Call for submissions: Frederick Douglass wants your students’ essays

Their best words and ideas are needed now This morning, I learned about an organization taking essay submissions from students around the world for possible online publication. The organization is called Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. Founded in 2007 and based in Rochester, NY, FDFI is  dedicated to the legacy of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass andContinue reading “Call for submissions: Frederick Douglass wants your students’ essays”

Try this poem to spark rich discussions in your classroom

“The Cold Within” by James Patrick Kinney Looking for a poem to generate a rich and engaging discussion with your students? I recently came across a post in one of the Facebook Groups I belong to. As I scanned the comments on a particular post, I learned about a poem called “The Cold Within” byContinue reading “Try this poem to spark rich discussions in your classroom”

Reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison… again

Reading it once is not enough. When author Toni Morrison died last August, I assigned an article about her life and career for our first weekly Article of the Week assignment of the year. I also read the first chapter of her first novel, The Bluest Eye, plus parts of the foreword to expose studentsContinue reading “Reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison… again”

When class discussions get controversial (and unfair)

I need this plan for better discussions in my classroom Because I am a writer first, and a speaker second, teaching via whole-class discussions does not come easily to me. When those class discussions involve racially-charged, controversial topics, it’s even more difficult. This difficulty can be blamed on two things: I teach at a nearlyContinue reading “When class discussions get controversial (and unfair)”

White Teacher Question: Are these race and social justice books enough?

Send me your contemporary social justice book suggestions I ordered these books for fall 2020 because I’m focusing on the power of literature to effect social change. Of course, recent events in response to the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd make me wonder if there are more topical books I should have ordered insteadContinue reading “White Teacher Question: Are these race and social justice books enough?”

Past to Present: How Triangle Fire Connects to 9/11

History won’t be boring if we show how it affects students’ lives today   Reading and writing about the Triangle Waist Co. factory fire allows middle school language arts students to make connections between events from more than one hundred years ago to more recent events. This is the unit my 8th-graders will be startingContinue reading “Past to Present: How Triangle Fire Connects to 9/11”

Punishing Laura Ingalls Wilder

Write inclusively… or else.   Little House on the Prairie, Ch. 11—Indians in the House By Laura Ingalls Wilder “Laura was frightened. Jack had never growled at her before. Then she looked over her shoulder, where Jack was looking, and she saw two naked, wild men coming, one behind the other, on the Indian trail.Continue reading “Punishing Laura Ingalls Wilder”

Dear Teachers: Scientology wants to get inside your classroom.

And they don’t need Tom Cruise to do it. A year ago last fall, I scanned the first page of a glossy teacher’s guide, part of a free educator’s kit sent to me (at my request) from Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI), an organization I had discovered in an online search for some teachingContinue reading “Dear Teachers: Scientology wants to get inside your classroom.”