Category Archives: Student Post

Single-Sex Schooling and Gender/Sexual Identities: How Do We Support LGBTQIA+ Students During Development?

Hello all,

For our very last blog post of the semester, I thought we would be able to take the time to do some reflection and see what that looks like in the field of Psychology. For my child development class, I have been working on a toolkit for the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, in partnership with the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement. This toolkit will include evidence based-recommendations for teachers to access during their teaching careers in order to achieve what this class has been working to achieve: as much inclusion and support as possible.

In the last couple of Child Development classes, we have carefully read empirical and anecdotal articles about single-sex schooling and the effects, or non-effects, it has on student performance and sense of belonging, to name a couple, as well as how single-sex schooling may not be backed by scientific evidence to conclude that single-sex structure improves student academic achievement.

Along the way, we reviewed how psychologically, mentally, and emotionally challenging it might be for students who do not conform to cisgender, heteronormative identities. The LGBTQIA+ community will tend to feel less of a sense of belonging, and the single-sex structure and heteronormativity may discount and devalue their identities, which is very detrimental to children and young adolescents’ development.

Dr. Hunt discussed how some Republican senators are pushing to pass a bill that bans LGBTQIA+ instruction in the form of literature/texts, videos/documentaries, and such. This is very disheartening for many reasons. Recently, I have thought about teaching in Nashville, where I am closer to an environment of interest and some family. I, myself, also identify as a gay cisgender male. So, to hear about what has been happening in Florida and in Tennessee with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the banning of LGBTQIA+-supportive instruction gives a little sense of hopelessness for those with political power and disappointment that our careers are in the hands of white men in power.

Read one or both of the articles below, and let me know what your thoughts are about everything that has been discussed and anything that you want to bring in from the class.

Thank you guys, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Luis

The Learning Network: The New York Times’ Social Studies Resource

Hey class!

I have found a fantastic resource on teaching current events and lessons revolving around relevant topics to social studies instruction. Follow this link to view The New York Times’ Learning Network for Social Studies. This resource uses content from The New York Times to create “Lessons of the Day” surrounding a current or important history topic.  They also post graphs and other visual organizers with interesting and relevant social studies topics. Some of the recent “Lessons of the Day” have been about confederate monuments, black history, the invasion of Ukraine, and redistricting/gerrymandering. These lessons include warm-ups, vocabulary, questions to lead writing and discussion and further learning to dive deeper into the content. They have different tabs for lessons on U.S history, global issues, civics and social studies skills. I thought this website had some fantastic resources for teaching current or important historical events regarding social studies and civics. I think some of the lessons are too complex for elementary students but I think the resources provided by the site surrounding events we teach in the classroom can be great tools to aid our social studies instruction.

Do you think you’ll use this resource to aid your social studies instruction? Have you found any similar resources on your own? Link any others you’ve found below!

Hope everyone has a great week!

The World Map Projection Issue

Our last class was really intriguing as we talked about the different types of world maps. I was blown away by learning that the Mercator Projection is so wildly off lol… I believed some countries were more prominent than in real life, like Russia. Even though the Peters Projection stretches things out a little, I think the accuracy is much better than the Mercator, and it should be used in all schools, in my opinion! I would have loved to see just how massive Africa was before now. I always thought it was about the same size as South America!

Peters World Map (Laminated Poster): Schofield & Sims: 8601404371486: Amazon.com: Office Products

I found this article from 2017 that talks about Boston Public Schools and how they planned to switch from the Mercator Projection to the Gall-Peters Projection. They talk about the importance of showing countries as their actual size, and it is just a fascinating read.

https://brightthemag.com/heres-why-students-need-many-maps-to-understand-the-world-d3ba6507b9a9

How did you feel during the map discussion? Did you already know just how off the Mercator Projection is, or were you shocked to learn what we now know? What projection would you want to use in your classroom? Did you use a projection other than Mercator while in Primary school?

Book Banning? Really!?! What Year Are We Living In?

It’s 2022 and yet, if you do a quick internet search for book banning, hundreds of articles, interviews, and news stories pop up and they are not just from the past but rather are prominently featured in today’s headlines. Book banning (and book burning sadly), remain current issues.  While banning books has been a practice for years (dating back to at least the 15th century), current events have brought it back to the foreground for significant educational and parental discussion. What books are being banned and why? Who decides?

Book Banning has certainly spanned our country’s history, yielding numerous debates about controversial topics such as religion, politics, gender identification, and race; however, the real debate is over who decides what is and isn’t “appropriate”.

To Kill A Mockingbird, The Hate U Give, Maus, The Bluest Eye, and the entire Harry Potter Series are just a few examples of books that have been banned or are on a “watch list” due to “inappropriate” content. But the bigger question is, who deems book content appropriate? Is it parents? School teachers? School Administrators? School Boards? Librarians? Publishers? Politicians? Who ultimately should decide what is taught in schools? Is there a different standard for public libraries? What about the number of parents who complain about a particular book? What if only one parent is bothered by content in a particular book that is being taught in a public school classroom? Should that teacher be required to change their curriculum to appease one parent? What if more than one parent objects? What about the Mississippi assistant principal who was recently fired for reading a book to a group of second graders that was deemed “inappropriate” by school administrators who merely feared parents would complain? The assistant principal defended the book as just “a funny, silly book that can help teach kids reading can be fun”. How are educators expected to walk the line of appropriate and inappropriate when it’s extremely subjective and based on opinion? The answer seems to be: with extreme caution. 

Consider the following articles and news video attached below.

The History (and Present) of Banning Books in America ‹ Literary Hub

To Ban or Not To Ban? Virginia’s Schools Caught in a Battlefield – Dogwood.

 Austin Public Library condemns book banning in Texas

When you were in school, were you required to read any of the books that are now banned? Did you think about any controversial issues as you were reading them? Did any of the content give you pause, where you thought to yourself, hmmm, maybe this isn’t appropriate for me to be reading? As educators, are there any books you’ve recently come across that you now think you’d shy away from in terms of teaching? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Helping Children Understand the War in Ukraine

A significant thought lately, especially after visiting the Valentine, is how to answer questions about today’s biggest current event: the war in Ukraine. I have already experienced these conversations with children as young as 5 who are scared that something will happen to them. Yet, I did not know how to respond because what is okay to say to someone so young?

Woman holding her young son

I understand how important it is to be open with children because many of them can see right through you. This article linked here explains how to talk to children about the war in Ukraine in age-appropriate ways. As educators, our job is to teach our students about the world and what is happening in it. The students I have come in contact with who are aware of what is happening in Europe could be getting that information from home, friends, tv,  anywhere. Our job is to calm any nerves that they might have but still be open with them in an age-appropriate way.

Have you had any similar experiences, whether with the war in Ukraine or something similar? How did you handle it?

Did you find the linked website helpful when thinking about approaching this topic with children?

Lastly, I know that even if it doesn’t turn into WWlll, this war will be in our textbooks someday and will be something that we have to teach. Thinking about that is so scary and sad because it is literally happening right before our eyes. How do you feel experiencing this history when you know what impact it will have on us as we teach our future students? I personally am so sad thinking about it, but it is life, and this is our job. I believe that even if we can’t fix the world, we can prepare our students for it and make them the best humans possible 🙂

 

 

The Danger of a Single Story

 

Hi everyone!

               During class this week, we discussed teaching “hard history” (Learning for Justice), including slavery and American Indians. Within this topic, we explored the history we learned and what is still taught (Columbus, Presidents with enslaved people, etc.); collectively, we felt this was not doing anyone justice. As mentioned in previous posts and classroom discussions, we can not ignore parts of history; although we morally may not want to talk about Columbus, we need to (even if it is just to fulfill the SOL). However, we do our due diligence and tell both sides of the story.

               We watched the first two minutes of The TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story   (or if you’re in Diverse Learners, the entire talk); I remember in high school also watching it after talking about The Carlisle School. We are always so quick to tell our students and children, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” “give someone more than one chance,” etc., but we are hypocrites by only giving a single story when teaching history. I loved Adichie’s point to start with “secondly,” begin the story of American Indians with their arrows instead of the ships coming in from England; this does not eliminate either storyline but still tells an entirely different story. We can see this too with the book A Fine Dessert; unintentionally, the author tells three different single stories which worked to normalize slavery, the elite whites, and the division of labor. This is a single-story, but it is not the whole story – luckily, Dr. Stohr has shared with us multiple books and resources to utilize when looking for an appropriate and complete story to teach our students.

               Do you all have any single stories that stand out in particular to you? Further, have you given into the single story? Even Adichie, conscious of her thoughts and actions, fell victim to subscribing to a single story. Lastly, any thoughts on her talk? I find it so powerful, and despite seeing it multiple times, I’m always moved and entertained by her words.

Have a great spring break y’all (‘:

Who Decides What History We Learn?

         

          Tuesday during class, Dr. Stohr mentioned in passing how difficult it must be to pick which famous figures in history we learn about. This statement sparked my imagination; if I were to create my curriculum from scratch, who would my students learn about? Further, what in general would my students learn about? In a quick google search “deciding what people in history to teach about,” I stumbled upon a WordPress blog from a curriculum creator while reading; this quote struck me. 

“Debates about curriculum content will be fiercer in history than in most other subjects because many people feel their histories are an important part of what makes them who they are, and the range of what can be taught is so broad” (Newmark, 2020).

I couldn’t help but think, “how true” history in a general sense is so broad, and everyone has a different history. If permissible, we would all advocate for our own desired history curriculum. However, each state uses a committee of educators, curriculum specialists, academics, and community members to create its own standards for history (Schwartz, 2021). As we know, politicians too have a say in education and what our students are being taught; I wondered what you all think? Who should have the final say? Personally, I believe teachers/educators should have more say as they are the ones teaching. Further, I think different outside groups that advocate for our populations (i.e., a woman’s rights or Black rights group) can work with committees to adopt a more culturally aware history curriculum. Truthfully, America has had a dark history, but it should not be swept under the rug; instead, we should teach a well-rounded and authentic history. 

 

An interesting extra site to look at:

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/who-should-decide-how-students-learn-about-americas-past/385928/

Virginia History and Werowocomoco

I grew up in Michigan. When I moved to Virginia in 7th grade, I found it strange how Social Studies classes focused heavily on Virginia history, particularly Confederate generals. However, as I continue work on my 4th grade Digital Toolbox, I discover new Virginia historical gems. One thing that pleasantly surprised me is Virginia curriculum’s focus on Native Americans. I know shamefully little about Native American history and am looking forward to continually delving in.

Fourth graders learn about Native American tribes in Virginia; specifically, the framework incorporates tribe names, languages, locations, and habitats in addition to farming, hunting, and clothing practices. The curriculum also relays information regarding Powhatan and Pocahontas as well as modern American Indians. Although the framework mentions that Native Americans were forced inland, it does not put much weight on Native American oppression. Of note, students learn about recent archaeological dig sites including Werowocomoco.

In this blog post, I focus on Werowocomoco, a historically important Powhatan Indian town confirmed as an archaeological dig site in 2002. In class, we have discussed in depth the importance of using primary sources for student engagement. Artifacts from Werowocomoco are a great example of potentially useful primary sources. This website provides images and descriptions of American Indian artifacts and historical items. This one provides useful information about the Werowocomoco research project with maps, history, excavation information, and more. Lastly, this resource provides additional information and videos regarding Werowocomoco including an entire page dedicated to teacher resources. This is a great potential field trip opportunity as science topics can also be incorporated. Virtual field trips are even an option.

What are your thoughts on Virginia’s focus on Virginia history? As a teacher, what modifications are you planning on making to ensure history is honest and inclusive? Additionally, did you find these resources helpful? What facets of these resources would you consider utilizing? What resources (primary or otherwise useful) have you come across while working on your digital toolbox?

Helpful Teaching Practices: The Civil Rights Movement

Civil Rights Movement Timeline - Timeline & Events - HISTORY

In class, we discussed Rosa Parks. The Kohl excerpt (compiled from review of over 20 history textbooks) oversimplifies history while also painting Rosa in an overly emotional light using words such as “tired,” “angry,” and “stubborn.” Important figures including Ann Robinson are not addressed at all, and Rosa’s refusal to stand is inaccurately painted as the beginning of the movement. Thankfully, we used critical thinking skills and interaction with primary sources to poke holes in Kohl’s narrative. We can engage students with primary sources; carefully chosen documents (which can be adapted as needed) paint a significantly more accurate picture of the truth than many textbooks/secondary sources.

After this week’s class’s discussion and as I formulate my Bibliography, go over curriculum frameworks, and read my literature circle novel, I worry about how to approach difficult discussions. Specifically, as teachers, how can we both be honest about history but sensitive to the ages of our students? Also, how do we navigate today’s political climate while still being honest about history and honoring our students first? With a governor who bans Critical Race Theory, I worry about walking the line between educating children, telling the truth, fighting injustice, and losing my job.

I found this resource, which discusses five essential practices for teaching the civil rights movement, really helpful. The practices include educating for empowerment, knowing how to talk about race, capturing the unseen, resisting telling a simple story, and connecting to the present. This resource even makes some suggestions that Dr. Stohr implemented during her model lesson such as encouraging critical thinking when encountering Kohl’s excerpt.

How have you addressed these delicate topics with students or your own children? Did you find this resource helpful? What aspects of this resource could you implement in your classroom? As I mentioned in a previous comment, I also read Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey, which gives great tips on approaching race conscious teaching. Are there any additional resources you all recommend?

Why Is It So Hard to Pick Those Five Words??

There is so much content to teach but so little time. As we did the “George Washington, Spymaster” activity in class, I had difficulty picking only five words that I THOUGHT should be taught to a fourth-grade class. As Professor Hunt said, some teachers are lucky enough to be placed in a school where they are given the vocabulary that they need to teach. But others, not so much. We were given three paragraphs to pick those five words from. Just think about when we get a whole unit to sort through! Did you also struggle with the activity? How did you decide what words you thought were the most crucial for learning? 

The whole activity got me thinking about the different ways that we as teachers can get those essential vocabulary words remembered by our students. Growing up, I remember learning vocabulary every week by taking a worksheet home full of that week’s vocabulary and a dictionary. I would have to write down each word in my notebook and then find the definition in the dictionary. I would do that every week, which was not beneficial to me! How did you learn vocabulary in elementary school? Is it something you would bring to your classroom, or have you learned a new helpful way to teach vocabulary? 

I found this website done by two social studies teachers, and it has some great ways to teach social studies vocab to your students! Very interesting to read and poke around in. Mr and Mrs Social Studies – Social Studies Vocabulary Activities