October 27, 2015, will mark the 14th year of Mix It Up at Lunch Day. That’s 14 years of improving intergroup relations, reducing prejudice and having a ton of fun in schools across the country. Have you registered to make your school one of them?
If you need a mantra to help you wrap your mind around preparing for Mix, let it be this: Don’t plan Mix It Up at Lunch Day alone. Call in some reinforcements—and look beyond the usual suspects. If you’re going to ask your students to mix it up, you should get out of your comfort zone and meet some new people too!
Mix planning is a great opportunity to create relationships with colleagues in other grade levels, subject areas or departments. And don’t forget to enlist administrators, office staff and cafeteria workers—this is a lunch event after all!
Here are some tips for getting started:
- Find four. Invite a minimum of four people to an initial planning lunch. Begin with at least two teachers from departments or grade levels other than your own. Then invite at least one administrator and a couple of folks from the cafeteria.
- Maintain an air of mystery. “I have an idea I want to talk to you about. Can you come to lunch with me to discuss it?”
- Get away for a while. Meet in a location where you can talk without distraction.
- Break the ice. Use these Mix It Up icebreakers to get the group comfortable with each other.
- Get ‘em in the mix. Make an announcement: “I want our entire school to do what we just did!”
- Spell out the details. Tell them all about Mix It Up at Lunch Day, set for October 27.
- Assemble your team. Ask each staff member to commit some time and energy to helping you plan this year’s Mix event. They may know other colleagues who would be perfect for the planning committee. You’ve just created your core group!
While you’re on a roll, enlist parent organizations, local sports teams and community groups that interact with your school. Organizers who have “mixed it up” themselves will be the best models for students when the big day arrives.
Meanwhile, stay connected to the Mix It Up community through Mix It Up blog posts, Facebook, Twitter (use #MixLunch!) and online resources. And see how our Model Schools have consistently made their Mix events successful. With the support of the Mix community, your school community can plan and carry out a great campaign.
Today—August 26—is Women’s Equality Day, an annual commemoration of the day in 1920 when Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby confirmed the ratification of the 19th Amendment. This amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote, reads:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The power of the vote is undeniable, yet it is important to remember that many women (and men) of color did not enjoy this power until 45 years later. And it took until 1971 for the U.S. Congress to designate August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. That’s 51 years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment and six years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which secured the vote for African Americans.
In honor of Women’s Equality Day, Teaching Tolerance staff selected relevant texts available in our free curriculum, Perspectives for a Diverse America, to highlight their importance today. These texts, described below, help bring alive some of the voices, themes and history of the women’s rights movement. Educators can couple these diverse readings with tasks and strategies in Perspectives to build literacy, to ask students to demonstrate their anti-bias awareness and to encourage civic engagement. In doing so, students learn about the nuanced history of women’s rights in the United States, and also reflect on how the march for full inclusion, equal opportunity and gender equity continues today.
“Ain’t I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth
Grade level: Fifth
Lexile score: 750
Text type: Informational
Lens: Class, gender, race and ethnicity
Theme: Power and privilege, rights and responsibilities, struggle and progress
Anti-bias domains: Identity, Justice, Action
In 1851, years before emancipation, decades before women’s suffrage and a century before the modern civil rights movement, Sojourner Truth spoke with the voice of an American woman about the indignities of not being seen as one. Her witty, biting and impassioned words cut across boundaries of race, religion and class—exposing the fact that women are equal to men and, thus, deserve the same rights. Truth’s speech, as powerful now as then, shows that while the struggle for equality has come a long way, it’s far from over.
Scott McDaniel, new media technical lead
“Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls Conference, 1848,” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Grade level: 11th
grade, 12th grade
Lexile score: 1480
Text type: Informational
Theme: Freedom and choice, power and privilege, rights and responsibilities
Anti-bias domains: Identity, Justice, Action
Using the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the anti-slavery movement as models, “Declaration of Sentiments” outlines the disenfranchisement and unjust circumstances for women in the United States and insists they be immediately granted all the rights and privileges afforded to full citizens. This text, signed by attendees at the Seneca Falls Conference of 1848, concludes with a statement of action to maintain that equality: “We shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object.” Today, these words still hold true, and the march for women’s equality continues with the recognition of injustices and the importance of collective action.
Sara Wicht, senior manager of teaching and learning
“Redstockings Manifesto,” by Redstockings
Grade level: 12th grade
Lexile score: 2330
Text type: Informational
Theme: Freedom and choice, membership and solidarity, power and privilege, rights and responsibilities
Anti-bias domains: Identity, Diversity, Justice, Action
In this 1969 document, the feminist group known as Redstockings spells out its most fundamental beliefs about gender oppression and liberation. After 46 years, many of the tenets of this manifesto can still be the subjects of debate. To what extent does oppression exhibit itself on both individual and institutional levels? Is it ever possible to “repudiate” one’s privilege? The document raises these questions and numerous others. “Redstockings Manifesto” works as a perfect starting place for a lively classroom discussion on the nature of oppression, class consciousness and privilege. This text will challenge older high school students to examine the philosophical considerations behind the struggle for women’s equality.
Steffany Moyer, program coordinator
“Susan B. Anthony,” by Alexandra Wallner
Grade level: Second grade
(read-aloud), fourth grade
Lexile score: 1030
Text type: Informational
Themes: Freedom and choice, power and privilege, rights and responsibilities, struggle and progress
Anti-bias domains: Justice, Action
This historical biography depicts the courageous life of activist and suffragist Susan B. Anthony. “Susan B. Anthony” not only introduces students to Anthony’s inspirational story; it tells of various injustices toward women in the United States at the turn of the century—many that relate to injustices today. This text is a great way to educate students about justice and equality and expose them to a woman who dedicated her life to making a change.
Jarah Botello, teaching and learning specialist
“1920: Women Get the Vote,” by Sam Roberts
Grade level: 10th grade
Lexile score: 1220
Text type: Informational
Themes: Freedom and choice, rights and responsibilities, struggle and progress
Anti-bias domains: Justice, Action
This article, originally published in a 2010 issue of The New York Times Upfront magazine, provides a succinct, accessible history of the women’s rights movement for teens. It traces important milestones and addresses how women remain underrepresented among elected political officials in the United States today. One interviewee says, “I think the [suffragists] would have envisioned that within 90 years, you would have seen sweeping participation by women in the electoral system." This article helps students situate historical victories such as the 19th Amendment alongside present-day barriers to full gender equality. Pair “Women Get the Vote” with “The Awakening,” a visual text that illustrates the nation’s slow acceptance of women as fully enfranchised citizens. Only white women are pictured in the drawing, a fact that reflects the reality that many African-American women did not receive full voting rights, even after the passage of the 19th Amendment.
Maya Lindberg, writer/associate editor
You can access all of these texts by registering for a Perspectives account and searching for the titles in the Central Text Anthology’s advanced filter. You can also find additional blogs, articles and professional development resources on Perspectives here.
The Atlantic: Nearly all high school graduates in Baldwin, Michigan—one of the poorest counties in the state—go to college. This success is being attributed to a combination of a unique scholarship fund and how the town views education.
The Atlantic: The Atlantic remembers Julian Bond's long career in public service.
The Brookings Institute: A new study offers evidence that “non-black teachers have significantly lower educational expectations for black students than black teachers do when evaluating the same students.”
Education Week: An in-depth look at public schools in New Orleans—ten years after Hurricane Katrina.
Indian Country Today: In this Q&A, staff for the Native Youth Film Camp at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico, explain that they want students “to be able to share their voices with the world—to counteract the continuing downward spiral of Native identity in front of the camera."
National Public Radio: As students across the country start a new academic year, many schools and districts are experiencing teacher shortages. NPR Ed dives into the problem to figure out why.
Salon: Our beliefs in the benefits of a “growth mindset” in students are misplaced and possibly dangerous if they distract us from inequities in our systems.
The Southern Poverty Law Center: A tribute to the life and legacy of the late Julian Bond, first president of the SPLC.
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.
Editor’s note: Susan Gelber Cannon is a teacher and Mix It Up coordinator at The Episcopal Academy—a three-time Mix Model School. She originally published a post about why and how her school mixes it up on her blog, Think, Care, Act: Teaching for a Peaceful Future. TT is sharing her post as a series of three blogs. (Reposted with permission.) This is the final post in the series; find the second one here.
Calendar for Long-term Planning
Announcements have to be composed. Videos have to be previewed and selected. Surveys have to be evaluated. T-shirts have to be ordered. We need to communicate goals and plans to the faculty and staff. The Student Council meets during a hectic 30-minute lunch period once every six days. A project the size of Mix It Up at Lunch Day is daunting for 16 middle schoolers and their faculty advisors. How do we pull off this mammoth undertaking?
Here is a taste of our long-term calendar. After setting the Mix date in the fall for the spring, we start by November to…
1. Plan a slogan contest for mid-January. Each advisory creates an uplifting slogan that promotes diversity and inclusion. The winning slogan is the T-shirt slogan.
- Make announcement to middle school: Do a skit with T-shirts?
- Hold contest or slogan making during advisory: Date?
- Judge slogans during meeting: Date? Invite administrators, diversity coordinators?
2. Prepare the T-shirt order (at least one month in advance).
- Decide on colors (different colors with same slogan design).
- Randomly assign colors to students, faculty and staff, and make a list of T-shirt sizes by homeroom.
3. Set and communicate purpose. Using Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework, communicate goals via announcements, skits, posters, bulletin boards, etc., for our Mix It Up Day activities, from pre-planning, to the day itself, to post-day activities.
- Coordinate with drama/choral teachers.
4. Prepare for the pre-Mix. Use advisory 1-2 weeks prior to Mix.
- Plan activity and inform advisors.
- Prepare a pre-Mix survey about your students’ perceptions of the school climate.
5. Announcements during Mix. Prepare the day’s rules, restrictions, privileges, etc.
6. Decide whether to have an assembly or an advisory during Mix. Then plan!
on an end-of-day activity. Plan a sports block?
8. Pre-Mix assemblies, teacher meetings and advisory. How to engage faculty and students?
- Talk to faculty in person before Mix.
- Announce the date and purpose of the day to the middle school.
9. After school day before Mix.
- Sort and distribute T-shirts by homeroom.
- Decorate school with posters and signs.
10. Post-Mix survey: Deploy around 1-2 weeks after Mix.
Make Mix It Up Day work for your school. Start small with a Mix It Up Day at Lunch. Engage teachers from a variety of disciplines, including the arts and physical education, to infuse diversity and inclusion-themed activities in school plays and athletic activities. Plan assemblies or advisory discussions on your school’s social climate. Involve your cafeteria staff and administrators. Go for a full-day social experiment. Mix can help your school become a more welcoming and inclusive community of upstanders for all! These lessons will be long lasting. We can defeat the isms and keep on building a peaceful, equitable, diverse and just future.
Cannon teaches English, history, Model UN and debate at The Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania
If high school students are introduced to Native writers at all, it is usually through Leslie Marmon Silko’s (Laguna Pueblo) Ceremony (1986), a now-classic story about a troubled Native American man who returns from serving in a war to rediscover his identity and to heal his body and spirit. Of course, Silko’s lyrical prose and spiritual narrative deserve to be taught; Ceremony became canonical over time for good reason. But it was written in 1986, and other authors have written equally powerful stories in the last 29 years.
Teaching indigenous texts is one tiny step toward correcting the historical inaccuracies about Native peoples that are built into the standard American K-12 curriculum. It also shows students that Native peoples still exist, and it infuses much-needed cultural diversity into often Euro-American-centric book lists. Indigenous peoples were here before the founding of the United States, and we have a responsibility to include their voices and stories in our classrooms.
For teachers who have the willingness and ability to either change the primary indigenous text or add a second one, might I suggest including one of the following seven books for readers in the upper grades.
Louise Erdrich (Ojibwe), The Round House (2012). Winner of the National Book Award for fiction, this novel tackles the difficult subjects of rape and white-on-Native crime with lyrical language that is simultaneously enchanting and direct. It is a heartbreaking story that features a young male narrator who works hard to achieve justice for his mom and learns difficult and poignant lessons along the way. It’s one of the best novels I’ve read in years and worthy of attention in the classroom where a skilled teacher can lead and guide discussion. Students will enjoy this coming-of-age mystery and connect with the story’s focus on family and culture.
Sherman Alexie (Coeur d’Alene), Reservation Blues (1995). Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007) is an oft-taught—and oft-banned—text because of its young protagonist, humor and dramatic story. However, high school students might enjoy digging into Reservation Blues because music is central to the story, as well as risk-taking, leaving home and negotiating the complexities of family relationships. Alexie takes the main characters from his 1993 short story collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, and builds a novel around them with humor, magical realism and the blues. A good companion film would be Smoke Signals (1998), which is based on one of the stories in The Lone Ranger and Tonto collection.
Linda Hogan (Chickasaw), Solar Storms (1997). This is a coming-of-age story about a troubled 17-year-old girl who reconnects with her older female relatives upon returning to her family’s traditional home on the islands between Minnesota and Canada. From ecofeminism, loss and abuse, healing, to myth, Solar Storms will capture students’ imaginations and entice them to think differently about Native peoples.
Linda Hogan (Chickasaw), People of the Whale (2010). For a more recent novel by Hogan, try People of the Whale, set in a fictional Pacific Northwest tribe. The story features strong women and a young man who fights in Vietnam and then returns to find his place between his Native and American worlds. A good companion film would be Whale Rider (2002), the fictional story of a young Maori girl in New Zealand who wants to become chief but is prohibited by tribal tradition. The integral role of whales to tribal culture and the roles of men and women provide several discussion bridges between Hogan’s story and the film.
LeAnne Howe (Choctaw), Shell Shaker (2001). Winner of a 2002 American Book Award, this story shifts between two different fights across time (1700s and 1990s) for one Choctaw family. The courage and resourcefulness of women, the connection of past to present, politics, humor and flawed characters will engage even the most resistant student reader.
Thomas King (Cherokee), The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative (2008). Filled with personal anecdotes and experiences, wit and serious attention to the nature of storytelling, this nonfiction narrative introduces students to positive and negative aspects of contemporary Native experience. It also provides terrific discussion points for writing nonfiction stories.
Joy Harjo (Mvskoke), Crazy Brave (2012). A moving memoir written with poetic power and fearless honesty, Crazy Brave is an incredible story that models memoir writing in effective ways. Grounded in Mvskoke myth, ancestry and stories, this memoir introduces students to a woman’s journey to become a poet.
By breaking away from familiar texts, high school teachers have an opportunity to introduce students to a wider range of Native experiences and cultures through stories that maintain the high quality and standards set by Silko’s Ceremony. A terrific starting point on your journey to select appropriate indigenous texts for younger students is scholar Debbie Reese’s blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature.
Morris teaches writing and Native American/Indigenous Rhetorics at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.