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A Concordance for Rethinking Elementary Education

We found this text to be a great resource for teachers, especially elementary school teachers. It is insightful and comprehensive. Every school would benefit from having a few copies of this text available to teachers.

PLC Group 3


Beginning of a concordance for teachers on subject matter in Rethinking Elementary Education:


Reading and writing (whole of Chapter 2)

  1. “Teaching for Social Justice” pg. 49, Ch 2
    1. An overview of how to move from progressive teaching to critical teaching
    2. “In addition to studying movements for social justice of the past, students discuss current problems and possible solutions”
  2. “Writing for Change” pg. 57, Ch 2
    1. Accessing students funds of knowledge
    2. Resource: Persuasive writing flow-charts
  3. “Patterns and Punctuation” pg. 66, Ch 2
    1. Teacher guided inquiry vs. student guided inquiry
    2. Resource: Punctuation inquiry chart


Children’s Rights:

  1. Confronting Child Labor” pg. 73, Ch 2
    1. Issues of domestic and foreign Child labor
    2. Resources: Child Labor Tea Party materials
    3. Examples of student work


The Environment:

  1. “Exploring Our Urban Wilderness” pg. 231, Ch. 5,
  2. “Polar Bears on Mission Street” pg. 236 Ch. 5,
  3. “Measuring Water with Justice” 241 Ch. 5,
  4. “Water Dialogue Poem” 247, Ch.5


Using science to relay the power of misconceptions and how to change them:

  1. “Learning from worms” pg. 248 Ch.5,
  2. “Rats!” (students defend classroom pets) pg. 253, Ch.5,
    1. “My students found their voices. They learned, through writing and speaking up publicly, about an issue that is important to them, that they can have an impact (258).



  1. “A Letter from a Black Mom to Her Son” pg. 261, Ch. 6
    1. “I felt very black and obvious because I knew that my experience was different from that of my peers. But I also felt invisible because this was never acknowledged in any meaningful way,” (262).
  2. “Peers, Power, and Privilege” pg 19, Ch. 1
  3. Who can stay here? p 182


Freedom of Speech:

  1. “The Power of Words” pg. 264, Ch.6



  1. “Defending Bilingual Education” pg. 269, Ch.6
    1. “More Need, Less Bilingual Instruction”



  1. “A Librarian in Every School, Books in Every Home” pg. 274, Ch. 6
  2. “Reading First, Libraries Last” pg. 277 Ch. 6



  1. “Think Less Benchmarks” pg. 282, Ch. 6
    1. “Essentially, it’s an expensive assessment program built on the assumption that repeated testing of children will help them do better on tests” (282).
  2. “Tracking and the Project Method” pg. 40, Ch. 1



  1. “Deporting Elena’s Father” pg. 285, Ch. 6
    1. People ask me, “How does deportation affection children?” The question I’d like to pose is “How doesn’t deportation affect children?” (286).

2) “Testing Kindergarten” pg. 297, Ch. 6

3) “They Call This Data?” pg. 303, Ch.6

4) “Who can stay here?” p182, Ch. 3

5) “Learning About the Unfairgrounds” pg. 86, Ch 2

6) “Crossing Borders, Building Empathy” pg. 91, Ch 2

7) “First Crossing” pg.96, Ch 2



  1. “Teaching the Whole Story” pg. 288, Ch.6
  2. “Heather’s Moms Got Married” pg. 10, Ch. 1
  3. “Creating a Gay- and Lesbian-Friendly Classroom” pg. 13, Ch. 1
  4. “It’s OK to Be Neither” pg. 15, Ch. 1



  1. “My Talk with the Principle” pg. 300, Ch. 6


Poverty/ Economic Inequality

  1. “Math and Inequaltiy” pg 207-208, Ch. 4**
  2. “Peers, Power, and Privilege” pg 19, Ch. 1

Dealing with Stereotypes

“Math, Stereotypes, and Voice” pg. 208-209, Ch. 4**

            Beyond Pink and Blue p 167

“Girls, Worms, and Body Image” p 176

“Save the Muslim Girl”  p188


Classroom Community

  1. “The Challenge of Classroom Discipline” pg. 3, Ch. 1
  2. “Inner and Outer Worlds” pg. 5, Ch. 1
  3. “Bad Signs” pg. 35, Ch. 1
  4. “10 Ways to Move Beyond Bully Prevention” pg. 32, Ch. 1
  5. “Helping Students Deal with Anger” pg. 24, Ch. 1
  6. “Staying Past Wednesday” pg. 29, Ch. 1
    1. Dealing with Death and Loss.



1) Beyond Pink and Blue p 167

3) “It’s OK to be Neither” pg. 15, Ch. 1

4). “Girls, Worms, and Body Image” p 176



1). TV Selfishness and Violence Explode During War on Terror. p 171



1). Beyond the Medal p 194

** Overall, Chapter 4 involves incorporating a variety of social justice issues into daily math activities, and does not specifically address one issue in detail.


A Letter to the Administration

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?

Thank you!

Six Going on Sixteen

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).

Immigration and Other Tough Issues in the Classroom

“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:

  1. 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?
  2. What other topics could you implement where the main tactic of learning is group discussion?
  3. 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?

21 September – Rethinking Elementary Education #3

Summary/ Main Points/Things That Intrigued Us:

This reading was about how to engage students in issues of social justice. The sections we read were as follows: Teaching For Social Justice, Writing For Change, and Patterns and Punctuation. The sections were all about students asking their own questions and engaging personally. Even in teaching topics such as punctuation, students’ personal opinions can come into play. For example, students were asked to go back into their own writing to look for specific instances when certain punctuation marks were used. Along with this, if a certain punctuation mark was not used they had to try to find a place where they might be able to add it in or write a new sentence where it could be added in. This shows that when students are able to connect topics to their own work/lives it will stick better with them in the long run. We also learned that students know much more than we think they do and that they have many opinions that people don’t even think to ask them! This taught us that we should not think “less” of elementary students’ ability to think about issues of social justice. Students, we have realized, are much more aware of events that are occurring in the world. The goal as teachers is to then help students conceptualize and discuss these issues.

Awareness is an important aspect of social justice. You don’t necessarily need to come up with a solution! We loved the idea of having a notebook or a list of questions up on the board. We would definitely like to incorporate this in each of our classrooms and add to it all throughout the year. You don’t need to necessarily find an answer to EVERY single question but its great just to be able to discuss opinions, problems and possible solutions.

We loved the teacher who decided to do a six-week course on students’ background information. This really corresponded to the classroom community that was addressed in the first chapter of the text. We also liked how many of the activities were built upon. Once an activity was completed it didn’t just end-the teacher built upon it in weeks to come until it all culminated into a large final production (such as a long poem or poster message).

Questions We Have For Educators:

  • How do you plan and even come up with a bunch engaging activities! Do you collaborate with other teachers? Do you all do something different? It seems like so many activities to plan each day! We would love some advice J
  • What issues are your students interested in? How do the issues very based on the different backgrounds that the children come from?
  • Have you incorporated lessons on social justice into your curriculum? If so, how much? Is it something that the administration supports?
  • Do you feel that students’ writing becomes more passionate when they write about issues that are personal to them? Would you be able to share with us some examples of anonymous student sample work that shows both interested and disinterested writing?

Group 3 – Rethinking Elementary Education: 14 September 2015

Summary of Assigned Reading 

The readings for this week dealt with a variety of emotional encounters that an elementary school teacher may have to deal with in his or her classroom. Topics that were discussed dealt with anger, death, and bullying, as well as the correct motivational attitudes the teachers should or shout not have. While there were many discussions in realtion to these situations, I think that one of the main focuses was learning that every emotion a child experiences is importnat. Parents and teachers are tempted to think that a child does not experience these difficult emotional issues, and tries to instead brush them off as irrelevant. However, as teahers we should learn to engage with each student, learning about their lives and being able to notice when they are struggling with something. By facilitating conversations about some of these more difficult issues, we as teachers can create more inclusive, safe environemtns where the children feel about respected and willing to listen and learn.

Conversation Highlights:

One important issue that we discussed in depth was bullying. We believe that there are many different types of bullyig that occurs in schools, and often it gets overlooked in the attempt to classify traditional bullying. However, in realtion to this we thought it was also important to emphasize the point that “labeling bullies” is both harmful and ineffective. Each child has the capblity of being bullied and also bullying others, and by placing a label on them we create stereotypes in teachers and students heads about how this child will behave. Instead, we feel it is important to make students aware of this fluidity and know that each person is a complex individual who experiences a variety of emotions and problems. As teachers we should encourage students to engage in these emotions, but in a constructive and safe way.

In addition to bullying, we discussed Alfie Kohn’s response to posters placed in classrooms and school hallways. While we found this idea to be quite radical, it was also interesting. We felt that his over all point of calling out teachers’ posters was that it challenged teachers to think about the materials they were posting to their walls, rather than blindly choosing things to cover blank space.

Questions to Educators:

What role do you allow emotions to play in your classroom? How do you show students that thoughts and feelings are valid?

Do you think your school’s policies on bullying help to prevent it or is it just slipping through the cracks?

How do you deal with bullying that occurs outside of the school? (eg: cyberbullying, neighbors, etc) How much of an influence can teachers/the school have in this situation?

Week One – PLC Group 3 – Rethinking Elementary Education

Summary of Assigned Reading 

For our first assigned reading, we decided to start with the first half of chapter one. This presented us with different ways that we as teachers can engage with as many diverse aspects of students as possible. It also touched on creating an open and safe environment for all sexualities and gender identities.

Connections to Course Materials

In our discussion we focused mainly on the topic of varying sexuality and fighting gender norms and how it should be addressed in the classroom. This tied into the lecture topic of the “King and King” controversy. Reactions to this picture book vary based on where it is read. It might be better accepted in a more liberal environment, unlike the rural environment the controversy took place in. We also discussed how the fact that the teacher might have received more backlash than a white female teacher might have because he is a black gay man.

Questions to Pose to Practicing Educators

How does one handle diversity in the classroom?

How would you handle the controversies in your classroom?

Is your job worth teaching a controversial topic?

Would the “King and King” controversy have even been a problem if the parents didn’t intervene?

Has your mission statement shifted?

Yes. We added that we seek to support teachers and students as well as challenge to look past social norms in light of our readings.

Next Week

Next week’s reading assignment is the second half of Chapter One. We will be reading more about diverse classrooms because we see it as one of the most important topics to cover.