Tag Archives: perspective

Thirteen Reasons Why


You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own.  And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part.  Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective.  When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life.  Everything…affects everything.  

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

When you post an embarrassing photograph or video of someone else or you forward an inappropriate email or you continue adding to the rumor, think twice.  As one of my undergraduates said it best last semester, “If you’re not part of the solution; you are part of the problem.”

Props to Jay Asher for writing such a powerful story about the consequences of our actions in Thirteen Reasons Why.  It is required reading for one of my undergraduate technology courses next semester and I strongly suggest that you add it to your must-read list too.

What are your   you engage, model and teach empathy and perspective early and often in our classrooms?

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#sschat Reflection: Teaching What Matters Most


Last night I was so proud to call myself a social studies teacher!  The #sschat last night focused on how to cover real-time historical events in your classroom.  It made me miss teaching.  There is a special heartbeat about being in a school that is hard to replicate in higher education.  What last night’s chat made me miss most of all was teaching “Curran” events in my middle school classroom.

For the most part, I remained somewhat quiet during the #sschat since I’m not currently teaching middle school social studies.  I wish I had shared one of my all-time favorite books, Dateline Troy by Paul Fleischman.  I used this book with my middle schoolers to demonstrate the power of using “Curran” events.  The book chronicles the Trojan War and suggests that we are still fighting that very same war today, “Though their tale comes from the distant Bronze Age, it’s as current as this morning’s headlines.  The Trojan War is still being fought.  Simply open a newspaper.”

I loved using the newspaper as part of my curriculum.  I used to drive to Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts to pick up newspapers from different parts of the country and the world for my students to read, compare and examine.  As the chat progressed, I was struck by how much and how fast the world has changed since I first started teaching in 1993.  I wouldn’t have to drive to Harvard Square to pick up my newspapers anymore.

Social media has changed the landscape.  If I were in the classroom now, I’d want to use Newspaper Front Pages: Death of Osama bin Laden to examine headlines from different newspapers and we’d create classroom news articles using Scoop.it. I would use The Choices Program: History and Current Issues for the Class on a daily basis.  We’d use Twitter to evaluate perspective, as well as primary and secondary sources just like Ron Peck suggested last night during the #sschat:

We would also examine how quickly social media can alter history by retweeting a powerful, but totally inaccurate quote.  I’m guilty of retweeting this quote too!

 Out of Osama’s Death, a Fake Quotation is Born

I’d collaborate with my other #sschat teachers that I’ve met on Twitter, so our classrooms could learn from each other and model what it means to be a community of global learners.  Look at the thoughtful comments made by @virtual_teach third graders, Is it okay to celebrate Osama bin Laden’s death?  I would have loved to collaborate with her classroom and students yesterday.  For now, I’ll have to wait until the Fall semester when I teach a graduate methods social studies course.

I’ll end with this last thought, what social studies teachers do everyday is magic.  It is the most important work to be done in a classroom.  We model what it means to treat others, how to live in a community (our own and the world at large), we face issues of intolerance, teach empathy through the use of perspective and we foster curiosity.  I’m so proud to be part of the #sschat – it gives me such hope for the future of education!

P.S. Here’s the start of some resources I found on Twitter and #sschat: 6 Q’s About the News, Teaching Ideas: the Death of Osama bid LadenThe Post-bin Laden World,  Twitter First With bin Laden News, How to Discuss bin Laden’s Death with Children9/11 Osama bin Laden Links by @ShawnMcCusker, Bin Laden Resources by @gregkulowiec and the #sschat archive from last night. Please add any other resources that you have found valuable.

 

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Dinosaurs and Tiaras: Facing Intolerance


I love that my graduate students have challenged, tackled and addressed controversial issues this semester.  Our focus on digital citizenship has addressed issues of intolerance week after week.  I find myself challenging my beliefs and asking questions that I never even thought of when I first started teaching.

My transformation started this fall when the freshmen from Rutgers, Tyler Clementi took his own life.  I took it personally.  I did not know Tyler, but his suicide made me determined to focus on a solution.  Tyler Clementi could be my son, your son.  He was a brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend and neighbor.  This perspective launched me into uncharted territory.  I am the mother of a son.  What if this was my son?  What can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?  How can I make a difference?

The world responded and It Gets Better Project had people across the world stepping up and pledging to speak up against intolerance.  Celebrities posted their own stories and words of encouragement.  As our semester is coming to a close, I’m still concerned that I haven’t done enough.  Why do children and teens have to wait for it to get better?  Why can’t we make it better now?

Recently, the controversy around the J.Crew designer and her five year old son wearing neon pink nail polish hit the news.  Everyone seemed to have an opinion.  It made me dig deep.  My four year old is all about dinosaurs, but what would I do if he was interested in tiaras?  I kept coming back to the same questions: why would it matter?  Children need the opportunity to play and explore different roles – that’s what growing up is all about.  In middle school, adolescents try on new personas daily.  We support young adolescents as they figure out who they are socially, emotionally, physically, intellectual and morally.  Why are we not doing this in all phases of a child’s development?  What do we need to do as a society to change how we view others and accept individual differences?  Doesn’t everyone want to celebrate what makes us unique?  I certainly do!  I’m not waiting, I pledge to make a difference now.

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