Malia Warner has taught at Beverly Hills High School for 11 years, and is a member of the Los Angeles Teacher Leadership Team for Facing History and Ourselves. In 2015, she participated in our "powering up" project with her United States History class. She describes her experience.
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:
As we have in past years, we want to take a moment and highlight some blog posts published last year which may not have caught your eye. Here are some favorites from both this blog and the national Facing History blog, Facing Today. These "hidden gems" were identified by Los Angeles staff.
For those teachers taking the semester break to reflect on successes and create new opportunities, here are a few that caught our eye. Options to make your great work more visible with recognition and grants, as well as potential student projects!
There was a time when American History teachers had to just "hold tight" until their course chronology met up with available Facing History resources on the Eugenics movement (late 1800s/early 1900s), and 20th century issues around immigration, education, and "race."
June is undoubtedly a bittersweet month in the teaching world. Days are filled with grading, goodbyes, potential planning for the year ahead, but mainly putting those final touches on what was a rewarding and meaningful teaching year. However, it can also be a time for awards and recognition as it was this June for one group of teachers.
This week I continue the conversation with my father. To read the first part of this conversation, click here.
Even though the book was based on stories from my Uncle, I knew my father had done a lot of research by reading and even travelling to eastern Europe, so I asked him to talk about the role of research in writing fiction.
Research was essential and extensive. I needed to know everything I could about the places where events unfold: Prague, Terezin, Auschwitz, the forests of Poland. Likewise with the tenor of life year by year, where the story begins in innocence on through the relentlessly accelerating horrors of Hitler’s occupation, displacement, war, and mass murder. I needed to know more about the partisans, who were of so many stripes in so many places. There was one group, for instance, the Army Ludowa, who fought the Nazis for reasons of Polish nationalism while being every bit as anti-Semitic and dangerous to Jews. I had to go to all those places and contemplate what it was like to be there at that time: to be evacuated to Terezin, to live there in fear of disease, starvation, and death; to face certain death at Auschwitz-Birkenau; but then to escape and be liberated enough to fight back.
By all accounts, my father is a brilliant writer with nine books under his belt. Despite this, I’ve somewhat avoided reading his books–finding it a little strange to discover our family revealed in print, even wrapped in the protective cloak of fiction. Despite his work’s critical acclaim, I have only read a handful of his books. When his most recent book, Five Bullets, was released, he mailed me a copy with the inscription: "Time to face a bit of history, world and family all at once." This book was not exactly fiction; it was based on my dad’s uncle's experience during the Holocaust.
From my childhood, I have vivid memories of my Great Uncle Martin and, his wife, my Aunt Flora. He was a wizened and stoic man who generously put us up in his Lincoln Center brownstone apartment when we visited New York. My strongest memory is of him getting in his oversized American car, a Cadillac or an Oldsmobile, and seeing the whole steering column come booming down to his level, enabling him to peer over the dashboard as he drove us into Manhattan from Long Island. When I was young, I had no idea that his wife and children had been murdered in Auschwitz. I had no idea that he had escaped the concentration camp and fought with partisans in the woods of Poland. It can be mind-blowing when we realize how much we don’t know.
This year, the National Council for Social Studies had its annual conference in Facing History's home town of Boston. Teachers from around the country flew in - including many Facing History teachers who presented, attended sessions, and stopped by the booth. I got to go too!
I loved attending conferences like this as a teacher. Inspiration abounds from colleagues and keynotes alike...
- DOCUMENTED - the film about Jose Antonio Vargas coming out about not having legal papers for US residency.
- NICHOLAS KRISTOF - who, with his wife Sheryl WuDunn, has created the upcoming series, "A Path Appears" to highlight that action in the face of injustice IS possible.
- REDESIGNING CIVIC EDUCATION IN A DIGITAL AGE - a session that left me with more questions than answers around the theme of how civic engagement is changing. That's good, right?
- FACING HISTORY AND OURSELVES - yes, us! With this conference in our backyard, there were so many staff members and teachers involved and new resources highlighted.
In the goal of keeping the inspiration flowing, I wanted to share a few highlights, starting with keynote speaker and Facing History friend, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof.
No matter how long I've been in teaching, there's always this to look forward to with the start of the school year: the promise of a new beginning. After spending a year outside of the classroom, I'll be returning to teaching at a different school this fall and I'm excited to re-establish the pattern of rewarding teacher-student relationships that I've built over two decades. At the start of the school year, whether the students know me or not, the classroom dynamics have not been set and the patterns of interaction are yet to be established. I am given anew the chance to create the classroom environment which will both nurture and challenge my students. I can intentionally and purposely create a safe space where every person is allowed to bring his or her authentic self to the classroom and express the thoughts and opinions that he or she holds. How do I do that? Well...