Happy Diwali
Anti-Racism, K-12, Teaching Tools

Diwali Toolkit

Though many calendars have Diwali’s official date as October 24, 2022, this “festival of lights” is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs in many regions for 5 or even 6 days. Depending on the region, Diwali traditions may differ, as the purpose for celebrating may also vary. However, according to the Hindu American Foundation, the common themes are the “symbolic victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.”

I have collected some Diwali resources to share with your students in this Wakelet, including a free downloadable toolkit of lessons from the Hindu American Foundation. Along with the toolkit there are some other lessons that are new to the collection this year, as well as some I bookmarked last year.

While I think it’s important for all students to have their cultures understood and for students to learn about the traditions of others, it can be difficult to avoid cultural appropriation. Here is a post I published last year that has some good resources we can all use to help us reflect on how we can encourage learning without reinforcing harmful stereotypes.

Anti-Racism, history, K-12, Social Studies

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2022

Among the many observances during the month of May, it is also Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States. To learn more about the history of this commemoration, you can read this article from NPR. It describes the evolution from a week of observance to a month, and why it falls in May each year.

I gave a few resources for AAPI Month last year, but I want to add these specific lesson plans from NEA to the collection. You can also find some great links on the National Park Service website and a “Care Package” of poems, meditations, and films from the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center here. The Smithsonian APA also has a page of resources for teachers here.

The theme for this year’s AAPI Heritage Month is, “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration.” In these days where there seems to be so much dissension and polarization, I find this theme to be a hopeful one that is a reminder of the benefits of working together.

I’ll be adding this post to my Anti-Racism Wakelet, where you can find other articles I’ve collected for the purpose of educating ourselves and combatting hate.

Arab Boy and Girl
Anti-Racism, Geography, history, K-12, Language Arts, Social Studies

April is Arab American Heritage Month

I know that it can be overwhelming to see all of the “special months, days, and weeks” that get paraded on social media. And I also know that it is not the best reflection of our country that we feel that we must assign months in the calendar to remind people that our nation is comprised of many cultures and ethnicities. However, one bright spot that I do find in bringing attention to some of these is that more resources become readily available. So I do want to highlight some of the ones that I’ve found for Arab American Heritage month.

As a reminder, many Muslims are observing Ramadan this month. However, you may be surprised to learn that, according to this source, only about 24% of Arab Americans are Muslims, and the majority of them are Christians. This is one of the many misconceptions we often have regarding Arab Americans, and you can read more here.

The American Arab Institute is one place to start when looking for resources, as it has a picture of the letter President Biden has written to acknowledge the month and also highlights the contributions of some incredible Arab Americans. There is also an interactive map where you can learn more about the demographics and trends in your area.

The Arab America Foundation has a curriculum kit for educators that you can find here. They also offer an abundance of links on this page. If you would like to combine your study of Arabian history and culture with an appreciation for poetry (since April is also National Poetry Month), you may want to do a study of the some of the works of Khalil Gibran or Naomi Shihab Nye (a fellow San Antonio resident!). I particularly enjoy this poem on Teaching from Gibran that I just discovered while researching this post.

I will be adding this post to both my Anti-Racism Collection and my April Holidays one. If you can take a moment to learn one new wonderful fact about Arab Americans and share it with your students, we will be taking another small step toward eradicating racism in our country.

close up photograph of person praying in front lined candles
Anti-Racism, Teaching Tools

Supporting Students During Religious Holidays

In my last post, I shared my collection of links for April celebrations. This year (2022), April includes a few holidays/observances of different religions, and I included some in my collection. I regret that I was not more sensitive to these when I was in the classroom, and I now see some ways that I could have been better. For example, I had no knowledge about Ramadan, which will be observed by Muslims from April 1st through May 1st this year. Why would understanding Ramadan have made a difference? Because it is a month of fasting from dawn to dusk each day, and may include prayers late into the night. This will obviously impact students who observe Ramadan, and teachers should be aware of it. Passover and Easter also occur this April, so it’s important to note the potential influences of these in your classroom, too.

I found a great article, original written for the American Federation of Teachers, on “Culturally Responsive Instruction for Holidays and Religious Celebrations” here. The article also includes, near the bottom, a good summary of how public school teachers can approach the topic of religion without engaging in religious instruction. One thing that should be considered is your purpose, as “most often, teachers intend to foster tolerance for other beliefs and faiths, and one of the best ways for teachers to do this is to plan ahead and to consult with informed sources, colleagues, parents, and the community.”

You can find some information about Ramadan, Passover, and Easter in my April collection, and I certainly invite you to share more links with me if you know of any. I will be adding this post to my Anti-Racism collection, and hope that you will follow me on Wakelet for future updates to all of my collections.

books on wooden shelves inside library
Anti-Racism, Books, K-12

An American Love Poem by Kwame Alexander

I would love for you to read “An American Love Poem,” by Kwame Alexander, published as an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times. I apologize if it’s behind a paywall for you, but I was able to access it without a subscription, and I hope that you can, as well. The poem is the author’s response to book banning, something that is becoming far too frequent in our country. I chose this as my Friday Anti-Racist post this week because it breaks my heart to watch books being removed from libraries based on bigotry, racism, and fear of making readers “uncomfortable.” Once again, we have people who are making uninformed decisions, and reducing what should be nuanced and thoughtful conversations into polarizing accusations of indoctrination and child endangerment. Why can’t we have civilized discussions among people who have read these materials and understand the needs of children, instead of kneejerk reactions to out-of-context quotes and clearly biased summaries?

I love the last line in Alexander’s poem because it centers this debate on the children, the ones who desperately need to understand their world and to see themselves in it.

“I want them to know
that banning a book
is like banning a hug
and that is a dismal storm
no child should be left behind in.”

I’ll be adding this post to my Anti-Racism resources, which you can find here.

light inside library
Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com
3-12, Anti-Racism, Videos

Race, Ethnicity, Nationality, and Jellybeans

It turns out that jellybeans work really well when you want to explain things. One of the videos that I’ve had on my Pinterest board of Inspirational Videos for Students for years has been, “The Time You Have (in Jellybeans).” Now I will be adding, “Race, Ethnicity, Nationality, and Jellybeans” to the collection. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever really examined those three words in order to consider how they are distinct from each other, but Eliana Pipes does an excellent job doing so in less than 3 minutes.

The narrator does speak a bit quickly, so you may want to show the video more than once, asking students to focus on different parts each time. I’m going to not only add this to my Pinterest Board, but also to my Anti-Racism Wakelet. In addition to the video, you may also want to check out the Western Justice Center School Tools website which is linked in the video description. It looks like the lesson on Culture and Identity could be a good one to use along with the video (it also includes other videos in the lesson plan).