

https://www.discoverartifacts.com/

https://www.commonlit.org/

Nothing should be off limits: essays, short stories, podcasts, films, novels, poetry, letters, texts, tweets, news, classics and modern re-tellings, pop culture, graphic novels, series: sources for texts and media are bordering on the infinite. If you can write it or read it, it belongs.

Oh, and for the curated list, a wonderful collection of essays that may come in handy:

https://thefutureisred.com/10-personal-essays-that-will-teach-you-how-to-write/

What big questions are ones you come back to again and again in your teaching? No matter how many times I watch Descendants, I see something new.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/8642276?portrait=0

Descendants from Goro Fujita on Vimeo.

 

Posted in Argumentative Reading and Writing, Being a better teacher, Best Practices, Big Questions, Critical Thinking, Media and Mischief, Metacognition, Research, Rhetoric

Saving Summer: Googling.

Recently a post on social media got to me to thinking: (well, overthinking? *shrug*)

After a thread and reflection, I am trying to answer some questions:

  1. Does context play a role in teaching (anymore)?
  2. Just about “everything” can be “Googled” – how do we navigate and help students find the correct information?
  3. What is the nature of teaching with abundant access to information and misinformation?

A post from the New York Times, “In an Era of Fake News, Teaching Students to Parse Fact from Fiction” discusses the challenges of teaching context.

One can, indeed, Google context about a topic. How deep down the rabbit hole should we go?

I get the statement: it’s intended to be for Depth of Knowledge Level One Yes/No kinds of questions, Costas’ level one knowledge, bottom rung of Bloom’s. However — these days the strata of misinformation abounds, and even yes/no questions can result in horrific results. And these days, it is life and death.

I needed my help from my friend Sharon to help ME get some context for this post, and she came to the rescue:

I tried a little experiment, suggested by my husband. I Googled “What are vaccines?”  and “Are vaccines good for you?” both level one questions that should result in facts or a yes/no.

Here is what I got with this first search statement:

(Note: most results are sound.)

 

Here is with search terms my husband tried:

This is when we start going to CrazyTown.

Questions, even with yes or no answers, can be inherently biased. People seek the answers their cognitive dissonance and biases want. “Google” Benghazi, Alex Jones, Pizzagate, etc. Heck, look up “president handshakes.” No, never mind. Don’t.

Google does its best to filter and promote factual information with its complicated algorithms and data. But Fake News is a violent, dangerous issue. I wish we could go back a decade at least when we could, with reasonable critical thinking skills, discern fact from opinion/fiction.

Here is something Sharon and I can fix, so look for a Part II. In the meantime

  1. Use DOK questions first to create an understanding and close reading of Google results. That way, when students are told to “Google it,” they must come away with a minimum of three credible sources.
    • Close Reading:
      1. Look at top searches
      2. Look at the date published
      3. Look at the publisher and media format: is it a credible news source? Blog? Credible Youtube channel or ‘just some dude?’
      4. Look at links and pingbacks
    • Know how search engines work
  2. Tap into the best Social Studies teachers you know — make sure any lesson on search engines include conversations about primary, secondary, and tertiary documentation and artifacts.
  3. Call upon the best ELA teachers you know to discuss point of view, perspective, fact, opinion, and truth
  4. Call upon the best Science teachers you know to help promote scientific research and how bias creeps in.
  5. Call upon your best Math teachers to discuss proving factual knowledge and a variety of algorithmic paths.
  6. Oh, and never forget Electives, PE & Health to talk about false and factual information that spreads on the internet. The arts and the curated effect of beautiful and lasting resources on the Internet for one and all.

So yes, don’t spend a lot of time teaching if it can be Googled. But teaching how Google works is teaching time well spent.

Oh, and I found this, and of course, can find its origins:

But don’t stop the nerd love:

https://embed.ted.com/talks/lang/en/john_green_the_nerd_s_guide_to_learning_everything_online