The School of Invisibility

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THE SCHOOL OF INVISIBILITY
By Charlotte Blake Alton

 

Introduction:

Schools are some of the most politically correct and inclusive places in America, by design. It’s easy to form an assumption without really noticing the reality surrounding you. Listen carefully as storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston recounts her experiences at a private Quaker school in a powerfully articulate and relatable manner, and tells how valuable growth can take place anywhere and with anyone. Who will be next?

Summary:

When Charlotte Blake Alston accepts a teaching position at a private Quaker school, she expects she’ll finally become part of an educational institution committed to respect and equality for all members of the school community. But true equity comes with awareness, sensitivity, and diligence. The School of Invisibility illustrates how cultural conditioning can creep into even the most “inclusive” school environment.

Classroom Reflections & Activities:

  • Allow students to research Quakers to discover some basic facts about this group of people.
  • Have students journal about a time when they felt left out or treated like they weren’t as good as someone else. Encourage students to not only share the experience, but to share their feelings too.
  • Brainstorm with students different ways to show respect and create a sense of equality amongst students..

Watch the video now

The Restaurant Story: A French American Becomes More Visible

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THE RESTAURANT STORY:
A FRENCH AMERICAN BECOMES MORE VISIBLE

By Michael Parent

Introduction:

Do you know how it feels to be looked at like you don’t quite measure up, like you’re not as valuable as someone else? Sure. We all know the sting of a put down, whether done with words or with body language. In this story, Michael Parent tells of such an encounter and how the people involved set the record straight.

Summary:

Storyteller Michael Parent easily sets the stage for this story by giving the listener a bit of background on Franco-Americans. He compares their invisibility as a result of trying to fit into the new country to the powerful visibility of some of America’s more recent immigrants. With the stage set, listeners can easily connect to the ignorance experienced by many immigrants. Listen and feel the empowerment!

Classroom Reflections & Activities:

  • Create several scenarios of ignorance about immigrants for students to role play and respond to. Encourage empathy in the responses.
  • “Myth Busters.” Generate a series of comments or beliefs about immigrants written down on notecards for students. Distribute the cards and have students work in small groups to research the comment or belief to discover if it is fact or myth. Noting the origin of the comment or belief could also be interesting.
  • Have students journal about a time when they felt inadequate or not as good as someone else. Describe not only the event, but also the feelings experienced.

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Watch the video now

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THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTINUING A BLACK HISTORY FOCUS

We cannot underestimate the impact of what storyteller Anne Shimojima calls “looking into the mirror of life and never seeing your own reflection.”

In this video “Taming the Fire“, story artist Sheila Arnold describes her teenage discovery of African American History. Luckily for Sheila, she had a teacher who understood Sheila’s anger at not learning about her heritage. Her teacher appreciated Sheila’s passionate and rightful desire for the truth and was able to transform that energy into inspiration for herself and all of her students.

Sometimes, those of us who are not identified as African American, think of Black History in terms of when Americans of African descent got the right to vote or sit at a lunch counter. The obstacles faced were so much deeper and wider than that and included: the right to know your name, the right to know your family, the right to hold office, the right to be in the military, the right to sign contracts, the right to buy homes, the right to enter most professions, the right to read, the right to go to school, the right to medical care, the right to refuse sterilization, the right to give evidence against a white man, the right to live without constant threat of physical harm and death to you and your loved ones and on and on. The fact that in spite of all this danger, disrespect and discrimination African Americans made contributions in every field of American life is a true testament to the human spirit.

In order to survive and even thrive under this constant onslaught to their humanity African Americans were able to lean on the gifts from their African cultures as well as develop a unique African American culture that is nurturing, strong and varied. Each African American child deserves to know about the beauty and struggle from which they come and all American students need to understand and appreciate how the United States is as democratic and as true to its ideals as it is because of African Americans.

Take Me to Your Leader

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A Story for the 4th July :  The Pledge of
Allegiance and Naturalization – through the eyes
of a small Irish American child

 

TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER
By Yvonne Healy

Introduction:

What is a REAL American? Do all aliens have antennas? As only a child can fabricate, this true story is about an Irish family undergoing the naturalization process of the United States. Unsure, fearful, and inquisitive, Yvonne Healy creates a clear picture for listeners of how she became a citizen of the U.S. along with her family. Listen as this relatable story is told from the perspective of a child.

Summary:

Told from the perspective of her younger self, Yvonne Healy recounts her experience of becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States – a REAL American. Included in this story are the believable wide-eyed expressions and thoughts of a child. She also tells of the confusion she experienced about the difference between an alien and the real American she seeks to become, as well as some silly prejudices directed her way. Listen as this relatable story is told through the eyes of a child.

Classroom Reflections & Activities:

 

.Watch the video now : Take Me to Your Leader

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Explore our many other free storyteller-videos and
lessons for classroom, group or individual use :
RaceBridges Studio Videos

 

Summer Stories (Or at any time) : How educators can use storytelling to foster community and bridge differences

Story gathering & Storytelling ideal in summer programs
or marking special events during the summer.

As another school year comes to a close, students look forward to the lazy days of summer. But for many educators, as well as camp leaders and church organizers, summer can be an exceptionally busy time, especially for those charged with creating and/or leading summer programs and projects for young people or adults.  If you’re looking for new ideas for your summer program, storytelling might be a welcome addition — and a fun and effective way to bring people together, bridge differences and foster a sense of community.

Storytelling can be shaped into a part of your summer program with story-events taking place throughout your scheduled activities and at its conclusion.  Story gathering and storytelling can also mark special events, places or an anniversary. These narratives are sometimes called Legacy stories. A story- performance can be presented at the conclusion of a summer program, for your participants or for a wider public audience. 

Why storytelling?

Storytelling has always been a part of the human venture.  It allows us to connect with each other and to make meaning of our world. When we share our life stories with others, we open up opportunities for seeing new perspectives. By making storytelling part of your summer program, you can increase awareness of differences within your group and help build an environment of respect, compassion and understanding.

How to incorporate storytelling

Whether you use storytelling in a summer program or during the regular school year, it’s important to remember that some people may find it easy to talk about their lives while others will feel reluctant or shy to share their stories.

As soon as you say the words “storytelling,” some people will brace themselves for fear of being embarrassed or exposed.  As the leader or facilitator, you can simply assure everyone from the beginning that they will not be asked to share anything that they do not want to share.

Ideas to get you started

Wondering how to incorporate storytelling into your summer program? The educators at RaceBridges for Schools, a nonprofit initiative that offers free lesson plans on diversity and interracial understanding, offer the following ideas from their storytelling toolkit (available for free download here):

If you’d like to build community in a general way, ask your group to:

  • Tell a story of a time when you felt strong
  • Tell a story about a time when you surprised yourself

If you’d like to bridge differences of race or ethnicity, you might ask your group to tell stories about:

  • A time when you felt like you were on the outside
  • A special time with your family

If you’d like to get at issues of insider/outsider feelings, ask:

  • Tell me a story of a time when you were misunderstood
  • Tell me a story about a time when you were alone and then someone helped you

Or to get your group talking about their values and beliefs, ask them to:

  • Tell a story about a time when you stood up for something you believed in
  • Tell me a story of a time when you had faith

However you approach storytelling in your group, it’s important to remember that underneath it all, the exercise is ultimately about building relationships and listening to each other. And it should be a fun way to get to know each other!

For more ideas about how to incorporate storytelling into your classroom or summer program, or for more units on a variety of themes about diversity, visit: RaceBridges Studio.

Spring

flip2A 4th July Story – or for any time
Dignity & Pride in the Face of an Immigrant Woman

SPRING
By Jim Stowell

Introduction:

In this poignant story, Jim Stowell tells of how an immigrant woman finds her own dignity. Although experiencing many hardships, she preservers and builds a strong foundation for herself. Listen to how this all too common experience of immigrant struggles that swell into pride, joy, and dignity.

Summary:

With vivid visualizations, this is a relatable story of overcoming common struggles experienced by immigrants. Life is not the same in a new country, and it is a difficult transition at best to fit in. Storyteller Jim Stowell tells how an immigrant woman is faced with trials and hardships, and how she establishes a sense of pride and dignity for herself and her family.

Classroom Reflections & Activities:

  • Ask students what dignity is, and then brainstorm examples of it or times when people show dignity. Hold a discussion on how students can help build dignity in others. Have students take turns listing these on the board.
  • Show several video/movie clips that display various examples of cultural dignity and indignity. Ask students to identify which is shown in each clip. An extension activity could involve having students explain how to change the clips showing indignity into more positive examples of respect.
  • Ask students to share a time when they experienced disrespect due to their cultural background or ethnicity. Encourage students to explore how it felt..

Watch the video now

The Power of Storytelling: 7 Reasons to Incorporate Stories in Your Classroom

Download “The Power of Storytelling” here

Stories do so much more than merely entertain; they can boost brainpower, build bridges, and even impart a little wisdom. If you need a reminder about the power and promise of storytelling, here are seven wonderful—and maybe even surprising—reasons to make stories part of your teaching toolbox: 

1.        Instill values.

We all know the phrase “the moral of the story.” That’s because it’s so much easier to convey values—anything from the virtues of hard work to the need to respect others—through stories. And this educational technique has been around forever—from the Bible to Aesop’s Fables to fairy tales and nursery rhymes.

2.        Make writing easier.

If students get in the habit of telling stories, which require a sort of composition in the brain, they are likely to find the act of writing easier. They will be used to searching their memories for relevant details, organizing the narrative, and thinking about how and what they want to communicate to their audience.

3.        Nurture empathy and understanding.

By sharing our individual stories and personal histories, we tell other people who we are. And by listening to others’ stories, we learn who they are. In the classroom, listening to each other’s stories helps us see each other in new ways, to understand where other people are coming from, and what makes us all unique or the same. In this way, stories have the power to foster empathy and new connections among different groups of students.

4.        Help them make mental connections—and maybe even do better in math?

There’s a reason we use “story problems” in math class. A new study suggests that preschool children’s early storytelling abilities are predictive of their mathematical ability two years later [http://www.nationalliteracytrust.net/Pubs/oneill.html]. This study echoes other recent research on the value of storytelling to teach the “whole brain” using the multiple intelligences and the integration of thinking in the left and right brain.

5.        Boost critical thinking.

We all know there are two sides to every story, and what better way to help students truly comprehend that than through storytelling. Just as one student’s version of an event may be quite different from another, so one nation’s perspective on history might be very different from ours. By exploring different versions of one event or story, you can open students’ minds to new ways of thinking.

6.        Pass on new language.

Just as they do in reading, listeners pick up new words and language patterns through stories. They learn new words or new contexts for already familiar words. The more stories they hear, the more they pick up on narrative patterns and start to make predictions about what will happen. That experience helps readers at all levels tackle new and challenging texts.

7.        Banish boredom.

It may seem obvious, but stories are simply so much more fun than lectures, workbooks, and the chalkboard. When students’ minds start to check out—or their bodies start to slump—reenergize the mood in the classroom with a storytelling lesson or activity.

For more ideas and resources on storytelling in the classroom,
check out the FREE resource available
Storytelling : A Toolkit for Bridging Differences & Building Community

 

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START BY SETTING CLEAR, RESPECTFUL GUIDELINES

A school is a community of people with common values and goals about the importance of education. A school is also a collection of folks with tons and tons of differences: different ages, different family and ethnic backgrounds, different physical and intellectual abilities, religious affiliations, life experiences and on and on. When we need to solve problems, it means we can have five, ten, fifteen different perspectives on how to solve them. Or all these differences can be a source of antagonism and conflict.

Maybe it seems as though we should just know how to treat each other and work together well, but it’s not always that easy, especially as our communities become more and more diverse. Just as you need to practice to play an instrument or learn math formulas or get better at a sport, learning to live and work well with all kinds of people takes skill, practice and clear guidelines or rules. Respectful conversations don’t just happen; we must plan for them to take place.

From the first gathering, have your class agree upon guidelines for respectful, productive communication. People tend to be more cooperative with rules into which they’ve had input. But don’t think that takes care of it. Don’t hang up your list of guidelines and never look at them again. Practice with your students. Ask them consistently and periodically – how are we doing with listening? How are we doing with waiting until someone else finishes before we talk? Are we expressing our opinions without putting anyone else down?

 

Schools and Cultural Biases

animated-peopleAs difficult as it may be to admit, we all have cultural biases. No one is as culturally sensitive or aware of everyone else in the world all of the time. Educators have the unique responsibility to be unbiased as part of the job description, but it’s not always an easy task. In order to manage cultural biases, it is first important to acknowledge what those biases are. 

How can teachers and schools recognize cultural bias and cope with the difficulties they present? Below are a few tips for identifying and managing cultural biases, and for helping students to do the same.

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  • Research your own cultural background. Know your own heritage. Encourage your students to do the same..
  • Practice self-reflection. Journal about how you see yourself, your students, they way that you teach. Reflection produces awareness. Once aware of your own thoughts and biases, you can re-direct them..
  • Care about your students. Take the time to let students know that you care about them. Show it. Do and say things that illustrate to students that they matter to you..
  • Share with students – be vulnerable with them. Let them know your cultural traditions. This can be a little tricky in public school settings. When you share, teach your students to be open-minded and respectful. Create an environment that values an awareness and appreciation for the backgrounds of others..
  • Set aside time for students to talk about their own backgrounds. Use small groups or share as a whole class. Allow time for questions..
  • Encourage students to work with students different from themselves..
  • Do not expect one student to represent an entire culture. Do not assume that their personal experiences and traditions are true for everyone of that culture. They are individuals..
  • Investigate carefully the texts chosen for classroom use. Make sure they are culturally inclusive..
  • Differentiate lessons. That is, create lessons thoughtfully – appeal to as many different learning styles as possible. Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, cooperative, tactile, verbal, artistic, linear thinkers, non-sequitur thinkers (abstract), etc. Incorporate the use of Multiple Intelligences (http://www.thomasarmstrong.com/multiple_intelligences.php) in the classroom. The more learning styles appealed to in the lessons, the less the chance will be for cultural bias to develop..
  • Dispel stereotypes. Talk about them. Prove them wrong. Share how they make people feel. Stop students when they display this behavior..
.For more ideas on the themes of bias –
others – and our own — please check out
our RaceBridges Studio site

 

THE SOONER YOU KNOW WHERE YOU’RE AT THE BETTER

As we move into August, schools will be readying for the arrival of their students. While there’s still a little time and energy to reflect before the whirlwind begins, consider how you would rate your school on a continuum from promoting sameness to settling for acceptance to truly valuing of differences.

ethnocentrism photoThere is a great cartoon once that perfectly illustrated the concept of ethnocentrism or subtly promoting sameness. It pictured a 50-ish, balding, plump man sitting behind a desk.

Over his head was a sign that read “Personnel”. He was the man who did the hiring for his workplace.

Sitting across from this Personnel man was the exact same plump, balding, 50-ish man. The Personnel man was leaning across his desk saying to this duplicate man who had come to apply for a job, “You are exactly the kind of person we’re looking for.”

That’s ethnocentrism: I relate to people who look like me, sound like me and act like me. Of course, people never promote sameness in so many words. They are more likely to talk about whether a student is a “good fit”.

There was a program in one of the white neighborhoods to bus some Black students in to spend time in this upper middle class neighborhood. Notice this wasn’t an exchange. The white kids didn’t go into the black neighborhoods. It’s astounding to think of it now, but the hidden agenda was: we will show ‘them’ how we live and they will want to be like us and then ‘they’ will change.

Ethnocentrism has a patronizing edge to it. It says, “We will let you in, but don’t worry. In awhile, we will have you in shape – you will be just like us.”

When people say, “I treat everyone the same” or “I don’t see differences”, they mean well. They are trying to express that they do their best to treat everyone with respect. But, all of us need to be on the alert for when this good intention can unwittingly spill into treating someone as “less than” if they are different in any way.

This is never about lowering standards. We always strive for the same high quality education and respectful behaviors. We just need to open our minds to the idea that there is more than “my way” to those high standards.

 

THERE’S BIG BENEFITS IN TRUE INCLUSION

Valuing is where we share the center. We make decisions together. Everybody is at the table. It is not just my way and we’ll let in some of your wValuingay. No, now it’s our way. And to make it our way, some of the time, those Traditional Insiders who used to occupy the center are going to have to change, too.

Many schools used to be run on a Sameness model. An example of this is when schools would teach students with a strong bias toward the lecture format (the teacher talks and the students listen) with a heavy emphasis on verbal and math skills.

Moving to Acceptance, in some classrooms a teacher would occasionally introduce an art project or a small group discussion. In this way some students who didn’t fit well into the Sameness Model were able to get an “A” in one area such as art or music but D’s and C’s in other traditional subject areas which were still taught in a lecture format emphasizing logic and math skills.

Now, thankfully, in recent years, teachers have been trained in teaching to different learning styles and types of intelligences. The classroom has expanded from trying to fit all students into one mold to welcoming and valuing students’ kinesthetic, aural and visual ways of learning as well as their multiple intelligences.

Notice the teachers did not have to lower standards to make the classroom more inclusive. We have the same high standards in these schools but they are open to more than one way to reach those high standards. Students still need to make the grade, but now there is more than one way of preparing students to get there.

In true valuing, students who were previously left behind don’t have to change to “fit in”. Instead, the classroom changes to fit the students when each student is valued for his or her gifts and unique ways of scholarship.

The interesting thing is that everyone benefits when an institution moves into true valuing. In true valuing, everyone gets to express more of himself or herself in the classroom whether it’s in terms of their type of smarts, their learning and communication styles, their ethnic background as well as any other part of their diverse and unique background.

In a school that is moving toward true Valuing, all the students are having more fun and, therefore, are feeling a sense of belonging in the classroom. More learning goes on for everyone.

Celebrating Black History Month

……………bhm-back….. ..

Celebrating Black History in Classrooms, Group or For Private Reflection

Here is a selection of units and lesson plans for use in Black History
Month or for any time . . .

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Celebrating Black American Arts

This short, but flexible lesson plan provides a variety of options for students to become familiar with African American culture including through research and presentation.  Options include the contributions of African Americans to dance, art, music, food/cuisine, and science.

Download Celebrating Black American Arts (PDF)

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Connecting The Dots:

Racism, Activism, & Creating a Life
by Storyteller Michael McCarty

African American Storyteller Michael McCarty tells his true story Connecting the Dots: Racism, Activism & Creating a Life.

Racism in Chicago … the Black Panthers …Activism and the institution … Expulsion from High School …. Drugs …. Searching … Journeys around the world … Stories and people that shape us ….Ways and paths to self-discovery … With humor and hope the storyteller “connects the dots” in his life.

Invite your students in to explore their responses to McCarty’s challenges, dead-ends and the people and events that shaped his life’s journey.

Let Michael McCarty’s story inspire conversation among your students (and faculty) about the issues of racism, standing up for one’s beliefs, working for change in the world and in our lives and the power of stories to inspire and connect.

Complete text and audio download of this story come in a short version and a long version.   Connecting the Dots is an ideal discussion starter for college age, young adults and justice and peace groups. Lesson Plan provides questions and activities..

Click here for Connecting the Dots

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We All Have a Race: Addressing Race and Racism

A lesson plan that helps students to understand the concept of race better, to distinguish between prejudice and racism, and to learn ways to stand up against racism and to act as allies with students of different races. This is a basic beggining unit to consider race and racism with respect and discovery.  Teacher guide and student activities.

Click here for We All Have A Race

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A White Girl Looks at Race:

Davey Crockett; Us vs Them; The Dr. King March

3 Short Stories by Storyteller Susan O’Halloran

Three  short stories set in Chicago in the 1960′s amid racial separation, change and conflict.

Susan O’Halloran tells of meeting her first Black child as a young child herself, of the racial attitudes in growing up on the southwest side of Chcago and her memories of feeling’locked in’ when Dr. Martin Luther King came to march blocks from her home.    Gripping and moving stories of the past, challenges for the present.  Texts, teacher guide and student activities with audio downloads.

Click here for A White Girl Looks at Race

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From Flint Michigan to Your Front Door:

Tracing the Roots of Racism

By Storyteller La’Ron Williams

African American Storyteller La’Ron Williams tells about his experience growing up in Flint, Michigan, where he felt nurtured by a supportive African-American community. Yet even at an early age, Williams knew there were threats to his safety when he saw on the front cover of Jet Magazine the picture of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy who had been killed by bigoted Whites in the South.

From that jarring moment onward, Williams describes the experience of growing up in parallel worlds: a Black world that loved and mentored him and a White world that, even in its most benign expression, assumed a “neutral status” that for African-Americans was neither neutral nor benign. Using examples from the media and from his own experiences in a town divided by racial tension, Williams creates a story that tells the truth about American racial hierarchy while also offering hope for all those eager to transcend its legacy. Full text of story, audio downloads and student activities included.

Use this story as a way to introduce topics related to race, to deepen your conversations about the distinctions between personal and institutional racism, to address race and unconscious bias in the media, or to provide another way to celebrate African-American Heritage Month in February

Click here for From Flint Michigan to Your Front Door

 

Icebreakers !

Student Groups: Strategies that Facilitate Positive Interactions

How many of us have felt uncomfortable approaching someone new to a group we are used to? Unsure of what to say to them? Worry that they may find us strange or abnormal? Concerned that we may not have anything in common with this new person? Students are no different. They encounter regular situations of interacting with someone unfamiliar. Below are some helpful activities for creating warm, welcoming atmospheres for students in your classroom who are not afraid to spend time with someone different from themselves. 

Begin the school year (or new term) with icebreaker activities that allow all students to interact with one another simultaneously. Leveling the playing field makes group interactions much less intimidating for all. Below are a few examples of icebreakers:

 

Identify and Match a Pair!

  • List out several pairs of items that belong together such as peanut butter/jelly, salt/pepper, pencil/paper, chair/table, chips/salsa, milk/cookies, cheese/crackers, etc. (Feel free to add cultural pairs, celebrities, fictional or historical characters, etc.).
  • Write the items on notecards, one item per card.
  • Randomly tape one card to the back of each student. (Make sure that you have a match for every item. You may need to participate if you have an odd number of students.)
  • Students must ask yes/no questions of other classmates to try to figure out the item taped to their back.Once students have determined their own items, they must seek out their matching pair..

Snowball Fight!

  • Each student writes down three bits of information about themselves on three separate sheets of paper – no names on the papers.
  •  Have students crumple up the papers into balls.
  • Snowball fight for 30 seconds! (Students love this part!)
  • When time is up, students retrieve 3 random papers.
  • Each student reads the papers, and the class tries to determine who is described on each paper..

Who Is It?

  • Create a list of experiences (at least as many as there are students) that students can relate to.  Students must go around the classroom and ask classmates who identifies with each experience. Only one name can be recorded on the list for each experience. This requires all students talk to every other student in the room, while minimizing the fear of approaching someone new because everyone is doing this. Here are some sample experiences to include on the list:
    • Hates broccoli
    • Broke a bone
    • Traveled to or lived in a foreign country
    • Speaks more than one language
    • Has more than 3 siblings
    • Plays an instrument
    • Has gone camping
    • Has been on a boat
    • Has attended a concert.

Tons more ideashttp://www.icebreakers.ws/goodicebreakersbyname

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Write a Bio-Poem! This is an 11-line poem that students complete about themselves, and then share with the class. It is a great way for students to learn about each other, while developing more comfort with others in the room. Below is a link where you can find the template for this type of poem: http://www.ehow.com/info_7978561_biopoems.html

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If you like this subject you will enjoy RaceBridges resource

INCLUDING EVERYONE: Small Changes to Create a Welcoming Classroom

Building Bridges

Bridging the Different Worlds of our Students

 

America today is filled with people from all over the world – different cultures, different customs, different beliefs, different religions, different backgrounds. American classrooms need to reflect that, and need to use the varying backgrounds of its students to facilitate the learning of its students. After all, students learn most effectively when new material is built on a foundation that is familiar to them.

How can teachers effectively teach lessons in multicultural classrooms? How can classrooms become inclusive to all students?   Below are some tips to help schools and teachers celebrate the diversity in the school, and use that diversity to reinforce academic lessons in the classroom:

  • Hang up a world map in your classroom, and have students put a pin in the area where they (or their family) is from. Then, use the map as a conversation starter to build understanding and awareness in the students..
  • Have multicultural literature available for students to peruse in your classroom. Use the books in lessons, or allow class time for students to browse through the books on their own..
  • Bring in artifacts for students to examine. Anything “hands-on” allows students to connect more effectively with the culture..
  • Have a cultural food day in the school. Allow students to bring in samples of a favorite cultural food. Students can tell about the food: where it is from, what is in it, when it is eaten, how it is made, why it is a favorite for them, etc. Students can taste other cultures in this activity, and can talk about the experience in the classroom. This could be a fantastic project with both academic and personal gains..
  • Use cultural stories as journal prompts or other writing activities. Anything that students can relate to personally is much easier and more effective than random subjects..
  • Encourage group work. Create projects and activities that require partners or small groups of students to work collectively and cooperatively to achieve a set goal/purpose. Outline the project guidelines and grading procedures, so that students know what is expected of them. Allow them to make decisions and solve problems as a group..
  • Create a project that focuses on researching and designing a display about the countries represented in your classroom. Assign countries to small groups of students, and have them put together information about that country. You might include maps, flags, customs, history/background, photos, etc. Students can present this project to the class. Keep the displays – put them around your classroom!.
  • Play multicultural music in the classroom…
  • Invite family members to share about their background to the students.

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If you like this subject you will enjoy RaceBridges resource

INCLUDING EVERYONE: Small Changes to Create a Welcoming Classroom

Peace on Earth : Winter Celebrations Encouraging Peacemaking

When snow covers the ground and temperatures dip, schools and families look forward to celebrations of the season. They may be celebrations of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or of many other sort. Regardless of the differences in the merriment, one constant is held by each – peace.

Our country has spent years engaged in a battle to protect and ensure the survival of peace into the future. Most of today’s students, however, do not remember a time of peace in our country. For these students, all they know is our country at war. For them, it has been a lifetime of dissent. It is time to gather together in peace, to celebrate peace, and to teach our children how to respect and get along with others. How do schools and teachers begin to teach and enforce something that our country cannot seem to overcome today? What can schools and teachers do to encourage peacemaking in students?   Below are a few tips.

  • Implement and enforce a zero tolerance to bullying
  • Implement and enforce a school code of conduct
  • Involve students in activities that build school unification
  • Promote volunteerism or activities that aid communities and neighborhoods
  • Invite guest speakers to talk to students about personal experiences
  • Allow students to share personal experiences
  • Sponsor mediation activities for  students to participate in, and teach mediation strategies
  • Provide leadership opportunities and experiences for students
  • Study the peace aspect of different celebrations, different cultures, and different time periods
  • Read about times when choices were made that did not reflect peace
  • Teach that it is possible to agree to disagree, and to understand without losing credibility
  • Teach that not every problem has an easy or quick solution, that it is more commonly a long process
  • Encourage students to experience setting guidelines
  • Highlight empathy .

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The many lesson plans and resources on this site will
aid you with ideas and exercises for bringing inclusion
and welcome into your classroom or group.
Of special interest :  Keep The Peace ! Resource

For more like this, go to: RaceBridges Studio
and
RaceBridges Studio Videos

 

Passing for WASP

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PASSING FOR WASP
By Carol Birch

 

 

Introduction:

Trying to assimilate into another culture is a difficult task. In an effort to fit in with the population in their inner city and later suburban city, storyteller Carol Birch recounts personal experiences she had with this difficult task. The desire to be American has everything to do with uniqueness and nothing to do with being just like everyone else. Listen as Carol shares how her father embraced all of his cultural heritages.

Summary:

Storyteller Carol Birch believes this statement: “To build a bridge from one culture into another and make pluralism a cause for celebration, we have to have one foot firmly planted in who we are.” However, in exploring her Polish and Scottish roots, Carol wonders if she’s really been living what she teaches. Join her as she recalls personal family stories of her cultural background, and celebrate as the family embraces their heritage.

Classroom Reflections & Activities:

  • Have students find out about their own cultural backgrounds, and then share these with the class.
  • Provide time for students to research what a WASP is, and why it is part of American history.
  • Give students an icebreaker activity that allows them to ask about the cultural heritages of the other students. Create a worksheet with a list of things for students to investigate about their fellow classmates, such as: find a student whose cultural heritage speaks Spanish, find a student whose cultural heritage practices a religion different from your own, find a student whose cultural heritage celebrates a holiday you are unfamiliar with, etc. This allows students the opportunity learn about others in a non-threatening way..

Watch the video now

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Explore our many other free storyteller-videos and
lessons for classroom, group or individual use :
RaceBridges Studio Videos

OUR BRAIN AND OUR BIASES

How do you counter your biases when you feel them arise?
How do you feel about those who demonstrate bias or even racism?
Do you believe people can “unlearn” their biases?
We can manage our biases.

What we think, we become.
– The Buddha

 

Brain research is important to the educator.  It seems every day we hear of a new discovery about how behavior and emotions are linked to brain chemistry and development. Many traits and behaviors that were once attributed to character or upbringing can now be linked to specific sites and functions of the brain.

As teachers, we are particularly conscious of the advances in brain research as it reveals why some students excel in certain subjects while others struggle and how to differ teaching methods to capitalize on particular periods of brain development.

And what we have gained from brain research in the fields of mental health and education applies to issues of bias as well. We now understand that it “makes sense” for our brains to categorize those who differ from us and to assume that we are better than others. 

But just because it is “natural” for our brains to work this way doesn’t mean that we have to accept prejudice and discrimination as a fact. Rather, knowing how our brains work allows us to move our focus from feeling guilt about our own biased thinking and judging our students’ prejudices to learning how to counteract what our brains do naturally and teaching our brains to work in new, egalitarian ways.

Below you’ll find a classroom activity to go deeper into the issue and some ideas and thoughts to help inspire you on the journey. With a little knowledge we can remove some of the “heat” that attends most discussions about racism, stereotypes and prejudice and, instead, focus on solutions.

This brief lesson-starter suggests activities without being overly prescriptive so that you can adapt the activity to your classroom.

CLASSROOM ACTIVITY : LEARNING FROM BIASES

There is evidence that our biases can be altered: we can be “primed” so that we tap into unconscious biases or so that we avoid those biases. For example, a study was done where some subjects were told a positive story about a person from an ethnic group while others were told a negative story. Afterwards, subjects were asked to interview a member of that same ethnic group for a job. The subjects’ attitudes towards the interviewee—who behaved the same with all subjects—corresponded to the story they were told before the interview. This is an easy experiment to try with your own class and then discuss. You can design your own lesson or follow the suggestion below.

BIASES : CLASSROOM ACTIVITY

(1) Choose a bias you would like to address (gender, race, age, even another school).

(2) Create two slips of paper: one slip of paper says “Think of a [name of group] who frightened or angered you” while the other slip says “Think of a [name of group] who is a role model of leadership.”

(3) Give half of your class the “negative” slip of paper; give the other half the “positive” slip of paper. Don’t allow them to look at each others’ papers. Allow them a few minutes to write down their thoughts.

(4) When students are finished, show a picture of an anonymous person from the group you are focused on. Do not use a picture of someone students know; this will skew the results. Ask students to write down 2-4 words to describe the person in the picture. Have a few students share their opinions.

(5) When you have heard a variety of opinions, ask students to speculate about why they see the picture differently. Then ask students who see this person in a positive light to raise their hands; then ask students who see this person in a negative light to raise their hands. Finally, reveal that students were asked to think about the group in different ways before looking at the picture. Ask students if their opinion of the person in the picture corresponded to the slip of paper they were given. Discuss.

(6) Action: Ask students to discuss how they might use this new knowledge to prevent biases from clouding their attitude and behavior in the future. Have students practice this strategy for a week and then report back to class.

RESOURCES

Lesson plans for your classroom that address our biases and encourage students to “out think” their own brains.

On this RaceBridges Studio site:

Books:

  • Fine, Cordelia. A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives. New York: Norton, 2006.  Chapter 8 “The Bigoted Brain” is especially helpful..
  • Gilbert, Daniel. Stumbling on Happiness. New York: Vintage, 2005.  On pages 178-87 and 191-2, Gilbert focuses specifically on bias and how we selectively choose information to support our own world view...
  • Van Hecke, Madeleine L. Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2007.  The chapters on bias (chapter 6) and categorical thinking (chapter 7) clarify why our brain slants information to fit our biases and prefers to work in simple categories. Each chapter also offers ways to challenge these “blind spots.”

 

Explore the many lesson plans, resources and short videos on this RaceBridges Studio site.
Many of them deal with biases and stereotypes.

Also see our short video stories : RaceBridges Studio Videos

On the Bus: Saved by an Angel

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ON THE BUS : SAVED BY AN ANGEL
By Jon Spelman

 

Introduction:

Imagine you are a young girl all alone traveling on a bus when suddenly, a situation erupts that could end your life. What do you do? How can you save your own life? Listen as Jon Spelman tells this suspenseful story with vivid details.

Summary:

Storyteller Jon Spelman tells one of many stories from a collection of his entitled, “I Still Believe.” This particular story is told from the perspective of young girl who is in the midst of a terrifying experience that could have horrifically ended her life, were it not for the kindness of a stranger. Listen as Jon recounts this harrowing event with complete realism.

Classroom Reflections & Activities:

  • Select several of these videos to view in class focusing on youths showing kindness in their communities. Choose a few relevant to your class demographics, and create some small group discussion questions to go with each video. http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/classroom-to-community
  • Brainstorm with students a list of things they can do in the school for others that show kindness. Then, have students narrow list to the top three ideas and have students vote on what they think is the best idea. Implement the idea in your school. Encourage students to reach out to other students in need and show kindness.
  • Lead a class discussion on fear. Ask students to share a time when they were very scared. Find out what fear looks like and what could have been done to alleviate their fear.

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Watch the video now.

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Explore our many other free storyteller-videos and
lessons for classroom, group or individual use :
RaceBridges Studio Videos

Nurturing Civility in Schools

“Yes, we need civility now more than ever. The teaching of civility begins in families, is further nurtured in classrooms and schools, and comes into full bloom as students become young adults, parents, community members, and citizens. And then, hopefully, the cycle begins anew with the next generation.”      -Mary Kimball*

When we think of how we want our children to act and of how we want them to treat others, it is easy to give a clear description. It is not, however, so easy to detail how to go about teaching children to value others – their opinions, beliefs, and backgrounds.

Because civility is based on consideration and respect toward others, it is important to first teach our children to be respectful of others. How can we translate this into lessons and activities at school?   Below are a few tips for incorporating civility in your classroom and school:

  • Encourage the basics of politeness – please and thank you..
  • Model civility. SHOW how you want students to behave toward others..
  • Allow sharing by students in class, giving time for others to ask questions for understanding..
  • Stop unwanted behaviors firmly, clearly, and consistently..
  • Create a list of classroom expectations by students. If they create it, they will show ownership and more self-accountability to adhere to the expectations..
  • Construct lessons that embrace the differences of students..
  • Generate regular opportunities for students to not only interact with one another positively, but collaborate with each other. Group projects, presentations, class activities, etc..
  • Make time to discuss cultural backgrounds. Celebrate whenever possible..
  • For a smile, visit the link below detailing George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior.(It would be nice if many of them could be used in schools today, though!)http://foundationsmag.com/civility.html.

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*Kimball, M. (2011, 3). Retrieved 5 12, 2012, from Weilenmann School of Discovery: http://wsdpc.org/2011/03/civility-now-more-than-ever/

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.For further ideas and classroom activities on civility see RaceBridges
resource Be Civil ! and Keep the Peace.

Name Calling: Effects and Prevention Tips for the Classroom

We all have experienced the shame, frustration, and hurt associated with name-calling. Name calling is purposefully hurtful, as the whole premise behind the activity is to cause pain. Some students simply enjoy hurting others, while others join in to avoid being targeted themselves.

Name-calling can have long lasting effects on students, and schools need to be as proactive as possible with this highly prevalent form of bullying. Below are some general effects that name-calling can have on students, as well as some tips for creating a classroom and school that strives to build strong, capable, and well-rounded students.

Effects:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Bullying of others
  • Suicide
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Poor grades
  • Decreased appetite

Tips:

Explore the many free lessons, resources and videos with themes of community building and inclusion found on our web sites. 

Music That Heals

Few things in life are easier to identify with than music. It can heal a broken spirit, celebrate life, share a story, vent a frustration, make a point, and bring people together. Language often doesn’t matter – emotion does. Feel the music, and you can understand the message.

Students struggle with understanding new or unfamiliar concepts – both academically and socially. They learn best when there is a strong foundation of knowledge first, that is, something that they already know. Students love music. Find out what music they like, and use it to build understanding. Teach a new concept with it. Use music to build empathetic relationships between your students. Find common ground in dissonance and ignorance through song. 

Does your classroom feel like a battle ground? Is there dissension amongst your students? Do you see bullying or gang issues on the rise in your school? Is classroom management more prevalent than instruction in your classroom? Try using cultural music, and watch the positive effect it has. Below are a few examples of how to bridge cultural gaps in your school through music:
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  • Listen to it – play music quietly in the background during work times.
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  • Incorporate cultural music when studying specific cultures. For example: when discussing Japan’s role in WWII, share music of that culture; when reading works of literature by a Middle-Eastern author, listen to music of that culture, etc.
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  • Find and make available any cultural instruments. Encourage students to share talents if they know how to play an instrument shown, or if they can perform any cultural music.
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  • Create projects that allow students to research a particular genre of music relevant to the time period being studied.
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  • Study the lyrics of cultural music and their meanings. Connect them to figurative language in Language Arts.
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  • Build artwork around the sound of the music..

 

 

Besides building bridges with music, there are
many other creative ways to open the eyes and ears
of your students to people who are different than themselves.

Consider the short videos at RaceBridges Studio Videos

 

 

Multicultural Education: Making Sure Everyone is Included

The world today is filled with many different cultures. An important job of education, then, is to draw attention to these cultures – their values, traditions, and people.  It is through this awareness that all students will feel a sense of belonging and worth, and will be able to respect those around them who may be different from themselves.

How can schools make sure this happens – that everyone is included?   Below are a few tips for creating a multicultural classroom:

  • Support cultural curiosity. Encourage questions and discussions on culturally based topics.
  • Show respect. Facilitate discussions on stereotyping and bias, and its negative effect on others.
  • Be open. Discuss individual backgrounds and customs as a class.
  • Discuss similarities. Share with students the values that nearly all cultures connect with: peace, justice, equality, freedom, compassion, etc.
  • Include educational materials that carry a diverse voice. For example, math story problems and grammar exercises should use multicultural names, readings should address various cultural traditions or should be of culturally diverse authors, and art projects should include typical cultural objects or crafts.
  • Empathize. Put yourself in students’ shoes. Recognize what it might be like if you were in their place.
  • Educate yourself. Attend workshops and in-services that enlighten, read books and articles that inform, participate in trainings that promote awareness..

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The many lesson plans and resources on this site will aid you with ideas and exercises for bringing inclusion and welcome into your classroom or group.

See : RaceBridges Studio and RaceBridges Studio Videos

 

Mr. D’s Class

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MR. D’s CLASS
By Antonio Sacre


Introduction:

Some of the most poignant and beautiful writings are created by students simply sharing their life circumstances with one another. Powerful and moving, this story told by Antonio Sacre is a true personal experience that shows that anything is possible and that all students should dream big. Listen as Antonio relates his time spent with a class of high school seniors, the connection he made with them, and their remarkable achievements.

Summary:

Thirty teenagers from twenty countries, one Jewish teacher, and one Cuban-Irish-American storyteller (story artist, Antonio Sacre) set out to publish a book of writing in one of the poorest and most challenging high schools in Los Angeles. Will fear and distrust stop the project before it begins, or will they stand together?

Classroom Reflections & Activities:

  • Big project: have students create a class anthology of their own. What would their story be?
  • Introduce a poetry assignment to students that talks about who they are – struggles, talents, dreams, etc. Bio-Poems are great examples of this type of work.
  • Brainstorm with students several questions they think would be important to know about someone. Then, have students interview each other. Interviewing sessions could be videotaped and class biographies could be created.

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Watch the video now

 

Explore our many other free storyteller-videos and
lessons for classroom, group or individual use :

RaceBridges Studio Videos

MANAGING YOUR PREJUDICES

MN WI

Groups build their identity by saying who they are. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when we go beyond a description of who we are and start to place judgment on who’s “more than” and who is “less than”, we get in trouble. We human beings are endlessly creative at coming up with these better than’s and less than’s. Therefore, we are limitless in how many prejudices we can have.

One way to identify your prejudices is to think of any group with which you identify –city dweller/country kid, athlete/theater person, smart/not interested in academics, Republican/Democrat. Then, identify any groups viewed as different from or in actual opposition to your group.

Trust me, if any group is seen as opposite or very different from your group, you will have been given some misinformation about them. Catholics have been given misinformation about Protestants and Protestants misinformation about Catholics. Young misunderstand old and old misunderstand young. Smokers think nasty thoughts about non-smokers and non-smokers say negative things about smokers.

What jokes do people tell about a neighboring state to yours? If you live in Minnesota, you know the Wisconsin jokes, but you don’t necessarily know what they say in Montana about people who live in Idaho. It’s almost like sibling rivalry. You’ll mock your brother or sister because they’re in close proximity and you’re defining yourself against them.

Groups also define themselves in part by who they are not – nothing wrong with that. It’s just when we start to rank who’s cool (us) and who’s not (them) that we get in trouble.

As a human being we have a limitless supply of prejudices. Sometimes, no matter what we do, we can’t seem to get rid of our initial negative judgment about individuals or groups of people. Often we learned our stereotypes and prejudices when we were frightened and we can’t seem to stop that first emotional reaction that goes on inside of us.

However, here’s the good news: if we become conscious of our judgments, we can stop ourselves before we ever treat someone badly. That’s called managing your prejudice and that’s something you, all of us, can do.

Making Promises : Creating a Diversity Pledge

The Benefits of Creating a Diversity Pledge in Your School


What is a diversity mission statement?

Basically, this is a statement that tells what the school’s purpose is in reference to diversity. It should tell why they have this purpose, what they believe, and the goal they hope to achieve for the future of diversity in the school.  diversitypledge

What is a diversity pledge?

This is a promise, or an oath, made in support of diversity. Often completed with a simple signature, this is a powerful action. It brings with it a strong sense of what the future should look like.

What are the benefits of diversity mission statements and pledges?

  • Mission statements bring clarity and understanding to students, families, and communities about how your school connects with diversity. It tells what your school believes, and how it incorporates those beliefs in everyday school functions and activities..
  • Diversity pledges solidify commitments from participants – students, staff, teachers, and administration. It establishes a set of expectations to be enforced. Pledging to support diversity at your school is a promise to adhere to respectful and inclusive behaviors and attitudes..
  • Diversity mission statements and pledges form bonds, foster respect, and build trust within a school..
  • Unlike so many other things in life, these bring people together. Despite their differences, mission statements and pledges provide unity..
  • They encourage new experiences, and support the pursuit of knowledge of the world we live in..
  • They build strong people skills, as diversity in classrooms allows students to work collectively with students of other cultures..

How can you rally your students and school toward diversity pledging?

Schools can often supplement or reinforce the pledge through the use of T-shirts, buttons, wristband, pencils, banners, posters, flyers, and leadership groups.

Check out this website for great examples of mission statements for your school:

http://www.missionstatements.com/school_mission_statements.html

Check out this website for simple directions on how to write your own mission statement:

http://www.tgci.com/articles/how-write-mission-statement

Making A Difference This New Year

At about this time of year, our New Year’s resolutions can begin to wane. Our doubts creep in and we can begin to think we’re too insignificant to make a difference in our own lives, let alone anyone else’s. However, add a little imagination and who knows what we can come up with? Here are three examples.

Two neighbors in a small American town far removed from the Middle East were discussing the tragedies taking place in those countries. They came to the conclusion that despite being so far from these tragedies, there had to be something that they could do, and voila! They came up with the idea to bring Israeli and Palestinian youth to their north suburban neighborhood for a program of four weeks of peace and fellowship. That program ran for three summers, touching the lives of over 40 young people.

In another example, a doctor relayed a story of how one day – while he was in the middle of surgery! – he realized that he and the doctor assisting him were both presidents of their respective religious congregations, one a mosque and one a synagogue. They decided at that moment to bring their congregations together to create a dialog between them. The two congregations had several surprisingly open and heartfelt meetings, visiting each other’s places of worship and learning about each other’s religious and cultural heritages. This interfaith work has continued in various other forms into the present.

The third example centers on a leadership program for high school students, in which  students were tasked with the creation of service projects. One year, some students came up with the idea of holding a Senior Prom in which they would invite Seniors – that is, senior citizens – and hold an intergenerational dance.

Over the backyard fence, in the school or work hallways or, even over surgery, it’s so easy to complain about what isn’t working. But these people asked instead, “What can we do?”

This is the time of year when New Year’s Resolutions start to fall away. But, maybe, our ideas of what we could accomplish or inspire this year haven’t been large enough to excite and motivate us.

Ask yourself, “How can I turn my frustrations and concerns into a force for good? How can I make a difference in the world this new year?”

KNOWING WOMEN’S HISTORY TO UNDERSTAND STEREOTYPING

Rosie RiveterCultural norms are not static. They change when it’s politically and economically expedient to do so. When so many men joined the armed services during World War II, women were needed to work in the factories and other businesses. Rosie the Riveter who could do the hard work of welding and construction, became a household caricature. Posters and advertisements on the radio and in magazines said, “Come on, ladies. You can do it. You’re strong. You’re capable.”

But when the war was over and the service men came back to their jobs, the media began emphasizing the stereotype of women as delicate beings, incapable of “men’s work.” The cultural script became, “A woman’s place is in the home.” (Of course, lower class whites and women of color were often exempt from this “feminine” stereotype because they had always been needed to do the low-paying jobs. They were saddled with other stereotypes.)

It’s wise to remind ourselves that every person and every group has stereotypes about others. However, certain groups of people have had more power to broadcast their stereotypes to wider audiences. The people who have that power don’t necessarily have to hate the folks with less power. They just have to set things up to benefit themselves with no thought of how it affects others.

Sometimes, we think of stereotyping as an inevitable human activity. But we can see how societies use stereotypes by watching how stereotypes change over time. Stereotypes are not inevitable. If they’ve been created, then we can un-create them if we’re aware of how we’re being used and being primed to think in Us and Them’s.

Here is an excerpt from her play on Rosie the Riveter, by storytelling, Judith Black.

KEEP THE PEACE!

Creating safe, welcoming communities is the job of the entire school—teachers, administrators,

staff, and students—but even small changes can make a big difference.

This resources suggests some mini-lessons and ideas for “keeping the peace” in your classroom.

Purpose

  • To identify causes of bullying, harassment, and/or violence
  • To understand the importance of creating safe, welcoming school communities
  • To identify and practice strategies for preventing and disrupting bullying, harassment, and/or violence
  • To encourage community building through activities and storytelling.

Outcomes

By the end of this lesson, each student will:

  • Understand the deeper roots and causes of prejudice and violence.
  • Have created and practiced strategies for de-escalating tense situations.
  • Have shared and listened to stories designed to encourage empathy and community building..

Download the “Keeping the Peace” Resource

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If you are interested in this subject you might like
FINDING NEW WORDS : A Resource
for Addressing Bullying at School

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JUNETEENTH: A Celebration For Today

Did you know that in some states the news of emancipation from slavery didn’t reach people until much later – in the case of Texas not until two and a half years later? The Emancipation Proclamation was made official on January 1, 1863 and, yet, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union juneteenthArmy was not able to read the news of freedom in Texas until June 19, 1865.

Some say it was because a messenger was killed on the way to deliver the news. Others state that President Lincoln’s authority over the southern states was precarious and so a deal was struck to allow one last cotton harvest in Texas. Others say it was pure greed and cruelty: the slaveholders weren’t about to give up their free labor source without resistance.

The “Juneteenth” order read:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”

 For the formerly enslaved and those who supported them, initial shock evolved into jubilation which quickly turned into the reality of navigating a way forward in a country in which African Americans had had no legal status or rights. Currently, this day is celebrated to commemorate all that has been accomplished and to give a model of hope and persistence for all that lies ahead.

 

I Wanted to be an Indian

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I WANTED TO BE AN INDIAN
By Jo Radner

 

Introduction:

Take a moment to think about the most exciting wish you hoped would come true. Now imagine that all of those thrilling dreams were suddenly shattered by startling antics of your ancestors. Experience the heartbreak and the steps taken to move forward from these revelations in this touching story by Jo Radner.

Summary:

Stories about our ancestors help us to understand who we are. They help us to grow and become who we were meant to be. Encountering troubling revelations about her forebears and their Indian neighbors in colonial New England, Jo asks what it means to tell — and live with — her whole, complex history. Listen as this relatable and engaging true story is recounted.

Classroom Reflections & Activities:

  • Provide time for students to research personal ancestral history, and allow them to share stories of their families.
  • Hold a class discussion involving little known sad stories of different cultures. Encourage students to share feelings and prior knowledge of the culture..

Watch the video now

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Explore our many other free storyteller-videos and
lessons for classroom, group or individual use :
RaceBridgesStudio Videos

 

HOW WELCOMING IS YOUR SCHOOL CLIMATE ?

If we are to achieve a richer culture,
rich in contrasting values, we must
recognize the whole gamut of
human potentialities, and so we
weave a less arbitrary social fabric,
one in which each diverse human
gift will find a fitting place.

– Margaret Mead

 

There’s a lot that we can do to make our classrooms more welcoming, but it is also important that schools as institutions are inclusive at the “macro” level. You might use some of the suggestions below in your classroom, but many of the suggestions are meant to be used at the institutional level. Try getting some teachers together to consider some of these ideas.  The further step is to move a specific agenda forward with the school administration.

For ideas just for your own classroom see Including Everyone: Small Changes to Create a Welcoming Classroom.

In this Ideas blog you’ll find some activities and ponderings to help inspire you on the journey to make your school climate more inclusive. It takes committed teachers to encourage and shape our schools to be welcoming and open.   

Who feels welcome at your school ? : A Classroom Activity
This activity invites your students to imagine a future of equality.

  • Assign students to go on a “scavenger hunt” around the school (if possible, during class time; otherwise, as they change classes and before and after school. Ask them to find images, words, and references to a variety of groups (male and female; a variety of races and ethnicities; students of different socio-economic classes, physical and intellectual abilities, and language groups, and so on)..
  • For ease of record keeping, you may want to create a chart that lists different groups, locations, type of media, and a way to track how often different groups are represented. When students return with their records, share them with the classroom. Discuss who gets represented and why and what that might say about the culture of the school..
  • Then facilitate a discussion with students about what else they might examine in the school to see who is welcomed at the school. They could include such measures as the school budget, the calendar, how the building gets used, what visitors/speakers are invited to the school, the books assigned in English, what plays are performed, who is elected to various positions in the school, how music is chosen for dances, and so on. Are all represented? Who is left out?.
  • Finally, lead a discussion about what it might be like never to see “yourself” (in gender, race, class, and so forth) represented at school. What message does that send? Which students are more likely to succeed?.
  • Action:   Collate all the data the class collected, submit a report to the school administration, and then make suggestions about how to make the school more inclusive and welcoming.

 

Further Thoughts :

  • Take a look around your school: what images are there around the school in posters and pictures, fliers for activities, in the library, and so on? Do these images represent the student body?.
  • Talk to one of your administrators about the position of the school on diversity and inclusion. Ask about how inclusion and diversity are represented in the budget, calendar, and staffing..
  • Take some time to write down what you think the percentages of different groups in the school are; include lots of types of groups—race, class, sexual orientation, nationality/immigrant status, and so on. Once you write down those percentages, ask your administration for the official statistics of the school. Compare the two lists—if you were off-base in some categories, why do you think that is? How might you become more aware of the groups you overlooked?

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You will find many lesson plans and resources on this site to stimulate ideas, discussion and reflection in your ongoing task of seeking to make the climate of your school more welcome. It is often surprising to  discover “groups” who have remained “invisible’ and feel excluded.

WHAT’S RACISM GOT TO DO WITH ME?: How Our History and Context Shape Us and Others

This lesson plan also seeks to help students understand how history influences the present and to be open to the complexity of societal structures, historical causes, and environmental context both in their own lives and in the lives of other individuals and groups. While this lesson focuses on race, class, and gender, the basic principles in these activities apply to any situation that can be analyzed for cause and effect. The skills practiced in these activities will help students think through their own and others’ initial responses and engage in more thoughtful analysis of a situation instead of jumping to conclusions.

What’s Racism Got to do with Me?

How History and Context Shape Us and Others Lesson Plan

 

Talking about race has never been easy. Many people struggle to understand what it has to do with them. It’s natural for young people to think about racism in terms of their individual experience or history (“I wasn’t around during slavery!”) and their own behavior (“I have no problem with black people — it’s not my fault.”). Other students are frustrated by what they see as some racial groups’ inability to get past historical tragedies such as slavery (“It was 500 years ago, time to move on!”) or economic failures (“Anyone can make it in America…look at all the other immigrants.”).

This lesson plan helps students understand how history influences our present, whether that’s the state of race relations today or their own attitudes towards another group of people.

There are three brief activities in this lesson plan that teachers can use separately to introduce the topic or together to reinforce the message that we must know our history if we seek NOT to repeat it.

Help your students understand race, class, and gender in context. Use this lesson to supplement a lesson that requires that students understand the importance of our past and our context.

How to help students comprehend the past, present and future of America’s racial challenges

As our nation gets ready to swear in its first African-American president, students may be thinking that racism is a thing of the past — a problem for older generations, not theirs. But in spite of this monumental achievement, racism is still a serious challenge for America. As a society, we have a long way to go toward eliminating the damaging beliefs, behaviors and systems associated with discrimination. This new year, and this new presidency, offers a timely opportunity to engage students in a deeper discussion about racism’s past, present and future.

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Talking about race has never been easy, especially for high school students, many of whom struggle to understand what it has to do with them. It’s natural for young people to think about racism in terms of their individual experience or history (“I wasn’t around during slavery!”) and their own behavior (“I have no problem with black people — it’s not my fault.”). Other students are frustrated by what they see as some racial groups’ inability to get past historical tragedies such as slavery (“It was 500 years ago, time to move on!”) or economic failures (“Anyone can make it in America…look at all the other immigrants.”).

So how can teachers challenge these notions, and help students to think in systematic and institutional, rather than solely personal ways, about racism? The educators at RaceBridgesforSchools, a nonprofit organization that offers free lesson plans on diversity and tolerance, have these suggestions to open up a dialogue:

  • To help students understand how our behaviors and attitudes are largely influenced by our past and our contexts (both good and bad),  ask them to map out their personality traits, interests, hobbies and career goals, and connect them to the events, people and other influences that have made them who they are today. Ask them to consider not just people but their education, neighborhood, gender, social class, race, religion and so on.
  • Give students a constructive way to share, freely and openly, their feelings about racial divisions. Offer them a fictional story (with historical roots) that highlights discrimination or distrust between two groups of people. Emphasizing that there are no right or wrong answers in this exercise, have them record and discuss their impressions with their classmates.
  • Take a current or recent event that has racial significance, and have students analyze what may have led to it. For example, now’s a perfect time to take a closer look at the intense interest generated by Barack Obama’s successful campaign for the presidency. Encourage students to examine the history of voting acts, reconstruction, Jim Crow laws and the notion of white privilege to better understand the historical impact of this achievement.

These activities are a timely way to show students how history influences the present, and to open up their minds to these complexities both in their own lives and in the lives of individual and groups. By engaging in more thoughtful analysis, educators can help students answer the question, “What’s racism got to do with me?”

For your free copy of the “What’s Racism Got to Do with Me?” lesson plan, click here.

Hispanic Heritage Month

RaceBridges For Schools invites you to

RECOGNIZE & CELEBRATE NATIONAL

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IN YOUR CLASSROOM!

(Sep 15 – Oct 15)

Over 15% of the total US population are from Hispanic peoples. That’s more than 45 million people.  Some of these vibrant Latino cultures trace their roots to Mexico, Puerto Rico and Cuba … others trace  their roots to Spain and Central or South America.

These lesson plans and original stories are for use in exploring and deepening the discussion with your students about Hispanic Heritage.  All of these units highlight original personal stories from two professional bilingual storytellers.   The original stories will help lead your students to reflect on their roots and explore differences and commonalities. 

 

 
Between Worlds
Written and told by Storyteller Olga Loya
Olga reaches back into her Mexican-American childhood as she searches for her place in the world.
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Why Do You Want To Go To College?
Written and told by Storyteller Olga Loya
Sometimes the wrong advice can help a person do what’s needed.  Olga’s high school teacher tells her she will never make it in college which only spurs her on to go to college and graduate.
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What’s a Mexican?
Written and told by Storyteller Olga Loya
Olga explores the various labels for her ethnic group: Mexican, American, Mexican American, Latina, Chicana and so on. In doing so, she finds out how she wants to define herself and her pride in her cultural life.
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How Do You Say Blueberry in Spanish ?
Written and Told by Storyteller Antonio Sacre

Antonio explores the challenges and joys of trying to raise a bilingual child. As anxious new parents, Antonio and his wife ask, “Are two languages better than one?” and find humor along the way.

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Mr. D’s Class
Written and Told by Storyteller Antonio Sacre

Thirty teenagers from twenty countries, one Jewish teacher, and one Cuban-Irish-American storyteller (story artist, Antonio Sacre) set out to publish a book of writing in one of the poorest and most challenging high schools in Los Angeles. Will fear and distrust stop the project before it begins, or will they stand together?

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Looking For Papito
Written and Told by Storyteller Antonio Sacre

As a Cuban and Irish American child, Antonio deals with being “too ethnic” or “not ethnic enough”. By trial and error and with the support of his family, Antonio reclaims all of his ethnic heritage and his Spanish language.

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Other Stories told by Antonio Sacre

There are teacher guides, audio downloads and printed texts as well as student activities for most of the above units. These videos and lessons are a few of hundreds of  units and short videos for teachers and educators exploring  a variety of diversity themes.

From the Stage to the Classroom : Theatre Games

Portrait of business colleagues holding each other and laughingDownload the Theatre
Games Lesson Plan

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The Fox TV series “Glee”—which both celebrates and sends up the world of high school performing arts— became a very popular show on TV, especially among teenagers. Part drama, part comedy, it captures not only the joys of performing but also the struggle to fit in.  Other shows have followed about teens and creating a community through theatre

It’s that desire to belong, to connect with others in a shared experience, that draws so many students to their school’s glee club or drama club. Anyone who’s ever performed in or worked backstage on a production can tell you that the process of preparing for an audience is full of community-building activities. Theatre has a unique power to unite a diverse group of people in a shared purpose. 

Teachers looking for a way to engage their students can take a cue from the theatre—and integrate some behind-the-scenes exercises to encourage personal development, build relationships between students of different races and cultural backgrounds, and create opportunities to discuss hard issues.

Here are just three of the many ways you can bring the theatre into the classroom:

 Use theatrical warm-up exercises to increase focus, energy and creative thought. 

Consider a game like “Take the Pulse.” Here’s how it works: Form a circle and ask everyone to “throw something in” that they want to be rid of. Go around the circle, one at a time, voicing these distractions. It could be an argument with a parent, anxiety over a test, or a falling out with a friend. After you’ve gone around the circle, ask everyone on the count of three to take a deep breath and, as they exhale, shoot their frustrated energy out into the center of the circle. Remind students that now they’ve let that distraction go and it’s time to focus on the work at hand.           

Build bridges between students of different backgrounds using ensemble techniques.

A game like “Cultural Mapping” provides an active way to allow students to identify with each other according to various categories. To get started, designate four areas in the room as north, south, east and west. Offer up different categories, and ask students to move across the room to the landmark that represents their answer. Categories could be: How many languages do you speak? What kind of pets do you have? How many times have you moved in your life? Create new categories that draw out the diversity of your group and encourage dialogue among students. 

Have students find their voice—and share their stories.

“Tour of a Place” is a game that opens the door to storytelling by calling on imagination, memory and detail. Divide the group into pairs, and ask each person to close her eyes and imagine a place that is very special, such as a favorite vacation spot or a room at home. Invite students to remember details, such as colors, smells, and light. Then each person gets to take their partner on a tour of that place. Have each person walk around the room, pointing out aspects of their place and describing it to their partner. 

When we share stories like this with each other, we enter into a process that can allow us to see the world in new ways, unpack fears and misunderstandings and build community. 

Theatre is a powerful way to bring people together. Even when we feel different from each other, or fear we have nothing to say, these games can break down barriers and build community.

For a complete free resource theatre games in the classroom, or to find more lessons and free videos about storytelling and community-building, please visit RaceBridges Studio.

From Flint Michigan to Your Front Door: Tracing the Roots of Racism

by Storyteller LaRon Williams

This lesson plan explores the true story FROM FLINT MICHIGAN TO YOUR FRONT DOOR by African American professional storyteller La’Ron Williams. With humor and honesty Williams will inspire conversation among students about the issues of institutional racism, living in two cultures at once, and claiming one’s own history and culture. This story and lesson plan addresses the White, Euro-centrism of our history and culture and the use of story to challenge that mono-cultural understanding of history. Lesson Plan, story-text, student activities and audio-downloads.

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Storyteller La’Ron Williams writes about his experience growing up in Flint, Michigan, where he felt nurtured by a strongly supportive African-American community. Yet even at an early age, Williams knew there were threats to his safety when he saw on the front cover of Jet Magazine the picture of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy who had been killed by bigoted Whites in the South.

From that jarring moment onward, Williams describes the experience of growing up in parallel worlds: a Black world that loved and mentored him and a White world that, even in its most benign expression, assumed a “neutral status” that for African-Americans was neither neutral nor benign. Using examples from the media and from his own experiences in a town divided by racial tension, Williams creates a story that tells the truth about American racial hierarchy while also offering hope for all those eager to transcend its legacy.

This story offers a powerful tool to approach institutional racism and unconscious bias in a nonthreatening way. With his rich, warm voice, La’Ron narrates audio excerpts that help to personalize these complex issues, bring them to life for students, and encourage his listeners to think deeply about race and racism.

Use this story as a way to introduce topics related to race, to deepen your conversations about the distinctions between personal and institutional racism, to address race and unconscious bias in the media, or to provide another way to celebrate African-American Heritage Month.

More information about this story

Lesson Plan

Download the From Flint, Michigan to Your Front Door lesson plan (PDF)

Story Excerpts

The following MP3 tracks are story excerpts for use with the From Flint, Michigan to Your Front Door lesson plan. Please note that these excerpts are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Excerpt #1 — Part One — 8:26 minutes

Excerpt #2 — Part Two12:57 minutes

Excerpt #3 — Part Three — 7:19 minutes

Excerpt #4 — Part Four – 5:44 minutes

Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts?  Click here for directions.

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About Storyteller La’Ron Williams

La’Ron Williams has a remarkable rapport with audiences of all kinds. Children and adults respond with equal enthusiasm to his warmth and vigor as he uses dialect, facial expressions and movement to breathe life into tales which transcend the boundaries of class and age.

Williams is motivated in part by the belief that the power and beauty of African culture should be shared, and that the lessons of struggle, perseverance, and survival of Africans in the Western Hemisphere are part of a legacy we all should recognize and own.

Ultimately, he believes that a narrow love of one’s own culture is not enough; that we all have to take the time to tell each other our stories – with all the joy and frowns and pain and smiles that they bring. That “…we have to come to know and accept the ways in which we are different and become aware of and appreciate the ways in which we’re alike, and that we have to use that knowledge not to ascribe hierarchy or to produce winners and losers, but to promote understanding and resolution.”

TURNING DREAMS INTO DEEDS

EXPLORING THE MESSAGE OF
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. FOR TODAY
National Birthday Celebration : January 16, 2017

Materials for Students, Teachers & Leaders …
for group or personal reflection and action …

mlk-monument

 

The historic monument on the National Mall in Washington DC remembers Dr. King.

The monument also recalls the many people (known and unknown) who took part in the U.S.Civil Rights Movement and who challenged segregation and changed racist laws.

  The challenge of our day is to continue to turn dreams into deeds and make the ideals of Dr. King come alive in our classrooms, for our students, and for our world.

 

RaceBridges recommends this collection of lesson plans, activities and videos.  Some of the units speak of growing up in the 1960’s and facing racism.

Other units present activities that will evoke the spirit and message of Dr. King as we seek ways to carry out his legacy today.

These lesson plans also speak of the hope of turning dreams into deeds.

 

LaRon

LEARNING LONG DIVISION AND WHITE SUPERIORITY FROM MY “SWEET” THIRD GRADE TEACHER

BY STORYTELLER LA’RON WILLIAMS

More Info

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smflint_lessonplan_Page_01

FROM FLINT MICHIGAN TO YOUR FRONT DOOR : TRACING THE ROOTS OF RACISM

by STORYTELLER LA’RON WILLIAMS

with 4 audio download segments

More Info

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A WHITE GIRL LOOKS AT RACE

BY STORYTELLER SUSAN O’HALLORAN

with 3 audio download segments

More Info

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CONNECTING THE DOTS : RACISM, ACTIVISM AND CREATING A LIFE

by STORYTELLER MICHAEL McCARTY.

with 5 audio story download segments

Short version and Longer Version

More Info

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Short Videos on Showcase Page

More Info

DR. KING CAME TO TOWN :
A Short Video Story

by Storyteller Susan O’Halloran

More Info

FROM MOON COOKIES TO MARTIN AND ME :
A Short Video

by Storyteller Lyn Ford

More Info

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This RaceBridges site contains many complimentary lesson plans, resources, audio downloads and short videos that keep alive the message and mission of Dr. King for your students.

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INCLUDING EVERYONE:

Small Changes to Create a Welcoming Classroom

How welcoming is your classroom? Resource to help teachers make the little changes in their classrooms that will send the big message that Everyone is Welcome!

What we do every day, in regular classroom situations, can have a big impact. By using thoughtful language, challenging stereotypes,and encouraging hospitable behavior, we can help our students to become more open to those who are different from themselves.

Download this teacher resource

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CLAIM IT!

Differences & Similarities :

Creating a Climate of Inclusion

This lesson plan reveals the many differences in a classroom (or school) of students, despite the seemingly homogeneous surface. It assists teachers as they explore the sometimes hazardous territory of race and differences.

Download this teacher resource

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WE ALL HAVE A RACE !

Addressing Race and Racism

Talking about Race and Racism often makes people uncomfortable and even angry. It can be quite difficult to get the conversation started and even more difficult to facilitate the conversation once it has begun. This lesson plan offers a basic introduction to these topics by allowing students to think and learn about the basic meanings of “race” and “racism,” to discuss race and racism in their own experience and lives, and to learn some basic skills necessary to being allies with people of other races.

Download this teacher resource

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WHAT’S RACISM GOT TO DO WITH ME ? :

How Our History and Context Shape Us and Others

This lesson plan seeks to help students understand how history influences the present and to be open to the complexity of societal structures, historical causes, and environmental context both in their own lives and in the lives of other individuals and groups. While this lesson focuses on race, class, and gender, the basic principles in these activities apply to any situation that can be analyzed for cause and effect. The skills practiced in these activities will help students think through their own and others’ initial responses and engage in more thoughtful analysis of a situation instead of jumping to conclusions.

Download this teacher resource

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STICKING TOGETHER! :

Sharing Our Stories, Our Differences,

and Our Similarities

The goal of this lesson is to bring together students around their stories of differences and similarities. The most authentic community is one in which people can find common ground while still retaining what is distinct about themselves. Engaging. Fun. Illuminating.

Objectives of this lesson plan :

  • To create a sense of community in the classroom;
  • To use storytelling as a way for students to learn about one another’s differences
  • To use storytelling as a way for students to discover their similarities

Download this teacher resource

 

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Please explore hundreds of other diversity
themes, lessons and
videos at RaceBridgesStudio.com

 

Hidden Memory: Japanese American Incarceration

 

Knowing your family’s story . . . and why it matters

by Storyteller Anne Shimojima

This unit raises the challenge for you and your students of knowing your family’s story – and why it matters. Other themes : How a national crisis can lead to xenephobia and the subtitles of institutional racism …. all told through the warm and lively storytelling style of professional storyteller Anne Shimojima as she recalls her Japanese American family and history.. Lesson Plan, story-text, student activities and audio-downloads. 

During World War II, the government of the United States authorized the arrest and relocation of every Japanese American on the West Coast. 120,000 Japanese Americans, the majority of whom were citizens, were forced into incarceration camps for the duration of the war.  During this time, Japanese-American men still served in the U. S. military even as their families were held prisoner at home.  Although the Congress passed the Evacuation Claims Act in 1948, which allowed incarcerees to make a claim against the government to recover a small percentage of their losses, this program was a failure.  It was not until 1988 that the U. S. government issued a formal apology and attempted in earnest to make reparation for the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

This lesson plan uses the story “Hidden Memory” by professional storyteller Anne Shimojima.  In this story, Shimojima tells about the experience of her family in the United States, especially during the time of World War II when some of her family were sent to the Incarceration camps

Use this story to teach about how easily racism and xenophobia can arise during times of war and national panic, what it is like to feel “unseen” in America, how people can survive adversity, and to commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May.

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Lesson Plan

Download the Hidden Memory: Japanese American Incarceration lesson plan (PDF)

Story Excerpts

The following MP3 track contains 4 story excerpts for use with the Hidden Memory: Japanese American Incarceration lesson plan. Please note that these excerpts are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Hidden Memory – Part One — 6:17 minutes

Hidden Memory – Part Two 5:32 minutes

Hidden Memory – Part Three — 7:28 minutes

Hidden Memory – Part Four 8:01 minutes

Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts? Click here for directions.

.Video Stories

Two short video versions of Anne Shimojima’s stories EVACUATION and INCARCERATION can be found below.

EVACUATION

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INCARCERATION

 

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About Storyteller Anne Shimojima

Like many Japanese-American families, Anne’s Shimojima’s family didn’t talk about their experiences during World War II. Gathering family photographs and interviewing a 91-year-old aunt opened the way to uncovering the story, and helped Anne to articulate her own identity as a Japanese-American.

Anne tells stories from her Asian background and around the world. Her thirty-plus years as an elementary school library media specialist have given her a rich knowledge of story and a keen ear for performance. She enriches the curriculum with stories and teaches her students to become storytellers themselves. Anne performs in schools, libraries, museums, and festivals, and gives workshops on the use of storytelling in education and on the creation of family history projects.

 

Our History is Our Strength : Women’s History Month

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Listen to these Women Stories
in your classroom . . .

Bearing witness to the heroic
actions and words of women

Telling inspiring stories
that are little known
and rarely told . . .

 

 Listen to these stories and use the lesson plans with your students
of moving stories of inclusion and exclusion, loss and hope, past
and present. Use these stories in your classroom to inspire and
challenge your students to reflect on their world-view and to broaden
their horizons.

Use these stories as discussion starters for a faculty in-service session
to prompt and animate discussion about race-relations and inclusion.

These lesson plans come with complete text as well as audio, teacher guides,
student activities and further resources on related themes.  You may also find
corresponding videos on our sister site, RaceBridgesVideos.com.

These units are also suitable for young adult group discussion as
springboards on the subjects of race and racism.

 

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Anne

Anne Shimojima

Japanese American Storyteller Anne Shimojima tells her original story Hidden Memory: Incarceration: Knowing Your Family’s Story and Why it Matters. About her family in the United States, especially during the time of World War II when some of her family were sent to the Japanese-American incarceration camps. Explores in an engaging way xenephobia, racism and being “unseen” in society.Courage and resiliance in a story that is rarely told.

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Watch videos

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Download lesson plan and audio story

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olga1

Olga Loya

Latina Storyteller Olga Loya tells excerpts from her original story: Being Mexican American : Caught Between Two Worlds – Nepantla. Growing up Mexican American in Los Angeles. Caught between the Latino and Anglo cultures, she realizes that she might belong to an even wider family and community and that perhaps there is a way to live with them all. Warm and spirited.

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Watch Videos

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Download lesson plan and audio story

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gene

Gene Tagaban

Native American storyteller Gene Tagaban remembers Elizabeth Peratrovich, Tlingit woman, of Petersburg, Alaska. She attended Western Washington State University. When she returned with a new husband to live in Juno, no one would rent her a home because she was native. This was the limit to Elizabeth. She said: “No more signs. We need better housing, good jobs and good education for the people. And the right to sit wherever we wanted.” Gene Tagaban lovingly remembers the life of Elizabeth Peratrovich through the stories told to him by his own grandmother. The story remembers the shining day, after much struggle and bigotry of the passage of the Alaskan Anti-Discrimination Bill in1945, 20 years before Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus. This account is part of Gene Tagaban’s longer story of identity and belonging : Search Across the Races : I Am Indopino … Or How to Answer the Question : “Who Are You?”.

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Download lesson plan and audio story

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dovie

Dovie Thomason

Native American storyteller Dovie Thomason tells her true story: The Spirit Survives: The American Indian Boarding School Experience: Then and Now. This story weaves together personal narrative and historical accounts about the Indian boarding schools to reveal how they were used to decimate native culture and how some Indians stood up to them. Shocking and Inspiring.

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Download lesson plan and audio story

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linda

Linda Gorham

African American storyteller Linda Gorham tells two stories. One is I Am Somebody : Story Poems for Pride and Power. This an upbeat and moving celebration of Linda’s family tree and heritage. The lesson plan guides teachers to invite “pride poems” from their students. In her story Rosa Parks : One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Up Linda personalizes the words and actions in a story of the famed Rosa Parks. The lesson plan explores the many other heroes of the civil rights movement who “sat down’ to stand up for justice. Self-worth, dignity and courage come alive.

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Download lesson plans with audio stories

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Watch Videos

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.celb

Celebrating Women : Bridgebuilders and Storytellers

Ideas for bringing the universal subject of Women into your classroom.

RaceBridges honors Women’s History Month each year in the month of March. But gender equality is an important diversity issue that can be explored at any time. So we re-publish here our lesson plan for Women’s History Month in this Resource format. We remember that any time in the school year is a good time to explore the struggle for women’s equality and the ideals still not yet

fulfilled. We trust that these ideas, classroom activities and recommended links will be of help for you and your students in exploring this subject.

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TURNING DREAMS INTO DEEDS : DR. KING

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

TO HONOR DR. KING’S BIRTHDAY

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“We must learn to live together as
brothers and sisters or perish together as fools.”Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Continue the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
with these lesson plans and resources…

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VOICES FOR CHANGE

Values of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A new Streamlined Lesson for your
classroom exploring
Dr. King’s message of protest.

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10 Ways to Educate for Anti-Racism
and to Celebrate Diversity

 > Download now

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What’s Racism Got To Do with Me?

> Download now

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Seeking Harmony : Starting &
Sustaining a Diversity Club for
High School Students

> Download now

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Creating a Diversity Session for
your Faculty : An Introduction

> Download now

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Giving it Back: Passing it On

>Download now


VISIT RACEBRIDGES VIDEOS FOR MORE
ON DR. KING’S LEGACY 

In remembering the day Martin Luther King, Jr. died, African-American storyteller Lyn Ford recognizes how people of different backgrounds can share a vision for unity and peace. And as Americans seek to celebrate Martin Luther King Day in January, Lyn’s story also gives us an opportunity to explore the relationship between Dr. King and the Jewish people.

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For Black History and Always: I Am Somebody

Students need to know that their families and their cultures – and, therefore, they – are welcome in the classroom. A great way to do this is to take Linda Christensen’s idea featured in the wonderful book Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practice Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development called “Where I’m From: Inviting Student Lives Into the Classrooms.”

Have your students make up their own “I Am Somebody” or “I Am From” poems by first making lists of:

  • Items found in their homes
  • Items found in their yards
  • Items found in their neighborhood
  • Names of relatives – especially ones linked to the past
  • Family sayings
  • Names of foods served at family gatherings
  • Names of places where the family has lived or visited
  • People – past and present – from their culture who they admire

Then, with a link between images such as “I Am…” or “I Am From…” have students write a first draft. Next, have the students read to each other with no specific comments. Just being heard can help the students feel cared for. Then, you can have a general discussion of what made certain phrases stand out such as specificity of detail, metaphor or humor and the students can try one more draft.

Here are a couple excerpt examples from Linda Christensen’s article “Where I’m From: Inviting Student Lives Into the Classrooms”and my work with teens:

I am from awapuhi ginger

Sweet fields of sugar cane

And green bananas

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I am from get-togethers

And Barbeques

Salsa dancing on the back porch

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I am from Kunta Kinte’s strength

Harriet Tubman’s escapes

Phyllis Wheatley’s poems

And Sojourner Truth’s faith

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In this video, storyteller, Linda Gorham, shares her “I Am Somebody” story and reminds us that “We are products of the people who came before us and the preparation for the future.” 

 

Feathers in the Wind: A Jewish-American’s Story

feathersby Storyteller Susan Stone

Feathers in the Wind: A Jewish American’s Story invites students and teachers of all religious and cultural backgrounds to reflect on their own lives and to explore the impact of gossip and hurtful words.

This lesson plan “unpacks” stories told by Susan Stone, a professional storyteller. This story and lesson plan can be used in one or two sessions.

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feathers_banner

“…Your words are like feathers in the wind.

Once they’re gone you can’t get them back and you don’t know where they’ve gone to.”

susanstone

 

Feathers in the Wind: A Jewish American’s Story invites students and teachers of all religious and cultural backgrounds to reflect on their own lives and to explore the impact of gossip and hurtful words. This lesson plan “unpacks” stories told by Susan Stone, a professional storyteller. This story and lesson plan can be used in one or two sessions.

This unit provides some ways to engage diverse students with traditional folk tales and contemporary stories.

  • Through personal reflection, peer discussion, and the development of collective strategies for making a difference, the exercises included here explore our use of language and encourage us to stand up for our beliefs.
  • The unit seeks to promote a culture of empathy and compassion for the differences and similarities among us.

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Lesson Plan

Download the Feathers in the Wind lesson plan (PDF)

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Story Excerpts

The following MP3 tracks are story excerpts for use with the Feathers in the Wind lesson plan. Please note that these excerpts are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Excerpt #1 — Track One — 12:18 minutes

Excerpt #2 — Track Two– 8:58 minutes

Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts?  Click here for directions.

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About Storyteller Susan Stone

 

Susan Stone has been sharing her tales for over twenty years for children and adults all over the USA.  She teaches storytelling to teachers at National-Louis University, IL, and has been honored with many awards for her CDs of Jewish stories for children.  She loves telling stories from many cultures, but especially loves sharing stories from the Jewish tradition.  Susan  believes that hearing each other’s stories enables us to nurture compassion for others, and perhaps heal ourselves as well.

www.susanstone-storyteller.com
susan@susanstone-storyteller.com

Dreaming of Cuba: Stories that Bind

by Storyteller Antonio Sacre

Antonio Sacre tells of his lifelong desire to learn about Cuba from his father and his father’s reluctance to discuss the country from which he and his family were exiled after the revolution in 1959. Sacre explores his desire to learn about his family’s history, his father’s reluctance to discuss Cuba, and the time his father finally shared some memories from his childhood.

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This lesson plan “unpacks” the story Dreaming of Cuba: The Stories that Bind by Antonio Sacre. He is an internationally touring writer, storyteller, and solo performance artist based in Los Angeles. He is the son of a Cuban father and Irish-American mother and a Boston native.

Antonio Sacre tells of his lifelong desire to learn about Cuba from his father and his father’s reluctance to discuss the country from which he and his family were exiled after the revolution in 1959. Sacre explores his desire to learn about his family’s history, his father’s reluctance to discuss Cuba, and the time his father finally shared some memories from his childhood. This story and lesson plan explores themes of identity, loss, and family relationships.

Lesson Plan

Download the Dreaming of Cuba lesson plan (PDF)

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Story Excerpt*

The following MP3 tracks are story excerpts for use with the Dreaming of Cuba lesson plan. Please note that these excerpts are

protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Dreaming of Cuba“– 8:05 minutes

(Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts? Click here for directions.)

….. …..
Download Two Extra Bonus Stories related to the themes of this Lesson Plan. Listen to two extra stories by Antonio Sacre about himself, his father and Cuba.

* NOTE: There are differences between the transcript and the spoken version of this story; it is preferable to listen to the story, using the transcript as a guide while listening or as a way to remember story details while working in class.

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About Antonio Sacre


Antonio Sacre, born in Boston to a Cuban father and Irish-American mother, is an internationally touring writer, storyteller, and solo performance artist based in Los Angeles. He earned a BA in English from Boston College and an MA in Theater Arts from Northwestern University. He has performed at the National Book Festival at the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, the National Storytelling Festival, and museums, schools, libraries, and festivals internationally.

Contact & Information for Antonio Sacre:

www.antoniosacre.com

Diversity Bridge-Building

Exploring the Wider Worlds of Difference and Connection

A Classroom or School Event

click here to download this lesson plan

 

By the end of this lesson students will be able to…..

  1. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  2. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  3. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  4. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  5. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organizations, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Dignity and Courage Come Alive !

by Storyteller Linda Gorham

I Am Somebody :  Story Poems for Pride and Poweriam

African American storyteller Linda Gorham tells this upbeat and moving celebration of Linda’s family tree and heritage. The lesson plan guides teachers to invite “pride poems” from their students.

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Rosa Parks : One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Uprosa

In Linda Gorham’s story Rosa Parks : One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Up Linda personalizes the words and action in a story of the famed Rosa Parks. The lesson plan explores the many other heroes of the civil rights movement who “sat down’ to stand up for justice. Self-worth, dignity and courage come alive.

 

 

Dignity and Courage Come Alive !

 

 

lindaAfrican American storyteller Linda Gorham tells two stories. One is I Am Somebody : Story Poems for Pride and Power. This is an upbeat and moving celebration of Linda’s family tree and heritage.

The lesson plan guides teachers to invite “pride poems” from their students.

In her story Rosa Parks : One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Up Linda personalizes the words and action in a story of the famed Rosa Parks. The lesson plan explores the many other heroes of the civil rights movement who “sat down’ to stand up for justice. Self-worth, dignity and courage come alive.

This unit comes with a teacher guide, text of stories & audio-download of stories as well as student activities.

Lesson Plans

I am Somebody: Yes You Are!

Purpose

    • Build pride in students for their family and background
    • Connect home life and classroom activities
    • Model how times of struggle become sources of strength
    • Appreciate the diversity and background of the other students
    • Gain practice in writing by creating poems and stories

Download I Am Somebody Lesson Plan (PDF)

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Rosa Parks: One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Up

Purpose

    • Become more familiar with the Rosa Parks’ story
    • Place Ms. Parks’ protest within the larger context of her supportive family and community and the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s
    • Examine the motives and practices of bigotry and institutional racism
    • Experience a recreation of some of the feelings, challenges and decisions facing people in this country as they lived in a system of legalized segregation and discrimination
    • Understand the extent of the bravery of those who stood up to discrimination given the ignorance and violence of the times.

Download Rosa Parks Lesson Plan (PDF)

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Story Excerpts

The following MP3 tracks are story excerpts for use with the I am Somebody and Rosa Parks lesson plans. Please note that these excerpts are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts?  Click here for directions.

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About Storyteller Linda Gorham

Linda Gorham’s stories are fun, full of energy, and designed to enhance the love of reading. She tells folktales, inspirational stories, fables, “RESPECT” stories, hero stories, and, of course, stories that make your spine tingle and your hair stand on edge. Linda’s stories reinforce values, spark the imagination, and explore the world of ideas and traditions from other cultures. www.lindagorham.com

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November is Native American Heritage Month

pumpkins-gordsNOVEMBER IS NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH.

 

Each year in November, many students learn of the Thanksgiving story. They hear of Pilgrims and Indians, of the hardships, the food, and the bond established between the two peoples. A table is set for feasting and for celebrating the day of America’s discovery. Many, unfortunately, do not learn of another aspect of that time – that Native Americans see it as a time of mourning. How do schools and teachers cover the Thanksgiving story sensitively and with accuracy?   Below are a few tips to get started.

  • Invite a guest speaker to talk to students about the perspective in an age and school appropriate manner...
  • Find books or other resource materials that depict actual happenings..
  • Talk about why Native Americans would feel mournful at this time..
  • Avoid stereotypical plays, clothing, speech, food, or behaviors..
  • Share what happened in the years after the First Thanksgiving (age and school appropriate, of course)..
  • Create a new Thanksgiving story..
  • Focus on gratitude..
  • Allow students to share personal experiences.

 

RaceBridges presents a number of free lessons and resources that
will provide teachers and leaders with many ideas and activities for this time of year.

Explore these free lessons and videos for this month of November:

November: Native American Heritage Month

Connecting the Dots: Racism, Activism & Creating a Life

by Storyteller Michael McCarty

African American Storyteller Michael McCarty tells his true story Connecting the Dots: Racism, Activism & Creating a Life.

Racism in Chicago … the Black Panthers …Activism and the institution … Expulsion from High School …. Drugs …. Searching … Journeys around the world … Stories and people that shape us ….Ways and paths to self-discovery … With humor and hope the storyteller “connects the dots” in his life.

Invite your students in to explore their responses to McCarty’s challenges, dead-ends and the people and events that shaped his life’s journey.
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    • African American Storyteller Michael McCarty tells his true story Connecting the Dots: Racism, Activism & Creating a Life.
    • Racism in Chicago … the Black Panthers …Activism and the institution … Expulsion from High School …. Drugs …. Searching … Journeys around the world … Stories and people that shape us ….Ways and paths to self-discovery … With humor and hope the storyteller “connects the dots” in his life.
    • Invite your students in to explore their responses to McCarty’s challenges, dead-ends and the people and events that shaped his life’s journey.
    • Let Michael McCarty’s story inspire conversation among your students (and faculty) about the issues of racism, standing up for one’s beliefs, working for change in the world and in our lives and the power of stories to inspire and connect.
    • Complete text and audio download of this story come in a short version and a long version. (See below).
    • Connecting the Dots is an ideal discussion starter for college age, young adults and justice and peace groups. Lesson Plan provides questions and activities.

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Connecting the Dots (Short Version)

Lesson Plan

Download the Connecting the Dots (Short Version)lesson plan (PDF)

Story Excerpts

The following MP3 tracks are story excerpts for use with the Connecting the Dots (Short Version) lesson plan. Please note that these excerpts are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Excerpt #1a – 4:11 minutes

Excerpt #1b7:07 minutes

Excerpt #1c — 6:06 minutes

Excerpt #2a4:24 minutes

Excerpt #3a — 4:55 minutes

Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts? Click here for directions.

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Connecting the Dots (Long Version)

Caution

In this longer version of the lesson plan, there is reference to drug use particularly in Story #2.  While the storyteller talks about how he eventually gave up drugs and devoted himself to being healthy and productive, a teacher might want to address the topic of drug use and abuse before beginning the lesson or to skip reading and listening to the sections of the story that pertain to drug use.

Lesson Plan

Download the Connecting the Dots (Long Version) lesson plan (PDF)

Story Excerpts

The following MP3 tracks are story excerpts for use with the Connecting the Dots (Long Version) lesson plan. Please note that these excerpts are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Excerpt #1 — Track One17:25 minutes

Excerpt #2 –Track Two18:20 minutes

Excerpt #3 — Track Three17:16 minutes

Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts?  Click here for directions.

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About Storyteller Michael McCarty

Michael McCarty (“Have Mouth Will Run It“™) is a multicultural storyteller of African, African-American and International Folk tales, Historical tales, Stories of Science, Spiritual stories as well as stories of the brilliant and absolutely stupid things he has done in his life.

His stories inform, educate, inspire and amuse. His storytelling style is energetic and enthusiastic.

Thanksgiving : Who Is Missing From The Table?

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Thanksgiving is a time to remember our country’s beginnings and to celebrate our rich history of welcoming the stranger. But in many ways, our idea of the original Thanksgiving table—a table we want to believe was about peace and fellowship between two peoples—is a myth.

Many teachers struggle in the classroom at this time of year because of the myths surrounding the original Thanksgiving story, settlers’ treatment of indigenous peoples, and the failure of our nation to welcome consistently the stranger and the newcomer. How can we teach the truth in our classrooms while still celebrating this national holiday?

 

The educators at Race Bridges for Schools, a nonprofit initiative helping schools explore diversity and race relations in the classroom, encourage teachers and students to study the true history of Native Americans in the U.S., to consider our country’s history of welcoming or shunning strangers, and to look at our own tables, literally and metaphorically, and who might not feel included at those tables. They suggest classroom activities such as:

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  1. Reading or listening to short stories from different groups of people about times they felt welcomed and times they did not feel welcomed to America’s table..
  2. Exposing students to true stories from the Native American perspective. Storytellers such as Dovie Thomason and Gene Tagaban share their personal experiences growing up as First Nations People.  These true stories cover topics as diverse as the Indian boarding schools and the search for identity and dignity among the indigenous peoples in Alaska. Stories suchas these expose students to historical events that aren’t taught in most schools, and touch on themes of cultural identity, inclusion and exclusion, and oppression..
  3. Sharing personal stories. Have students share their own brief stories about a time when they or their family were or were not welcomed, or a time when they did or did not welcome another..

Whether you simply engage in classroom discussion or facilitate small-group presentations, exercises like this enable your students to explore more fully the history and experience of Native Americans.  As we prepare for Thanksgiving, that most American of holidays, lessons such as these will help students consider who’s been missing from the “American table” and how they can literally and metaphorically make a difference.

America champions the ideals of equality, fairness, and welcoming the stranger to our table. Thanksgiving is a holiday that especially challenges us to examine whether or not we are living up to our ideals. For your students, they can ask these questions in any of their activities, whether at a club or sport or student council, at their place of worship, later when they look at colleges, and, throughout their adult lives.

DOWNLOAD NOW

SEARCH ACROSS THE RACES: A Native American Looks at His Mixed Identities

I am Indopino brings together Tlingit, Cherokee, and Filipino storyteller Gene Tagaban’s personal story and the history of discrimination against American Indians in Alaska. He also weaves into this rich narrative the story of Elizabeth Peratrovich, who helped pass the 1945 Anti-Discrimination Act in Alaska, the first of its kind in the country.

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A SEARCH FOR IDENTITY AND AN AMERICAN INDIAN VISION THAT STILL LIVES TODAY.

This lesson plan uses the original story “I Am Indopino” by Gene Tagaban.  He is a noted storyteller and story artist whose heritage is Tlingit, Cherokee, and Filipino. This story brings together Tagaban’s personal story and the history of discrimination against American Indians in Alaska. He also weaves into this rich narative the story of Elizabeth Peratrovich, who helped pass the 1945 Anti-Discrimination Act in Alaska, the first of its kind in the country.

This unit contains:

  • Downloadable printable lesson plan
  • Teacher guide
  • Student activities
  • Printed text of story
  • Audio-downloads of story told by Gene Tagaban with his evocative music
  • Other Resources

Gene Tagaban weaves together historical and personal stories to explore larger themes and questions.  He explores the complexity of personal identity in light of his own multi-ethnic background while extending the question “Who am I?” to all of us.

Gene Tagaban illuminates the stereotypes that still surround indigenous people, in particular American Indians, and how those labels get in the way of seeing people for who they are in particular.

Tagaban also demonstrates how our histories —whether historical events, folk tales, or heroes—help shape who we are and how we understand ourselves.

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Lesson Plan


Download the I am Indopino lesson plan (PDF)

Story Excerpts

The following MP3 tracks are story excerpts for use with the I Am Indopino lesson plan. Please note that these excerpts are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Excerpt #1 — Track One10:36 minutes

Excerpt #2 — Track Two8:55 minutes

Excerpt #3 — Track Three9:31 minutes

Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts? Click here for directions.

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About Storyteller Gene Tagaban


 

Gene Tagaban is a Native American performing artist, storyteller, trainer, counselor and healer. His heritage is Cherokee, Tlingit and Filipino. Raised in Alaska, Gene’s Native American name Gaay Yaaw, loosely translates as Salmon Home Coming. He is of the Tak deintaan Raven Freshwater Sockeye clan of Hoonah, Alaska, and the Child of a Wooshkeetaan Eagle Thunderbird clan of Juneau, Alaska.

Storyteller Gene Tagaban can be contacted about performances at www.storytellingraven.com or onecrazyraven@earthlink.net

Calendars of the World

As we focus on New Year’s resolutions and new beginnings, it’s good to remember that there is more than one calendar by which people measure their days.

We in the West use the Gregorian Calendar. While the Gregorian Calendar is widely accepted internationally and recognized by international institutions such as the United Nations and the Universal Postal Union, many people throughout the world are simultaneously tuned to other calendars. For example, the Islamic and Hindu Calendars are both lunar calendars. Therefore, a main observance of holy days such as Ramadan start and end on different dates each year.

For centuries, eastern European and western Asian Christians have used the Julian Calendar for religious reasons. The Chinese and Hebrew calendars are still in use today for similar religious and social reasons. There are also the Iranian or Persian calendar used in Iran and some parts of Afghanistan, the Ethiopian calendar used in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Somali calendar that is used alongside the Gregorian and Islamic calendars and, in Thailand, the Thai solar calendar.

There are approximately forty calendars in use today. Periodically, in our classrooms, workplaces and community organizations, we can ask, “What holidays do you celebrate? What days of the year are special to you?”

Schools and workplaces across the country are examining their policies around holidays. Should people get a certain number of days a year and decide themselves which days they want to take off for family time and religious observance? How will we agree?

There was a time it was assumed that everyone would want to observe, for example, Christmas and the Gregorian Calendar’s New Year. Now, our perspectives must enlarge. When different viewpoints, emotional attachments and life experiences are considered, there is a strong possibility that a win/win agreement can be found and negotiated. When discussions are approached with respect and an appreciation for our diverse expressions of time and ritual, mutually satisfying schedules emerge.

Using Literature and the Arts to Build Empathy

shoes“Empathy is an important developmental process that all children need. Not only does empathy spur tolerance and understanding, it also sets up the basic foundation for all relationships and means of compromise.” 

                 -Charlie Gaston*

 

Empathy spurs tolerance and understanding…..If we can teach students to support one another instead of target the insecurities of one another, imagine the possibilities – schools filled with respectful students who are compassionate and open-minded toward the opinions, beliefs, and backgrounds of others.

What can schools and teachers do to foster empathy? Some of the most powerful and prominent cultural agents for students are literature and the arts – poetry by students from around the world, works of young adult literature that tell personal or cultural stories, paintings or photos that depict the diverse people of our world.  

Below are a few ideas for schools and teachers in directing students toward empathy through literature and the arts:

  • Research global poverty. Use books to study countries and people in need..
  • Read young adult literature that tells stories about people of other countries and their needs..
  • Visit a museum or show artwork of other cultures. Discuss what the artist saw when they created the work..
  • Create collages or masks that show what empathy looks like..
  • Allow students to use cameras in order to take candid pictures of what they see as empathy..
  • Write poetry that illustrates compassion for others..
  • Design a student-made mural for your school..

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*Gaston, C. (n.d.). Retrieved 5 12, 2012, from eHow: http://www.ehow.com/how_2311887_teach-empathy-kids.html

Brush the Dirt from My Heart

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BRUSH THE DIRT FROM MY HEART
By Connie Regan Blake

Introduction:

Told with beautifully descriptive language, Connie Regan-Blake shares the story of a Ugandan woman’s struggle for survival in a land riddled with disease and poverty. Listen as you hear how a simple necklace bead changed the life and circumstance of this young woman, and be uplifted.

Summary:

In this touching story, Connie Regan-Blake relates an experience she and a couple of friends had while on a mission trip to Uganda. Here, you will find the power that a simple necklace bead holds to change the life of a Ugandan woman who struggled to feed her children, and lived in poverty and disease. This story will touch your heart!

Classroom Reflections & Activities:

  • Hold a Jeopardy! Quiz contest in class. Create a list of questions and answers for students on AIDS, Uganda, and/or poverty. Divide students into 2-3 teams, and see how much they know about these topics. Create a cheat sheet for students if you feel they could use a little help with these topics.
  • Have students research Uganda. They could create a map, detail disease and poverty information about the country, and add basic facts about the country as well.
  • Have students research the organization BEAD FOR LIFE. Design posters that advertise and inform about this worthy non-profit group.

 

Watch the video now

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Explore our many other free storyteller-videos and
lessons for classroom, group or individual use :

RaceBridgesVideos.com

 

 

Voices and Actions that Changed the World : Women

womens-history-month-cropped11-300x204

Women parade through the streets of New York City, ca. 1910. Photo: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress)

What would this planet look like without the triumphs and trials of women? Women have made great strides in humanity, and have been highly influential members of society. They have changed our world by providing expertise and knowledge, entertainment, enlightenment, and irrepressible spirits. Without the voices and actions of women throughout history, life as we know it would be very different.

As March celebrates the achievements and contributions of women all over the world, take the time to share them with your students. Let them be beacons of what can be realized when effort is put forth. Encourage your students today to be positive voices for their generation. Let them know there is nothing that cannot be achieved through perseverance, hard work, and the desire to make humanity better.

Below are links to many incredibly helpful and educational websites.  Visit them for fantastic information, activities, and ideas for promoting the notable accomplishments of women:

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See ideas, videos and lessons on many
other diversity themes on RaceBridgesStudio.com

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This November Expose Your Students to New Perspectives on the Native American Experience

With November just around the corner, Americans are preparing to celebrate not only Thanksgiving but also National American Indian Heritage Month.

For educators, this is the perfect time to explore new perspectives on the history of indigenous peoples in the U.S., as well as to discover the history never heard.  One way to do that is to get students thinking critically about what they don’t know — and why they don’t know it.

Of course, students know some things about American Indians. At a young age, they probably learned about wigwams, teepees and other culturally obsolete trappings of early “Indian” society. And all of us were taught about the first Thanksgiving – how the Pilgrims dressed and the “friendly Indians” brought corn to this peaceful gathering of fellowship and gratitude.

But then most of us found out, at some point in our adult life, that the Thanksgiving story was highly mythologized, and that the real history of indigenous people in the U.S. was marked by removal, slaughter, and forced assimilation.

So why don’t we teach that in school? That disconnect between what we teach and what we ignore provides a golden opportunity to expand students’ understanding of the true, historical Native American experience.

Wondering how to spark this discussion in your classroom? Here are some creative ideas:

  • Start simply by asking students what they’ve been taught about American Indians — their history, their culture, perhaps even their role in the traditional Thanksgiving story. Depending on what you hear, you may want to probe further into their knowledge of Native American genocide.
  • Next, try exposing them to true stories from the Native American perspective. One you might consider: “The Spirit Survives“ by First Nations storyteller Dovie Thomason.   It’s a personal account (available in audio and text) of her family’s painful experience in the Indian boarding schools,to which many American Indian children were taken by force, away from their families, to be assimilated into white culture. Dovie’s story and the associated lesson plan, available free and printable by clicking, exposes students to historical events that aren’t taught in most schools. It also touches on themes of cultural identity, inclusion and exclusion, and the power of forced education to oppress people.
  • After the introduction of this new perspective, you can encourage students to think critically about what they haven’t been taught. Get them talking with these questions:
      • What did you learn from this story that you didn’t know about the history of indigenous people in the U.S.?
      • Why do you think you never learned this in school?
      • Why do we need to explore this neglected part of history?
      • Why bring up stories that are painful or hard to listen to? What good does that do?

Whether you simply engage in classroom discussion or facilitate small-group presentations, exercises like this enable your students to explore more fully the history and experience of Native Americans.  And as we prepare for Thanksgiving, that most American of holidays, lessons such as this will help students consider who’s been missing from the “American table” and how they can literally and metaphorically make a difference.

Download this lesson plan

The Spirit Survives: The American Indian Boarding School Experience: Then and Now

by Storyteller Dovie Thomason

This lesson plan presents a rarely heard part of American history — a true story about the crimes of forced assimilation of Indian children in the American Indian Boarding Schools.smdovie_lessonplan-1_Page_01

Kiowa Apache and Lakota Indian storyteller Dovie Thomason weaves a fascinating story of struggle, survival and inspiration as she tells her own daughter of a history that must not be forgotten and that presents lessons for all of us today. Texts, audio-download segments and classroom activities and resources are all a part of this powerful Lesson Plan.

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AN AMERICAN INDIAN STORY OF STRUGGLE, PAIN AND PROUD SURVIVAL . . .

This is a printable Lesson Plan with audio-excerpts looking at the original inhabitants of our land and some of the shattering events that were forced upon them.

Dovie Thomason, a Kiowa Apache and Lakota Indian, weaves personal narrative, the history of Indian schools, and the story of Gertrude Bonnin (later Zitkala Sa), the Sioux Native American woman who went through the Indian schools and afterward became a writer and activist for Indian rights.

This Lesson Plan with printable text and downloadable audio-segments presents Thomason’s original story about the inhuman practice of forced assimilation of American Indian children in painful and shameful attempts to “change” them into “white children”. Included in this Learning Unit are classroom activities and a list of recommended Resources for Teachers and Students to discover further histories and contributions of our American Indian peoples.

There are four segments to Dovie Thomason’s story. This Lesson Plan can be best used in presenting the story in two distinct sessions or classroom periods. It can also be presented with audio and print-text in one longer study-reflection session. This lesson plan is ideal for use in Native American Heritage Month, November, and around the Thanksgiving Holiday, (which often has distorted images of American Indian events) . . . or any time . . . as it seeks to reveal American Indian events that are rarely found in our history books.

THE SPIRIT SURVIVES can also be used in social studies and as part of the reflection and study of indigenous peoples and their challenges and struggles . . . yesterday … and even today.

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Lesson Plan

Download the The Spirit Survives lesson plan (PDF)

Story Excerpts

The following MP3 tracks are story excerpts for use with the Spirit Survives lesson plan. Please note that these excerpts are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Excerpt #1 – Track One — 9:06 minutes

Excerpt #2 — Track Two– 9:39 minutes

Excerpt #3 — Track Three — 14:43 minutes

Excerpt #4 — Track Four — 10:56 minutes

Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts?  Click here for directions.

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About Storyteller Dovie Thomason

Dovie Thomason is an award-winning storyteller, recording artist and author, recognized internationally for her ability to take her listeners back to the “timeless place” that she first “visited” as a child, hearing old Indian stories from her Kiowa Apache and Lakota relatives, especially her Grandma Dovie and her Dad.  From their voices, she first heard the voices of the Animal People and began to learn the lessons they had to teach her.  For these were teaching stories that took the place of punishment or scolding, showing her the values that her people respect and wanted to pass on to her.

Her love of stories and culture set her on a path to listen and learn and share the stories—to give people a clearer understanding of the often misunderstood, often invisible, cultures of the First Nations of North America.  The product of a “mixed” background that is urban Chicago and rural Texas, Internet and ancient teachers, elders’ teachings and university classrooms —Dovie began telling stories “publicly” while teaching literature and writing at an urban high school in Cleveland.  So, she began telling those first-heard old Indian stories—stories about making choices—stories that could become a blueprint for a personal value system.

FINDING NEW WORDS: A Resource for Addressing Bullying at School

sm_bullyingThis flexible resource provides a series of exercises for teachers and students to more effectively address bullying by taking a stand, telling the truth, and building a stronger community at school.

PURPOSE

This resource is designed to:

  • Provide a method for introducing and discussing a challenging topic
  • Encourage teachers and students to take responsibility for their school social climate in safe and effective ways
  • Raise awareness of stereotypes and other bias-related behaviors
  • Create an environment for participants to discuss and reflect on how bullying impacts their daily lives at school
  • Identify some core values
  • Identify and Practice effective ways to intervene
  • Encourage empathy for the targets of bullying

OUTCOMES

Through participating in these exercises, each individual will:

  • Listen to several stories from their peers
  • Reflect on their own experience with bullying
  • Discuss issues of discrimination with their peers in small groups
  • Identify some of their core values
  • Develop and practice their own response to bullying in the moment

FINDING NEW WORDS: A Resource for Addressing Bullying at School

“I get on the bus first thing in the morning and it starts. The name calling…about my mixed race. It’s like I become invisible except for that, except for my skin color. It’s so weird.”

– A High School Student

“And it just grew and grew and no one was backing down like they said they were going to and the next thing I knew he was pushed into the lockers really hard and he banged his head…that was not cool. It was supposed to be a joke.”

– A High School Student

“I try to leave it to the other teachers to address it… if I start harping on them about this kind of stuff, I’ll lose my edge.”

– A High School Teacher

“It’s a fine line between joking around and meanness. And sometimes, I don’t know where that line is.”

– A High School Teacher

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Most teachers and students are affected by bullying in some way – whether as a target, a participant, or as a witness. Bullying can be verbal, emotional or physical in nature and it impacts us all in different ways. This resource uses true stories from teachers and students alongside a series of activities that allow for reflection and dialogue about this challenging topic.

  • Do you ever struggle to figure out what to say when you witness bullying?
  • Do you see your students confused about how to respond?
  • What can you say and do to make a positive difference?

By connecting with core values and creating a personal response to aggression, these activities support you and your students to get the facts, define your roles, and take a stand for a safer school.

This resource can be used as part of an all-school lesson plan on bullying, during a faculty in-service, and with your classes.

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Consider using this free printable Teacher Resource & Lesson Plan prior to and around International Day of  Tolerance

Sticking Together Sharing Our Stories, Our Differences, and Our Similarities

The goal of this lesson is to bring together students around their stories of differences and similarities. The most authentic community is one in which people can find common ground while still retaining what is distinct about themselves. Engaging. Fun. Illuminating.

Objectives of this lesson plan :

  • To create a sense of community in the classroom;
  • To use storytelling as a way for students to learn about one another’s differences
  • To use storytelling as a way for students to discover their similarities

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Create and Celebrate Your Classroom Community!

As teachers, we are always trying to find ways to honor diversity even as we build community in our classrooms.  We all know how important it is to learning to have a community of students who like, support, and work well with one another.  We offer a lesson plan—Sticking Together: Sharing Our Stories—that uses storytelling to bring your students together as a community while simultaneously honoring their differences. Unlike  debating about issues of diversity, which assumes that someone will “win” and another “lose,” storytelling asks only that we listen to one another.   And sharing stories opens people up to one another, allowing for real dialogue and team building.

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Download this lesson plan

Why bullying is more dangerous than ever — and what teachers can do to stop it

Bullying isn’t a new problem. But in recent years, it has outgrown its reputation as an annoyance of childhood and turned into something much more dangerous. And sometimes harder to spot.

While physical aggression is on the rise among teens, so is a subtler — but deeply disturbing — form of bullying called relational aggression. Especially common among girls, this new breed of bullying consists of exclusion, rumor spreading, alliance building, and cyber-bullying, which many blame for the widely publicized 2007 suicide of Texas teen Megan Meier, who was mercilessly harassed online by classmates.

Whatever form it takes — verbal, physical or covert – bullying creates an environment of fear and intimidation. Schools are responding to this new environment with more security and tighter restrictions on students. And while those measures help to alleviate some of the fear, individual teachers also have the power to keep their students safe from bullies.

Here are three ways to intervene, protect and root out bullying at your school.

Start by exploring your own understanding of—and experience with—bullying

Try to think beyond bullying generally to specific events that happened at your school. Who was involved? What happened? When did it take place? Where was it?

Ask yourself:

  1. What kind of bullying behaviors do you witness in your school?
  2. How does it make you feel?
  3. How do you respond now?

Do any of the answers surprise you? What would you like to change about your responses? This goal of this exercise is to prepare yourself mentally, so that you can be ready to take a stand when bullying becomes a real issue in your classroom.

Intervene and educate

The Safe Schools Coalition, formed by a group of educators, recommends a two-step approach for teachers who witness an act of bullying:

First, Stop the Behavior

Using a clear and strong voice, stop the offending behavior with a simple command. Rehearse responses like this:

  • Cut it out!
  • Keep your hands to yourself!
  • Whoa, that is not OK!
  • Leave him alone!
  • Hey, that was uncalled for!

Second, Take the Opportunity To Educate

It is essential that you use this opportunity to name the offending behavior and educate students as to why it’s unacceptable. If you only stop the behavior, students might think, “It’s OK to bully Matt, but not during math” or “The teacher doesn’t like us to be loud.”

Try using some of these responses, depending on the situation:

  • That is unacceptable. I will not allow racial discrimination in this classroom.
  • That’s bullying. It’s against school rules. And besides what business is it of yours if somebody’s gay?
  • That’s mean and it’s sexual harassment. That behavior could get you suspended.
  • Do you guys know what that word means? It’s a put down for a person’s religion. That’s like putting someone down for his or her race.

Remember that, in that moment, you are not only speaking to the bully and the target but to every student who witnesses and overhears bullying at the school. A well-planned message not only interrupts the harassment, but it also has the potential to prevent more threatening behavior down the road.

Empower students to build a community of respect and empathy

Through storytelling, small group discussion and individual reflection, teachers can get students to take an active, personal role in creating a more inclusive school environment.

Ask your students to consider the situations they’ve witnessed or overheard in school when bullying was taking place. Get them talking with these questions:

  • What is one situation when you would feel safe speaking up?
  • In that situation, what would you feel comfortable saying?
  • Now think of a situation when you do not feel safe speaking up. What’s that like?
  • What can you honestly commit to today that will keep you safe and make a change for the better in your school?

However you approach bullying at your school, remember that you are a powerful influence – even though you’re just one teacher. “Legally and ethically, you must do whatever is necessary to stop harassment against children and teens based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, language or physical or mental abilities,” say the educators of the Safe Schools Coalition. “Seeing you stand up against bullying will make every child … feel safer at school. Only when they feel safe, can students learn.”

Download this lesson plan

Claim It!: Differences & Similarities : Creating a Climate of Inclusion

“Claim It!” provides a simple lesson plan for exploring diversity in the classroom. This activity helps reveal the many differences a classroom of students has, despite a homogeneous surface. It will also provide learning – and fun, too. This lesson is meant to be one tool among many in the ongoing mission of building strong and welcoming school communities. Flexible and adaptable to your local needs.

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smClaim_It_LESSON_PLAN_FINAL_Page_1Claim It! Creating Inclusion

Teaching the topics associated with diversity and with anti-racism can be overwhelming for teachers. But there are steps that a teacher can take to create an inclusive environment where students’ differences are recognized and valued. We can foster a community of learners ready to work together and able to handle issues of difference and disagreement.

The Claim It! Creating Inclusion lesson plan reveals the many differences in a classroom (or school) of students, despite the seemingly homogeneous surface.   It assists teachers as they explore the sometimes hazardous territory of race and differences

Claim It! can easily be adapted and shaped to fit different situations.

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Download a free copy of the CLAIM IT! CREATING INCLUSION lesson plan  (PDF)

INCLUDING EVERYONE: Small Changes to Create a Welcoming Classroom

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A resource to help teachers make the little changes in their classrooms that will send the big message that Everyone is Welcome!

Even though we want to make sure that our students learn the skills of anti-racism and are prepared to live in a multi-cultural world, it can be hard to find time to teach explicitly anti-racism lessons or to implement an entire diversity curriculum.  But what we do every day, in regular classroom situations, can have a big impact.  By using thoughtful language, challenging stereotypes, and encouraging hospitable behavior, we can help our students to become more open to those who are different from themselves.

Designed for all grade levels, regardless of subject area, “Including Everyone” shows educators how to incorporate habits and activities into their daily routines that:

  • Encourage students to embrace difference
  • Encourage students to develop a mindset of hospitality, rather than hostility
  • Challenge stereotypes, language, and practices that promote “insider/outsider” thinking
  • Make issues of diversity accessible, meaningful, and fun
  • Download a free copy of the:
    INCLUDING EVERYONE: Small Changes to Create a Welcoming Classroom resource

Breaking Spirits: Identifying Words that Unite or Divide

wordle-300x143Schools today recognize more than ever the power of words on its students. Technology has made accessible a tremendous platform for words while allowing the voices behind those words to remain largely anonymous.

With student population in schools rapidly increasing in diversity, it is essential that we teach our children to recognize the strength of words whether they are spoken or written. Words can make someone’s day, or end a life. They can build self-esteem, or tear apart a friendship.

Below are two categories of words. One points out groups of words that unite. The other recognizes groups of words that divide. Encourage your students to focus their words on those that welcome and bring people together rather than those that divide.

Challenge your students to look at the two categories of words below, and list examples for each (examples are in parentheses). Then challenge them to use words that unite.

Words that Unite:

  • Words that praise (you’re good at that)
  • Words that don’t label (everyone)
  • Words that encourage (nice job)
  • Words that show gratitude (thank you)
  • Words that show affection (love)
  • Words that show understanding (I felt that way too)
  • Words that show respect (please)

 

Words that Divide:

  • Words that label or place people into groups (race, gender, culture, religion, etc.)
  • Words that expect a side to be chosen (prejudice, bias)
  • Words that eliminate or leave out people(exclusion)
  • Words that put down (diminish)
  • Words that show unkindness
  • Words that show disrespect

 

Explore the many lessons and videos on our RaceBridges sites that celebrate words that unite, while identifying the often unchallenged words that divide.

 

**Also check out these other websites for additional information:

Women’s History Month: Exploring the past, present and future

womens-historyConstance Baker Motley, the first African-American woman in the U.S. to become a federal judge, once said, “Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade.” The notion that history moves in the direction of progress is an encouraging sentiment as the March celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are honored.

The countless women who’ve figured prominently in history have made what once seemed impossible possible—whether it was gaining the right to vote, making scientific breakthroughs, or attaining positions of power normally reserved for men. While we often limit our study of women’s history to events in the past, current affairs and even future possibilities are also powerful ways to view women’s journey toward equality. As educators we can help students explore not only the achievements of the past but the progress of the present and the promise of the future—celebrating, informing, and challenging stereotypes. 

Naturally, Women’s History Month tends to highlight women who’ve made great strides on a national level, women like Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, or Sandra Day O’Connor. Yet there are thousands of lesser-known history makers with contributions as meaningful. The Civil Rights Movement, for example, was full of women who worked tirelessly for equality—such as Ella Baker and Septima Poinsette Clark—but without the recognition. If we’re willing to dig a little deeper and consider alternate sources of historical records, we can also find deeply personal and engaging stories about how history shaped—and was shaped by—the women of different races, faiths and cultures. Consider seeking out stories, either written or oral, to explore these histories.

Having studied the past, students can better assess the present. How far have women come, and what has yet to be achieved? We can look at the prominence of women in power in politics, business, science, the arts, and even sports, but then also acknowledge inequalities that women still face—issues of compensation, access to education, and domestic violence. Stressing that women’s rights are human rights, educators can help boys and girls alike understand the need to work for justice.

With the perspectives of the past and present in mind, students can then imagine the future. What will history look like 10, 50 or 100 years from now? What will women have accomplished? What can we do to move things forward?

Women’s History Month is a great time to understand where women have come from, what they’re achieving today, and what the future may hold. In studying the past, present, and future, we can help students understand the need to work toward equality and justice for all people.

 

Beneath the Surface: More than You Can See

There is much more to people than what is on the surface – our appearances. It is essential to build an awareness of this fact because it is so easy to make judgments, form stereotypes, and determine abilities of others based solely on what we see. Students are key starting points for this process. We must teach the youth of today to take the time to know someone before creating an opinion of them. If established early, many conflicts and difficulties can be averted simply by recognizing that people are both unique and similar to one another. 

How can teachers and schools call attention to seeing with more than our eyes? Below are some ideas for constructing awareness in the classroom:

  • Reflection Writing. Provide opportunities for students to write about themselves – how they see themselves and their abilities..

  • Sharing. Provide opportunities for students to share insights of themselves. Establish guidelines that encourage openness – no laughing, everyone listens, welcome questions, etc. Share writings, drawings, pictures, stories, traditions, artifacts. Display student work in the classroom..
  • Discussions. Ask students how they SHOW their identities to others. How do they let others see beyond the surface? Brainstorm different ways to show who they are, what they believe in, their traditions, etc. Talk to students about how negative attitudes and behaviors have a lasting effect on people..
  • Role-Play or Give Scenarios. Practice how to show identity. Allow students to solve hypothetical situations..
  • Conflict resolution skill-building. Teach students that everyone does not need to agree all of the time. Provide opportunities for students to learn and practice how to handle conflict effectively and respectfully..

For further information and discussion, check out the link below:

http://www.beyondintractability.org/bi-essay/culture-conflict

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Thanksgiving : Who Is Missing From Our Table?

Thanksgiving is one of the main holidays of the United States, a time to remember our beginnings and to celebrate our rich history of welcoming the stranger. Yet many teachers struggle in the classroom at this time of year because of what doesn’t get addressed: the myths surrounding the original Thanksgiving story, settlers’ treatment of indigenous peoples, and the failure of our nation to welcome consistently the stranger and the newcomer. How can we teach the truth in our classrooms while still celebrating this national holiday?

For use before or around the time of Thanksgiving. This lesson invites students to share their personal and family stories of being newcomers and of welcoming the stranger. These stories are then used to create a Thanksgiving reflection on the disappointments and the blessings of the United States.

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Engage your students in a Diversity Lesson Plan: Thanksgiving: “Who Is Missing From Our Table?”

 

  • We offer a Lesson Plan : Thanksgiving: Who is Missing from Our Table? — for use before the holidays. This lesson invites students to share their personal and family stories of being newcomers and of welcoming the stranger. These stories are then used to create a Thanksgiving reflection on the disappointments and the blessings of the United States.

Racebridges Studios offers this lesson plan with student activities and handouts that help you and your students recognize and celebrate differences, find common ground and create a stronger classroom community.

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Download a free copy of the Thanksgiving: Who is Missing from Our Table lesson plan

Being Mexican-American : Caught Between Two Worlds–Nepantla

  smOlga_Lesson_Page_01by Latina Storyteller Olga Loya

In these warm and engaging story-excerpts professional Storyteller Olga Loya relates some of her life-story and her attempts to reconcile the two worlds and realities of ‘American’ and ‘Mexican American’. Audio-segments, story-text and classroom activities will engage students in exploring what it means be fluent in more than one culture at a time. The unit assists teachers to move beyond the Mexican-American experience to anyone who has been caught between two worlds and two identities. Use this unit to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month or to practice storytelling skills and to probe issues of difference and belonging.

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olga_title-300x84

Storyteller Olga Loya tells of her experience growing up Mexican American in Los Angeles, trying to choose between the Latino and Anglo cultures, and realizing that she might belong to even more than two cultures and that perhaps there was a way to live with all of them.

This is a perfect lesson plan to use with students while talking about immigration, issues of being bicultural, or about how to use personal stories to address an issue.

A great lesson especially for Language Arts and Social Studies classrooms!

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Lesson Plan

Download the Nepantla: Between Worlds lesson plan (PDF)

Story Excerpts

The following MP3 tracks are story excerpts for use with the Nepantla: Between Worlds lesson plan. Please note that these excerpts are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Story Excerpt #1 — Nepantla: Between Worlds2:35 minutes

Story Excerpt #2 — Spanish is Dangerous2:14 minutes

Story Excerpt #3 — Grandma Talk2:28 minutes

Story Excerpt #4 — Why Do You Want to Go to College? 3:26 minutes

Story Excerpt #5 — But You Don’t Look Mexican3:45 minutes

Story Excerpt #6 — What Does a Mexican Look Like?2:47 minutes

Story Excerpt #7 — My Own Rhythms – 1:41 minutes

Story Excerpt #8 — Mezcla: The Best of Both — 1:22 minutes

Story Excerpt #9 — Bridge Between Worlds — 1:46 minutes

(Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts? Click here for directions.)

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About Olga Loya

Storyteller Olga Loya was captivated by the vivid stories her Mexican grandmother and father would tll. Absorbing all of their secrets and following the tendrils of memory that bind people and families, Olga fashioned and invented herself, out of her own substance and imagination, a stirring universe of creation. Growing up in a up in the barrio of East L.A. where family rituals and traditions were the center of her emotional life, the young Latina, performing improvisation as a girl, has mastered the vocabulary of artful storytelling. With her poetic eloquence Olga’s stories are an impassioned quest to keep alive not only the fabric of her family but the larger Latino culture, richly robed in folktales, ancient myths, and history.

Be Civil ! The Search for Civility

A Definition : “…formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech..”
Its Use : “I hope we can treat each other with civility and respect”
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“Civility is not something
that automatically happens.

Civil societies come about
because people want them to.”

Jimmy Bise, Jr.
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civility
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Some claim that civil society is breaking down as political rallies turn ugly.  People text and take cell phone calls during concerts and in audiences before speakers.   Sometimes it feels that everyone is only looking out for number one.

It’s easy to look at the behavior of others, but it is essential that we examine our own actions.  Are we being kind?  Are we taking time to listen to one another? Really listen.

Do we apologize when we have hurt another?  Do we treat others as we want to be treated?  As the quotation says above, civility doesn’t just happen. We have to commit to behaving civilly ourselves.

As Election Day approaches in the USA and given the increasing volatility of political discourse  from vitriolic editorializing presented as news to recent Tea Party protests or Occupy actions, there is a need for students to learn how to disagree while remaining civil. 

Not only should students learn how to engage in civil debate, but they should also learn the value of listening to points of view and opinions that differ from their own. Being open to different kinds of people and ideas help students maintain open minds and to get along in a diverse society.

One of the difficulties teachers face in the classroom is that we as a society are not modeling for young people how to have vigorous conversations, even debates, about significant social and political issues.

In recent decades, we’ve seen two extreme approaches to hard conversations:  privileging agreement over individual opinion on the one hand and a “take no prisoners” approach on the other. When agreement and avoiding conflict is privileged, debate tends to be squelched when someone suggests that all “agree to disagree” or that “everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.”

CLASSROOM ACTIVITY

Here are some points to ponder on the human skills of being civil.  For ourselves as teachers and for our students.

Present a Definition for all to reflect on.  E.g., Use the one at the top of this lesson which is repeated again here, or find one of your own.

Definition : ”…formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech..”
Use : “I hope we can treat each other with civility and respect”

Establish :  why be civil?  It is a central value of a flourishing group, family, society, community or school. Genuine civility leads to cooperation and community..

Examining our Civility

Do you and your students believe that civility is diminishing ?

. . . What is your response when someone suddenly cuts into line before you ? In the car? In the cafeteria? On the train ? In the bus stop line ? In the store?

. . . Review how often you hear curse words or the F-Word being used in and around your school.  Why ?

. . . Is it a common occurrence ?  Is it when someone gets into a verbal fight ?

. . . Review the behavior of people – and yourself – when you are on your cell-phone in a public place.

. . . Is it easier to be rude than civil ?  What are the consequences ?

. . . What happens to civility when we compete  academically ?

. . . What happens to civility when we compete at sports ?

. . . What examples of civility and/or un-civility do you see on TV ?  Online ?

Seeking to Be Civil

There are many online sites that explore the teaching of civility to students and children. Here are two sets of ideas that explore ways to focus on and practice civility:

What are some of the ways of teaching that encourages civility ?

❧ Teaching about multicultural tolerance and acceptance.
❧ Teaching children to care about others because it brings them meaning rather than expecting anything in return.
❧ Involving children in public service at a children’s hospital.
❧ Teaching children to respect senior citizens by volunteering at independent living facilities.
❧ Teaching common courtesies, such as introducing oneself, shaking hands with others, and thanking people for doing kind gestures for them.
❧ Teaching children to share and play cooperatively with others.
❧ Teaching children to respect and assist those who are disabled or have learning limitations.
❧ Parents can demonstrate through word and action what civility means.

Teaching Children Civility Begins at Home
http://www.familyresource.com/parenting/character-development/teaching-children-civility-begins-at-home

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Here are some ideas worth pondering :
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15 ways children learn civility from adults:

  1. Lead by example.
  2. Think about the impact of our words and actions on others first.
  3. Treat children and adults with the respect that we expect them to treat others.
  4. Apologize when we are wrong.
  5. Disagree with intelligence, humor, and civil discourse.
  6. Don’t let anger and emotion get in the way of listening to others.
  7. Teach character strengths, like respect and empathy, at home and in classrooms.
  8. Demand civility of our politicians and public servants.
  9. Set ground rules for civil behavior at home and in classrooms.
  10. Challenge people’s views but don’t attack the person.
  11. Be tolerant of people who are different from us.
  12. Praise others for their civil behavior, regardless of their viewpoints.
  13. Empower children to take a stand against bullying.
  14. Remind kids often why we should be civil.
  15. Teach kids how to become engaged citizens.


Teaching Civility in an F-Word Society

Marilyn Price-Mitchell Ph.D.
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moment-youth/201206/teaching-civility-in-f-word-society

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CLASS ACTIVITY

  • Consider creating a “code of civility”  or “civility pledge” for your classroom/school or group.
  • Review the area in your classroom/school that needs behavior improvement in the civility climate.
  • Take a few of these issues and develop ways/plans/action that the un-civility can decrease or end.
  • Place this code of civility on the wall.  Review progress throughout the school year.
  • Celebrate victories.  Pass on the Civility!


RESOURCES

Look at one or more of the lists / guidelines for civil behavior on the resource list below. Use these as a model for creating a guideline for civil discourse in your own classroom.

Related lesson plans on RaceBridges site :

Resources to help you plan lessons about the topic  :

  • Dr. J.M. Forni, a professor who co-founded the John Hopkins Civility Project that aims “at assessing the significance of civility, manners and politeness in contemporary society.”  Forni authored two books on civility: Choosing Civility: Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct and The Civility Solution: What To Do When People Are Rude.
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  • “From Enmity to Comity: Restoring Civility and Pride to American Life,” by Robert Fuller. This article addresses the root cause of incivility—fear—and argues for ways to return to civil political discourse where we don’t have to disagree but where all are respected.
    .
  • Choose Civility: This website was created in response to the book Choosing Civility: Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct. There are a variety of resources there, including in-depth book lists for children, teens, and adults.
    .
  • The Civility Project: This website seeks to encourage civility in the political arena. Contains a bibliography of books on civility and examples of civility and incivility in contemporary culture.


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Many of the scholars who are exploring the issue of Civility
today focus on one of the ways of learning civility – which is to
explore other cultures and those people who are different than ourselves.
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CLASSROOM RESOURCE: Be Civil!

How can we explore the human skill of . . .

Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable?
THE SEARCH FOR CIVILITY

Given the increasing volatility of political discourse in the United States, from vitriolic editorializing presented as news to recent Tea Party protests, there is a need for students to learn how to disagree while remaining civil. Not only should students learn how to engage in civil debate, but they should also learn the value of listening to points of view and opinions that differ from their own. Being open to different kinds of people and ideas help students maintain open minds and get along in a diverse society.

One of the difficulties teachers face in the classroom is that we as a society are not modeling for young people how to have vigorous conversations, even debates, about significant social and political issues.

In recent decades, we’ve seen two extreme approaches to hard conversations: privileging agreement over individual opinion on the one hand and a “take no prisoners” approach on the other. When agreement and avoiding conflict is privileged, debate tends to be squelched when someone suggests that all “agree to disagree” or that “everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.” But in some circles, especially politics and media, polarization and “winning” the argument is so valued that there is no room for civil engagement.

In this RaceBridges Resource, you’ll find a classroom activity, some “lesson plan starters” to examine the limits of these two approaches and to practice civil engagement, further resources, and some ideas and thoughts to help inspire you on the journey.

Vigorous debate characterizes a democracy where citizens are entrusted with discussing, disagreeing about, and deciding important issues; it is up to teachers like you to teach the critical skills of analysis civil discourse if we are to have a vibrant democracy

Download this resource

Bittersweet: A Chinese American Daughter’s Legacy

The stories offered here—Immigrant History and Mom’s Story—come from Chinese American storyteller, Nancy Wangs longer story Bittersweet: A Chinese American Daughter’s Legacy. In this story, Wang explores the history of her own family, beginning with the immigration of her great-great-grandparents from China to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century.

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This lesson plan uses two stories by Nancy Wang, a dancer, storyteller, playwright, and practicing psychotherapist. Wang studies ethnic dance and has written plays focused on Asian American themes. The stories offered here—Immigrant History and Mom’s Story—come from her longer story Bittersweet: A Chinese American Daughter’s Legacy. In this story, Wang explores the history of her own family, beginning with the immigration of her great-great-grandparents from China to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. Through this story of her own family history, Wang uncovers the generations of discrimination against Chinese immigrants—both stealth and legally sanctioned—as she explores the relationship in her family, including her own relationship with her mother.

This unit comes with a teacher guide, text of stories & audio-download of stories as well as student activities.

Lesson Plan

PURPOSE

  • To expose students to the experience of Chinese immigrants in the 19th century.
  • To explore the little-known history of exclusion of and discrimination against Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans during the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • To examine the connections between family history and personal development.

OUTCOMES

By the end of this lesson, each student will:

  • Be familiar with the tension among immigrants in California in the 19th and early-20th century.
  • Understand why marginalized groups might exploit and oppress each other rather than working together to achieve their rights.
  • Respond to the issues and themes of the stories
  • Relate their own experiences to the stories

Download Bittersweet Lesson Plan (PDF)

Story Excerpts

The following MP3 tracks are story excerpts for use with the Bittersweet lesson plan. Please note that these excerpts are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Excerpt #1 — Immigrant History– 9:16 minutes

Excerpt #2 — Mom’s Story– 14:27 minutes

Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts?  Click here for directions.

About Storyteller Nancy Wang

Nancy Wang, together with her storyteller husband Robert Kikuchi-Ynogo founded Eth-Noh-Tec in 1982. This is is a kinetic story theater company based in San Francisco, weaving [tec] together distinctive cultural elements of the East and West [eth] to create new possibilities [noh]. Eth-Noh-Tec produces and performs contemporary presentations of traditional folktales from the many countries and cultures of Asia through storytelling, theater, dance, and music.  Nancy Wang is available for performances in schools and colleges solo, or with her husband as Eth-NohTec.

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Full information : www.ethohtec.org.

Seeking Harmony : Starting and Sustaining a Diversity Club for High School Students

One of the best ways to furnish students with inclusive skills is by including them in the planning and training phases of diversity education. This resource focuses on how to create a club that brings together all kinds of students to address issues of diversity and to create a welcoming, inclusive school climate.

  • Develop creative leadership among students
  • Raise awareness in the school around diversity issues that students identify
  • Inspire school communities to address and attempt to solve problems related to issues of diversity
  • Make issues of diversity accessible, meaningful and fun.


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STARTING AND SUSTAINING A DIVERSITY CLUB FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

Why?   How?

This resource:

  • make the subject of race and race relations approachable and effective
  • engage faculty and students in the ongoing challenge of making our schools welcoming for students of all races and backgrounds
  • provide engaging tools and activities to better understand and appreciate students, families, and communities that differ from the majority of the student body

You can adapt these resources to your local needs to better serve your student body and faculty.

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A Dozen Diversity Questions For Teachers

..
….
The issues of difference and racial inclusion need not present a daunting challenge
or a subject where teachers seem to walk on eggs.
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There are many free resources on this site to further aid you in developing diversity
goals and activities..Here are 12 ways or action-suggestions to get you thinking
and acting towards creating a simple diversity program into your classroom,
school, project or organization..

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1   CELEBRATE  DIFFERENCES

Set aside time to allow students to share their cultural heritages. This may be a daily or weekly session, and may include cultural creativity in assignments, and may be shown in classroom displays etc.

2   HIGHLIGHT CULTURAL AWARENESS

Include lessons that promote cultural awareness.  In Language Arts, read and discuss culturally relevant works/authors; in Social Studies, tie regional customs to a geography lesson; in Music, practice and discuss pieces of various origins.  You can also dive deeper into the parts of  history which aren’t discussed or where there may be a different first-hand experience.

3    ASSESS THE DIVERSITY CLIMATE OF YOUR SCHOOL

Consider a diversity audit of your school.  Focus on a few major diversity needs. How welcoming is the school facility to all of the diverse groups of students ?

4    BEGIN A DIVERSITY INTEREST GROUP

Establish a small group of teachers who care about the issues of diversity and inclusion. Consider beginning an ongoing Harmony Club.  Include a small student group who are interested and passionate about the issues.  Sometimes a group is created in response to an urgent hate crime issue in the school or neighborhood.  So establish the group so that it prospers and grows in normal ongoing school times as well as in urgent situations.

5   DEVELOP DIVERSITY GOALS

What Diversity dreams would you like to turn into deeds in your school in the school year ?  In two years ?  Voice them. Write them down.  Share them. Find a consensus to establish a few  achievable goals.

6  CREATE A SIMPLE DIVERSITY MISSION STATEMENT

Let this be the work of the Diversity or Harmony Group.   Make a simple art work out of this Mission Statement.  Place it in a prominent place in the school.  Create part of a school assembly to reflect on the Mission Statement and to put it in a place of honor. It could include a few simple goals.

7  GUEST SPEAKERS WITH A DIFFERENCE

Consider inviting special guest speakers related to diversity themes to speak at school assemblies.

8  BRIDGING DIFFERENCES

Consider holding an event with a school or student group that is from a very different school or neighborhood than your own.

9  CREATE MORE THAN  AN INTERNATIONAL DAY  

Go Beyond the usual ethnic foods, pictures and music.   Tell stories collected from students’ grandparents and parents around themes of heritage, resilience and hope.   Pay attention to the “insider” and “outsider” stories and relate them to your students’ lives.

10  ILLUMINATE DIFFERENCES & SIMILARITIES

Show interest – talk to students about their background. Talk to them about your background.  Encourage them to tell stories that highlight a different perspective.  Discover differences and similarities so that everyone feels valued and welcome.

11  WALK THE TALK

Be a role model of acceptance. Show students how to act appropriately, and then expect them to follow suit.  Invite students to embrace discussions, especially when someone has a different experience or perspective.

12   BE PATIENT

Seek to be patient with yourself and with your students and school as you seek progress in some simple diversity goals.  Become aware of your own prejudices and stereotypes.  Understand how cultural pride, identity and race are impacted by racism.  Learn how to take a stand for each other to strengthen and build community.

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STORY SHORT: Construction

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Construction
by Storyteller Jim May

www.storytelling.org/JimMay
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 9 Minutes, 30 Seconds.

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THEME
______________________________________________________________________________

Race and class shape our lives, but there are ways to overcome racism and classism.

(more…)

STORY SHORT: Grandpa’s Story

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Grandpa’s Story
by Storyteller Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo

www.ethnohtec.org
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 9 Minutes.

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THEME
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The immigrant experience is complicated; often it’s only the children of
immigrants who realize the dream of a new country.
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STORY SHORT: Between Worlds

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Between Worlds
by Storyteller Olga Loya

www.OlgaLoya.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 5 Minutes, 30 Seconds.

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THEME
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Every child and adult needs a sense of belonging.
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STORY SHORT: Why Do You Want To Go To College?

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Why Do You Want to Go To College?

by Storyteller Olga Loya

www.OlgaLoya.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 4 Minutes, 10 Seconds.

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THEME
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No one else can tell you what you can or can’t accomplish in life.
We can turn adversity and other people’s prejudices into our strength.
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STORY SHORT: What’s a Mexican?

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What’s a Mexican ?
by Storyteller Olga Loya

www.OlgaLoya.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 8 Minutes, 48 Seconds.

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THEME
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The search for identity is a personal one. No one can tell you who you are.
When we accept all aspects of ourselves, we feel more comfortable in
our own skins as well as in the world.
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STORY SHORT: Remembering Lisa Derman

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REMEMBERING LISA DERMAN
by Storyteller Jim May

www.storytelling.org/JimMay
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 8 Minutes, 24 Seconds.

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THEME
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All people will face a time when they must decide
whether to stand up for what is right.
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STORY SHORT: John Henry

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JOHN HENRY
by Storyteller Jim May

www.storytelling.org/JimMay
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 10 Minutes.

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THEME
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A metaphor for race in America that is both realistic and hopeful.
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STORY SHORT: A Second Language: A Time to Laugh, A Time to Understand

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A SECOND LANGUAGE:
A TIME TO LAUGH, A TIME TO UNDERSTAND

by Storyteller Antonio Rocha

www.storyinmotion.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 5 minutes, 20 seconds.

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THEME
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It’s important to learn about other cultures,
and one of the best ways to do that
is by learning another culture’s language.
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STORY SHORT: The American Visa: A Saga in 3 Acts

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THE AMERICAN VISA: A SAGA IN 3 ACTS
by Storyteller Antonio Rocha

www.storyinmotion.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 8 minutes.

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THEME
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Persistence in pursuit of a goal, along with a little kindness from strangers, can lead to success.
(more…)

STORY SHORT: A Twice Saved Life

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A Twice Saved Life
by Storyteller Alton Chung

www.altonchung.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 8 minutes, 45 seconds.

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THEME
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Even people who differ greatly from ourselves can turn out to be heroes.
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STORY SHORT: Reflections on Minidoka

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Reflections on Minidoka
by Storyteller Alton Chung

www.altonchung.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 7 minutes, 10 seconds.

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THEME
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The importance of remembering our own past and the past of our people.
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STORY SHORT: Onara

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Onara
by Storyteller Alton Chung

www.altonchung.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 5 minutes, 30 seconds.

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THEME
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Discovering what we have in common, across the races, even in times of conflict.
(more…)

STORY SHORT: You Never Know What the End’s Gonna Be

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You Never Know What The End’s Gonna Be
by Storyteller Diane Ferlatte

www.dianeferlatte.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 5 minutes, 20 seconds.

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 THEME
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Family Ties that moved from conflict to care and love across racial lines.
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STORY SHORT: Penny For Your Thoughts

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Penny For Your Thoughts
by Storyteller Diane Ferlatte

www.dianeferlatte.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 3 minutes, 55 seconds.

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 THEME
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Getting to know the person in front of you rather than focusing on the label.
(more…)

STORY SHORT: Next Town

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Next Town
by Storyteller Diane Ferlatte

www.dianeferlatte.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 5 minutes, 5 seconds.

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 THEME
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Maintaining pride and optimism in the face of prejudice and adversity.
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STORY SHORT: I Deserve to Be Here

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I Deserve to Be Here
by Storyteller Emily Hooper-Lansana

www.emilyhooper.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 7 minutes, 55 seconds.

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 THEME
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Crossing Color Lines to Reach for your Best.
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STORY SHORT: Finding Josephus

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Finding Josephus
by Storyteller Lyn Ford

www.lynford.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 5 minutes, 58 seconds.

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 THEME
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Small stories can teach us who we really are
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STORY SHORT: From Moon Cookies to Martin and Me

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From Moon Cookies to Martin and Me
by Storyteller Lyn Ford

www.lynford.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 8 minutes, 54 seconds.

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 THEME
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Working for peace and justice across faith and racial backgrounds.
(more…)

STORY SHORT: City Girls: North Side vs. South Side

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City Girls:  North Side vs. South Side.
by Storyteller Susan O’Halloran

www.susanohalloran.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 10 minutes.

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 THEME
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Storyteller Susan O’Halloran remembers the “dividing lines” of her youth.
(more…)

STORY SHORT: Negotiating the Narrows

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NEGOTIATING THE NARROWS:.
by Storyteller Susan Klein

Storyteller Susan Klein remembers “learning” prejudice at a young age.
www.susanklein.net
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 12 minutes.

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 THEMES
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Religious differences.  Recognizing the connection between various kinds of “-isms.”
Hope for societal change that embraces diversity.
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STORY SHORT: LOOKING FOR PAPITO

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LOOKING FOR PAPITO
by Storyteller Antonio Sacre

www.antoniosacre.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 8 minutes.

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THEME
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Embracing the complex, compound identity of a multicultural heritage and
recognizing that many others in the U. S. share similar heritages.
(more…)

STORY SHORT: FASTER THAN SOONER

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FASTER THAN SOONER
by Storyteller Antonio Sacre

www.antoniosacre.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 7 minutes.

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 THEME
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The power of knowing one another’s stories and how to learn history, culture, and stories about other countries.
(more…)