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
See The Butterfly Project in action, paint your own butterfly, and find out how to bring the project to your classroom at our upcoming Forum in Los Angeles.
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.
Every year, we invite all of the Los Angeles area Facing History partnership schools to nominate a member of their school community who has been an "upstander," someone who makes a difference in small and large ways. Want to be inspired? Read the nominations in their own words below, and then join us on Thursday, April 28th to celebrate with these schools and the amazing Sana Anamat, co-creator of Ms. Marvel! (Click here for more information.)
It's National Library Week!
What is the last book you checked out of the library? Share your latest library read in a comment below.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I joined the "Stay at Home and Read a Book Ball" for LA Public Library this year. I curled up with my choice of books - public library and my own - reading two different books that day. One of my memorable moments when studying in the Soviet Union as a college student was trying to get a Soviet library card... and then the entire process of using a library in Moscow! Needless to say, I'm a bit of a library nerd. So, in honor of National Library Week, here are three gifts:
During the last few months, Southern California has hosted many conferences including three statewide conferences at which Facing History and our teachers presented:
- California Association of Teachers of English (CATE)
- California Council for the Social Studies (CCSS)
- CUE (the largest Education Technology conference on the West Coast at almost 7000 attendees!)
Do you want to see our presentations? Participate in the fun of an Exhibit Hall giveaway without the hassle of missing school? Keep reading. We have a special gift for those who couldn't make it to the conferences in person!
Students are media producers as well as consumers, so our pedagogical use of video is as important as the quality itself. In March 2016, I had the honor of presenting on this topic at the CUE National Conference together with the talented Michelle Sadrena Clark, Regional Consultant for the USC Shoah Foundation and a humanities teacher at High Tech High North County. Read on for links and lessons!
There are a lot of student opportunities at this time of year which could be engaging for students in a Facing History classroom. Here are a few that have come our way. Have you heard of others? Post them below to share with other teachers!
As part of Facing History and Ourselves’ second annual Facing History Together Student Essay Contest, “Student Voices: To Kill a Mockingbird in Today’s World,” middle and high school students across the U.S. have the opportunity to win individual and classroom prizes up to $2,500.