The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture today launched Talking About Race, a new online portal designed to help individuals, families, and communities talk about racism, racial identity and the way these forces shape every aspect of society, from the economy and politics to the broader American culture. The online portal provides digital tools, online exercises, video instructions, scholarly articles and more than 100 multi-media resources tailored for educators, parents and caregivers—and individuals committed to racial equality.
A blog, no matter what its subject, no matter how large or small its reach, is a platform. You use it to make your thoughts and feelings known. What can a white librarian do to help, even a little, when injustice is so blatant? You can be an ally. You can work to actually actively fight racism when you hear it, see it, and you can acknowledge it. You can listen. Project Ready, a free online professional development curriculum by UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science (and that my library has been using to regularly educate its employees), created a rundown of what allyship entails. Yesterday, I was asked to create a booklist for my city’s patrons of some antiracist titles. I was immediately helped by about eight of my colleagues and, together, we created the following list of links. Please use this where it is most needed.
Best-selling YA author Jason Reynolds has grappled with racism personally and in his writing. The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature also recently co-authored a book for young people on fighting racism: Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. We’ve asked Jason Reynolds to join Kojo For Kids to help us understand what has led to the tensions we’ve seen over the last week, and to talk about why racism persists and what we can do to build a less racist society.
The murder of George Floyd, the community response to it, and the subsequent police violence are shedding some light on racism and its effects—in our country, our communities, and in our institutions—including in schools. Two teachers reflect and communicate about what they think educators should learn from the murder of George Floyd, including the importance of being anti-racist and challenging White teachers to acknowledge their implicit biases.
Since their beginning in 1967, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards celebrate notable titles in children’s books, middle grade and young adult novels. The books are sorted into the categories of picture books, fiction and poetry and nonfiction, and then reviewed by a panel of three judges. This year, the judges were Sujei Lugo, Leo Landry and Julie Danielson. In its first-ever virtual ceremony, Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of Horn Book, announced the award-winning titles and honor recipients in each category.
For the first three weeks that Alba Avila delivered virtual Zoom lessons, only four out of her 15 of English learner (EL) students had the technology needed to participate—the rest got hard copy packets. When her district finally purchased and distributed Chromebooks for families in need, Avila, a fourth grade dual language teacher in San Antonio, was tasked with getting students online. Like Avila, teachers and school leaders across the country made the herculean move to remote learning in response to COVID-19 with no time to prepare and little federal guidance. Published two months after this frantic transition, new guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) aims to clarify what schools and teachers should be doing to fulfill their responsibility to the country's nearly five million EL students during school closures. Federal officials say schools and educators must provide “meaningful access” to remote learning during school closures, but they give schools the flexibility to determine how to provide access to these learning opportunities.
Four out of 10 of the poorest U.S. students are accessing remote learning as little as once a week or less, according to a new survey from ParentsTogether, an advocacy group. By contrast, for families making more than $100,000 a year, 83% of kids are doing distance learning every day, with the majority engaged over two hours a day, the survey found. From the beginning, experts in distance learning warned that it can magnify inequities, with the most able and highly advantaged learners humming along while learners who need more support fall far behind.
For 40 years, Communities in Schools has used a case management approach to confront the numerous road blocks keeping vulnerable students from graduation. Hunger, homelessness, depression, and needs as unique as the 1.62 million students the organization serves yearly in roughly 2,500 schools across the country. Until this March, all of these services were provided from a common hub: the school. With school buildings locked, Communities in Schools had to find a way to address the growing needs, and bring that solace and that safe space to students at home. Phone calls, Zoom groups, pen pal letters, even movie watching apps have become means of connection for site coordinators and the students they serve. Students who are hungry for connection in this uncertain and isolating time. Connection also gives staff a chance to check on new concerns that may be arising for their students. They knew they couldn’t take for granted that home was a safe place—physically or emotionally.
School districts are enrolling newly arrived students and children scheduled to start kindergarten in the fall—and federal law mandates that districts screen the students to determine if they need English-learner support services. Districts are using home-language surveys to determine if students are eligible to take an English-language screening test. But with social distancing requirements that prevent face-to-face screenings, schools must find other ways to assess how much support new English-learners will need in remote learning environments or when classes resume. To help out, the Council of the Great City Schools, a membership organization of the nation's large, urban school systems, has developed a set of sample questionnaires to be used as provisional screeners for English proficiency during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The new question-of-the-week is: What are ways to make lessons more "relevant" to students' lives? Shawn Wooton and Dawn Mitchell from Spartanburg School District in South Carolina write about culturally inclusive practices that add relevance to instruction. Kevin Parr, a 1st grade teacher from Wenatchee, Washington suggests that teachers find relevance via "small things," for example, responding to a student's writing with personal comments related to the student's story (not only the style and mechanics) can help make learning more relevant. Michael Haggen, chief academic officer for Scholastic Education, says that relevance = engagement and to provide access to high-quality authentic texts. Keisha Rembert, an 8th grade English and U.S. history teacher at Clifford Crone Middle School in Naperville, Illinois, suggests bringing in students as co-teachers. Find more suggestions in this blog post hosted by Larry Ferlazzo.