The Perspectives for a Diverse America reading anthology continues to grow—including texts that K-2 students can read and hear! We know that’s a particularly powerful combination for young readers.
“Read alouds are certainly beneficial for readers of all ages,” says TT’s Senior Manager of Teaching and Learning Sara Wicht, “but they are particularly beneficial to pre-readers and emerging readers because they help increase phonemic awareness and model reading fluency.” On average, comprehension of a read-aloud text is about two years beyond a student’s independent reading level, so the read aloud increases the number of texts a student can access. “That exposure alone helps vocabulary development and builds speaking and listening skills,” Wicht explains.
We’re happy to announce 14 new read alouds that will engage your young students. After making sure you’ve completed your free Perspectives registration, just search for these titles using the advanced filter:
- 10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert
- Families by Ann Morris
- “The Fighting Mynahs: A Story From Hawaii About How It’s Better to Share and Cooperate Than to Squabble and Fight” by Leslie Ann Hayashi
- “How the World Came to Be” by Anita Ganeri
- “Old Joe and the Carpenter: An Appalachian Tale of Building Bridges” by Margaret Read MacDonald
- “Papalotzin and the Monarchs: A Bilingual Tale of Breaking Down Walls” by Rigoberto González
- “Peace Begins With You” by Katherine Scholes
- The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
- Sometimes by Rebecca Elliot
- “Three Billy Goats Gracious” by Jennifer Holladay
- “This Little Light of Mine” by Harry Dixon Loes
- “An Unlikely Friendship” by Sue Carloni
- You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer! By Shana Corey
- “Z and Vielpunkt” by Tamera Bryant
DiversityInc: "The repeated practice of racially segregating schools in the U.S. has increased in recent years. And a new report concluded that segregating schools has negative effects on the education minority students receive."
Fusion: "The findings add to the growing compendium of studies on the the outsized impact suspensions have on students already facing institutional hurdles to successful educations, like poverty and unstable home environments."
The Hechinger Report: "'We have a very rare opportunity where a major intervention [desegregation] has been shown to be very effective on one generation’s lifetime outcomes, and then to be able to show that those beneficial effects extend into the next generation—particularly the black children whose parents went to desegregated schools.'"
KLTV: "The Texas Board of Education's members sanction textbooks for use statewide in a process that has for years been marred by ideological fights over lessons on subjects including evolution, climate change and the influence of biblical figures such as Moses on America's Founding Fathers."
ProPublica: "If computers could accurately predict which defendants were likely to commit new crimes, the criminal justice system could be fairer and more selective about who is incarcerated and for how long. The trick, of course, is to make sure the computer gets it right."
Rafranz Davis: "Making has been the fabric of mankind since we existed. It’s not just technology and specifically coding. It’s not about devices. It really is about the synergy and application of ideas and passionately bringing them to life or even the need for a project to be real and the ability to create it."
Teaching/Math/Culture: "For most students, alienation can be overcome by teachers who create a sense of belongingness. Belongingness comes about when students experience frequent, pleasant interactions with their peers and teacher. It also comes about with the sense that others are concerned for who they are and for their wellbeing."
If you come across a current article or blog you think other educators should read, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org , and put "What We’re Reading This Week" in the subject line.
When I was in the classroom, I was fortunate to teach in a community that I knew intimately as a child. Of course, there was still more I had to learn, but my foundational knowledge gave me a head start in understanding my students’ lives. Many of us, however, teach in communities that are foreign to us. That is why it is important that we, in hopes of developing as culturally responsive educators, not only understand our students and their families better, but also learn about the existing assets in the communities where we teach.
Too often, the rhetoric in education focuses on what our students, particularly underserved students of color, and their communities do not have instead of focusing on what they do have. What if we changed our mindsets to value what students already bring to schools as well as the many ways the communities surrounding our schools can enrich instruction?
To begin to forge partnerships with our school communities, I recommend a community development approach called asset mapping, which involves identifying the tangible and intangible resources in communities. These resources could be people, institutions, businesses, natural resources, organizations and physical structures. Essentially, asset mapping allows us to identify opportunities and resources to enhance teaching and learning for our students.
Asset mapping begins with identifying, tapping into and supporting leaders—and emerging leaders—in a given community. It is based on the belief that all residents in a community, regardless of their backgrounds or other characteristics, can play effective roles in addressing and solving important local matters. When we educators regard the people in a community as individuals with talents, skills and knowledge that could benefit the community and our students’ education, we shift from deficit-based to asset-based mindsets. For example, community members can offer mentoring, career planning and internship opportunities to students. Asset mapping allows us to see community members as partners in enriching the lives of youth, which communicates to students that their families, their neighbors and they themselves matter.
Along with identifying community leaders, another important process of asset mapping is identifying local institutions with which we can partner in educating our students. Here are some likely institutions that exist in communities:
- Associations (e.g., tenants’ associations)
- Local businesses
- Educational entities (e.g., schools and after-school programs)
- Political entities (e.g., local representatives’ offices)
- Religious establishments (e.g., churches, synagogues and mosques)
I recommend identifying at least one of each type of institution and at least two concrete ways to partner with them yearly. Some institutions might remain constant, but new ones may emerge that can further enhance the work you’re doing.
For instance, as a teacher in the South Bronx, I used community assets to fill my school’s gaps in athletic, arts, music and social justice programming. To engage families, I invited them to my classroom for end-of-unit celebrations and to class trips. I also communicated with families often through weekly check-in letters, an online class blog of assignments and lessons, and telephone calls. Having regular communication and dialogue with families allowed me to gain important information about my students’ lives, which, in turn, helped me be responsive to their realities in my interactions and instruction.
Since my school did not have a health education program, I asked AmeriCorps volunteers to teach my students lessons on nutrition, substance and alcohol abuse, safe sex practices and other health topics. I supplemented my teaching of African-American history and the African slave trade by inviting Columbia University students to teach my students West African dance. I encouraged my students to express themselves and use art as a form of activism by partnering with the Studio in a School program and an artist from the DreamYard project.
I formed many more partnerships—and you can, too—but it is important to be vigilant in addressing our biases and our power and privilege before engaging in this work. For one, when we engage with communities, we want to be open to the many gifts they may have to offer and push ourselves to refrain from judgments about what specific communities may or may not value.
By connecting our classrooms to the communities where we teach, we move our students’ educational experiences beyond four walls. We allow for more authentic learning experiences by taking advantage of community assets. Most crucial, however, is that communities become more engaged in developing and educating their youth, and the youth become more engaged in the continued health of their communities.
Simmons is a lifelong activist, educator and student of life from the Bronx, New York. She currently serves as the director of implementation at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
An intense political climate and an uptick in the number of student demonstrations around the country are just two indications that young people need to make—and will make—their voices heard. The summer of 1964 is chock-full of lessons they can draw inspiration from. Use our web package, “The March Continues: Learning From the Summer of ’64,” to bring these lessons into your classroom.
During the summer of 1964, two key events changed the way the United States approaches civil rights: Mississippi’s Freedom Summer and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. During Freedom Summer, hundreds of activist-volunteers from across the country joined civil rights organizations and Mississippi citizens to demand voting rights for African Americans. Voting-rights workers endured constant intimidation and violence, and some lost their lives in the name of equality. Many young people attended Freedom Schools that summer, schools that emphasized social justice, literacy and political empowerment.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law on July 2, aimed to undo decades of harm caused by Jim Crow laws. The sweeping civil rights legislation outlawed both segregation in public establishments and employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or national origin.
Whether in the closing days of this school year or first thing when you return in the fall, take the opportunity to educate your students about the landmark summer of ’64—and the ways we can all continue the work toward equal rights.
Here’s a little glimpse into the origin of a Teaching Tolerance feature story. Every time we consider a topic, we use a decision matrix to determine if it’s a good fit for our magazine and our audience. One of the most important decision points: How will our readers use this information?
Enter TOOLKITS, a crucial but unsung feature of our feature stories. A toolkit might take the form of a lesson you can use or adapt with students, a reflection exercise you can do yourself or a PD activity that can help you put the topic on your departmental agenda. Toolkits provide a way for educators to become advocates and put anti-bias concepts into practice.
Here are five toolkits from our Summer issue.
“Ask Angy” In this feature story, TT interviews Angy Rivera—a leading activist for undocumented youth and immigrant rights—about growing up without a green card, her activism at a young age and what educators need to know about their undocumented students. The toolkit, which offers a set of short videos created by Rivera and discussion prompts, help educators bring Rivera’s voice into their classrooms.
“Browder v. Gayle” Is this court case part of your civil rights teaching? The feature story explains why it needs to be and how the “60th anniversary of Browder v. Gayle offers an opportunity to get to know this critical case, the unheralded women behind it, and its wider relationship to the [Montgomery bus] boycott and the crusade for racial equality.” The accompanying toolkit walks educators through a special version of Civil Rights Done Right, a detailed set of curriculum improvement strategies for teaching the movement and this court case in particular.
“Flagler County: A Case for Suspension Abolition” Flagler County, Florida, is a pioneer in school discipline reform and may do away with out-of-school suspensions altogether. Read about the how and why of this county’s road toward suspension abolition. The toolkit, a printable A-Z list, helps educators learn more about this concept. For example, here’s what ‘A’ stands for: “Identify and use alternatives to suspension, expulsion and arrests that have been proven effective in addressing student misconduct.”
“The New Sex Ed” A more inclusive model of sexuality education is gaining traction. Is it at your school? Read this story to learn how schools can make the transition to comprehensive sex ed—a model that is, among other features, age-appropriate, medically accurate and LGBT-inclusive. It also addresses consent. The accompanying toolkit helps educators assess the current state of sex education in their schools and plan for ways to adopt a more inclusive approach.
“Teaching at the Intersections” Intersectionality is a buzzword and with good reason: An intersectional approach is crucial to understanding people’s multi-faceted identities and experiences. This feature story breaks down the word, its origins and its relevance to educators and students. The toolkit offers a set of suggested readings, essential questions and grade-level outcomes from Perspectives for a Diverse America that support teaching about multiple identities, oppression and privilege.
Interested in “opening up” more toolkits? In the print issues of Teaching Tolerance, follow the URL listed next to the toolkit icon at the bottom of a feature story. When reading a story online, you can access the toolkit by clicking on a hyperlinked sentence (for example, “Put this story into action.”) near the bottom of the page.