I love curating content and creating curriculum. Here are some units I’ve put together while in #quarantine:
My next projects include Greek Mythology with my Box of Destiny materials, and perhaps other units of study, such as Thesis Writing 101 and Thematic Discussions, and curated content about one or two big questions. Stay tuned!
I remember how during sophomore year, my English class read Night by Elie Wiesel while we learned about the Holocaust in World History. After we finished the book, we read the author’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. I don’t remember the exact words, but I remember how he said something about how if people don’t speak out when something wrong is happening—wherever in the world—they’re helping whoever is committing that wrong by allowing it to happen. Our class discussed the idea, and almost everyone agreed with it, even me. At least, we said we did. Never mind the fact we all knew most of us didn’t even say shit when we saw someone slap the books out of a kid’s hands in the hallway. In fact, the most outspoken supporter of the idea during the discussion was a kid who did that kind of dumb stuff all the time and thought it was hilarious.
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
One of the countries I know little about is the Philippines, and I’m ashamed of this. The only thing I was aware of is the death toll from Duterte’s dictatorship, a man our current “president” admires. Well, makes sense: both are vile, sexual predators with a knack for domestic terrorism. My former student teacher, L, family is from the Philippines, as are over a hundred thousand in Washington State, and during the election year her fears for her family for supporting Tr*** were well founded. In other words: there are a lot of parallels.
But we all know these aren’t abstract headlines: the terror they inflict and promote affects our students’ lives in concrete and harmful ways. However, I am not a spoiler: so no more plot points, or character analysis. I will leave you to enjoy this masterful novel. What I will do, though, is gather and curate some of the other art and poetry mentioned in the novel, so if you decide to add this to your classroom library, these resources will be available:
For those of us who live at the shoreline standing upon the constant edges of decision crucial and alone for those of us who cannot indulge the passing dreams of choice who love in doorways coming and going in the hours between dawns looking inward and outward at once before and after seeking a now that can breed futures like bread in our children’s mouths so their dreams will not reflect the death of ours;
Is anyone going to understand, aside from other teachers, how amazing what happened is? For all the ills of social media, there is so much good. Note to new and veteran teachers: find your PLN (professional learning network) via social media, and expand your thinking and horizons.
Here is what happened: my district uses packaged novel units based on another district’s work, or now a business, called EL or Expeditionary Learning. The program has many benefits, one of which each student (or scholar as they are known in the district) receives a copy of the central text. There are four modules, each with more lessons than is possible, and the intent is to provide some flexibility and professional judgment in the how to teach, but not the what, and the assessments are ironclad. We first taught Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, and I followed the pacing guide and time frame and came out of it three weeks ahead of my PLC colleagues. No matter–I forged ahead with more essay and creative writing until winter break began on December 21.
Well, break is over on Monday, January 7th, and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is our next Module of Study, titled “Taking a Stand.” Being a Grants/Wiggins fangirl, I am all about the concepts of Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions. But–
…but–To Kill A Mockingbird?
My relationship with the novel is probably typical of a little white southern girl with liberal, progressive parents–I loved it. I loved Scout. I loved the bravery, and the characters, the mystery, the strength, and the suspense. I can’t remember when I first read it if it was a choice or assigned, but I see a wavering fog of memory of some teacher and I connecting over my lightbulb moment of why Mrs. DuBose chose to go off her morphine toward the end of her life. The novel taught me so many things, and I am grateful to Harper Lee for this novel. And to this day, it holds a special place in my heart. However, we paradoxical humans can and should hold two or more truths at once, and over the past year or so (long before I knew I would switch districts and be mandated to teach the novel), many respected educators questioned and criticized this novel. I learned and listened to new perspectives and considerations, many of which hold important truths. Truths about race, racism, misogyny, and injustice masquerading as justice.
I had this amazing professor in college. He was Sri Lankan, teaching the required Brit Lit class from the POV of colonized people. He gave us “Heart of Darkness” and said:— Tom Rademacher (@MrTomRad) January 2, 2019
“This book is a racist piece of crap. I want you to read it because I want you to know what a racist piece of crap it is.” We read the book and had amazing discussions, using it as a central text to talk about white gaze and other things. So, teach, but teach context.— Tom Rademacher (@MrTomRad) January 2, 2019
I’m just listening in but I do think if you have to teach a problematic text, then you teach it as a vehicle to learn a critical reading process that allows kids to identify other problematic texts out in the world. Because they WILL encounter them.— Jess (@Jess5th) January 2, 2019
When Jess@Jess5th tweeted this –I knew I found the center focus.
The responses received fill my heart. With the deepest of gratitude, I must acknowledge @MrTomRad, @Jess5th, @debreese, @Ebonyteach, @CrazyQuilts, @Caitteach, @ShanaVWhite, @JenniferBinis, @spencerideas, @TheJLV, @ValerieBrownEDU, @triciaebarvia and if I missed anyone, my apologies. You all came to the conversation, and this-this is what I’ll share with my scholars first — we are all learning together, and trying to do better, and ask the big, tough questions.
The plan, such as it is, when we come back on Monday, January 7, in the midst of adolescents who’ve been homebound for two weeks (most of them) caring for younger siblings and doing whatever it is kids do over rainy breaks when resources are limited, and the building expectations PowerPoints that must be shown, is to let them first take and get reoriented, but also–share what happened. How other teachers discussed their ideas, openly and freely. I intend to pair this text with my #projectlit collection, of course, and allow students to find their own relationship with To Kill A Mockingbird along with other paired texts and discussions. I want so much for them.
If you would like the resources and ideas shared, please go to Twitter and follow me, and click on the discussion thread: @mrskellylove
We teachers have full, wonderful lives outside of teaching. I think. Sure we do! YES! We most definitely do! And why let all the wonderful folks such as Barack Obama create a list!? Here’s my challenge, inspired by @jarredamato, the leader of #ProjectLit:
What if all leaders — politics, education, business, you name it — shared their own lists each year? https://t.co/6N9bkDI2aY
What did we watch? Well, Black KKKlansman, Black Panther, Hereditary, A Quiet Place, Isle of Dogs, Bird Box, (read the book first, dang it!) Game Night (eye roll), Solo and whatever comes out on Netflix. Shows include Ozark, Sabrina, Black Mirror, Stranger Things, The Haunting of Hill House, Making a Murderer, Jessica Jones, Series of Unfortunate Events, Vikings, Game of Thrones, all of the American Horror Stories, Better Call Saul, Barry, and started Dark. (I feel like there are some missing, but oh well.)
Some songs I added (not new to 2018 necessarily, but new to me):
In addition to consuming media, I like to create media, too! I love to write and make collage images.
@cmclymer tweeted this fun thing – what would your two accessories be?
A toy company makes a replica action figure of your likeness. What two accessories do they include?— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) December 27, 2018
So thank you, Jarred and Charlotte, for some fun ideas. I’m not anyone important, but I am a teacher, and living my best, creative life helps me, my family, and my students. It is my personal oxygen mask.
Did you ever want to be a character from a book? Tomi Adeyemi wrote Children of Blood and Bone (which I just finished and REALLY WANT SOME TO TALK ABOUT THE ENDING WITH!) and she posted this beautiful photo:
Be centered on what matters to you.
Just wanted to capture a wonderful chat I stumbled onto–good ideas and inspiring to focus on what matters. And: I want to share with students that teachers walk the walk–we want our students to love their reading and writing lives as much as we do.
A few ways students respond to 📚: artwork, poetry, letters to characters, letters to authors, alternate endings, rewriting scenes from different POV, etc. Goal: demonstrate thinking without killing ❤️ of the book! #vatechat
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Here is a chart I put together. It’s only a start, and I’m wondering what is missing:
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post regarding how to get students to move forward without scaffolds, I received many good ideas from the High School ELA group page* on Facebook, and coincidentally (are there coincidences in this day of spooky algorithms?) the National Writing Project posted this article, “Using Blogging to Grow Independent Writers (or: How to Kick Your Little Birds Out of the Nest).” I feel hopeful that I am capable of bringing writers forward. We blog, I’ve been blogging, and will keep offering it to students, as well as continue to make connections and reframe their concepts of who I am and who they are as writers and learners.
My question, if I’m being honest, had more to do with my own confidence crisis than anything else. When I teach ELA/SS again, (and I don’t know where or when), will I be able to keep my own continuity of growth? This must be a common feeling: being reassigned to doing something else and then wondering if we will still have our chops in what we love? I needed to hear “yes.”
I heard “yes” in from a few voices.
Jackie Gerstein: I could have written your post. I am in the middle of that story now. I needed to know there is an end.
Daisy: I just adore you, lady.
And my young feminist:
A few weeks ago a student asked if I had Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, and alas, it was only on my Kindle (wonder how Bezos became so rich?), but I would buy it for her. I also bought We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (Don’t tell my husband because we are on a boa constrictor tight budget.)
She stopped by with her boyfriend whom I promptly interrogated to make sure he had no problems with her smashing the patriarchy, and he seemed to not only not mind, but help her swing the hammer.
This morning and into the afternoon I’m cleaning up and out. I was thinking about all the redesign of curriculum and lessons I would do, and think become fatigue and saddened by the unnecessary burdens placed upon me this year. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to remain diplomatic and censored.
Just. Keep. Doing. The. Work.
The work, the thinking, and the deep love I have for my profession–I must believe that is what sustains me.