By: Iris Sun, Elizabeth Parry, Emily Wilder, Rumer Wilkinson, Carrie Barlow, Emma Moore
For our final product we decided to create a concordance for teachers on the text, Rethinking Elementary Education. We grouped sections in the text based on topic that teachers would teach (ex. immigration, death and loss, environmental issues). We hope that teachers can use this in their own PLC meetings in order to figure out quickly what resources they can use to teach a certain social justice oriented topic.
We were thinking for our culmination we would do a letter to an administration. This letter would give a list of concordance on the Rethinking Elementary Education text. We would list topics that teachers might discuss as a unit with their students (ex. Race, Gender, Immigration etc.). Therefore, if a teacher wanted to do a unit on race they would go to our list of topics from the text and then they would be able to easily go to that section of the book in order to find activities and lessons to do with their classes.
Current teachers, would this be something that you would be interested in having? Do you think that the administration would like this idea as well?
The music video above is from a local A Capella group, XIV Hours, from Durham Academy in Durham, NC. In the video, high school students sing to a mash-up of songs from “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke to Rihanna’s “Stay.” The music video shows the audience the overtly sexual themes that young people are hit with every day by the media.
In the Rethinking Elementary Education article, “Six Going on Sixteen,” Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin addresses the over-sexualization that she sees in her young students. Even though she teaches first grade she can still see the role that the media has played on her six-year-olds. She had students saying comments such as, “Yesterday after school Trina and Shayla got in a catfight over Brandon!” and “I got his phone number!” It concerned McLaughlin that comments that might not raise an eyebrow in a middle school classroom had become commonplace in her first grade room.
McLaughlin writes of initiatives that can help children from growing up too fast in a media centered world. These include “toy lending libraries” and Family Game Nights. Basically, anything that reinforces a strong sense of community. McLaughlin also states the importance of pretend and creative play for children. Her spring curriculum plan was “Imagine, Pretend and Play.” She wanted children to be in charge of creating their own stories, inventing scenarios and thus, evolving as powerful individuals. Her goal for these initiatives was to help stop the commercialization of childhood.
While XIV Hours might be a teenage group, our own elementary students are listening to most of these same songs and hearing the same lyrics. As McLaughlin states, “Children are complex, and pop culture and media are not the sole cause of their troubles. However, protecting them from a corporate world that forces them to grow up too soon, and promoting their creative play are giant leaps in the right direction.”
**(I encourage you all to take a look at the XIV Hours video. Along with this, if you are planning on teaching high school students this video could be a great resource for a class discussion).
“I want my 5th graders to regard themselves as part of a broader human family and to think critically about the border and the way it legitimates the ‘us’ and ‘them’ divisions.”
-Bob Peterson, “Crossing Borders, Building Empathy”
We would definitely want to do a unit on immigration with our elementary school students.
Getting personal with your students: It is important to remember that students come from various backgrounds and that some may not feel comfortable sharing their personal lives and that some parents may specifically tell their children not to talk about family life in the classroom.
The AIDS section brought up this general question: How do you deal with tough topics when some of your students may have a personal connection to them? What if a family member of theirs had AIDS or what if their families had immigrated etc. etc.? How do you make your students feel comfortable and safe in the classroom? How do you approach these topics without having a full grasp on the students’ lives at home?
It would be interesting to develop a mental health unit with your elementary students. It is a topic that is really not addressed and many of us have not talked about it until we got to college. It would help students know what mental illness is and also how to handle it if their peers may develop it or if they themselves might develop it.
Questions for Teachers:
- Do you feel comfortable having students “act on” passages in a reading when the topic may be difficult or controversial? If so, how do you go about doing this?
- What other topics could you implement where the main tactic of learning is group discussion?
- We were surprised by using the “mock trials” in a 2nd and 3rd grade classroom. We were thinking back to 2nd grade classrooms that we have worked in and we were not really sure if the students would understand the concept of a “mock trial.” Would this just go over their heads? Would you use this activity for 2nd graders? If so, how would you go about teaching the students how to act in the trial/what it is/how to go about telling them what are appropriate things to say and bring up?