#Charlottesville Resources

Here are some things we’ve been reading amidst the onslaught of daily news. As always, our goal is providing resources that may be useful to teachers and/or students, whether in the classroom or in the larger world.

Common Sense Media has updated a previously-published article, “Explaining the News to Our Kids,” in light of the events in Charlottesville. The article includes tips and strategies for discussing difficult news with children by age-range, which we found particularly helpful.

With the nation still stunned from the horrific display of hate in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, families are once again faced with explaining difficult subjects to kids and teens. And as if hate speech, racism, and oppression weren’t enough, the president’s controversial remarks casting blame on “many sides” puts the burden on parents to educate their kids on the importance of tolerance.

In the meantime, technology is doing the heavy lifting — sending updates, tweets, posts, and breaking news alerts directly to our kids’ phones — long before parents have had a chance to digest the news themselves or discuss it thoughtfully with their kids. In many cases, kids aren’t at an age where they can make sense of these current events and are being thrust into a political debate that can seem scary or overwhelming. Often parents aren’t around to immediately help their kids make sense of challenging, upsetting situations.

The bottom line is that elementary school-aged kids and some middle schoolers have trouble fully understanding news events and their contexts. And though older teens are better able to understand current events, even they face challenges when it comes to sifting fact from opinion — or misinformation.

From Chalkbeat.org, an excellent snapshot of the developing #CharlottesvilleCurriculum. Since doing this work, we’ve fallen in love with curricula like these, generated by careful curators and excellent crowdsourcing on twitter. Chalkbeat’s summary is worthwhile if you’re pressed for time, but we seriously encourage those who can to delve into the developing document itself.

From Chalkbeat:

Looking for help addressing Charlottesville in class? Dozens of other educators have your back.

In the wake of the racist violence in Virginia that left one protester dead this weekend, teachers took to Twitter with #CharlottesvilleCurriculum to share resources for addressing racism, hate, and history.

From the #CharlottesvilleCurriculum itself (a publicly-viewable Google doc):

This is inspired by the thread created by Melinda D. Anderson#CharlottesvilleCurriculum on Twitterin response to the White Supremacist/NAZI rally, violence and murder that took place in Charlottesville.

As educators, our job is to protect, support, love and educate all of our students. Anyone can add to this document.  Please feel free to add & make your own copy. This is a working document.

Facing History is another excellent place; they suggest a couple of their already-existing resources as appropriate for our time and place today. First up, Holocaust and Human Behavior, a multi-media collection that can also be used as a printable book. The Table of Contents is a great entry point.

Also from Facing History, we recommend The Reconstruction Era and Fragility of Democracy.

Facing History has produced a series of videos and accompanying lessons that will introduce a rigorous study of the Reconstruction era into American history classrooms. Our video series includes interviews with scholars of the Reconstruction era who provide insight into this complex history and address questions of freedom, justice, equality, and citizenship that are at the heart of the Reconstruction.

We have also developed a complete unit that offers 16 lessons and many primary source documents. The unit, available in print, ebook, and free PDF, will guide students through a deep exploration of the Reconstruction era while enhancing their ethical decision-making and capacity for emotional growth.

More to come from us. If you have suggestions or additional material, please don’t hesitate to pass it along. And huge thanks to Claudia of Mindful Digital Life (among many other projects) for flagging these resources.

Exploring Africa: Curricula and More

Resources from Michigan State’s African Studies Center

One of us studied for a graduate degree in African politics and remains interested in both current political developments and the question of how to introduce American students to (some of) the history, politics, and cultures on the continent — which has more than 50 countries and is approaching 1 billion inhabitants.

At the risk of eliding too many topics and peoples under the  label “Africa”, we hope you’ll forgive us using the shorthand of “African countries”, just as we godless, ahistorical Americans refer to “European countries” while knowing Belarus, Greece, and Denmark are quite different. (But, do also check out the criticism blog Africa Is a Country.)

With that prelude out of the way, we’d like to introduce you to Exploring Africa, a resource out of Michigan State University. Their mission (see block quote, below) is to provide high-quality K-12 teaching resources, and they have a federal mandate and funding to do so.

Exploring Africa contains three main sections or resources:

  • Curriculum consists of 5 units of 30 modules in total, covering an introductory unit, history/social studies, the humanities, and regional and country lessons.ExploAfr_SixUnits
  • Country Overview contains a clickable map of each country on the continent. Upon clicking a country, you’re taken to a page of country information, including a political map, links to background information (CIA World Factbook and many more), and a curated list of recent news articles.
  • Special Topics covers some major issues like “Diamonds and Warfare”, the creation of the African Union, and more.

It’s a really neat, deep resource we hope you’ll explore.

Please — don’t be put off by the university-level affiliation or the fact that the introductory video begins with a white professor. These folks know the stereotypes and history they’re up against and they quickly get to resources that have been piloted by a diverse set of teachers in a diverse set of schools.

Exploring Africa Mission Statement

Exploring Africa is produced and developed by the African Studies Center (ASC) at Michigan State University in an effort to address the severe shortage of high quality African resources available to students and educators, particularly at the K-12 level. As an academic community comprised of more than 200 scholars who study Africa from a diversity of more than 20 disciplines, we are acutely aware of the need to provide learners and educators with resources that help them to engage Africa in a comprehensive manner, taking into account the continent’s rich diversity and complexities. Recognizing that for many people their only formal introduction to Africa will come in during their K-12 schooling, Exploring Africa is a serious attempt to provide this important community with curricular resources based on solid interdisciplinary scholarship that provide them with the opportunity to adequately engage Africa through knowledge, resources, and thoughtful learning activities that allow students to construct a more comprehensive and sympathetic appreciation for and understanding of Africa.

The MSU African Studies Center is a National Resource Center for the study of Africa (Title VI Center) that mandates the Center to actively engage the K-12 community in promoting the study of Africa.

Opportunities, Plants, and One Last Push: Come on over and tell us what you think!

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It’s live for just a few more days…come on over and take our survey!

A HUGE thank you to those who have already stopped by. Responses are already helping us figure out what we’ll be working on next, how to bring you more of what’s been helpful, and what you might like to see that we haven’t done quite yet.

We are also about to begin a project preserving stories from educators in this national moment. If you’d like to talk with us, anonymously or otherwise, about how things are for you and your students, right here and now, we’d love to hear from you. (And you can indicate that on our survey.)

Now for opportunity! If you are a Bay Area teacher working with students in grades 8-12, you just might be interested in KQED Learning’s new Student Inquiry and Publishing pilot program.

We are looking for 40 Bay Area English, science, social studies or VAPA educators who teach grades 8-12 to pilot a new project starting this summer and continuing into fall of 2017.

The project will feature curriculum, media-making resources and professional development for teachers to support students in investigating questions and creating media about their findings. Using an online publishing platform, students will be able to work with peers both in their own classroom and other classrooms in a safe space where they can seek authentic feedback, support and inspiration. Students will access this platform through their teacher (similar to Google Classroom), and student work will not be visible to anyone not participating in the project.

Head on over to the link above to read more and apply. Get moving–applications close 3/24!

And plants: we recently discovered the Smithsonian’s Botany and Art and Their Roles in Conservation. Aside from being gorgeous to look at, these resources for primary and middle grade students can help provide in-depth interdisciplinary content for a science or art classroom.

This teaching guide includes a lesson plan originally published as “Smithsonian in Your Classroom.” It introduces students to the work of botanists and botanical illustrators, specifically their race to make records of endangered plant species around the world. The students try their own hands at botanical illustration, following the methods of a Smithsonian artist. Also included here are additional resources on the topic, a one-hour webinar and a website.

Thanks again for stopping by and responding to any and all of our survey questions!

 

The Music of Social Movements, Part 2

We’re still pursuing resources on music that has motivated movements. Continuing past the music of the civil rights era (which we blogged about here) and the Anti-Apartheid movement, here’s a lesson plan from the New York Times: Teaching With Protest Music.

It has overviews and embedded music from the older movements, but also to music from Beyoncé (***Flawless), Pussy Riot, and Los Tigres del Norte. The article also introduced us to Genius, a remarkable lyrics annotation site.

Here are some of the ELA prompts for students:

About the role of music:

Write and Discuss: Why do you listen to music? How does music make you feel? Does music serve a different role in your life depending on your mood, who you are with or what you are doing? Does music ever cause you to think differently, to feel a part of something larger or to want to rise up and take action?

Engaging with a particular song:

Listen and Annotate: Next, listen to ____________, a protest song from the time period we are studying, while reading along with the printed lyrics. As you listen, annotate by underlining, highlighting or writing in the margins — reacting or responding to anything in the lyrics or in the music itself. (You may want to play the song a second time, if it would be helpful.)

About a song the student has selected:

Bring in Contemporary Music That Speaks to an Issue or Era in the Past: What songs today have something to say about the past, whether because people are still struggling with the same issues, or because the lyrics seem symbolic or ironic when seen through the lens of the past?

There are also links to editorials and op-eds written by scholars and musicians: many great resources and jumping-off points!

We Are Making History

Lesson plans inspired by ‘A People’s History…’

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We’ve been preoccupied with the question, How can we help students who are feeling vulnerable right now? We hope we’re doing it, indirectly, through our efforts to support you.

We recently came across The Zinn Education Project, inspired by Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States, which teaches history as the outcome of many/all people’s choices and actions. Since the 2016 election, they’ve created a page explaining how their resources can be particularly helpful right now.

No doubt, still reeling from this poisonous election, it is hard to be hopeful. But we invite you to draw on curriculum at the Zinn Education Project to help your students make sense of this new context. We include lessons—some highlighted below—that:

  • Show how social movements have made important strides even during dark times.
  • Help students explore other moments in history when elites have mobilized to roll back racial and economic progress.
  • Highlight examples of “divide and conquer” politics.
  • Help students explore aspects of Trump’s agenda—immigration, the environment, Muslims, civil liberties, the press, and economic inequality.

It’s vital that we introduce our students to the individuals and social movements that have made this country more just.

They have many lesson plans, which you can explore under these sample headings:

Strides Against All OddsRoll Back Racial and Economic Progress“Divide and Conquer” PoliticsEnvironmentCivil LibertiesImmigrationEconomic InequalityMuslimsPressU.S. Presidents

One that jumped out at us: “Stenciling Dissent“. Truly, there are hundreds of ideas to explore.

Week Two: Resources to Use Now

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There’s a lot going on right now.

As Trump’s first 100 days continue, we will be doing our best to provide resources and materials that can be immediately useful. If there’s something in particular you’d like to see, please let us know.

For today, some background reading and lesson plans.

From EdSurge, a piece about how Social Studies and Civics teachers in particular are scrambling to keep up with the first weeks of the new administration. We recommend clicking through; the article mentions several tech tools that help students understand how the US government functions–or, has functioned up until now.

One of those teachers is Sabrina Brooks, a seventh grade humanities teacher at San Francisco Friends School, who began her class yesterday by having students read and discuss material in Nicholas Kristof’s editorial, “President Trump, meet my family.”

Brooks didn’t have Kristof’s editorial etched into her lesson plans until this weekend, when protests around the country unfolded in response to the travel ban. But it fit with the unit she has been teaching on decision-making in times of injustice. The unit, as Brooks describes, looks at “history of immigration policy marginalization of at risk groups, the factors that led to Hitler’s rise, and the behavior of people who were bystanders and upstanders in these contexts.”

From The New York Times, a lesson plan appropriate for high school and college students, “Analyzing Trump’s Immigration Ban: A Lesson Plan.” The lesson relies mainly on articles but does incorporate video elements that could be skipped if students do not have easy access to tech in the classroom.

Mr. Trump’s executive order fits into a larger pattern of U.S. history. In 1882, Congress excluded Chinese immigrants from entering the U.S. Later it prohibited almost all Japanese immigrants. And still later it gave preference to immigrants from Northern and Western Europe, making it difficult for people from other parts of the world to immigrate to the U.S. But the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 changed all of that. It did away with the national origins quota and banned discrimination based on where a person was from.

However, with Mr. Trump’s pronouncement on Jan. 27, the U.S. once again excludes immigrants based on national origin from countries like Iraq, Yemen and Sudan.

This activity invites students to analyze Mr. Trump’s stated purpose for his executive order (as explained within Section 1 of the text), then consider three pieces in The Times that question its effectiveness, legality and interpretation of American values.

The lesson plan also includes a list of other lesson plans from The Times’ Learning Network that educators may find helpful.

The Times directs readers, finally, to a post over at Facing Today: “3 Ways to Address the Latest News on Immigration With Your Students.” The post is an excellent starting point for any investigation into these issues and policies. The material here is organized around three main points:

  1. Affirm the right to education and respect for all students…
  2. Use the ‘universe of obligation’ to consider how we define our responsibilities towards others…
  3. Put debates about immigration and refugees into historical context.

An added bonus is, strangely enough, the comments section. Teachers who are currently figuring out how to deal with these issues in their own classrooms are weighing in.

More as we have it.

Trump’s First 100 Days

What He Wants to Do and What He Can Do, with Lesson Plan

From KQED Public Media, here’s a about the Trump administration’s policy goals for its first 100 days  in office, plus a pre-written lesson plan.

The site covers nine topic areas: Health Care, Women’s Rights, Gun Control, Criminal Justice, Energy/Environment, Higher Ed, Economy/Trade, National Security, and Immigration.

For each area, it provides background information (what is the current state of affairs?), a data chart or table, and links to additional resources, including the administration’s published plans, more extensive data, and secondary material from outlets like the Union of Concerned Scientists and The New York Times.

It’s a really cool site you can take in lots of directions!


♣ The Resources ♣

Green, Matthew. (2017, Jan). Trump’s First 100 Days: What He Wants to Do and What He Can Do (with Lesson Plan). KQED’s The Lowdown. Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/lowdown.

Robertson, Rachel. (2017, Jan). Lesson Plan: Trump’s First 100 Days. KQED’s The Lowdown. Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/lowdown.