13 November 2016

You've been Gobbled!

It's that time of year when we want to show others how thankful we are for all they do!
So, I created this FREE resource for you to show others how much you appreciate them.

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You've been Gobbled! works similarly to being BOOED!
You make two copies of the resource, add some gifts and goodies, and leave them for neighbor or friend.  Then they follow the directions and keep spreading that kindness around!

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You could even include an additional note, thanking them for the special things they've done for you!
It's so important to spread kindness and joy, I hope this resource will allow you to do so easily.

While you are spreading kindness and thankfulness, you might want your students to show their thankfulness too!
I have created a Thankfulness Craftivity Book for your students to write and create pictures to show who or what they are thankful for.

I love this resource because it allows children to express and discuss their thankfulness.  They love being able to take the book home and share their thankfulness with their families.

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But most importantly, please remember to be kind to one another.


07 November 2016

Diversity Matters: Books about strong girls and women

These books feature a strong girl or woman. They help introduce children to girls as main characters, girls who try new or hard things, or girls who are proud to be whoever they are.

If you have questions on how to take advantage of these (and many other books) wonderful books during the entire school year, please email me at vera@thetututeacher.com...we can chat!
This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links.

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And here's how I score the books:

Is the true story of Jazz Jennings a transgender teen.  Her story is so powerful and important to share with other children.  While I understand the conversations around gender can be difficult for young children, the deeper more meaningful message of acceptance is the bigger take away from this story.  Jazz describes her feelings as, "I have a girl brain but a boy body".  Teachers will have to provide some scaffolding and support with this story as not all children are familiar with idea of transgenderism but Jazz's story is an important story for children to hear.

This book is a wordless picture book, and when I first read it, my heart exploded.  Well not literally, but I was overwhelmed with emotions.  This is one of the most beautiful wordless books I have ever read.  Unspoken is the story of a young girl who comes is visited by a stranger, another young girl who is a a runaway slave.  Their exchanges are wordless...unspoken but the story speaks volumes about human kindness.  This book is appropriate for grades 2-5.

I have loved this book for years! It is beautifully illustrated and the story is one of my most favorites.  Elena is a little girl who dreams of becoming a glass blower like her father.  When she tells her father of her dreams, he tells her that glass blowing is only for men.  Elena, heartbroken but determined sets out on a quest to prove her father wrong.  You could pair this book with Drum Dream Girl, to have students compare and contrast the struggles both girls faced.

This is story is beautiful for so many reasons, but one important lesson from the story is the power of words.  A mother sings songs and tells stories to her daughter through messages on a cassette tape. We soon learn that the mother is in jail due to issues with her citizenship.  The little girl writes a very important story of her own, one that helps her mother earn her freedom. You will have to have conversations with students about immigration and citizenship to establish background knowledge, but this is a very appropriate book for grades K-5.

Please tell me you already have this book in your classroom library and you're looking for new opportunities to integrate it into your learning.
Phew! Thank you!
IF you don't have this book please purchase it as soon as possible. The message is powerful for both students of color and girls.  Grace is bright light! She enjoys singing, dancing, creating, moving, learning, and being herself! She is so excited to try out for the role of Peter in her school's performance of Peter Pan. However, there are some students who think that the role should go to someone else. Someone who isn't black and isn't a girl.  This story is great for students K-5.

What a timely book to add to your classroom library! Grace is astonished when she learns there has never been a woman president. She is determined to be the next female president of her school.  She learns a lot about herself and her peers while she campaigns.  This book is appropriate for grades K-5.


Ada Twist, Scientist and Rosie Revere, Engineer both by Andrea Beaty

I'm sure you know how amazing these two books are.  They are a vital addition to any classroom.  I love the message that girls can be successful in the sciences. Ada is always wondering "Why?". And while her parents and schoolmates can never quest her thirst for knowledge, she never stops learning.  Rosie loves tinkering.  She is constantly building and rebuilding but often times she is told, "But, you're a girl."  But Rosie never stops.

Well, it seems that ALL of these books would be a wonderful addition to any classroom.  It is important for girls to see themselves in books.  To see smart, strong, powerful women and girls in books helps our children know that they too can be smart, strong and powerful.

Do you know any other books that feature strong girls/women?

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05 November 2016

But, what about me?

I've thought long and hard about this topic.

It's something that has been swirling in my mind and I've struggled with finding the right words to say exactly how I feel.

Do you ever think about the presentation you are putting forth in your classroom? You try to make your blog a place for students to feel welcome and valued, correct? If you blog, are you ensuring students of ALL backgrounds are included in your posts, on social media, and in your resources? If you follow blogs, what types of bloggers do you follow? Click through to see if you are allowing ALL students AND teachers to be seen and valued. If you're not, learn how to fix that today!

We all know how important it is for children to be able to "see" themselves in our classrooms.

We find books that feature diverse characters and take the time to integrate them into our classroom libraries.

We talk with them about the importance of respect and inclusion and encourage them to be kind.

We know that they will group and experience hate, disrespect and exclusion but we want the very best for them and hope that they will overcome these experiences.

But, what happens when we become adults?

We know we all carry around biases.  We work very hard to keep those biases in check and hope they don't negatively influence our decisions and behaviors...but they're there.

What do we do as adults to ensure that those biases aren't affecting what we do and say with other adults?

First let me say this: I love the blogging community and I love the experiences I've had and friendships I've made by being a member of this community.

However, I want us to make an effort to be more aware of our biases.

When we create lists of
"Top Teachers to Follow on _____" or
"The Best Books to Teach _____" or
"Top Educational Leaders", are we aware of the diversity (or lack thereof) in these lists?

When we look at a lists of experts or presenters for conferences/presentations, are we aware of the diversity in these lists?

And if you're thinking, "Good thing I don't make any of lists," think about some possible exclusionary behavior.  Who are you including in your mastermind groups, or hops or other positive group experiences? Or, if you're thinking, "Good thing I'm not a blogger".  Who are the bloggers you follow or who would you recommend as "great person" to follow on social media?

What does it mean to be a diverse educator who sees these lists and never sees someone who looks like you on them?
Is the message, "You aren't good enough,"?
Is the message, "No one who looks like you deserves to be on these lists"?

Absolutely not.

I DON'T believe that people are CONSCIOUSLY making the decision to exclude diverse educators from these lists...

But, what about me? 

When I am constantly shown images of "top teachers" or "Teachers you should follow", and someone who looks like me isn't on those lists... it doesn't feel right.

It hurts.

It feels exclusionary.

Again, I don't think ANY member of this community is purposely excluding diverse educators in these lists...but my feelings are what they are.

After talking with my husband about my feelings, he mentioned something called KOL.

In the world of business, KOL stands for Key Opinion Leader.

This is someone considered to be the "go to" for a particular idea or thought.  There can be more than one KOL, there can exist a team of KOLs.

For my example, we will say the KOL(s) is like the lists of "Top Teachers".

If we agree that biases exist (whether conscious or subconscious), then we know that our KOLs are a list created with some bias (again, conscious or subconscious).
IF our list is created with bias, THAN we must do something to counteract the bias.  Those who create said KOLs, must make an effort to include some diversity  in their list to ensure they eliminate some bias.

Does this sound like affirmative action?

Yes, because it is.

But if you were to switch the word "teacher lists" or "KOLs", with "Children's Books", you would come to the same conclusion.

Example:  I teach a variety of learners and I want them to be able to "see" themselves in the classroom.  I know that I have biases (as do publishing houses) and I want to overcome those, to ensure my students see their value.  So, I purposely buy three books that feature a diverse character for every one book I purchase.  I want to over come the bias, so I am making an effort to do so.

This isn't easy, it means making a conscious decision to include diverse teachers into these lists.

That may feel artificial.

It may feel forced.

But it is what our community must continue to do, until it doesn't feel that way anymore.

Until when someone sits down to create a list, they are thinking of EVERY teacher, they have ever seen...and they've seen many teachers because we've all agreed to make an effort to include more diverse teachers.

Challenging our bias is tough. Its confusing and many times emotional. But when we've had the difficult conversations, asked questions and made inclusive decisions our answer to the question:

But, what about me?

Will be, "Of course!"

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