THE DR. KING HOLIDAY : DAY OF SERVICE Contributing vs. Taking ?

What is the difference between contributing and taking? Do the students of today understand this distinction? Can they put it into practice? As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that the mlk-stampyouth of today play a role in positively contributing to our society. After all, we want our future leaders and caregivers to build our communities up and expand our resources, rather than become those who tear down our quality of life.

It is important to discuss with students, on a regular basis, the value of contributing. Contributing to conversations, to programs, to the world in a positive way. Contributing means giving or donating. It could refer to time, energy, talents, money, or resources. Students should see that everyone, regardless of age or race, has the ability to contribute to our world in a positive way and make a difference. That is how we learn about each other – values, cultures, beliefs. And that is how we make our world a better place for everyone. 

Taking is just that. Taking. It doesn’t offer anything in return. It isn’t helpful. It isn’t kind. It doesn’t improve the quality of life for anyone – except the taker, and that is usually temporary and minimal. All actions have consequences. Taking can suggest a negative action and has a negative consequence. Contributing, on the other hand, is a positive action with positive consequences. Contributing often has a ripple effect – impacting people positively miles away and generations apart.

How can schools and teachers impart these valuable life lessons to students? Below are a few tips:

  • Value the opinions, beliefs, and experiences of every student. Encourage students to form their opinions based on fact, not rumor.
  • Encourage students to share in class. Tying academic lessons to life experiences cements understanding of those lessons. Don’t be afraid to allow the lesson to drift to this area. The results are priceless.
  • Provide opportunities of service and volunteerism for students. Some schools even require students to participate in some sort of service. Have students select a service, and then have them sign an agreement to complete the task.
  • Expect students to participate positively while in school, and support activities that promote student service.
  • Set up a field trip (or several) during the school year where the entire class participates in an act of service.

 

FOR FURTHER IDEAS ON THESE THEMES  SEE RACEBRIDGES RESOURCE :

GIVING IT BACK : SERVICE LEARNING IN YOUR CLASSROOM 

THE DISCRIMINATING HUMAN BRAIN: Managing Our Biased Brains

Are human brains wired for discrimination? Researchers seem to think so.

The ability to categorize people, quickly and automatically, is a fundamental quality of the human brain. Recognizing friend from foe was a means of survival for the earliest humans that lingers in modern minds today. Categories naturally give our lives some sense of order, and every day, we group other people into categories based on social and other characteristics. Naturally, categorization leads to stereotypes and prejudice.

Brain researchers and anthropologists tell us it “makes sense” for our brains to categorize those who differ from us. And recent studies show that we behave accordingly, often by discriminating.

In 2008, Wharton School professor Justin Wolfers co-authored a study that showed racial bias among NBA referees. His conclusion: officials tend to favor players of their own ethnic backgrounds. In other words, a white referee will call more fouls on a black player and vice versa. When challenged, Wolfers put his money where his mouth is. The researcher bet on his statistics in Vegas. He turned a profit.

In another study, neuroscientist Alessio Avenanti discovered that implicit racial biases weaken our ability to feel someone else’s pain. Avenanti recruited white and black volunteers and asked them to watch videos of a stranger’s hand being poked with a needle. By measuring the brain’s empathic tendencies through neuron activity, Avenanti could measure the effect that the video had on his recruits. He found that both white and black recruits only responded empathetically when they saw hands that were the same skin tone as their own. If the hands belonged to a different ethnic group, they were unmoved.

Whether we like it or not, discrimination seems to be a “natural” way for our brains to work. But it doesn’t mean that we have to accept prejudice, racism and intolerance.

Fortunately, 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.

The notion that we can work against these biases is especially good news for teachers and their students. Knowing how our brains work allows us to move our focus from feeling guilt about our own biased thinking and judging prejudices to learning how to counteract what our brains do naturally and teaching our brains to work in new, egalitarian ways. 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.

 

Other Resources You May Like:
The Suspicious Brain:  Our brains and our biases

 

Teasing: Warning Signs and Tips for Eliminating This Type of Bullying from Your School

We’ve all heard the words…….those biting, painful, judgmental words that puncture the spirit and cut deeply into the self-esteem. “Teasing becomes bullying when it is repetitive or when there is a conscious intent to hurt another child. It can be verbal bullying (making threats, name-calling), psychological bullying (excluding children, spreading rumors), or physical bullying (hitting, pushing, taking a child’s possessions).*

Teasing can and does have profound effects on students. Bullying of this type is as old as time, and will likely always be a major issue at schools. But, there are things teachers and schools can do to combat its prevalence. It begins with knowing what to look for. Below is a list of some basic warning signs to be aware of, as well as a list of tips to help your school eradicate teasing from its walls. 

Who is most at risk to be teased or bullied?

“Victims of bullying are often shy and tend to be physically weaker than their peers. They may also have low self-esteem and poor social skills, which makes it hard for them to stand up for themselves. Bullies consider these children safe targets because they usually don’t retaliate.”*.

Warning Signs*:

  • Increased passivity or withdrawal
  • Frequent crying
  • Recurrent complaints of physical symptoms such as stomach-aches or headaches with no apparent cause
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Sudden drop in grades or other learning problems
  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Significant changes in social life — suddenly no one is calling or extending invitations
  • Sudden change in the way your child talks — calling himself or herself a loser, or a former friend a jerk

Tips for Eliminating Teasing at Your School:

__________

* Scholastic Parents. (n.d.). Retrieved 12 6, 2012, from scholastic: http://www.scholastic.com/

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

THE DR. KING HOLIDAY : DAY OF SERVICE

What Can Students Do?

Part of educating our students involves making them aware of the world in which they live – the good and the bad, the positive and the negative, the right and the wrong, the haves and the have-nots. As the future leaders of our country, today’s students must be exposed to the realities of the present day. We must teach them to recognize things that need change, to dream big, to set goals, and how to go about making changes in our world.

What can schools and teaches do to bring awareness to students and to encourage acts of service? Below are a few ideas to get started with:

  • Talk to students about what an ideal world looks like to them. Brainstorm qualities and write them down. Next, have a discussion with students about how the world lines up with their “ideal world.” Then, dialogue with students about things that they think need fixing or changing in our world. Encourage them to think of those that may need assistance.
  • Allow students to come up with ideas of service that would help to achieve their ideas for a better world. Suggest a few things to get them started, like: shoveling snow for a neighbor, serving food at a homeless shelter, reading or providing entertainment to the elderly at a retirement home, cleaning up the neighborhood park, volunteering, etc.
  • Provide outlets for students to complete their acts of service. Create a list of services with the students, and then look for places where those services can be provided.
  • Offer food and clothing drives for those in need.
  • Visit www.mlkday.gov to find fantastic opportunities for service in your own community. See if any would work for your school/students.

 

FOR FURTHER IDEAS ON THESE THEMES  SEE RACEBRIDGES RESOURCE :
GIVING IT BACK : SERVICE LEARNING IN YOUR CLASSROOM 

Empathy : Taking Care

Empathy: Teaching Students to Stand Firm and Consider Others

 

Empathy. It is such a difficult concept to teach because it deals with the emotions of others. Students often struggle with this because they are accustomed to focusing on themselves and their own needs/desires. As students get older, it becomes more and more essential that they have this quality. Empathy builds strong character and underscores the values of being culturally sensitive.

Families, communities, and educators all strive to produce confident, compassionate, and capable members of our youth. Yet, students often have a hard time putting into practice the abstract concept of empathy. How can teachers and schools encourage these characteristics of strength in students?     Below are a few tips for developing and supporting empathy in the classroom:

  • Have a “value of the month” at your school. Make the value for September: RESPECT, January: KINDNESS, May: GENEROSITY, and so on. Hold team-building activities that support each of the values, like having a food can drive for generosity month. Or, recognize random acts of kindness with acknowledging and rewarding students caught doing something kind..
  • Implement community outreach activities. Have students participate in visiting senior citizens, helping out with charities, cleaning up the neighborhood, planting or tending community gardens, highway clean-up, etc..
  • Provide a class activity that recognizes the emotions of others. Students gather in two large circles in the classroom, one circle inside the other. Like musical chairs, have the two circle move in opposite directions until STOP is called. Once stopped, students face the person in the opposite circle. The teacher calls out an emotion and the students must find a non-verbal way to show that emotion. Go through several emotions, and then discuss. Emotions were likely shown in several different ways – for example, HAPPY might be displayed with a smile or a fist pump or through a dance..
  • Support anti-bullying practices..
  • Perform role-playing scenarios of empathy – how would they react if…..? Give several scenarios, and allow students to actually perform what they would do in certain situation. Let them voice how the other person might be feeling..
  • Advise a debate team. Let students see how others think, and how they express those opinions..
  • Allow students to have opinions, and to recognize that other people have opinions too..
  • Study different cultures, customs, and behaviors.

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.

STOP TREATING PEOPLE AS EXOTIC OTHERS

Of course, we want to introduce students to the wider world. But teachers have unwittingly introduced other groups and cultures as if those groups were the exotic others.Human zoo

For example, schools hold International Festivals that have the flavor of “look at these unusual foreign people.” When groups of people are seen as exotic or patronizingly precious that are no longer “real” people.

Plus, the people of the world are not only international. They are here. They are Americans, Americans with a wide array of viewpoints and desires. They are people to recognize, appreciate, respectfully disagree with, live with, love with, work with and study with on a day-to-day basis, not just once a year.

Without intending to, we can keep a group of people at arm’s length while, at the same time, giving ourselves the false feeling that we are being inclusive.

We want to remember that as recent as the 1950s, people from other parts of the world as well as African and Native Americans were displayed in the U.S. as if animals in a zoo. The displays were often part of a continuum that ranked groups from apes to real people i.e. Europeans. Without meaning to, our study of other cultures can have a tinge of the same feeling.

It takes more time, thought and true connections with people with whom we’ve had less experience to be able to honor the complexity and variety within other cultures as well as understand our own cultural backgrounds with their unique histories, oddities and perspectives.

Start with a Story : 7 Reasons to Incorporate Stories in Your Classroom or Group

Stories do so much more than merely entertain; they can boost brainpower, help 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 or leadership toolbox:

  1. Instill values. We al 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. While math and storytelling may seem like very different abilities, a new study suggests that preschool children’s early storytelling abilities are predictive of their mathematical ability two years later. 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 perspectives and 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—re-energize the mood in the classroom with a storytelling lesson or activity.

 

Hear many short video stories told by professional storytellers :

RaceBridges Studio Videos

INCLUDING EVERYONE : SMALL CHANGES TO MAKE ALL WELCOME . . .

Is the challenge of Diversity
a daunting topic to you ?

Small classroom changes can make a big difference.
This resource helps teachers 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

Learn more…

 

 

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?

 

Sensitivity or censorship?

Controversy is brewing over a new edition of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, which seeks to replace all 219 instances of the “n word” with the word “slave.” While the publishers’ intent is sensitivity, many people consider the change a dangerous case of censorship.

For educators, issues like this are especially thorny. How do we teach our students about the difficult realities of history—and explore American literature’s place in that history—without creating a contentious classroom? Do we omit difficult facts and language, or do we confront them? And when we do confront them, how can we create an environment that helps our students speak openly, think critically, and exercise compassion?

Find lesson plans like What’s Racism Got To Do With Me ?, We All Have A Race and Keep the Peace! available free at: RaceBridges Studio

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.

.

  • 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.

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

Quit The Bullying !

The Bully: Why They Bully and Tips for Prevention

 

Bullying is an on-going issue that has affected people of all ages. It comes in many different forms – from physical to verbal to digital. It is hurtful and inappropriate, regardless of the way it is displayed. Oftentimes, it has lifelong outcomes for the victims. Why do bullies bully, though? What makes them behave in this manner or say what they do to others? Below are a few explanations for why students bully, and a few tips for preventing bullying at your school. 

Why they bully:

Although there is no excuse for treating others with violence and disrespect, bullies frequently have experiences that identify causes of their negative behaviors and attitudes toward others.

  • To be popular
  • Because it makes them feel bigger, stronger, smarter, or better than the one they are bullying
  • To keep from being bullied themselves
  • Often have poor social skills
  • Often lack the ability to empathize (showing immaturity)
  • Most feel that they are superior to others and have the right to push others around
  • Some deal with low self-esteem issues
  • Some may have personality disorders, and need assistance from mental health professionals
  • Some may have been victims of bullying themselves, often by a parent or other adult

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Tips for prevention:

The best way to stop a bully is to prevent the behavior from developing at all. Watch for signs of problem behavior, and intervene immediately and firmly. Below are some warning signs – typical behaviors that could lead to bullying.

  • Needs to win or be the best at everything
  • Has friends who bully
  • Refuses to accept responsibility for their negative behaviors
  • Is quick to blame others
  • Has extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained
  • Is often referred to the principal’s office or to detention
  • Gets into physical or verbal fights with others
  • Becomes violent with others

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Sources:

(2010). Retrieved 1 21, 2012, from Teens Health: http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/problems/bullies.html#

(n.d.). Retrieved 1 21, 2012, from stopbullying.org: http://www.stopbullying.gov/topics/warning_signs/

 

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If you like this subject you will enjoy RaceBridges Studio resource :

FINDING NEW WORDS : Addressing Bullying At School 

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

 

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.

New special takes a fresh look at diversity in America

In his new special on the USA Network, Tom Brokaw examines the current state of racism, religious freedom, and civil rights in the U.S., and shares stories of Americans working to reach across barriers, change attitudes, and foster more united communities.

View the special here: http://www.charactersunite.com/programming/bridging-the-divide/overview

“Bridging the Divide” explores not only how America’s population has changed in the nearly fifty years since the beginning of the civil rights movement but also looks at the impact of the economy, technology, and social media on modern American perspectives. By introducing the “champions of change,” ordinary citizens doing extraordinary work, the program also highlights new ways we can all help to overcome intolerance and injustice.

Find free lesson plans like Claim It!, 10 Ways to Educate For Anti-Racism, Seeking Harmony: Create a High School Diversity Club at RaceBridges Studio

A New 4th of July?

We never gave it a thought. The Pledge of Allegiance was just how we started each day in our grammar school classrooms. First we faced the crucifix at the front of the room and said our prayers, then we quarter-turned to the flag. The whole room filled with the smell of our newly-sharpened pencils laid to rest in long grooves at the top of our desks. That was how everyday started.

We had our ritual beginning – pencil sharpening, prayers and the Pledge of Allegiance.

It wasn’t until we were adults that we realized the Pledge of Allegiance wasn’t a mindless activity for many. Americans of color: Japanese-Americans, Latino Americans, African Americans, members of First Nations and others have told me that when the Pledge of Allegiance was recited in their classrooms they stood, but never put their hands to their hearts or said the words. Another colleague described how he crossed his fingers behind his back and mouthed his own words, “And to the Republic for which it lies.”

These friends’ and colleagues’ ancestors had been rounded up and herded onto slave ships or behind barbed wire “camps” or onto “reservations.” The heroes we celebrated without a thought – George Washington, Andrew Jackson or FDR – had kidnapped, tortured, massacred or imprisoned tens of thousands of our friends’ ancestors. When they were growing up, they knew first hand of the discrimination in housing, religion, sports, entertainment and education to name just that their parents faced. Of course, the Pledge of Allegiance meant something different to them. “It’s not that we didn’t love our country,” one storyteller friend said, “but we were just a whole lot more realistic about how much the U.S. was living up to its promise of ‘freedom and justice for all’.”

It is troubling to hear of friends’ young protests or awareness that had to be hushed and hidden. Is it time that we can admit that this country has and does work better for some than others? Is there room in our American classrooms now for these alternative experiences and, therefore, expressions of anger and frustration?

Growing up in the 1950s, we were never taught the full American story and, because of that, our ignorance left us ill equipped to do our part to shape American ideals into American realities. This 4th of July, can we celebrate freedom from our ignorance of the full American story and freedom of expression for all our students?

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.
    .
  • 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.
    .
  • 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.
    .
  • Create projects that allow students to research a particular genre of music relevant to the time period being studied.
    .
  • Study the lyrics of cultural music and their meanings. Connect them to figurative language in Language Arts.
    .
  • 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..

.

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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IF YOU CAN THINK, YOU CAN BE FREE OF STEREOTYPING

Because teachers are such thoughtful people who have chosen a profession precisely because they do care, it’s easy to believe we don’t have any prejudices.

Elementary StudentsPrejudice and discrimination are diseases of the mind and heart. When our thinking becomes faulty, it’s easy to draw assumptions about others that simply aren’t true. When you are not feeling good about yourself, when your own heart is troubled, you can project your negative feelings on other individuals or groups of people.

What happens in your mind and your feelings can make your and other people’s lives easier or harder.

It’s summer break. Finally, we’re away from the daily demands of our students. It’s a great time to reflect: what groups am I the most uncomfortable with or know the least about? What assumptions did I receive from my family, my ethnic and income group and this society that label others as “less than”? How can I dispute these stereotypes and learn more about and experience the complexity of other individuals and cultures?

What happens in your mind and your feelings can make your classroom, and this world, a kinder place.

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

 

Hurt or Heal: The Power of Words

Power of Words Project is a national mural project launching in Laguna Beach, California that honors the power of one-word mantras that can unite communities.

Words have tremendous power. Most of us probably don’t think about the impact that our words have on other people. Whether spoken or written, words have the capacity to change lives for good or for bad. A kind word can lighten a heavy spirit or bring about needed change. On the other hand, a harsh word can ruin someone’s day or even cost a life. Words can deepen a friendship, or tear it apart.

The impact of words can be felt in so many ways utilizing endless sources. It is important for schools and teachers to emphasize the impression that words have on students, and to encourage students to be reflective when using their words. Role-play with students, so they can see the impression their words leaves on others. Brainstorm with them to uncover positive and productive ways to handle conflict. 

Words. They can hurt, or they can heal. Below are two lists of words. One list identifies types of words that cause pain when used, and the other identifies types of words that build self-esteem. Challenge your students to focus their language on words that heal.

Words that hurt:

  • Name-calling
  • Rumors or gossip
  • Telling of secrets
  • Words that exclude
  • Put downs
  • Labels
  • Disrespect
  • Slurs
  • Exclusive

 

Words that heal:

  • Kindness
  • Praises
  • Gratitude
  • Courtesy
  • Respect
  • Compliments
  • Inclusive

 

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

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 They Overlap: Schools, Diversity, and Language Arts

Seedfolks author Paul Fleischman’s visit to Burlington – September 21, 2005. *

So many questions exist on how to connect themed lessons to core subject matter. State standards play such a strong role in creating meaningful lessons that it is difficult to plan lessons centered on diversity only, albeit the valuable lessons that could be learned from diversity education. Teachers and schools struggle to find a happy medium that utilizes the state standards for education while still allowing diversity to be relevant in the classroom.

What can Language Arts teachers do to help address issues of diversity, and yet maintain state standards? Below are a tips and suggestions for connecting diversity to Language Arts lessons.

  • Read novels in class that highlight diversity. A couple great novels to consider are Seedfolks and Bronx Masquerade. Novels of this nature make it possible to address typical Language Arts standards like figurative language, character development, and theme while learning about different races and cultures..
  • Read and study poetry by diverse authors. Explore the works of Latino, African American or Asian poets..
  • Compare and contrast nonfiction works about an immigrant story or event..
  • Write short RAFTs connected to novels and diversity. (A RAFT is a short piece of response writing for students where they are given: “R” a role to assume; “A” an audience to write for; “F” a form or type of writing to complete; and “T” a topic to write about.).
  • Create researching activities like webquests that allow students to interact with technology while learning the standardized material at hand.

 

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Explore the many other Diversity themes in the
lessons and units of RaceBridges Studio.

 

* Photo courtesy of: http://www.burlingtongardens.org/Seedfolks.htm

How They Overlap: Schools, Diversity, and Drama

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A clear connection to the arts, drama is a big attraction for students of all ages. Plays, performance, set designs, choreographies, musicals, and great works make wonderful additions to schools. Drama is easily connected to Language Arts as many plays are written by diverse authors or are about diversity in some fashion. It allows students the creativity to be unique, to learn about another culture, and to meet state standards for that subject matter.

How can schools and teachers engage students in drams and diversity together? Below are a few tips and suggestions for doing just that.

  • Choose plays that are filled with diversity. Encourage students to choose roles to assume that they wouldn’t ordinarily choose.
  • Look for a wide variety of drama to expose students to: plays, musicals, dramatic readings, etc.
  • Incorporate drama into regular class activities.
  • Have major school-wide productions for students to be a part of.
  • Explore the settings of a play, as these are usually very cultural.
  • Study the playwrite. Write biographies. Learn what the characters in the play might be like, based on the settings.
  • Allow students to find appropriate costumes or wardrobe for the roles they play. Research what the characters might be wearing.
  • Encourage positive social interactions amongst students during rehearsals that allow students to connect with one another and learn of culture firsthand.
  • Bring in guest performers or go on a class field trip to a production.

 

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Explore the many other Diversity themes
in the lessons and units of RaceBridges Studio..

 

 

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.

He Said, She Said: Understanding and Preventing Student Gossip

Although difficult to admit, it is quite likely that each of us has engaged in gossip or rumor spreading at some point in our lives. We have all felt the sting of humiliation from gossip when it has been directed at ourselves, and have likely been a party to someone else’s humiliation as well.

Words can be quite hurtful, and can cause tremendous heartache and problems for those victimized by this form of bullying. Yes, gossip is simply another form of bullying.

Today’s schools would benefit strongly from establishing and enforcing a zero tolerance policy on bullying of any kind within the building. It is essential, then, for schools and teachers to be as proactive as possible about the presence of gossip amongst their students. 

Below are some tips for understanding and preventing gossip, as well as some helpful websites on the topic.

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For better understanding:

  • Explain the difference between talking and gossiping
  •  Identify what makes gossip – words that are mean, untrue, or revealing
  • Connect gossip to bullying
  • Role-play with students what gossip is and what it feels like
  • Discuss the effects of gossip

 

For prevention, encourage students to:

  • Stay away from people who gossip
  • Recognize that if they gossip TO you, they will likely gossip ABOUT you as well
  • Teach empathy
  • Ignore gossip or rumors, and don’t repeat them
  • Be careful whom they share secrets with

 

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

 

 

Also Check out these helpful websites for further information about the issues of gossip:

HAWAII : Rediscovering the history, language and culture of native Hawaiians

hawaiiA native of Hawaii, President Obama once wrote, “The opportunity that Hawaii offered—to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect—became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear.”

Obama’s birthplace is not only a crossroads of cultures, it is a state rich with its own indigenous traditions, language, and culture. Though suppressed for many years, native Hawaiian culture is experiencing a revival, as this generation seeks to preserve it for the future.

In the minds of most Americans, Hawaii—the 50th state—is a tropical paradise and a global vacation destination. We are well aware of its stunning natural beauty, world-famous beaches, and the leis and hula skirts tourists take home as souvenirs. But what do we know of its history? Besides the attack on Pearl Harbor, which triggered U.S. involvement in World War II, few Americans know much of the native people and their history—including the years of conflict at the heart of Hawaii’s journey to statehood.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, offering a great time to explore the overlooked time in Asian-American history and celebrate the resurgence of the native language and culture of America’s Pacific Islanders. 

Overthrow of Hawaii’s monarchy spurs culture change and sparks widespread protests

Though Polynesian people had been living there for centuries, Hawaii was “discovered” by British explorer James Cook in 1778. Traders, merchants, and immigrant workers flooded in, resulting in an overwhelming Western influence to the Hawaiian Islands, causing a transition from subsistence farming to a cash economy and an unfortunate loss of tradition.

In 1893 U.S. businessmen overthrew the monarchy of Hawaii and established a Republic. Five years later, despite widespread protests and fierce opposition, the Islands were annexed as a territory by the United States.

Western missionary education stripped Hawaii of its native language

The influx of Westerners included missionaries who were determined to educate the Hawaiians, including teaching them to read and write. In order to do this, they needed to give the Hawaiian language a written form. Unable to distinguish between many of the sounds in the Hawaiian language, the missionaries gave Hawaiian names and words very different sounds and appearances from their original spoken form. Hawaii’s capital, for example, became “Honolulu” instead of the original “Honoruru.”

The native language changed dramatically and irrevocably. And when the monarchy was overthrown, the new government banned the speaking or teaching of the Hawaiian language in any public school. This suppression of the Hawaiian language would last for nearly 100 years.

Resurgence of language and culture for native Hawaiians

In the 1970′s, however, a renaissance of the Hawaiian culture—and a renewed respect for the native language—emerged. In 1978, Hawaiian once again was made an official language of the State of Hawaii. Shortly thereafter, schools were again allowed to teach the language.  Immersion programs, which emphasize instruction in Hawaiian and focus on native language, history, and culture, also began to develop. In 1990, the United States government established a policy recognizing the right of Hawaii to preserve, use and support its indigenous language. The year 1996 was proclaimed the “Year of the Hawaiian Language.”

The renewed interest in the study and use of the Hawaiian language in schools, in government, in music and media continues today as Hawaiians of all backgrounds seek to preserve native culture for future generations.

 

Going the Extra Mile in the Classroom: Embracing Cultural Differences

Exploring ‘Insiders & Outsiders’ with your students or group.

In the classroom, it is a fine line to walk. To openly acknowledge the differences and diversity of today’s students without creating an “insider/outsider” situation can be a tricky balancing act of political correctness and acceptance. Every teacher knows this line, and treads lightly.

Virtually everyone has experienced the feeling of being left out – of being an “outsider.”

When this happens it’s easy for miscommunication, confusion, rejection, hurt feelings – and exclusion that leads to labels like “racist” or “bully.”  This is why teachers look to illuminate the insider/outsider dilemma by helping students experience those around them from new and different perspectives.  But even this can be a challenge especially in diverse school climates.

Sometimes stories of diversity which address the challenges and courage of others can create an atmosphere where students are free to learn without being subjected to judgment.  Open discussions which invite students to share their family history and heritage with each other help students feel heard and understood.

But how does a teacher start this process?  Can discussions among students with vastly different backgrounds and experiences really be possible in a school setting?

Absolutely!    

Here are a few tips for facilitating positive awareness in the classroom:

 

  • Celebrate differences – set aside time to allow students to share their cultural heritages. This may be a daily or weekly session, and may involve encouraging cultural creativity in assignments, and may be shown in classroom displays, etc..
  • 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..
  • Show interest – talk to students about their background. Talk to them about your background. Share.  Encourage them to tell stories that highlight a different perspective..
  • 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..
  • Use humor – Often issues of racial difference can get heavy. Comedy teaches us that humor can build bridges and start to develop  common understandings. Discovery of other cultures can result in laughter, on both sides..
  • Set guidelines of respect – be sure to be consistent and firm.  Ask your students to get involved – set their own rules of what’s acceptable and what’s not, etc..

To find more ideas, lesson plans and resources that explore the human dynamic of ‘insiders vs. outsiders’ – and much more,  please visit :  RaceBridgesStudio.com.

Giving it Back: Service Learning in Your Classroom

As every good teacher knows . . .

Service Learning combines academic classroom curriculum with meaningful service in the community. It’s a way of teaching, learning and reflecting that aims to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and encourage lifelong civic engagement.

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As every good teacher knows . . .

Service Learning combines academic classroom curriculum with meaningful service in the community. It’s a way of teaching, learning and reflecting that aims to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and encourage lifelong civic engagement.

Service Learning builds on students’ abilities and interest in the world around them while imparting critical skills.

A Teacher-Educator Resource for your reflection and consideration.

A resource unit that provides food for thought for Teacher In-Service sessions.

A method of teaching and student analysis that discovers the wide-world of “the other” and people who are different from ourselves . . . and why.

GETTING FREEDOM FROM OUR SCRIPTS

Actress Script

Culture is a shared design for living. Each of our cultures (our ethnic heritage but also our income group, our religion, our gender, where we live and so forth) gives us a “script” to live by. When an actor stars in a movie, he or she is handed a script. The script tells the actors what to say and the stage directions tell the actors what to do. The script literally tells the actors who they are and what role they’re playing. 

As we grow up, people are handing us scripts all the time.

How many of you chose your first school or your first church, temple, mosque or synagogue? How many of you looked up at your parents — a babe in arm — and said, “Mom or Dad, I want to live in this neighborhood”? No. Your parents or guardians made those choices for you. That’s their job.

With each choice your parents or caretakers made for you, you entered into a specific culture. Each of these cultures, because they share a design for living, handed you a script so that you could make sense of the world.

Hundreds of these scripts make up a culture’s worldview. Each culture says, “This is how we do things around here and here’s your lines so that you can fit in as well. This is the role you’ll play.” It doesn’t mean everyone in the group thinks the same, but they are likely to have similar frames of reference.

In fact, though hard to believe sometimes, how other people act seems absolutely logical to them. Few people wake up in the morning and say, “I think I’ll be absolutely confusing, irrational and irresponsible today. And, oh, yeah, I can’t wait to drive other people crazy.” A key to understanding what drives other people, why something that seems ludicrous to you might seem perfectly logical and even terrific to them is to understand the various cultures from which you and other people come.

GET RID OF EXCLUSION IN THE CLASSROOM ONCE AND FOR ALL

We think of “culture” pretty easily when we think of people’s ethnic backgrounds. No matter how disguised, ignored or blended through marriage and time, the fact remains our ethnic backgrounds can give us a great deal of strength, pride and identity. classroom

But, as teachers, we want to expand the definition of culture beyond ethnic backgrounds to include other dimensions of diversity such as geography, gender, language, physical abilities, religious and educational background and so on.

Some of you may have experienced these other categories of culture if, for example, your family changed from living a military life to a civilian life. That’s a real culture shock for many. Or, perhaps, some of you moved to go to school from one part of this country to another. If you moved from rural Omaha to New York City, for example, your whole relationship to time and space could change.

In New York City everything moves faster. You find yourself looking up more rather than looking out onto wide-open spaces. Each region of the country has a distinct feel and set of expectations and, therefore, could be thought of as a “culture”.

So each one of us, no matter the colors of skin before us, are teaching in multicultural classrooms. Some of the challenges our students face are actually problems in cultural interpretation. Our way of teaching – visually, kinetically, aurally, lecture-style and so on – and our references and examples, for instance, just don’t translate for some of our students.

Cultural competence demands that each of us be aware of our own cultural conditioning so that we can evaluate if our classroom is heavily weighted in one cultural style or another. Being an inclusive classroom takes openness plus a lot of thought and flexibility to try different teaching strategies until every child is reached.

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.

Moving from PC (Politically Correct) to PC (Personally Caring) Language

Language is never neutral. I’m not talking about choosing our words to be “politically correct,” but to become more aware of what we arefor language communicating – intentionally and unintentionally. This debate over language isn’t arbitrary or frivolous. One group has had the power to name things, has had the power for so long that we are blind to the biases and put downs associated with so many “common” words. The greatest sign of respect is to call people what they want to be called.

To make it simple: ask the people you are involved with what they prefer to be called. Not in a manner that puts them under a microscope or asks them to speak for their group such as: “What do “you all” want to be called?” (“Well, all twelve million of us have taken a vote and…”) Instead, ask people as individuals what they prefer and be ready to share your preferences as well. This means we need to make connections; this means we need to talk to each other.

Instead of feeling put out by the need to consider language, we could rejoice in the fact that we’re finally becoming a multi-voiced nation. People are beginning to name themselves and no one group of anything wants to be called any one thing.

Language is a living, breathing, ever changing art form. We could take the attitude that it’s interesting and even fun to play with words so that our descriptions are more clear, more accurate and more sensitive. We could take the time to learn other people’s preferences not to be “right” but because we care not to hurt each other. When we choose different words we help people see a different reality. A different shared reality is the foundation upon which we can build a transformed society that works for everyone.

 

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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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

 

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

Fair Housing Month – What Do We Do Now?

Open-Communities

What’s to be done today? We can live in the welcoming, secure, diverse communities that so many of us desire. But to do this, we must become knowledgeable and proactive. We must deliberately connect affordable housing to other life improving opportunities for all of us. With vibrant, mixed income communities throughout our entire nation, we can create strong tax bases that break our current cycle of advantages for some and diminished prosperity for others which equals calamity for all of us. We all lose with any system that isolates us from each other. True opportunity is the only way to create lasting stability and peace.

An educated public can help create local and national policies that promote the everyday interests Americans share across age, race, class, income, religion and other lines of difference. We all care about job security, reasonable medical and housing costs, safe childcare, good schools, time with our family and friends and living near our place of employment. We all long for a feeling of safety and belonging. Where we live, and the opportunities to which we have access are crucial to these shared desires finding a common reality.

How do we do this? By getting involved in local fair housing groups that can show us how the pieces of the puzzle fit together – how school funding affects opportunity, how fair and affordable housing builds stronger communities and a more secure real estate market and so forth. To fashion healthy communities where people are supported in pursing their limitless possibilities we’re going to need to be informed, aligned and organized.

Once such group is Open Communities of the North Shore (www.interfaithhousingcenter.org). There is a similar kind of group near you.

Is April’s Fair Housing Month the time for you to say “Yes” to establishing more fair, secure and welcoming communities?

Read more about Fair Housing here Part 2

Fair Housing Month – The Third Wave of Segregation

City-Council-Chambers

We’ve taken a brief look at the history of segregation in the U.S. Well, things are different today, right?  Unfortunately, that isn’t so. Even though housing laws have changed, rather than being a break from our past, our current living patterns are the next reincarnation in a continual thread of inequality. Today, we’re experiencing a third wave of segregation, based on economics, needing no conscious ill-intent to or from any person or any group of people and, yet, this third wave can have the same effect of the last two waves by locking in poverty and segregation in our country for the next hundred years.

Make no mistake; there is still blatant discrimination. There are realtors who steer families to segregated neighborhoods. There are mortgage officers who refuse applicants loans for racial, ethnic and religious reasons. There are insurance agents who quote prices unfairly. These individual, illegal examples are serious.  But even more dangerous is the invisible segregation of today, precisely because it needs no ill-intent and can be so hard to see. For the most part, we do not have the cross burnings, mob violence, bullying realtors, and obvious unrestrained greed of old. However, we do have tax structures, other public policies and private business practices that are increasing the gulf between the have’s and the have not’s in this society at an alarming rate. We still have the myth of meritocracy: work hard and you’ll get ahead. But, when we study the less obvious public policies that are still in effect today and how the past is still influencing the present, we start to see the ways the deck is stacked for and against certain groups of people.

When we look back at the first and second wave of segregation, we can think, “How could people not know this was going on?” But will we ask the same thing about this, the third wave of segregation that continues today? Are we aware of the larger forces that control where we live, the opportunities that they open or close and what is happening to people in other parts of our cities. It is our hope that we won’t look back some day on this, the third wave of segregation, with the same surprised defense, “But I didn’t know!”

Fair Housing Month – The Second Wave of Segregation

Chgo-Public-Housing

With the isolated black and white areas in place by the 1930s, many U.S. cities began to move into their second wave of segregation. In the 1940s, U.S. Congress gave cities huge federal grants to acquire rundown urban areas. With that money, the cities bought up the mostly black “slums” (that it had been instrumental in creating in the first place), tore them down and, then, handed the land to developers who were supposed to build enough replacement housing for the people who had lived there. Well, we know how that story ended.

Instead of being relocated in their home neighborhoods, the cities housed the displaced people in public housing towers that violated all federal standards for density. The hyper segregation of today’s cities could not have been sealed without the help of local and federal governments and this second wave of segregation which eventually created large, fortress-like, all-black areas.

Those displaced by “Urban Renewal” and those dislocated by public housing construction, provided real estate agents with a steady stream of desperate people searching for homes.  These people became the fodder for the real estate agents’ block busting schemes (“Buy low from the white people, sell high to the blacks”) that forced many white people to leave homes and communities they loved. In a modern day Machiavellian scheme, one group was played against another and everyone lost except for the unscrupulous business people who made millions and the politicians who had now fashioned separate, more easily manipulated voting blocks.

Read more about fair housing here Part 3

Goal Setting : Eyes on the Prize

diversitygoalGoal-Setting: Strategies for Involvement and Achievement

 

Once the diversity mission statement has been created and the pledge for diversity has been written, it is time to develop some realistic goals for achieving your diversity ideals. Who should be involved in determining the goals for your school? What should the goals be? Below are a few guidelines and examples for setting the diversity goals for your school.

Guidelines:

  • Include teachers, administrators, and students in this process of goal-setting. Students should be leaders in the schools, and positive role-models to other students. Teachers can advise the student-led process, and lead students toward the ultimate goal of school unity.
    Administration can also contribute and approve during the process..
  • Decide what concepts your school values. Here are a few examples:

○    Respect for all

○    Everyone has the right to learn

○    Tolerance and acceptance for all (anti-bullying)

○    Everyone has a story

○    Learn from each other, not just from written materials

○    Violence is never the answer to problems

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  • Once you’ve decided on your values, you can discuss classroom or school activities that promote those values. In other words, what do these values look like?.
  • Be clear and concise. Use words and language that students understand..
  • Create a student code of conduct. Discuss expectations and how violations of these values will be handled. (Loss of privileges, detention, suspension, conference with parent or administration, etc.).
  • Determine events or activities that will underscore your values. These should be activities that the whole school can participate in..
  • The final product should be formally written up, printed, and agreed upon by all involved parties..

Check out this website for a great example of diversity goals:

http://www.lehigh.edu/~rrs207/saplan/index.shtml#sgoals

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Source:

Lehigh University. (n.d.). Retrieved 1 22, 2012, from http://www.lehigh.edu/~instuaff/diversity.shtml

Exploring Cultural Heritages

Where is my family from, originally? What customs or traditions do I practice at home? What things are important to my culture? These are questions that you should ask yourself before asking your students when you decide to explore the cultural heritages of your students.

When exploring the backgrounds of your students, it is most valuable that you share your background with them as well. Model for them what kind of information you are looking for them to discover and share.   For example:

  • Bring in artifacts from your cultural; heritage.
  • Tell a story well-known to your family, but not so known to others..
  • Talk about your childhood and your family..
  • Show pictures of your ancestors or a map highlighting your country of origin..
  • Share the kinds of jobs completed by family members of years past – what did they do?.
  • Explain what daily life was like for your family then, and what your life is like today..
  • Allow students to experience a custom, tradition, ritual, etc. of your heritage..
  • Bring in a family member to share a story or celebration of your heritage with your students..

Once you have established the guidelines of exploring cultural heritages, provide students with a framework of things to identify about themselves and their family. Make it a checklist or a webquest (an online scavenger hunt for information). Below are a few other ideas to get you started on discovering the cultural backgrounds of your students:

  • Interview a relative.
  • Find a song that is relevant to your culture – students can play/sing it to the class or find a recording of it to play for the class
  • Make a family tree.
  • Record a recipe handed down in your family.
  • Share a folktale from your family, culture, or country of origin.

Follow these links for great ideas and activities that focus on exploring cultural heritages in your classroom:

 

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Heritage and family histories are the subjects of many

of our RaceBridges Studio Lesson Plans, videos and resources.

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ETHNIC FOOD FIGHTS: Who Invented Pasta?

Holiday time is a time of celebration and that means… food! 4000-Noodles-150x150One of the easiest and most pleasant ways people begin to learn about other cultures is through sampling different ethnic foods. However, it’s interesting to discover that, sometimes, more than one culture lays claim to having invented a food.

Take pasta. Many give Italy credit for this delicious staple. However, a 4,000-year-old bowl of noodles was unearthed in China in 2005 giving credence to many in that country who claim that pasta is an Asian, not an Italian, invention.

It all depends on how you define pasta. The thin yellow noodles that were unearthed at an archaeological site in northwestern China revealed a noodle made of two kinds of millet. Some say that to be a true pasta the noodles must be made from the unleavened dough of durum wheat semolina. Using that definition of pasta, others claim that pasta was discovered in Italy in the 1st century AD.

However, to further complicate things, some say it was Arabs who, at that time, discovered a wheat pasta near Sicily. Others say that yes, indeed, the Arabs were the first to create a wheat pasta, but it wasn’t discovered in Italy at all. It was brought there from the Mideast.

More easily documented is the addition of tomato sauce (and the need to eat pasta with a fork, not the fingers) which came in the 1700s and shows up in the cookbook L’Apicio Moderno by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi in 1790. One thing is for certain: people love this versatile food and eating food from around the world is one of the great joys in life and one of the easiest ways to connect.

Next week: More Ethnic Food Fights

Encouraging School Spirit in All Areas…

Not Just in Sportsschool-spirit

“We’ve got spirit, yes we do! We’ve got spirit, how ‘bout you?”

School spirit connected to athletics is legendary. Cheerleaders for sports, pep rallies that encourage students to root for their team to win, mascots, songs that audiences cheer……..we have all experienced, seen, or heard these long-standing traditions of schools and sports.

But, what about the other disciplines in education? What about academics being celebrated as a school? How can your school not just acknowledge academic achievement, but “pump up” students to strive for excellence in other areas besides athletics?   Below are a few ideas for schools:

  • Make learning FUN! Develop lessons that are hands-on instead of direct instruction..
  • Display student works in classrooms, hallways, common areas, etc. Show that student academic achievement is prized!.
  • Hold student rallies on occasions of academic success. Celebrate those accomplishments as a school!.
  • Recognize teams that are not athletic and their accomplishments – for example: debate, music (instrumental and choral), journalism, writing contests, etc..
  • Showcase academic awards in display cases in the school. These can be trophies, ribbons, certificates, etc. attained through academic competition. Examples could include: spelling bees, debate competitions, science club inventions, broadcasting plaques, state competitions of all kinds that offer awards, music concerts and battles that involve place-standings, etc..
  • Make announcements that congratulate participants and winners regardless of the discipline involved..
  • Take pictures and interview participants for school news, and pass news on to local community news leaders..
  • Encourage students to cheer for all achievements. Talk about other awards in class. Share stories of previous students, or even your own, that highlight academic excellence..
  • Encourage teachers, administration, and staff to attend a variety of school competitions, not just sports..
  • Support student achievement in the classroom – TALK to the student about their experiences. Let them share, even brag a little. Let them know that you noticed and cheered for them..
  • Don’t ignore the accomplishments of athletes, rather, give equal time to academic accomplishments..

Explore the many ways your school can organize a Unity Day.  Go the RaceBridges Resource Bridge Builder: Unity Day.

Anti-Racism Pledge : Dreams Into Deeds

Putting the Diversity Pledge into
embracediversity Action at Your School

You’ve got the diversity pledge written for your school. You’ve set the goals for the process. Now it’s time to put those words into action. How do you get the whole school – student body, faculty, staff, and administration – involved and excited? Below are some examples of ways that you can include everyone at your school in the diversity pledge. 

Activities that involve students:

  • Utilize the school store, and allow student workers to promote and sell the products.

○    Pencils with the pledge on it

○    T-shirts

○    Mugs

○    Posters

○    Wristbands

○    Shoelaces

○    Book covers

○    Folders

  • Create a buzz throughout the school using banner and posters.
  • Talk about the pledge during the daily announcements – use student representatives.
  • Send student leaders who were part of the process to each classroom to talk about the project and its purpose.
  • Hold a student rally, introducing and celebrating the pledge. Invite the band to play and other student organizations to take center stage, singing the praises of the school’s new diversity pledge.
  • Have times in the day set aside where students can go to sign the pledge. Students receive a sticker when they do so.
  • Allow students to video record the rally, with supervision.
  • Have all students verbally recite the pledge in unison at the rally.

 

Activities that involve teachers and administrators:

  • Provide T-shirts with the pledge or a goal on them to staff. Encourage them to wear and promote the pledge in school and in their classrooms.
  • Teachers or administrators can emcee a school rally that introduces the school’s new diversity pledge.
  • Have the technology department supervise the video recording of the rally.
  • Post the event online on your school’s website, or upload it to schooltube.com.

 

Activities that involve families and communities:

  • Send flyers or letters home detailing the project and its purpose.
  • Alert the school board and the PTA, even local businesses. They may want to participate in some way. Some may even provide some free products for the school’s celebration.
  • Alert the media. You may get some news coverage of your school’s diversity pledge.
  • Invite families and community members to the rally.

Diversity : Words Into Deeds

diversityThe Positives of Learning in a Diverse Environment

While there are many difficulties in learning or teaching in a diverse classroom, there are equally as many (if not more) rewards of learning in such an environment. Students gain so many positives from a culturally aware classroom, and these advantages follow them through adulthood. Diversity in education provides a wide array of experiences for students, and allows them to acquire invaluable knowledge and understanding of those who are different from themselves.

Teachers and schools recognize the necessity and value of cultural awareness in the classroom. With so much focus in our country on immigration, it is important for others to realize the significant impact that other cultures have had (and are having) on our future leaders.   Below are some key benefits afforded to students, thanks to diversity in education and cultural awareness:

  • Cultural awareness provides knowledge and understanding of other cultures, which breeds sensitivity and tolerance..
  • Respect for others is given through understanding and experience, and ignorance is left behind..
  • Cooperation and collective work is commonplace at school, and makes working on a team a much more comfortable and easier experience in future ventures..
  • Interactions with actual people from other cultures are experiences that cannot be duplicated in a textbook..
  • Students develop relationships with students of other cultures, allowing a deeper understanding of the cultures than an academic lesson can provide..
  • Students have a better understanding of themselves..
  • Diverse classrooms provide students with “real world” experiences, and help to build understanding and respect for different cultures. Our world is nothing if not multicultural..
  • Working in diverse groups in the classroom enriches discussions with different viewpoints and experiences.

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Sources:

Gorski, V. (2011, 2 24). Positive & Negative Aspects of Diversity in the Classroom. Retrieved 1 22, 2012, from eHow.com: http://www.ehow.com/info_7978159_positive-negative-aspects-diversity-classroom.html

Maddox, C. (2011, 4 20). The Effects of Cultural Diversity in the Classroom. Retrieved 1 22, 2012, from eHow.com: http://www.ehow.com/info_8259168_effects-cultural-diversity-classroom.html

Diversity: What Should Your School Look Like?

As our country grows ever more diverse, so do our schools. Classrooms are filled with students of various backgrounds, DiverseStudents-300x162and it is essential that those of us in the field of education acknowledge these many backgrounds in our buildings. Lessons should be inclusive of many backgrounds and cultures. Teachers need to grow with this trend, and reach out to students. Learning cannot happen if students feel disconnected from the material being taught. Therefore, It is so important for schools to recognize this growth, and to be sure that schools reflect this increasing change in our population.

What does a successfully inclusive school look like? Below are answers to some very vital and common questions centered on this topic.

Why is diversity such a key element in schools?

With the rise in diversity in our country, students of various backgrounds are enrolled in schools. Schools, therefore, have a large influx of diversity among students. With such a wide array of personal histories, it is not appropriate for teachers to focus on only one set of circumstances in classrooms and lessons. For students to learn most effectively, they need to connect to the educational material.

How does diversity benefit students?

  • Allows students to experience new things outside the use of a textbook
  • Gives students the background needed to work successfully with people who are different from themselves
  • Teaches respect, something today’s students need to value more
  • Increases awareness of others and their heritages
  • Boosts self-esteem
  • Shows greater understanding of material presented in lessons
  • Develops critical thinking skills
  • Fosters positive leadership skills

What does a school that embraces diversity look like?

  • Respectful and welcoming
  • Responsive and proactive to issues or problems connected with having a diverse population
  • Showcases pictures and projects of a diverse nature throughout the building, including students and their works
  • Has programs in place that embrace and celebrate diverse backgrounds (culture, race, religion, gender, etc.)
  • Curriculum utilizes many different heritages in the lessons
  • Classrooms highlight the backgrounds of students
  • Guest speakers are brought in to talk about and explore diversity with students
  • Volunteerism is encouraged
  • Tolerance and acceptance are promoted, if not required
  • Students have an awareness of culture and heritage
  • Faculty and administration are sensitive to heritage and background, and uphold values connected with them
  • Parents and community are openly and regularly involved in the school
  • Differences are celebrated
  • Honors the celebrations of culture in families
  • Students are asked to share backgrounds with others
  • Classrooms are diverse and comfortable
  • Schools, families, and communities work together to ensure the successful learning of students

What can teachers do to support and encourage the diversity in classrooms today?

  • Encourage students to share.
  • Ensure that curriculum is diverse – authors, leaders, inventors, scientists, poets, mathematicians, musicians, artists, etc. Be sure to showcase many different kinds of backgrounds of important people.
  • Decorate your room with diversity in mind. Places, people, quotes, pictures, etc. Be inclusive.
  • Share your own background with students.
  • Incorporate activities within your lessons that allow students to interact with one another.
  • Be respectful and welcoming, and expect students to follow suit. Make it a rule. Everyone is accepted.
  • Support politeness and courtesy.
  • Talk to parents and community. Ask for their interactions and input, either with student works or through classroom interactions.
  • Arrange for times for students to experience other cultural activities.
  • Plan for small group projects...

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Explore the many free RaceBridges Studio lessons
and videos for the classroom, faculty
and your organizations :

RaceBridgesStudio.com.

Diversity: Using Music to Enhance the Inclusiveness of Your School

musicMusic has a unique and powerful way of bringing people together. It allows for emotions to be celebrated and shared, and opens the door for understanding. Schools who encourage diversity value music. They know that music is relatable, regardless of the language spoken or the genre of the song. Students build connections with others and their backgrounds through the mutual experience of music. And, more importantly, students develop empathy through music. Empathy is something students struggle to learn, but is an invaluable skill once acquired. When students can put themselves in another’s place, respect flourishes. Where there is respect, learning can take place unabashed.

Using music to expand the horizons of students is a great way to introduce and support diversity in schools and classrooms. How can music be incorporated into your school, your classroom, and your lessons?

Check out these websites for some fantastic ideas and information:

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Explore the many free RaceBridges Studios lessons
and videos for the classroom, faculty
and your organizations :
RaceBridges Studio.

Diversity: Learning about Different Cultures

colored-hands
We all live in a very culturally diverse world, a world that is gradually becoming more diverse. Our country is a great melting pot of culture and tradition. A mosaic that is often ever changing,  It is filled with vivid artists, sizzling dancers, profound writers, brilliant scientists and mathematicians, and brave leaders. All of whom fill our country with the colorful richness of many different cultures. How do we ensure that our students absorb this richness, and embark on their own journeys that are sure to be loaded with cultural diversity?

Because schools are places of learning and are filled with cultural diversity, they are excellent places for students to study both academics and different cultures of people.  Classrooms have adapted to this change, and must continue to do so. What are some ways that schools and teachers can incorporate different cultures into lessons?

  • Expand a social studies lesson on world wars to more than
    simply listing the countries involved in the wars; study the cultures.
  • Create art projects based on cultural traditions and/or craftwork.
  • Read about cultural happenings in current events.
  • Make cultural recipes or clothing in family and consumer science classes.
  • Study regional plant life and animals in science classes.
  • Share oral traditions in language arts classes.
  • Discover cultural celebrations as a school.
  • Experience traditional music and dance.

 

Diversity: Experiencing the Differences of People

The world is filled with different cultures of people. Education has the great advantage of being able to experience these different cultures and peoples on a daily basis and in a very open context, unlike many other fields. In schools, it is possible to take the time to explore different cultures up close. In the classroom, teachers can create an environment of tolerance and acceptance unlike any other place. Because of these special circumstances, students are able to benefit tremendously through the interactions with other cultures.

What can schools and teachers do to facilitate experiences between different cultures in the classroom? Below are a few examples:

  • Use technology to talk to people of other cultures or experience their traditions. Use Skype. Create a Facebook or other online page for students in other countries to connect with your students.
  • Use technology to research other cultures and traditions.
  • Invite guest speakers to come in and share their background. Look at parents, grandparents, community leaders, business owners, cultural leaders, etc.
  • Allow students to share their backgrounds, traditions, and holidays.
  • Read from a wide variety of authors in all classes, especially Language Arts.
  • Study an array of cultures in social studies.
  • Create artwork from many different cultures.
  • Listen to, sing, or play music from all over the world.
  • Display photos of other cultures and traditions.
  • Hang up quotes from prominent people of all cultures.
  • Talk about the differences, but also talk about the similarities. The differences make us unique individuals, but the similarities help us to understand each other

TWO ACTIVITIES TO SET RESPECTFUL GUIDELINES

 

From your first class gatherings, have your class agree upon guidelines for respectful, productive communication. Here are two activities to get you started:

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1. Make a T graph and brainstorm with your students the difference between an argument and a discussion. Ask: What happens when people argue? What do they say or do? What happens when people have a discussion? What does that look and sound like?

2. Introduce the STAR Principle – Sensitivity, Trust, Appreciation and Respect. Have students break into four groups, one letter to each group. Each group writes what their word Is and Is Not. For example, what does displaying “Trust” look and sound like and what would we hear or see that would show us “Trust” has been broken? Have the students focus on behaviors – what a video camera could record, namely sights and sounds. Create a STAR graphic that you can hang up in the classroom. Reinforce the STAR Principle by referring to it often

Differentiation: A Vital Tool for Inclusion and Understanding in Today’s Schools

 As our society diversifies in cultural heritages, schools must adapt to the many different cultures that fill the classrooms. It is no longer appropriate or acceptable to teach without acknowledging the “melting pot” or many and varied mixtures that is our world. Differentiation is the key for developing cultural awareness and understanding in schools, and is an important current trend in education.What is it? Essentially, differentiation is the use of many different teaching methods based on diverse student needs. This is a student-centered way of teaching – that whatever is taught is done in a manner that will reach students where they are, as it should be. It ties academic concepts to student backgrounds, interests, and abilities.  Here are a few ways that it can be used in the classroom:

  • Appeal to visual learners with pictures and things to look at
  • Appeal to auditory learners with stories and music
  • Appeal to kinesthetic learners with active movements, such as dance or role-playing
  • Use objects that students can touch, hold, or inspect
  • Use hands-on activities that highlight cultural heritages – like nature walks and working with the earth, crafts, art projects, and the use of musical instruments from particular cultures
  • Create a writing assignment based on student interest and background.

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 RaceBridgesVideos

CYBER BULLYING

cyberbullyElectronic technology has given rise to a whole new form of bullying – cyber bullying or electronic aggression. Imagine you’re a student being teased by the school bully. You can avoid or get away from him or her, right? Not so in the pervasive electronic world of email, texts, posts and voicemail. 24/7 you can be demeaned and belittled and worse, now, massive amounts of people can know about it. You may not even be able to discover who is sending these taunts.

The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey found that 16% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year. Kids who are bullied in the much larger world of electronic media may turn the hatred in on themselves through use of drugs, alcohol and even attempted suicides.

The positive and negative uses of technology need to be a regular conversation in every classroom. Clear guidelines can help students understand how to be safe online. Topics of conversation can include:

  • what sites are okay to visit
  • how to keep passwords private
  • how messages meant to share with a few can spread to many
  • what to do if one’s identity is stolen
  • what to do if you or someone you know is being bullied online.

Encourage your students to tell you immediately if they or someone else is a victim of electronic bullying. Clear school rules and policies help everyone get on the same page about the use of electronics, but to become a living document the policies must be consistently discussed and reinforced. In addition, private, easy-to-use reporting systems must be in place at your school.

For more on electronic aggression go to:

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Other ideas on eliminating bullying include:

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Culturally Responsive Classrooms : What To Avoid And What To Incorporate

Today’s students are more diverse than ever before, and it is vitally important that cultural differences in the classroom be acknowledged and celebrated. Culturally responsive classrooms are positive examples of inclusion. They breed compassion while enhancing student learning. How do you build and maintain a classroom like this? Below are some tips for successfully blending cultural awareness and academics. 

Old practices that should be avoided:

  • Teachings that are stereotypical or incorrect of a particular group of people
  • Teachings that focus on only the past of a particular culture
  • Having a token representative of a particular culture in the classroom

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New practices that should be incorporated:

  • Acknowledge the existence of other cultures, and learn about current customs of various cultures
  • Use multiple teaching methods to appeal to various learning styles
  • Recognize that home and school are strongly connected, and support cultural traditions that occur at home
  • Be informed – research and read about other cultures. Find books and other materials that will help students to develop awareness and understanding of other cultures
  • Share. Allow students to talk about their backgrounds. Consider guest speakers that discuss and inform students of other cultures – parents are a great resource
  • Bridge student thinking that cultures only have differences – support similarities of students and cultures

.

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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 : RaceBridgesStudio.com and RaceBridgesVideos.com

.

 

Diversity Memo: Thanksgiving & Native American Month:

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Who’s Missing from the Table?

 

Dear Teacher or Leader,

November brings the holiday of Thanksgiving. It’s a time of year when we are reminded of our blessings, and encouraged to express gratitude for all that we have. It’s also a national holiday that embraces all of the many ethnic groups of people that make up the immense diversity of America.

November is also Native American — or American Indian month. Often the myths and stories of America’s first inhabitants meeting the early immigrants is remembered in image, story and often in plays in our schools.

As educators we carry the responsibility to address the complicated and painful aspects of our history that occurred between the pilgrim settlers and the Native peoples of North America. These enduring images of oppression and violence from the past call out for fresh examination today. In this RaceBridges Diversity Memo can lead to a new consideration of your students’ own experiences of inclusion and exclusion. It also offers a more rounded understanding of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Native American Month also offers a rich opportunity to become more familiar with the contemporary life of Native America peoples. The more we learn the more we are able to transform our disappointments and anger over the past into action today working together for a more just world.

In this RaceBridges Diversity Memo, you’ll find a classroom activity and ideas for longer lesson plans. You’ll find links to helpful sites. Check out the unusual Native American stories with lesson plans on this Race Bridges for Schools website to support your exploration of the rich and often complex holiday of Thanksgiving.
May this season offer important lessons, opportunities for reflection, and many reasons for gratitude.

Download this diversity memo

Diversity Memo: The Suspicious Brain

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Our Brains and Our Biases

 

Dear Teacher (and Leader),

Brain research is all the rage these days. 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.

In this RaceBridges Diversity Memo you’ll find a classroom activity, some “lesson plan starters” to go deeper into the issue, further resources, 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.

Download this diversity memo

The Cultural Reach of Murals

Like music bares the soul of the musician, like dance shares the individual vulnerabilities of the dancer, like the stage is home for the actor – the art of mural-making reaches far beyond that of words. Murals express personal feelings and beliefs, explore cultural heritages, and send messages that are common amongst all people – things that mere words cannot adequately explain because they communicate in the universally understood language of art. 

Art makes us feel. Murals tell stories: personal, political, social, and cultural. We don’t need to speak the same language in order to understand a mural. We simply need to see it and feel it.

Schools can benefit from this language represented by murals, and should use it to bridge cultures within their walls through its use. Students can learn of cultures of other students through the creation of murals, thus developing a foundation of understanding and appreciation for others. Where there is understanding, there is peace and friendship. How, then, can your school explore the use of murals that share cultures? Below are a few ideas:

  • Visit these websites to get some cultural ideas and backgrounds of murals:.
  • Think about where murals could be placed in your school: hallways, cafeterias, common areas, auditoriums, gymnasiums, libraries, entry areas, art wings of the school, classrooms, etc..
  • Decide how to get students involved: making of the murals, where murals should be placed in the school, types of murals, what story or message the murals should send, etc..
  • Invite parents, community members, news media, etc. to view the murals – both in-process and finished..
  • Have students cover the mural-making in a news article for the school newspaper or website. Take pictures..
  • Interview students involved AND students viewing the mural for their thoughts and opinions on the mural and the process. Allow students to share the story or message of the mural with other students..
  • Take a tour of the school when the murals are completed, and then discuss what students saw and learned..

Studying and reflecting on murals from many cultures and times
in history can give us a richer understanding of the stories
of peoples, past and present.  Explore more through the
short videos, lessons and stories on our RaceBridges sites.

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For ideas about how murals have been used for race relations and bridge building, check out the following:  Jubilee Door Exhibit

Diversity Memo: Immigration

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Dear Teacher and Leader,

As you know immigration is a hot topic in the news today, especially with the ongoing and heated debate about SB 1070, Arizona’s stringent immigration enforcement law, and the rise in anti-immigration protests and activity around the country. The history of immigration tends to be a source of pride in the United States.

We often refer to ourselves as a nation of immigrants, a “melting pot,” and believe that our strength as a nation comes both from our diversity and from being comprised of the kinds of people brave and intelligent enough to risk immigrating to the United States and working hard to succeed here. But our discussion of contemporary immigration—legal and illegal—is more confused. Immigration in the United States is a complicated issue, too often generating strong emotions without corresponding knowledge of the facts.

While discussing immigration can be inflammatory in the classroom, it is one of the cardinal social issues facing our country. In this newsletter, you’ll find a classroom activity, some “lesson plan starters” to go deeper into the issue, further resources, and some ideas and thoughts to help inspire you on the journey.
This is a tough issue, but courageous teachers like you can make the difference, ensuring that this generation will focus on the facts rather than the hype.

Download this diversity memo

Diversity Memo: Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable

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The Search for Civility

 

Dear Teacher (and Leader),

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 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.” 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 Diversity Memo, you’ll find a classroom activity, some “lesson plan ideas” 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 diversity memo

Creating a Diversity Session for your Faculty : An Introduction

smcreating_diversity_program_Page_01This resource is meant to help administrators, teachers, and staff to:

  • Become more aware of the many facets of diversity
  • Explore their own experiences with diversity
  • Identify the diversity of the school community
  • Value learning about and addressing diversity in the school community
  • Identify how understanding diversity can serve the quality of the school
  • See diversity as a strength and tool in building faculty and school-community

This resource is meant as a beginning point for your school, a way to start the conversation around diversity and to begin the education of your faculty and staff. It will make people more sensitive and committed to issues of diversity and more able to respond to those issues.

The activities in this resource may be completed all at once during a half-day in-service.

CREATING A DIVERSITY SESSION FOR YOUR FACULTY

Why?   How?

___________________________________________________

These resources will:

  • make the subject of race and race relations approachable and effective
  • engage faculty 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.

__________________________________________________________

Diversity Memo: Tell Me A Story

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Storytelling to Open Minds and Hearts

 

Dear Teacher and Leader,

The stories of our lives often hold some of our greatest wisdom. When we share our stories with each other, we express our identity, details about our heritage, the places where we are unique and the things we hold in common. Stories often speak of what we hold important or precious to us.

In addition, storytelling activities build verbal communication skills, improve critical literacy and develop the imagination.

Consider bringing storytelling into your classroom to create community among diverse student groups and to link lesson plans to personal histories.

In this Diversity Memo for Teachers you will find a storytelling activity that can be adapted for any group of students along with some starter ideas for larger lessons plans. You will also find links to other online resources that use storytelling in the classroom to open hearts and minds.

Download this diversity memo

Diversity Memo: Sheroes for Today

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Enduring Voices for Women’s History Month

Dear Teacher and Leader,

March is designated as Women’s History Month with International Women’s Day officially observed on March 8th. This month offers us an opportunity to celebrate the varied and wonderful contributions and stories of women from diverse cultures. This occasion also calls us to find ways that each of us can work for a more equitable future.
The movement toward an International Women’s Day began in the early 1900’s with annual marches in the U.S. demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights for women. Today there are thousands of different types of events that take place around the world.

The disparities that exist between men and women look different in various cultures. From unequal financial compensation to access to education, damaging stereotypes, or the prevalence of domestic violence, the conversation about women’s rights continues to evolve around the globe. At the same time, important breakthroughs and moments of great pride take place all the time.

At the Fourth World Conference on Women that was held in Beijing, China in 1995, global leaders made the case that women’s rights are human rights and that therefore, working for women’s equality is everyone’s responsibility. As educators we can pick up this charge to bring lessons about equality to all of our students.
This RaceBridges Diversity Memo celebrates diverse voices and examines current challenges for women to better prepare students to work for equity and justice.

Download this diversity memo

Diversity Memo: Using Storytelling to Celebrate Special Events in Your School or Organization

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Dear Teacher / Leader,

The school year is full of landmark days that acknowledge important historical moments and people. These days, like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day or International Women’s Day and even months, like Hispanic Heritage Month, offer us valuable opportunities to learn more about our culture and history. However, there are also important events taking place close to home and related to your particular school that you may want to acknowledge and celebrate with a special event.

Perhaps your school has an important anniversary coming up, a beloved teacher is retiring, or some leaders in your neighborhood are opening a new community center. Taking the time to create a commemorative local event allows your students to celebrate their community while gaining a deeper connection to the individuals who make it unique.
This RaceBridges Diversity Memo provides some ideas for using stories as the foundation for creating a commemorative or celebratory event. This Race Bridges for Schools website is full of stories and lesson plans about using Storytelling in the classroom that will help along the way. This Memo will guide you through some key steps to get you started.

Download this diversity memo

Creating a Classroom Diversity Checklist

As this school year comes to an end, teachers around the country take a brief break from the classroom.  This summer is a perfect time to reflect on the school year. What went well? What could you do better? How did your students do – did they meet your expectations academically?

You know that the diversity in American schools and classrooms is rapidly increasing each year. Think about how you can further incorporate diversity into your lessons. What can you do to reach your students where they are, and help them to master the necessary academic concepts for advancement? What can you do to facilitate awareness and understanding between cultures? 

Below is a checklist for creating classrooms that embrace diversity, and therefore, a school that strives for the success of all its students.

Classroom Diversity Checklist:

 ………….
 red-check Do you discuss many different cultures throughout the school year?For example: social studies might cover countries or wars; language arts might cover literature by cultural authors or read works about differing cultures; art or music classes might cover cultural songs or painting styles; etc.
 …….
 red-check Do you use instruction that includes a wide variety of techniques intended to appeal to a wide variety of student learning styles?Are you using Multiple Intelligences (Harvard professor Howard Gardner’s theory suggesting a much more comprehensive method of identifying intelligence and learning styles of people)?Do you gear lessons toward visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners? Do you offer activities that foster collaboration and cooperation amongst students?

 .
 red-check Do you construct your lessons around Bloom’s Taxonomy of Higher Thinking?This method, created by Benjamin Bloom, focuses on the development of higher level thinking skills in students. It utilizes hands-on experiences to teach mastery at progressively more challenging levels of thinking. Use the tiered method to develop the critical and creative thinking skills of all your students.Follow these links to learn more about Bloom’s Taxonomy of Higher Thinking:

 ….
 red-check Do you build technology use into your lessons?Teachers should be utilizing technology in instructional techniques as much as they should be creating activities for students to use technology.
 red-check Do you use hands-on activities in your lessons?Hands-on allows students to experience new things – new cultures, new artifacts, new stories, new cuisine, new dances. Experience builds understanding.
 .
 red-check Do you assess your students using unbiased and balanced methods?For example: tests should include a variety of cultures in questions. Students should also be assessed in multiple ways, never simply one.
 .
 red-check Do you offer choices for students, in projects or assignments?Giving options to students promotes ownership and understanding. Students are able to choose something more relatable to their own background.
 .
 red-check Do you encourage group work?Students who work in groups learn more effectively about backgrounds and cultures from their peers and in less formal environments. Group work builds understanding and empathy.
 .
 red-check Do you use a variety of communication styles in your teaching arsenal?A wider array of communication will reach a larger number of students and will allow them to reach mastery of skills more effectively.
 .
 red-check Does your school openly value diversity?Do they celebrate accomplishments of prominent cultural figures? Are there school-wide events that celebrate multiculturalism?
 .
 red-check Does your school have faculty members from a wide variety of backgrounds?Visit the link below for fantastic information on diversity in education, as well as another checklist for teachers and schools:
http://education.washington.edu/cme/DiversityUnity.pdf

 

Diversity Memo: Improving and Enhancing the Corporate Climate of the School Community

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Dear Teacher and Leader,

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. This resource offers suggestions to make the entire school a more “accessible” and welcoming place to all students.

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 for the larger-scale changes and/or sharing some of these with your administration. For ideas just for your own classroom see Including Everyone: Small Changes to Create a Welcoming Classroom at the end of this document.

In this RaceBridges Diversity Memo, you’ll find some classroom activities and “lesson plan starters,” further resources, and some ideas and thoughts to help inspire you on the journey. It takes committed teachers to encourage and shape our schools to be welcoming and open.

This brief lesson-starter invites your students to imagine a future of equality. A whole-classroom action is included at the end.

Download this diversity memo

CREATE AN ANTI-BULLYING POLICY THAT HEADS OFF DENIAL

No-Bullying-School-Rules-Sign-K-4002You’ve created a strong, clear anti-bullying policy. It won’t be brushed under a rug at your school. But are you unknowingly leaving yourself open to misunderstanding and conflict?

Looking at protected classes – race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. – is a great place to start when forming or updating your school’s anti-bullying policy, but it’s not enough. Three little words can save you a lot of headaches. What are those words?

“Not limited to” according to Huffington Post writer, Deborah Temkin.

Bullying policies need to be written in such a way that the focus is on the bully’s actions and motivation, not solely on a description of the victim. Because here’s the truth: sometimes kids go after other kids “just because” –  just because they can, just because they perceive the other child as weaker, just because they lash out in anger and the other child happens to be nearby.

Unfortunately, children are harassed for wearing the “wrong” clothing (nothing to do with income), being too smart, being too slow and even swinging the bat in an unusual way. Sadly, cruelty knows no bounds.

Each school needs to see their anti-bullying policy as a tool that has little power if it sits in someone’s computer. The most effective policy is to be fully engaged with what your school is for: for kindness, for cooperation, for self-esteem coming from not who is “in” and who is “out” but from an appreciation for one’s own and, therefore, everyone’s uniqueness.

As teasing becomes bullying through repetitive behaviors, the positive behaviors we want our students to exhibit also come through repetition of teacher, staff and student training, reminders and celebrations. We have to prevent bullying not simply react to the more obvious and limited “biggies” such as racism, sexism, homophobia and so on. Continually demonstrating the benefits of inclusion can help all children to be protected.

To read Deborah Temkin’s full article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-temkin/the-three-words-missing-f_b_3480347.html

For ideas on how you can create on-going anti-bullying programs see:

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For a comprehensive list of resources from Teaching Tolerance go to:

Create a Welcoming School

Teachers can do a great deal to make classrooms more welcoming, but it is also important that schools as institutions are inclusive at the “macro” level. This resource offers suggestions to make the entire school a more “accessible” and welcoming place to all students.

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 for the larger-scale changes and/or sharing some of these with your administration. 

For ideas just for individual classrooms see Including Everyone: Small Changes to Create a Welcoming Classroom

In this RaceBridges Resource, you’ll find some classroom activities and “lesson plan starters,” further resources, and some ideas and thoughts to help inspire you on the journey. It takes committed teachers to encourage and shape our schools to be welcoming and open.

Click here to download this teacher resource

Cooperative Learning and Diversity: Working Together in the Classroom-1

As classrooms are becoming more and more diverse each year, schools strive to provide rigorous curriculum that celebrates cultural differences of all students. Cooperative Learning is an excellent tool that educators can use to facilitate unity, understanding, and growth on many levels in the classroom.

What is Cooperative Learning? It is a widely utilized and respected instructional method that encourages children of all ages to work together and to learn from one another. It highlights an additional way for students to learn, aside from the traditional forms of learning – like direct instruction from the teacher and textbook guided lessons. Cooperative Learning builds understanding through interactions with peers, something that is greatly needed when working in diverse classrooms.

Cooperative Learning and Diversity: Working Together in the Classroom-2

How does it work? Basically, Cooperative Learning involves the use of purposeful small groups. Students participate in “give and take” interactions with the members of their small group. There will usually be an assigned topic of discussion, questions to respond to, or an activity/project to be completed by the small group as a whole. All members must share throughout this process – opinions, ideas, backgrounds, experiences, knowledge, abilities, and information.

The goal is to challenge student thinking while scaffolding (building) their learning. The result is so much more, though. Students experience positive leadership skills, effective communication skills, successful interpersonal skills (like conflict/problem resolution), and valuable lessons of tolerance and acceptance.

Here are some examples of how it can be used in the classroom:

  • Discussion groups (questions for groups to discuss together)
  • Literature circles (specific roles to be fulfilled and then shared in the group)
  • Projects (hands-on activities that usually involve research, multiple parts to the assignment, and a creation of some kind – like a pamphlet, poster, report, or 3-D construction)
  • Games that use teams (use for unit reviewing or for reinforcing new concept understanding)
  • Labs (for following directions and trying something new)

.

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

.

Conflict Resolution: Building Student Awareness and Skills

Whether it’s dealing with problems and difficult people, struggling to get along in a group setting to achieve a set goal, or simply trying to avoid a public meltdown from someone………we must develop the skills necessary to complete any task while being able to get along with others effectively. It doesn’t matter if you’re 13 or 33, everyone needs to acquire these skills in order to function productively in our society today. Below is some basic information for teachers and schools on challenges currently faced by teens, as well as some creative ways to implement conflict resolution skills in the classroom.

Basic Information:

  • Teens are easily and powerfully influenced by their peers. They will listen to their peers long before they listen to a teacher, or any adult for that matter.
  • There are 3 outcomes to conflict: win-win, win-lose, and lose-lose.*
  • There are 3 responses to conflict: passive (tend to be more non-verbal), aggressive (tend to be physical), and assertive.*
  • Teens often only know to handle conflicts by either running away or fighting. They are not aware of other methods that can be used to successfully resolve a conflict.

Activities:

__________

* Dunn, D. (2009, 9 23). education & schools. Retrieved 12 8, 2012, from examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/school-conflict-resolution-in-national/debbie-dunn?page=1

Community Challenges and Immigrants

As much as schools serve students and families new to the United States, community plays an equally vital role. What obstacles do communities and new immigrants face as they first interact? What services or programs should be made available to immigrants? How can community members help in this process?

Below are some challenges faced by communities in reference to immigrants – see what you can do to help assist the immigrants in your community.  

Challenges:

  • Not enough ESL (English as a Second Language) programs and classes available to facilitate the overwhelming demand for those eager to learn the English language.*.
  • Not enough facilities to house classes or enough instructors to teach the English language to new-comers.*.
  • Absolutely no federal, state, or local organization exists that can meet all the needs of new immigrants. Multiple organizations must coordinate and communicate with one another in order to meet the needs. This is loaded with problems. Creating such an organization would be both time and energy consuming, albeit extremely beneficial.*.
  • Centralized information for new immigrants is also difficult. With technology so utilized in America, it is surprising that there is not a “go-to” place where basic information is made available. This makes assisting new immigrants difficult.*.
  • Outreach to new immigrants is a challenge, as there is no set way to introduce new immigrants to their communities.*.
  •  Additionally, funding issues offer constraint to providing services to new immigrants.*

 .

Ways to help:

  • Reach out to your neighbors. Socialize. Share information. Be helpful..
  • Consider volunteering in an organization that assists new immigrants..
  • Check out your local community education chapter. Is there anything there that you could assist with or volunteer to do?.
  • Connect with your church. Who is new to your church or place of worship, or to your community? Find out what your church  or place of worship can do to help..
  • Visit those new to the community. Do you see people moving in? Take the time to talk to them..
  •  Learn about the programs available in your area that assist new immigrants..

______

*Helping Immigrants Become New Americans: Communities Discuss the Issues. (2004, September). Retrieved 5 4, 2012, from www.uscis.gov: http://www.uscis.gov/files/article/focusgroup.pdf

Building Bridges over the Backyard Fence

Sometimes, we think we’re too insignificant to make a difference. However, add a little imagination and who knows what we can come up with?  Here are three examples which clearly illustrate that fact.

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.

Many people find it easy to complain about what isn’t working. However, whether it is over the backyard fence, in the hallways of work or school, or even over the operating table, it is possible to work together and find avenues for positive change. These people, rather than buy into the belief that they were too small to make a difference, asked, “What can we do?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?”

Changing Our World: Lessons for Today

case_lg_banner_21-300x241When we think of Black History Month, it is easy to think of all the people and actions that took place that led our country to value each other with respect.The risk and danger associated with activism and outspokenness helped to form America into a freedom-centered society. Change always has a cost. Attaining freedom and equality for African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement allowed many voices to be heard, and great change took place across America.

What can teachers and schools do to highlight the power of change in our world, and to encourage lessons for today that are rooted in dignity and courage? Below are some tips and websites to help facilitate discussions and learning experiences for students. Challenge your students to learn from history by pulling out lessons for today from it.

  • Talk about social injustices and possible ways to solve or address these issues..
  • Visit the National Urban League website for suggestions on lessons for today:http://nul.iamempowered.com/.

 


Explore the free resources and lessons
that focus on Black History Month and
many other Diversity themes for your
classroom, school or organization..

 

 

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.

BULLYING AT YOUR SCHOOL: ARE YOU IN VIOLATION OF STATE OR FEDERAL LAWS?

We know that bullying isn’t nice, but have you thought about the fact that bullying is also illegal? Each state addresses bullying differently. Some cover bullying, cyber bullying and related behaviors in one law, some in multiple laws. But what state laws have in common is that they all declare that any form, type, or level of bullying is unacceptable, and that every incident needs to be taken seriously by school administrators, school staff, teachers, students, and students’ families. All states acknowledge that bullying has a huge and detrimental impact on student learning, school safety, student engagement, and the school environment.

stompoutbullying Schools that receive federal funding are required by federal law to address discrimination on a number of different personal characteristics such as:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Military status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender-related identity or expression
  • Unfavorable discharge from military service
  • Association with a person or group with one or more of the aforementioned actual or perceived characteristics
  • Any other distinguishing characteristic

Right now, no federal law directly addresses bullying. However, in some cases, bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment of protected classes such as those mentioned above. In those cases, the behavior is covered under federal civil rights laws and enforced by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). If your school fails to respond appropriately to a student in a protected class who is being harassed, you may be in violation of federal as well as local laws.

What does it mean to “respond appropriately”? Here are some guidelines:

  • Investigate immediately
  • Inquiry must be prompt, thorough, and impartial
  • Interview targeted students, offending students, and witnesses, and maintain written documentation of your investigation
    • Communicate with targeted students regarding steps taken to end the harassment
    • Check in regularly afterwards with targeted students to ensure that the harassment has stopped
    • When an investigation reveals that harassment has occurred, a school should take steps reasonably calculated to: end the harassment, eliminate any hostile environment, prevent harassment from recurring, and inhibit retaliation against the targeted student(s) or complainant(s).

To find out about your state’s laws and policies go to:
http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws

To see examples of other states’ laws and what they have in common go to:
http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/key-components/index.html

To find out what kind of harassment constitutes a federal violation, go to:
http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/federal/index.html

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

STORYTELLING TO CELEBRATE SPECIAL EVENTS IN YOUR SCHOOL OR ORGANIZATION. PART 2

Please find initial ideas and suggestions in last week’s Part 1 of this Blog Text below.

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storytelling “A community needs a soul if it is to
become a true home for human beings.
You, the people must find this soul.”

– Pope John Paul II

“The more you praise and celebrate
your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

– Oprah Winfrey

“Without a sense of caring, there
can be no sense of community.”

– Anthony Burgess

Here are some further ideas and steps in the process of using storytelling and stories to celebrate a special event in your school or organization. Here are some ideas to get started in the classroom.

Your special event will be grounded in stories collected from your students, stories from others at school, and possible members of the community.  Think about who has a story that you want to be sure to include and reach out to them.

You can develop these starter ideas as far as you like, depending on how much time you have and the type of event you’d like to create. 

  • Practice storytelling and listening by partnering students in pairs.  Give each pair six minutes (three minutes each) to tell each other a story that relates to the event.  When time is up, bring the group back together to discuss their experiences. What does it feel like to tell a story?  What is it like to listen?
  • Interview students outside of your class or other members of the community. Encourage students to be creative about how they offer story invitations.  Consider having your students document the stories with audio or video recorders.
  • Have students collect stories from others and then present them back to the class as first person monologues, that is, to tell the story as if it is their own story.  Have students pay attention to details, emotions, and qualities of the storyteller.  This exercise encourages empathy and builds public speaking skills.  These monologues could be performed at the event.
  • Have students work in pairs or small groups to improvise scenes based on stories they’ve collected.  Give them ten or fifteen minutes to develop a first pass at their idea and then have student groups perform their scenes for each other.  These scenes could be performed at the event.
  • After your students have identified the stories they want to share at the event and how they want to share them (read out loud, performed as monologues, or in improvised scenes) give them time to practice and build confidence.  A few times in front of their classmates and getting comfortable speaking in front of the group will help.
  • For other ideas check out this Storytelling Guide and this resource Theatre Games.

Here is a checklist you and your event planning group might consider :

✓ Consider Inviting the whole school or members of the community to participate.  Give people enough notice so that they can contribute stories and attend the event.

✓ Invite others to participate

✓ Determine where your event will take place

✓ Be sure to reserve your site well in advance.

✓ Stock up on supplies

✓ You will want to collect initial brainstorming ideas on the board or on large white sheets of paper.

✓ Also think about documentation of your work.  Are recorders or flip cameras available?

✓ Make space for stories in the classroom

✓ Consider establishing one part of the room for ongoing work with stories and event preparation.

✓ Model positive energy

These planning and storytelling activities may be unfamiliar to your students. 

Your confidence and enthusiasm will encourage them to keep an open mind.

Establish Group agreements

Group agreements build trust among students.  They are most effective when the group determines them together through a quick brainstorming exercise.  Some helpful agreements might be: Use “I statements”, no interrupting, and respect each other’s differences.  Your group may have other suggestions as well.  You can compose these together and keep them posted in the room as a reminder.

Use Safe Stories

Be sure to remind your students that this exercise is about stories that are safe and non- threatening.  If any issues or discomfort arises with your class, often a simple acknowledgment of feelings, fears or discoveries can put everyone at ease.  Remind the class that we build community as we get to know each other.

Explore the many ideas for nurturing stories and storytelling
in your school or class by considering our free Resource

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

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

 

 

USING STORYTELLING TO CELEBRATE SPECIAL EVENTS IN YOUR SCHOOL OR ORGANIZATION. PART 1

The stories of our lives are both the things that happen to us as well as the things that we make happen around us. What life story are you creating for yourself?

storytellingThe school year is full of landmark days that acknowledge important historical moments and people.  These days, like the Dr. King Holiday or International Women’s Day and even months, like Hispanic Heritage Month or Black History Month offer us valuable opportunities to learn more about our culture and history.

However, there are also important events taking place close to home and related to your particular school that you may want to acknowledge and celebrate with a special event.

Perhaps your school has an important anniversary coming up, a beloved teacher is retiring, or some leaders in your neighborhood are opening a new community center.  Taking the time to create a commemorative local event allows your students to celebrate their community while gaining a deeper connection to the individuals who make it unique. 

Consider using some of the ideas below for using stories as the foundation for creating a commemorative or celebratory event.  This RaceBridges for Schools website is full of stories and lesson plans about using Storytelling in the classroom that will help along the way.

 

These ideas are geared to get you started in planning a commemorative event for your classroom or school. They can can be adapted and enhanced to suit the needs of your class or organization.

(1)  First, identify the date, occasion, community place or person that you will be commemorating.  The idea may come from your students or perhaps you already have something in mind.

(2)  Form small working groups and ask students to brainstorm for ten minutes to list everything they already know about the subject.  Remind your students when brainstorming that everyone’s voice is important and no judgment is allowed.

(3)  When time is up, ask a representative from each group to present the group’s ideas and gather them on the board or on big sheets of paper so everyone can see.

Ask the entire class to add ideas to the big list along the lines of:

  • Feelings that people might have about the subject;
  • The historical importance of this event;
  • Who will be or has already been affected by the event.

 

Next, look at all of the lists together and ask your students the following questions:

  • Which ideas are the most interesting to you?
  • What draws you in and makes you curious?
  • What do you want to know more about?

 

4)  The ideas that generate your students’ curiosity could be the driving ideas for your event.  Now, turn these main points of interest into questions and invitations for stories.

For example, if you are celebrating the school founding, students might decide to focus on how contemporary students still reflect the founding values.  They might compose an invitation for other students like, “Tell me a story about a time when you acted like a leader”.

 

(5)  Or, as another example, if you are examining the impact of the new community center, compose a story invitation for parents and friends like “Tell me a story about an important life lesson you learned from someone in our community”.

Now, with your story invitations to lead the way, your students can begin to tell their own stories or interview others.  They could also use these story invitations as prompts to create drawings, paintings, personal essays, or a series of photographs.

(6)  Goals

Have your students set some goals for a successful event.

Ask them to compose one-sentence statements of what they hope will be accomplished by their event.

… “I hope people will be proud of their school”.

… “I hope I understand the community better”.

… “I want everyone to feel included in our school”.

Students can read these aloud to the class or post them on a bulletin board.

You could also save this step for after you’ve completed the event as collective reflections.  These might be:

… “Yes, we can learn from the past for today.”

… “This (event) (person) needs to be remembered and cherished.”

… “We all have roots”

 

Example of Stories woven around events:

This link http://education.goodmantheatre.org/opensystemsonwbez/ will take you to a project description and audio file of a story-based play commemorating five years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the Gulf Coast.  The project was developed through student research and writing in collaboration with a teaching artist at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, Chicago.   This project can serve as an example of the type of performance event you could create with your own students.

 

Read more Ideas for celebrating Special Events in your school or group in next week’s blog-text.

 

Explore the many ideas for nurturing stories and storytelling in your school or class by considering our free Resource The Power of Storytelling : 7 Reasons to Incorporate Stories in Your Classroom

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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BRING BLACK HISTORY INTO THE PRESENT

Black-History-150x150

With budget cuts at every level of education, it’s rare when a teacher can arrange a field trip to a national monument or organization. Thank goodness for the web! This February, during your Black History celebrations, why not rely on virtual experiences to give your students new encounters and increased understanding without the cost or time away from the classroom?

You can create a virtual Black Issues scavenger hunt for your middle and high school students using this resource:

http://bit.ly/tJv2aI

Focusing on African American history without showing how the past is still affecting the present leaves our students without an understanding of today’s challenges and how they might one day make a difference. This resource centers on the hurdles African Americans face today because of the institutional racism of the past.

Have students work in teams to search these papers for facts on disparities in testing, economic mobility, school discipline and suspensions and the like. The victories and achievements African Americans continuously make despite ongoing discrimination is a cause for celebration and inspiration for all Americans.

Volunteerism: Benefits of Serving

“Teen community service projects instill a sense of accomplishment in the kids involved.  They see the impact of their efforts on a local level, which often inspires them to continue assisting in local areas of need.”

                –Shelley Frost*

Why is volunteering so important? When should we introduce the concept of community service to students? How can we instill in the youth of today the value of giving back and positively contributing to our world?  

What is volunteerism?

This is the giving of your time, energy, expertise, and companionship to those who are in need of it. It is a service provided without pay, and is completed out of pure compassion for others.

What can schools do to promote volunteerism?

  • Organize a clothing drive*
  • Organize a toy drive*
  • Arrange to read stories to children at the local children’s hospital*
  • Package items for deployed soldiers*
  • Help out at a local food pantry *
  • Serve a meal at a homeless shelter*
  • Provide babysitting services for single moms who need a break*
  • Participate in a community clean-up*
  • Help to deliver Meals-on-Wheels
  • Finish yard work for a senior citizen.

How do students benefit from volunteerism?

  • Increased self-esteem of those who participated**
  • Acquisition of new skills**
  • Strong feelings of being valued and needed**
  • Opportunity to meet new people**
  • Higher grades than students who don’t volunteer**
  • Feelings of empowerment, that they CAN make a difference in the world**
  • More positive attitude toward our world and life in general**.

Follow this link for more information about matching a service to a student:

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*Frost, S. (n.d.). Retrieved 5 13, 2012, from eHow: http://www.ehow.com/list_6328132_teen-community-service-projects.html

**Heim, S. (2010, 1 20). Retrieved 5 13, 2012, from www.TeenLife.com: http://www.teenlife.com/news/35374/ARTICLESTeensandVolunteerismTheBenefitsofCommunityServicefor-.htm

 

 

.On the lifelong lessons and habits of giving back and volunteerism
see RaceBridges Studios resource
Giving It Back..Passing It On..Service Learning
in your Classroom

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WEEDING OUT ANTI-INDIAN BIASES FROM SCHOOL MEDIA

NativeAmericanSunSymbolsAs we move into a month of celebrating the First Nations of our country and the world, a few helpful hints from Oyate, the children’s literature review site, can keep us from doing more harm than good. To turn a critical eye toward any books, videos or films to which we expose our students here are a few guidelines of what to include:

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  1. Show only media that present Indians as full human beings, not primitive or simple tribal people. Avoid media that objectifies Indian people such as “counting” or “playing Indians” (Would you have your student “count” or “play” white people?).
  2. Select media where the full range of Indian customs, cultures, dress, religion, language and architecture is shown.,
  3. Show media that has authentic, not generic design. “Indian looking” is not accurate. Use books, films and so on that have paid full attention to detail..
  4. Select media that shows the variety of physical attributes Indian people, like all people, display. Avoid books that simply portray Indians as white people with darker skin..
  5. Select age appropriate media that are honest about the genocidal policies of the U.S. government. Watch for media that subtly blames Indians for their own dwindling numbers. Show that Native nations actively resisted their invaders..
  6. Show Indian heroes other than those who “helped” European conquerors..
  7. Share media that shows present day First Nations as complex, sovereign nations who are not dependent on charity, take care of their families and are creating their own future..

For a fuller list of Dos and Don’ts go to:

http://oyate.org

Or buy and read the book:

“How to Tell the Difference: A Guide for Evaluating Children’s Books for Anti-Indian Bias”

by Doris Seale, Beverly Slapin and Rosemary Gonzales

Theatre Games

These games and exercises are for teachers and leaders to assist them in building community in classrooms and schools. These easy to follow warm-up games are used in the theatre arts world. They can be easily adapted in a variety of ways in learning environments and students organizations.games-mini

 

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theatre2-300x156

Many high schools have a Drama Club.  Some schools offer classes in acting or stagecraft and produce several plays or musicals within a year.  From the outside you might guess that the main reward comes when the performance gets an audience.  However, anyone who has ever performed in a show or worked backstage during a production can tell you that the process of preparation and training for that audience is full of community building activities with a diverse group of people united with shared purpose.

This resource seeks to go beyond the realm of the Drama Club or school production to suggest 12 Theatre Games that integrate some behind-the-scenes exercises to encourage personal development, strengthen relationships among diverse students, and transform your classroom.  The games included here can be used to build relationships between students of different races and cultural backgrounds as well as help you create opportunities to discuss hard issues.

The games are broken down into the following skill –building areas:

  • GET ENERGIZED: 2 Games to increase students’ focus and awareness of others
  • BUILD ENSEMBLE: 2 Games to connect students as a team
  • COLLABORATE: 2 Games that promote working together on a shared goal
  • FIND YOUR OWN VOICE: 2 Games for speaking honestly about life experiences
  • LISTEN ACTIVELY: 2 Games that build empathy for the experiences of others
  • IMPROVISE: 2 Games for creating out of what is conveniently at hand

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Download this teacher resource

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

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

 

whm-headerConstance 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 is now upon us.

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.

 

Storytelling : A Toolkit for Bridging Differences and Creating Community

This Teacher-Educator Resource provides an easy to follow process in using storytelling to increase understanding across differences. It is a fun way to get to know each other, a comfortable way to address difficult topics and a simple and successful method for appreciating differences among group members. Sharing life stories allows us to see in new ways, grapple with new ideas, and grow into more respectful and compassionate people.

Use this resource with students from middle school through college or with members of your church or community group. The activities in the resource can be completed all at once or broken up over several meetings. A great way to build a team, handle issues associated with diversity, or discuss a recent conflict.

STORYTELLING: A TOOLKIT FOR BRIDGING DIFFERENCES AND CREATING COMMUNITY

This Resource provides an easy to follow process in using storytelling to increase understanding across differences and is:

  • a fun way to get to know one another
  • a comfortable way to address difficult topics
  • a simple and successful method for appreciating differences among group members

Sharing life stories allows us to see in new ways, grapple with new ideas, and grow into more respectful and compassionate people.

Use this resource with students from middle school through college or with members of your church or community group. The activities in the resource can be completed all at once or broken up over several meetings.

A great way to build a team, handle issues associated with diversity, or discuss a recent conflict.

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Download a free copy of the STORYTELLING – A TOOLKIT FOR BRIDGING DIFFERENCES AND CREATING COMMUNITY resource

A Culture of Respect Challenges Students to Connect

Ask any student what the hardest part of school is and the answer will surprise you.  In fact, geometry and physics aren’t even on the list.  Most students state that the most difficult part is learning how to fit in, dealing with students with very diverse backgrounds and experiences, and how to break down social barriers.

Seeking a solution that deals directly with the root of cliques, bullying, racism, violence and teasing, parents Yvonne and Rich Dutra-St. John started the concept of Challenge Day in 1987.  The idea of Challenge Day was a way to end oppression that is found in every part of the world, and to build a connection that creates genuine empathy among people.  Since its conception, Challenge Day has been featured on Oprah Winfrey’s show and is now a weekly reality show, “If You Really Knew Me” on MTV.

Challenge Day encourages participants – parents, students and educators alike – to create change by noticing how people are treating each other.  Students can see what they can do to change the social environment of their school by stepping out of their comfort zones.  It asks the questions most students don’t think about:

  • Are people in your school treated equally?
  • Do you like the way people are treated?
  • Have you ever wanted to step in when someone was being bullied or teased?
  • What are we pretending that we don’t see?

The goal of Challenge Day is to open up the minds of students to see others in the school community (including teachers and parents) as people, rather than the stereotypes that fit them.  This allows students to embrace differences in a way that reaches far deeper and leaves a lasting impression for long term community building.

So how can you create your own Challenge Day in your school?  Start by getting students involved.  Making time for a Challenge or Unity Day is one way to create a welcoming classroom where students feel valued, respected and appreciated.

On this site, in the complimentary resource, “Bridge Builder Unity Day” you are provided with activities to prepare students to become advocates for a more inclusive world by:

  • Using stories to bridge differences and create a more welcoming community.
  • Discovering differences and similarities so that everyone feels valued and respected
  • Listening to and participating in stories and activities which bring to life being an “insider” and “outsider” in various social situations.
  • Becoming aware of their own prejudices and stereotypes
  • Understanding how cultural pride, identity and race are impacted by racism
  • Learning how to take a stand for each other to strengthen and build community.

Click here to download the BridgeBuilder Unity Day Teacher resource

Lesson Plans Associated with Unity Day

Lesson Plans Featuring Audio Stories Associated with Unity Day

Videos Associated with Unity Day

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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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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

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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