Thursday, July 22, 2021

Our Curriculum Is Under Fire

I have lived in Texas for 20 years. I have seen some pretty crazy legislation get passed but this bill that passed the Senate removing any mention of the Civil Rights Movement, Native American History, The Suffragettes, Chicano History, etc. from our curriculum...I just do not understand what they are thinking. The reasoning is that we are only to teach positive things from our history and therefore create more people with "patriotic" thinking. They will not require anyone to teach current events and if they do teach them they are required to teach both sides-so both sides of slavery-the pros and the cons?! This is just a screenshot of part of the list of things being removed.

So what can someone like me do. Believe me, I will continue to teach the history of social justice to my 1st Graders. I will read them stories and do activities with them to ensure they have a foundation in history. And if our new principal lets us we will certainly still do our Social Justice themed Wax Museum.

Some of my favorite books:

This story almost makes me cry when I read it to my students. It's about how we can come together as a community-despite our differences for a common good. Wish this was more of a focus in our society.

Girls in Cuba were not allowed to play the drums. She had a natural born talent and fought to fight that rule.

Did you know Ruth even dissented when they tried to prevent her from writing with her left hand? I love when I read this story to my kids and they use the phrase "I dissent" in our daily lives.

John Lewis is such a fascinating figure. I wonder if the fact that he is not longer with us is influencing the montrous policy changes. 

Malala's story is a hard one for our littles to understand-this book tells that story on their level.

I never learned this part of history. I LOVE when I read a book with my kiddos and learn something new. Mother Jones and her protests led to the labor laws we have today preventing young children from working.

We need more of this in our curriculum. Looking at different countries and the way they do things-what is similar what is different?

Silva Mendez' family was told Mexicans had to attend a different school. Her family stood up, took them to courts and changed the laws. This is the history our government does not want us to teach-teach it anyway.

When my students leave me, they know how to stand up for what they believe in. I was supposed to loop up with my class this upcoming year but we got a new principal who does not believe in looping. When I told my students one of them wrote him a letter-he said "I have a voice and I'm going to use it". I could not have been prouder.

Another story from our history that I did know. Dr. King wanted to hold a protest but everyone got arrested. This time they thought they would fill the jails with young people and then the adults could effectively do their protest. Through fear, these kids stood up for what they believed in.

Don't let them muzzle you! Don't let them whitewash our history. Our students need to know about these movements and changes so they can learn from them. Our future depends on it.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Unique First Week Read-Alouds

It is important to me that my students have new experiences in their new class. I want to introduce them to new authors, new characters. There are some amazing books out there that are popular with teachers-First Day Jitters, Kissing Hand, David, etc. But I want to do something different.

Told from the school's perspective, a student says how much she hates school and it hurts the school's feelings. It tells about routines kids have that it just doesn't understand. A great way to introduce empathy and multiple perspectives.

Don't we all! :) We have discussions about what school spirit is and how we can show that spirit.

We read several books about names. I like to do this because our names are part of our identity. Alma has several names and she learns about her family history through hers.

Penguin wants to fly and I use this book to introduce grit to my students. He works hard to figure out a way. 

In this story the student likens Kindergarten to his royal court. 

A story about how important it is to learn people's names and pronounce them correctly. This is something I consciously teach my students-both about their names and the names they use for others.

This is a fun story about a bit of playground rivalry and some rulers who let it go to their heads.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Rigor in the Primary Grades-PD Session

I know it is hard to find ways to challenge our young learners. I have been teaching Kinder and 1st Grade for 20 years now. My passion is finding ways to challenge my students-to improve critical thinking and creativity. I wanted to share some of the tools I use in my classroom. 

One thing I forgot to add when recording this is don't give up. Colleagues have tried a strategy and come back to me to say "my kids just didn't get it". It takes time. Most of these students have not been asked to think critically in their young lives. The more you do it, the better they get at it. I love seeing what they are capable of and the ideas they can come up with. You will see progress if you do these activities regularly.

Let me know in the comments if this was useful.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

PD Session for Using Depth and Complexity in Primary Grades

I was reading some posts on Facebook about how hard it is to find training for teachers on using Kaplan's Depth and Complexity in the lower grades. So I made one.  :) This would be good for teachers Pre-K-2nd, it is just ways I have incorporated these concepts into my classroom. Less than an hour long.

Please let me know in the comments if the link doesn't work correctly (this is the first time I have shared something like this). I am working on a 2nd one for other ways to incorporate higher-level thinking as well. So let me know if this is something that was helpful for you.

I would be happy to share these ideas with your staff-could definitely do something virtual through Teams if you would like. Let me know if you have any questions or I can help in any with your planning.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Read alouds for Science

I have been trying to incorporate more literature into my science lessons I think it's a great way teach students the basic concepts. Here are some of my favorites to use:

I love when I learn something new from a book I share with my students. Mario was the person who discovered the damage we were doing to our ozone. He let people know for years and no one wanted to do anything but because of his persistence we still have an environment to care about.

I think this is a very well written story of the short life of a honeybee.

I use this in the beginning of the year to introduce science and what a scientist does.

Love this story about a scientist who went against what others believed to help us learn about these magestic sharks.

There are several books by this author-Egg is Quiet, Rock is Lively and this one. It is a poetic way to talk about these scientific concepts.

One woman's quest to help clean up her community and repurpose plastic bags.