We were proud to be part of two sessions at the California Association of Teachers of English conference March 9-11. Thanks to all who joined us, and for those who could not come in person, here’s a taste of what we shared.
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis has inspired a beautifully-animated film soon-to-be released to theaters. Both highlight a role in the world today not often discussed: children of war who must take on the role of provider or "breadwinner" for themselves and/or their family. This role is further complicated in the setting of Afghanistan, where tightly-controlled gender expectations limit what women or girls can do.
Is literature one of your entry points for talking about challenging issues in the world today? Join Facing History and other educators for a unique event series which bridges literature and non-fiction to open new discussions on critical current issues.
On social media and in previous posts on this blog, a number of teachers have identified a video, "The Legacies of Reconstruction" as providing a helpful voice this week. In addition to the opportunity to explore the history that is relevant for understanding today's world, there is a message of hope. For those not as familiar with the history of Reconstruction or this video in particular, we wanted to share an excerpt. We hope it is encouragement through tough conversations, whether at school or in our communities.
Earlier this week, we shared how three teachers interwove setting up their classes during the first days of school with creating space to grapple with current events. (Click here for that initial post.) We've continued to hear from teachers, including one who said poignantly, “basically, we need to teach Reconstruction as thoroughly/often as we teach the Bill of Rights, the writing of the Constitution."
Here are two more examples, one for a student classroom and one for bringing adults into conversation before they create discussion spaces with young people.
When significant current events occur right as students come back to school, teachers' jobs get even trickier. Any first days back include getting to know students' names, setting up class structures, and laying a foundation for the community and learning that will happen all year long. Add on top of that an immediate need to address heightened emotional levels and critical understanding of complicated events, and it can feel overwhelming.
This week, many schools in the Southern California area are welcoming students back for the school year. So, the news from Charlottesville this weekend, the imagery and violence which students may have seen, will likely be weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of educators. It is weighing on our hearts and minds as well.
What happens when you give space over to questions and dialogue? How do you make sure that space is constructive for learning, and one in which multiple perspectives can be heard and understood?
How do we understand and honor children's lives taken during the Holocaust? The Butterfly Project, founded in San Diego in 2006 and now reaching 20 states and 16 countries, seeks to involve young people in creating a ceramic butterfly for every child lost to the Holocaust. Over the past year, Facing History has been collaborating with them to deepen the experience of students in this powerful exploration and memorial to children.
Find out more about The Butterfly Project here www.thebutterflyprojectnow.org
So what does it look like to put the focus on youth in your exploration of the Holocaust? The following path uses Facing History resources to deepen student appreciation for the meaning of painting a butterfly. This progression of lessons can be the basis for a middle or high school unit culminating in participation in The Butterfly Project.
In order to be strong and powerful, you have to know who you are first."
Sana Amanat, Director of Content & Character Development at Marvel Entertainment, shared the thought above with students and educators at the 2016 celebration of Upstanders from Facing History Los Angeles Partnership Schools. On stage, Amanat shared how inspired she was by the students, who she credited with being further along than she was at their age by already making a difference. The students were inspired by Sana to find their own voice and continue contributing to a more diverse and compassionate world.