Archives For October 2013

Looking for more than just sugary tales to celebrate All Hallows Eve.or Day of the Dead? Never fear; pick the treat just right for you, whether it be a window or a mirror.

 

Los Gatos Black on Hallowen by Marisa Montes

Looking for spooky Spanish vocabulary, then this Bilingual Halloween poem is for you.

Behind the Mask by Yangsook Choi

When A Korean-American boy trick or treats in his grandfather’s mask, “Talchum,” a traditional Korean mask dance, meets up with American trick or treat culture.

Shy Mama’s Halloween by Anne Broules illustrated by Leane Morin

Halloween is the way a Russian immigrant family finds acceptance.

Closet Ghosts by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Shiraaz Bhabha

When you move to a new country and find ghosts in your closet, it is time to call on the Indian Hindu monkey god,Hanuman.

Ghost for Breakfast by Stanley Todd Terasaki, illustrated by Shelly Shinjo

In 1920’s California, a Japanese-American boy and his father investigate a field of ghosts and confront their fears.

Ejoy a spooky night
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If you want to be blown away, keep your radar trained on what  Kate Messner, author of Eye of the Storm has to offer the world. If you can invite her for an author visit. If you aren’t in a school setting, follow her blog. Either way, you’re in for a treat.

After I read Eye of the Storm, I secretly wanted to be Kate when I grew up. Who wouldn’t want to tell such a compelling story while raising the reader’s awareness of sustainability and community issues. (See my previous post if you want to know why I admire the book so much). So I started following her blog and was in awe of her mentorship there. I shared Eye of the Storm with other teachers and suggested we bring her in for a visit. They were equally passionate about her work and so she came to work with the seventh and eighth graders.

Wow what a wonderful whirlwind of wisdom and world building! Students and teachers alike raved about the day. Here are some of their comments so you can judge for yourself.Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 11.06.33 PM

My own daughter, who’s love of story is of the musical or dramatic kind and not necessarily of  the reading or writing format, said, “Can you ask Ms. Messner for her presentation? I found it so helpful. I want to use it.” Another student said, ” I wasn’t sure I wanted to go, but it was actually really good.  Her suggestions for revision are things I would actually do.”

May we all inspire deep thinkers who are eager to share their stories!

a middle grade dystopian novel where science meets social studies meets terrifying what ifs

If a book stuffed to the seams with big ideas, makes your soul leap, then Eye of the Storm is the book for you.

I can’t think of a better page-turner to help future decision makers grapple with ethical problems than Kate Messner’s novel.

In the near future when massive tornadoes are a daily event and meteorological engineering is possible, Jaden Meggs spends her summer in a community-wide storm shelter created by her father. She also learns that her father is steering storms away from her exclusive neighborhood and toward the organic farms, the competitors of his bio-engineered food company. Jaden has to decide what her obligations are and to whom.

Kate Messner takes the modern day issue of global warming, creates a worst case scenario of daily tornadoes and leaves the reader wrestling with deep questions.

Who has the right to decide how to solve weather problems? The government? The scientists? The individual? Communities with access to power? Everyone?

Who has access to safety? Who doesn’t? Why? Why does it matter who has access? Are there similar situations today? In history? What other issues of access does society have?

What kind of foods do people want to eat? Does everyone have choice to eat the food they want to eat? Should they? How does that impact other people in the community?

These questions are some of what future leaders have to face. So why not use Eye of the Storm as a springboard for discussion. Some of you may dismiss this book because it doesn’t neatly fit into a multiple choice test curricula. But would you rather have a president who’s adept at filling out a standardized test or a president who uses his or her critical thinking skills and ethical compassion to solve problems?

I have so fallen in love with this book that I have convinced my seventh grade Science, Humanities and English teachers to work with me to create a research project. As we design this curriculum, we are looking at the STEM standards and environmental issues. We are focusing on, how individuals can take a stand within the context of society or a government and what skills they need to create change. We are also studying the dystopian genre and examining what the format can teach us about the world and about crafting a story.

All of our work has been inspired by Kate’ Messenr’s skillful dystopian novel. Thank you Kate Messner.

Some people pray for ordinary things and get extraordinary results.

Malala Yousafzai is one such girl!

The sixteen-year-old prayed to be two or three inches taller than her five feet. “But,” she told the crowd in Boston as she received a bronze bust of John F Kennedy, “I can now reach the sky because reaching you with my cause is the greatest height.”

I can’t imagine anyone standing taller in the name of women’s rights than this courageous global heroine. Malala has had strong women behind her, like her mother encouraging her to tell the truth, to speak up and raise her voice. She’s had brave women beside her, like all the other girls in her village who despite the Taliban’s disapproval, still go to school. Yet, it is Malala’s own mix of wit, humility, and way with words that has made her a towering international symbol for peace and the right to education.

Even though last October, the Taliban tried to assassinate Malala because of her efforts to gain access to education for women, she wants to return to her homeland of Pakistan. The passion with which she spoke about education broadening your world views was palpable. So it was easy for the audience to imagine her following her dream of becoming a politician. To serve her nation and to get education for every child.

Malala Yousafazai and her father Ziauddin in Boston last Saturday.

Malala Yousafazai and her father Ziauddin in Boston last Saturday.

At one point Malala said “I heard your voice through my heart.”And while she may not have won the noble peace prize, listening to her was powerful, peace inducing poetry for my soul. As a mother of a daughter and a library teacher, how could I argue with her adamant declaration that “It is the right of every person whether a girl or a boy to get education. It’s a responsibility and a duty that you must have knowledge. You must not be limited to your house .You must know about the whole world. You must know about other cultures, other traditions other societies, and learn from them.”

So let’s make sure we listen to each other’s stories, read them, tell them, and share them. I know that celebrating International Girl Day by listening to Malala and her inspirational story has reinvigorated me and left me a richer person.And maybe one day we can all stand as tall as Malala Yousafzai!

To hear clip of Malala’s speech,click here.

Here’s a link to the Washington Post’s review of her book, I am Malala: The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban which was released on Tuesday.

After expanding their cross cultural knowledge base, my students were almost ready to face the paparazzi. (See this post for how they got there)

In other words, they were nearly ready to play the “Get to know a Hispanic Hero/Heroine bingo game” that I created for them. But first they needed to do a little more work to be an expert.

  • They re-read their mini-biographies and reviewed why their person was famous. They had already highlighted keywords in the paragraph to determine that as the main idea of the paragraph. ( In case you forgot, I found their age appropriate biographies at Scholastic’s site for Discovery History Makers.)
  • They then identified at least one fact about their Hispanic Hero/Heroine that they thought their classmates should know. I had already told them they were going to be “interviewed” by the paparazzi (their classmates).
  • Students then received “Get to know a Hispanic Hero/Heroine bingo game”. Click here for a downloadable version.

hispanicherobingo

  • Once they had found a teacher, or astronaut, etc., they asked the student the name of the Hispanic Hero/heroine that he or she was portraying and recorded it in the appropriate square.
  • They then interviewed the Hispanic Hero/Heroine and recorded the “interview”.
  • The goal was to get a bingo and be able to boast about how much they knew about as many Hispanic Heroes/Heroines as possible.

This week, students will take their paparazzi questions and turn them into “WHO WAS/IS clues” to scatter around the school. Each clue will say ask a third grader for the answer.

This way each child can take pride in the beginnings of their journey as they expand their cross-cultural knowledge and understanding of Hispanic Heroes/Heroines.

Obviously, this unit on learning about Latinos/as can be adapted to any group of individuals. I particularly like thinking about windows and mirrors and groups that aren’t often addressed in the mainstream curriculum. So feel free to adapt this idea for differently abled people, or Cambodian contributors, or whatever under-represented group that you feel passionate to share with the world.

Let me know how it goes.

To help students broaden their cross-cultural knowledge base, I created a Hispanic Hero/Heroine game. I used it with a third grade library class but feel free to adapt it for different ages or for family use.

The unit had a number of objectives. Some were just to review. Some involved practice or mastery of common-core or information-literacy skills. And, of course, exposure to windows and mirrors content.

I wanted students to:

  • Understand a biography is a true account about a person’s life.
  • Read for the main idea
  • Identify keywords in the text
  • Use keywords to extrapolate the main idea
  • Learn how to turn facts into questions
  • Explore interviewing skills
  • Gain information about a particular person in a particular cultural experience.

Here’s an overview of the second lesson in the unit. ( See the first lesson in this post – list all people you know personally or otherwise who are of Hispanic descent).

  1. I gave each student their own mini biography  (a paragraph long) that I printed from Scholastic’s site for Discovery History Makers.
  2. I removed the name, and the job description for each person and created a fill in the blank. My name is…. I am a famous…. or I am famous for being a……. To download my template click here.
  3. Students read the biography and identified the person about whom they were reading.
  4. Students then highlighted keywords that were repeated over and over or had variations mentioned in the text.
  5. The looked at the keywords and determined the main idea or why this person was famous.

Roberto Clemente: the first Puerto Rican to be voted Most Valuable Player in baseball

For example if a student read about Roberto Clemente, he or she may have underlined Major League Baseball, great fielder, great hitter, Most Valuable Player, Baseball Hall of Fame. Then he or she would have said Roberto Clemente is a famous baseball player.

The mini biographies ranged in complexity so I gave the more abstract professions to those who were ready for the challenge and thus allowed for success for a range of students.

Stay tuned for how kids prepared themselves to face the questions the classmate paparazzi prepared for each other.

No matter your opinion on the Obamacare debate, there are unnatural causes of this country’s health crises that need fixing. So when the government shut down today,I felt compelled to take a hiatus from posting about Hispanic Heritage and instead share some startling statistics.

1)  Wealth equals Health

The single strongest predictor of your good health, is your position on the socioeconomic ladder. Your health is tied to your access to resources.  In other words, your zip code is the most powerful indicator of health!  Don’t believe me?  See how zip codes and class affects life expectancy in this map of Lousiville created by the filmmakers of the disturbing documentary, Unnatural Causes: Is inequality making us sick?

2) Inequity is bad for your Health

Fifty years ago, life expectancy in the U.S. ranked number one in the world. After the 1980’s widening of the economic gap, the U.S. ranks 29th. Today the top 1% own more than the combined ownership of the rest of the 90%. This makes us the most inequitable country.The U.S.  also has one of the worst health records.

3) More equity and longer lives for all

Countries like Sweden mitigate the difference between a family’s personal resources and equal access to the country’s resources. They make health care available to both the affluent and to those who work hard to make ends meet. Their citizens live longer and healthier lives than those in the U.S.

4)  Your neighborhood can change your life.

White neighborhoods have 4 times as many supermarkets and access to fruits and vegetables than Black and Latino areas. These communities are zoned in ways that there are more liquor stores and fast food franchises than the white neighborhoods. They also have higher rates of diabetes, obesity, and higher blood pressure.

5) There are lessons in the “Latino Paradox”

New Latino immigrants to the U.S. upon arrival have better health than most of the U.S. Population. However, after a mere five years of living in the U.S. their health declines. Within a generation they will be 50% more likely to develop high blood pressure and other health risk factors.

6) Sickness and in Wealth

People in the highest income groups can expect to live at least 61/2 years longer than those in the lowest income bracket. College graduates live five years loner than those who do not finish high school They also live two years more than those who have not finished college.

7) Sick Day or Pay Day

The United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t require employers to provide sick leave. 47% of private sector workers are faced with the choice of a sick day or a pay day. Which choice would you or do you make?

8) Third World Health is better

Many African Americans and Native Americans are less likely to reach the age of sixty-five than their counterpart in Bangladesh or Ghana.

9) It’s a tough ladder to climb

3 out of the 4 Americans who, in the 1980’s, started at the lowest rung of the income ladder, are still there.

What are you going to ask your doctor or politician today?

Watch the powerful documentary, Unnatural Causes: Is inequality making us sick? Or examine their comprehensive website to learn more about how class, immigration status, and where you live can change your health.