Culturally Responsive Teaching

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Selecting and Evaluating Children's Literature

I have chosen to write about this article because it has had a lasting impression on me. The article has inspired me to look at all the books I have been collecting over the past few years. Many of these books include books that were mine as a child. While looking at my books I realized that I do not have enough books that represent racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. I also have a very limited amount of books with people who have disabilities. I am not exactly sure why I have such a limited amount of these types of books butI think that it may be because I have not been looking for books of this type. This article has made me more conscious of the fact that I need to be selecting different books and that they are not stereotypical but accurately represent the culture or people that are depicted. I feel that from this article and our class discussions I am better able to select books and I will most definitely use the guidelines in the article to help me evaluate literature.

This article also raises the issue of literary elements. I feel that as teachers, if we expect our students to learn about literary elements and use them to complete assignments then we had better make sure that we use the elements as a basis for choosing books.

A quote from the article says that "inspiring, knowledgeable, and caring teachers have the potential to help students in positive ways that last a lifetime. Unispiring, uncaring, and unknowledgeable teachers have the capacity to bring lasting harm" (53). This quote really touched me and made me start to think. I agree that the impact a teacher has will last a life time, but this quote also got me thinking that literature does the same thing. This has shown me how important it is for me to make sure that I am critically analyzing every book I bring into the classroom because I might never know the impact it can have on a child's life.

Multicultural Assignment

The book that I chose for the multicultural assignment is All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka and I found this book during our library search. This book is fictional but it discusses real life issues. The book is about how people and love can come in every color of the earth. The author discusses how people are different based on skin color, hair color, etc. but that love does not discriminate. The illustrations in this book have great detail and wonderful colours. While I was looking at the library I was not really thinking about criteria for selecting a book but I was captured by the illustrations in this one. This book turned out to not only have great illustrations but also turned out to be a fairly good book for integrating multicultural books into a classroom.

I really found this assignment to be very beneficial, as I was not analyzing the book as closely as i though I was. I had to read it 3 times before I realized that there were people with disabilities and that all the children had on similar clothing. Prior to reading the criteria I was not thinking about this detail. This assignment has helped to boost my confidence and I feel better prepared to anaylze literature and choose books that may address sensitive issues. I think that a concern I still have is coming up with the right words and actions when a senstive topic is raised. I know that how I handle a students questions or emotions can have an immense impact on their life. I realize that this is something that I will probably learn from experience. I feel that if I adequately select literature for my class I can provide them with excellent tools to succeed in life and school.

The River

The River by Gary Paulsen is a novel that could be integrated into many different areas in the curriculum. Language Arts is probably the most obvious and most likely for things like literature circles, journal entries and even writing poems about Brian's experiences. This novel could also be integrated into Social Studies for survival skills.

One teaching strategy is a basic literature circle where the students make a response journal or bring in a notebook. I might have the kids create their own mini response journals in class. As we read, they mark discussion points in their books with sticky notes or write in response journals, and they bring their notes and questions to the meeting with them. Once a week, they write a full response in their mini journal. On the Literature Circle meeting day I would meet with one group at a time, or move from group to group as they meet simultaneously. At that time they read from their response journals and reference the sticky notes they've used to mark passages. Sometimes during the literature circle they could also have questions designed for each other or they could also be involved in finding something specific in the story.

Another strategy for this novel might be to connect it to Social Studies and look at maps and discuss their importance. This novel could also be linked to a unit on survival skills.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Social Justice Classrooms

Out of all the articles that we have read for class so far, the article Using Literacy to Create Social Justice Classrooms has impacted me the most. I feel that this article had such an impact on me because I have had questions about how to approach some of these topics, as I am sure many of us have. I was drawn in and amazed by the experiences of these children. I am leary about approaching these issues with students because I cannot have an idea of how they might feel, since I have not been in their situations. I was inspired by the teachers and how they continued and asked students to share their experiences and emotions, whey they did not know for sure what to expect or how to respond. I hope that my classroom will be as open and caring as these, so that students feel comfortable discussing these issues. I feel that using literature to create this atmosphere will create the most beneficial discussion.

The one classroom in the article that really triggered my emotions was "Creating Student Heroes at Burnham School" on p.111. Peggy says, "I wanted my class to see what real heroes and heroines are. I wanted them to know that you have to give of yourself and care about others." I found this to be a very powerful statement because as a teacher this is what I would like of my students and I want to try model that behavior. The children in Peggy's class did some amazing things with their project and I think that any class could do something like this with the right coaching and motivation. Reading some books in class and discussing heroes and heroines and why they do things would not only enable them to complete a project like this but also instill characteristics in them for life.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Lisa's Children's Literature Bibliography

Title: Lizzy's Ups and Downs: Not an Ordinary School Day.

Author: Jessica Harper

Illustrator: Lindsay Harper duPont

Grade Level/Age: 3 - 8 years old

Book Description: This book is a fictional story but it discusses situations and emotions that students may experience in a school day. Lizzy experiences many situations throughout her school day that affect her actions and her emotions. Students listening to this story will be able to discuss and relate Lizzy's experiences and emotions to their own life. The book also reinforces to students that it is important to share our experiences with others and that sharing can help us to understand what we are feeling.

Links to Curriculum: Language Arts, Art and Personal Planning

Title: All the Colors of the Earth

Author: Sheila Hamanaka

Illustrator: Sheila Hamanaka

Grade Level/Age: Kindergarten to Grade 3

Book Description: This book is fictional but it discusses real issues in life. The book is about how people and love can come in every color of the earth. The book discusses how people are different based on skin color, hair color, etc. but that love does not discriminate.

Links to Curriculum: Language Arts and Personal Planning

Title: Miss Spider's Tea Party

Author: David Kirk

Grade Level/Age: Kindergarten to Grade 3

Book Description: Spider asks other insects for tea and they all run away. She begins crying adn sees a small wet moth. She helps the moth and he tells others that she means no harm. So the insects go to tea and see that she just wanted to have them over for tea.

Links to Curriculum: Language Arts, Art, Science and Personal Planning

Title: Anne of Green Gables

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Grade Level/Age: Grade 6 or approximately age 10 and up.

Book Description: This book is a realistic fiction about a young girl named Anne Shirley who is an orphan. She is sent to live with a family but they wanted a boy and consider sending her back. Anne tries desperately to convince the Cuthberts to let her stay and she eventually succeeds.

Links to Curriculum: Language Arts, Art, Social Studies, Personal Planning

Title: James and the Giant Peach

Author: Roald Dahl

Illustrator: Nancy Ekholm Burkert

Grade Level/Age: Grade 4 or approximately age 8 and up

Book Description: James is given magic crystals which he accidentally drops by the peach tree. A peach begins to grow bigger and bigger and when James goes inside he meets many friends and his adventure begins.

Links to Curriculum: Language Arts, Art and Personal Planning

Title: Eyewitness Books: Plant (2004)

Author: David Burnie

Grade Level/Age: Grade 4 and up

Book Description: This book is only one of the many Eyewitness books. This particular non-fiction book is about all different plants. It discusses different things like what a plant is, the parts of a plant, flowers, plant food, classification, etc.

Links to Curriculum: Science. This book would be great to have in the classroom for students to find information about plants. This could be used for projects during a plant unit.

Title: We Like Kindergarten (1965)

Author: Clara Cassidy

Illustrator: Eloise Wilkin

Grade Level/Age: Kindergarten

Book Description: This book is from the A Little Golden Book series and is about a little girl named Carol. She is in kindergarten and she tells us what she does in a day at school. When Carol comes home she plays school with her sister and her stuffed animals and plays the teacher. I have to admit that I chose to include this book because it was a favorite of mine as a child. I was just like Carol and loved to play the teacher.

Links to Curriculum: Personal Planning

Friday, January 13, 2006

Read Aloud

The picture book that I chose for my read aloud was "Lizzy'z Ups and Downs: Not an Ordinary School Day" by Jessica Harper and illustrated by Lindsay Harper duPont. This is the first book I have seen by these sisters but I thought it was wonderful. The book is about a little girl named Lizzy and her day at school. She is sitting at home telling her mom about her day and the many things that happened. There are several situations in this story that most, if not all, students can relate to. Some examples are that Lizzy is embarrassed by having two different socks on, Lizzy is upset by a friend moving, Lizzy is irritated by another studnet, etc. The situations and the emotions that Lizzy is explaining are great discussion points for a classroom. This book is written for children age 3-8 and I feel that it would be an aid to help teachers discuss different emotions that students might be having about different situations in their school day and how they might deal with them. Another reason that I chose this book is for the excellent illustrations. It is a very colorful book and would really draw childrens attention.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Favorite Books

Well today I had a hard time trying to pick my favorite childhood book because I had a favorite series. This was the Little House on the Prairie series, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and published in the 1940's. This series was important to me as the books were something that my mom introduced, as she loved them as a little girl. I was instantly hooked after the first one and began watching the tv series as well. My mom and I used to sit and we would take turns reading from the novel, so these novels have created a lasting memory between my mom and I. We also used to have discussions about how the tv shows and the novels were similar or different.

I also have clear memories of my reading experiences in school. Reading was something that I loved to do and was very good at. I loved when the teacher or my mom would have me read, as I loved becoming part of the adventure I was reading about. Reading is still a passion of mine, although it has been somewhat pushed to the backburner while I am in school. Once this semester is complete I plan to pick another good book so that I can become lost in its pages.