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Reading, Writing, and Rising Up

On the whole, we liked Reading, Writing, and Rising Up by Linda Christensen a lot. We weren’t expecting the amount of narrative that was present in the book, and the peer dynamics and student-teacher connections that the author described.

We liked the specific examples of social justice oriented lesson plans and how to incorporate social justice into our classrooms. However, it left us with a lot of questions about how to incorporate social justice into a classroom where students aren’t from the areas or situations Christensen was teaching in. We also were left questioning how to grade writing and narratives, especially those that Christensen encouraged were for the purpose of expression and discussion. If we ran our own classrooms completely, without anyone else to answer to, we could use all of the lesson plans and lead extremely social justice conscious classrooms just the way Christensen described (and it would be absolutely lovely), but the reality is the book doesn’t offer a lot of alternative assignments that aren’t so intensive.

But on the whole, we loved the book. Particular lesson ideas that we liked were the Tea Party (making students interact as if they were characters from the books they read at a Tea Party), the re-examining of cartoons with a critical consciousness, and the Forgiveness Poems (which can even be adapted to write from characters’ perspectives). The connections Christensen made with her students are narratives that we hadn’t experienced in our limited realms of education thus far, and it was truly enlightening to see how transformative teaching can be. We also felt like Christensen’s book provides a good starting point of how one can look at social justice pedagogy, and we would recommend the book particularly for teachers or future teachers trying to get acclimated with social justice issues and how to incorporate them in the classroom.


A Reflection on Resources

During this week, we reflected on the lesson plans introduced in the book used by the author her classroom. .As a whole group, we liked the emphasis on dialogue and narrative works because it encapsulates the students’ home language and culture. Relating the book and its offered practices to other resources and standards gave us an interesting view on activity application in the classroom. Activities utilized in curriculum have to fit with the relatively new Common Core Standards.

One of the more relevant activities the author used in her classroom includes analysis of perpetuated stereotyped in child-geared media. Disney movies took the focus in this activity. One example of a stereotype embedded in Disney movies is the idea that the female characters are actually damsels in distress. The author’s students really got into this activity because it allowed them to analyze things that they were exposed to from a young age.

Melissa really enjoyed reading about the tea party activity which consists of students coming up with descriptions of characters and then brainstorm how they would interact with them at a tea party. She made this activity a part of the lesson planning in our Curriculum bubble map assignment. The example the author included was for the idea Their Eyes Were Watching God. With the cultural differences, students would interact in distinct manners reflective of their own culture. 



Hannah wished that the author discussed more about how she graded her students. Although she focused on the activities and their implement in the class, she did not address how she evaluated the activities that they completed in class.

Reflecting on the author’s practices allowed me to predict what I may use in my future classroom. I love the idea of using real-world examples in my classroom, such as comparing Disney movies to characterization and stereotypes in media, because it provides a relatable instance for kids to learn. I don’t know if I necessarily would use all of these methods in my classroom, as I will be in an elementary classroom for my career. However, the students in middle and secondary grade levels will benefit from these practices.


Final Product

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.



Book Review Group 14 11/16/15

Rethinking Early Childhood Education

Edited by Ann Pelo

What we read:

Part 1

“What Color is Beautiful?” (Alejandro Segura-Mora, 3-6)

“Why an Anti-Bias Curriculum” (Louise Derman-Sparks, 7-12)

“Developmental Themes, Tasks, and Goals in Anti-Bias Work” (Margie Carter and Deb Curtis, 13-16)

“Raising Issues of Race with Young Children” (Rita Tenorio, 17-22)

“Using Persona Dolls to Help Children Develop Anti-Bias Attitudes” (Trisha Whitney, 23-28)

“Where Are the Game Girls” (Ann Pelo, 35-40)

“Rethinking the Three Little Pigs” (Ellen Wolpert, 41-42)

“What if all the Kids are White?: Anti-Bias Themes for Teaching Young Children” (Louise Derman-Sparks and Patricia Ramsey, 43-48)

“Unwrapping the Holidays: Reflections on a Difficult First Year” (Dale Weiss, 49-54)

Part 2

Part 3

“Testing Lang” (Amy Gutowski, 113-114)

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

“Welcoming Kalenna: Making Our Students Feel at Home” (Laura Linda Negri-Pool, 161-170)

“Talking the Talk: Integrating Indigenous Languages into a Head Start Classroom” (Cathis DeWeese-Parkinson, 175-176)


(We chose to read stories that were based closely on what we were learning in class so we could relate the readings to the articles we read for class)



     In summary, the chapters that we read in the book were a collection of stories that taught about dealing with social justice and teaching young children. The majority of the stories we read were from Part One, which talked about anti-bias and culturally sensitive teaching and learning. The book shows us how, as early childhood educators, how to be activist for all different types of families and students in our classroom, while providing a nurturing and empathetic environment. The stories provide us an opportunity to rethink early childhood educational practices.

     We overall really enjoyed the book and all of the advice and emotional stories it had to offer. We liked the fact that the book gave us difficult situations and then offered solutions to these problems. The book gave us new ideas about ways of thinking. There are so many lesson plans and ideas that the book provided to further our effectiveness in the classroom. It is full of progressive stories that engaged us to want to read more. It allowed us to critically think about subjects and the hidden bias that we may not have thought about if we didn’t read the book. The book overall improved our understanding of touchy subjects in education. We think that the book is an excellent teaching guide for new and old teachers.We were not able to finish the book, but we will continue reading the book on our own because it is a great resource.


Teaching Science for Socail Justice Book Review

Overall, we would not suggest Teaching Science for Social Justice to people interested in learning how to implement a social justice curriculum in the science classroom. Though our expectations may be partially to blame, this book did not focus on science in the classroom,rather it focuses on utilizing science in the community for a community building project. We can’t deny that the project that took place within the book was interesting and the anecdotes about the children involved were poignant at times, but, the book was redundant and dragged on. It was agreed upon that the chapters were too long and the book would be much improved if chapters were shorter, cut straight to the point and were more informative. Even though we did complete the book, we felt as a group that we could understand the whole gist of the book and the moral of the story in just two or three chapters. Because of this, it was necessary for us to depend upon other resources for discussion. 

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.

Social Media in the Classroom (Continued)

By: Mckenzie Vass

Facilitator: Cady Childress


Social media gives people today a new way to experience history in real time. Using the recent terrorist attacks in Paris as an example, we discussed how social media such as twitter not only gives the public instantaneous access to events happening worldwide, it also provides an avenue for the public to react and responds to the events.

For instance, under a post by the Huffington Posts on twitter for November 13th during the attacks, there were thousands of retweets and comments. This gives social media immense power over how historical events are told; news outlets and the general public can receive information and share it instantaneously, regardless of whether or not it is wrong or biased. It also has the power to engender critical thinking and discussion, because it is news from the people and not biased news outlets. It can be analyzed in two different ways.

Using social media for current historical events or past ones can be great in the classroom, because they actively engage student thorough a platform that they genuinely enjoy. An idea we had for a classroom activity with social media was having students complete a project in which they have to recreate what they believe a social media website would look like during an historical event. They could tweet what famous people, news outlets, the public, etc. would say in that moment the event was happening as if they had access to social media at that time.