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Diversity Matters: Books About Being an Advocate

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to present at the National SDE Conference on Differentiated Instruction.
My presentation was on Teaching Diversity through Children's Books.
I discussed the importance of knowing who you are as a teacher, knowing the standards you must teach, and most importantly, knowing your students.  
One element of my presentation that I want to share with you, is the need to have books in your classroom library that reflect the real world.  Once you establish a variation of books that reflect the students in your classroom, the community you work in, and the real world, teachers must make an effort to apply those books to the curriculum and learning of their classrooms.
It's vital that these books read, re-read, and read again. Children need to engage in all kinds of literature and it is our job to put those books in their hands.

Today, I want to share with you the first of many posts about diversity.
Each week, I will share with you one genre of books that focuses on diversity.
This week's focus; being an advocate.

I created my own, Tutu Scale, to grade each book. The scale runs from 1 tutu to 4 tutus. Here's an explanation:

Ballerino Nate  tells the story of Nate, a boy who wants to dance, but is constantly told, "boys don't dance".  He is constantly confronted with the notion that boys don't and shouldn't dance.  Nate learns an important lesson about following his dreams, even when people don't believe in you.           


The Yellow Tutu has a special place in my heart.  It was given to me by a co-worker, and I just LOVE the story.  Margo receives a beautiful new yellow tutu for her birthday.  She is so excited to wear it to school.  However, her classmates don't think the tutu is so special.  It's not until Pearl speaks up about her own tutu, that Margo begins to feel better about her outfit.  

Say Something is all about advocacy. A girl sees something mean happen, but doesn't say anything.  As the story goes on, she learns an important lesson about speaking up for others. Full disclosure: While I really like the message of this story, I feel like it doesn't completely hit the mark for me.  I felt like I needed a little bit more from the character at the end.  I recommend it for the classroom because I think the message is very important.

The Invisible Boy perfectly illustrates how students how it must feel to be a student who is excluded.  Brian spends a majority of his time being unnoticed.  He isn't included in games and activities and often spends lunchtime eating alone.  Things start to change for Brian when a new kid comes to school.  

The Juice Box Bully is a story that reinforces the importance of establishing a no tolerance classroom community.  When a new student starts to behave in a way not aligned with the classroom's "Promise", students speak up. 

Honestly, any of these books would be a wonderful addition to your classroom. 
Be sure to pre-read these books before reading them to your students. 
While pre-reading, find important places in the story to dig deeper and allow students to ask questions.

Do you have any suggestions of books that discuss being an advocate?  
Leave a comment letting us know your ideas!

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How Kwik Stix saved my sanity

It's the end of the school year and I'm working with about 7% patience.
I'm tired, emotional, and tired.
But I'm still trying to make these last few days count for our kids.

Earlier this year, I went to the Teacher/Blogger retreat in French Lick and received a free set of Kwik Stix solid tempera paint.
At first I was like...ooook Kwik Stix...I'm sure you tried but there's no way this is better than the normal liquid paint we use all the time.
So...I came back and the paint just sat in my supply closet.
For real. It just sat there and I kept telling myself to use it but...never stopped to make an effort to connect painting to a lesson or our learning.
Well, my kids had finally wrapped up our learning around Davis Town, and we've been talking about all of our memories this year when I had a thought.
What if we created a mural to tell others about our year in Kindergarten?
So we spent some time gathering some background knowledge. We watched videos of murals being made. We looked up images online, and listened to artists explain why and how they create murals.

I pulled out two large pieces of butcher paper, split the class into two groups and told led them into discussions about what their murals should be.
Next, each team member grabbed a pencil and began drafting their part of the mural.
Then, I pulled out the Kwik Stix.


First, I was amazed at how quietly they worked on their mural. I mean there was PAINT involved. Why weren't they screaming, dropping paint on the floor, and getting it all over their hands?
These solid sticks of paint meant, ZERO mess. ZERO mess. One more time, ZERO mess.

Ok cool, no mess but I was pretty sure the colors would be meh.
NOPE. The colors were so vibrant! It really brought their mural to life.

Ok, but I'm sure the paper won't dry quick enough and we will just have a wet ripped mess.
NOPE. The paint dries in seconds and doesn't seep through the paper, even after kids go a little cray with the paint.

I mean just look:

See their little hands are all over the paper! And ZERO mess. And look how beautiful their work is!

Listen, I'm not trying to get you to buy all the Kwik Stix in the world....
but go and buy all the Kwik Stix in the world.  Because after you use them, you won't want to ever use anything else again.
They come in neon, metallic and even in a 96 pack! 
The 96 pack is kind of expensive, so add it to your wish list for a later date.