Category Archives: Language Arts

Brave New Voices

When we see young people like Amanda Gorman on the world stage, we are astonished by what she has to say and the way that she says it. But the truth is, there are so many people her age and younger around the globe to whom we should be paying more attention.

For this week’s anti-racist post, I would like to introduce you to two more young ladies who understand what is really important. Unfortunately, I don’t have their names. I found them through the Teach Living Poets site. This website was founded by Melissa Smith (@MelAlterSmith), and is a wonderful spot to discover contemporary poetry by diverse authors. Smith, along with Scott Bayer (@LyricalSwordz) also created this interactive Google Slides digital library of living poets. Help your students to find poets who look like them and write about topics relevant to them by recommending and celebrating some of the authors on this website.

I will be adding this post to my list of Anti-Racism posts on Wakelet. Please consider sharing it with others, especially those who have the power to make a difference in the classroom. 

Blackout Poetry Maker

For those of you inspired by Amanda Gorman to make some poetry of your own, here is an online Blackout Poetry Maker that makes it easy. Though that surely is not Gorman’s method for writing her verses, blackout poetry is one of many “gateways” into this medium that students enjoy. For some other methods, here is a link to one of my old posts with more ideas. Be ready for National Poetry Month in April by writing your first drafts now!

(Can you guess what famous speech I used to create the poem below?)

Merge Mercy with Might

If you couldn’t tell from Monday’s post, I had already fallen in love with the poetry of Amanda Gorman. When our nation’s first Youth Poet Laureate read “The Hill We Climb” at the Inauguration today, I was moved to tears. Her words acknowledge the weight we carry while simultaneously lifting us almost effortlessly to a peak where we can look all around and see new hope. The poem declares that we can be strong as we admit our faults, and move on to correct them in a way that will both heal and empower us.

I added the link to the PBS New Hour lesson that was posted almost immediately following Gorman’s recitation to my list of Inauguration resources, but I wanted to give it a separate place here. For teaching ideas and a transcript of the poem, follow this link. Introduce this incredibly gifted young woman to your students because they are sure to hear more from her in the future.

The Moth Story Map

One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is, “The Moth Radio Hour.” It is a weekly compilation of autobiographical stories told by brave souls to live audiences. Last April I wrote about the Moth’s “Storytelling School.” All together, there are 32 lessons. Here is a link to their final one for 2020.

For the new year, the Education team at the Moth has put together a Story Map to help students create their own relatable tales from their lives. To help teachers demonstrate the pieces of the Story Map, there is a video of a student, Dante Jackson, telling the audience at his high school about, “The Prom” he attended in eighth grade. It’s endearing and funny, ticking all of the boxes in the 5 step Story Map.

In addition to the Story Map tools, there are invitations for students in the NYC area to participate in a virtual workshop, and for teachers of 5th-12 grades to attend a virtual Spring Institute. See the Story Map link for more information.

Snack Attack

One thing that I love about using Wakelet is that I can save Twitter threads. Sometimes I will see a Tweet from an educator like the one below asking for resources, and I will bookmark it so I can check later for the responses.

This how I found Snack Attack, an animated short that had me chuckling in empathy, outraged at the audacity of some people, only to find myself chuckling in empathy once again.

screenshot from Snack Attack short film

The video is less than four minutes long, but tells an excellent story with a fun twist at the end. If I were using this with a class, I would stop it at about 3:03 minutes in and ask the students how they think the two characters are feeling at that moment, and to back up their inferences. Ethics would be a fun discussion; who is right, and who is wrong? Then I would let it play to the end, glory in their surprise, have a conversation about stereotyping, and ask if they would revise any of their responses.

I’ll be adding this to my Pinterest Board of Inspirational Video for Students, which you can find here.

Weird Enough Productions

Tony Weaver Jr. is a hero. I don’t use that term lightly. In fact, I hesitate to use it at all. But when I started doing research on a Tweet from @ProjectFoundEd about this man, I discovered more and more reasons to admire him. In this 2020 world of self-serving politicians and celebrities, Tony Weaver Jr. is the humble, talented, and empathetic champion we need.

Every week, I write an anti-racist post, but Tony Weaver Jr. is one of the many Blacks in our country who dedicates his life to anti-racism. Though his activism stemmed from personal experiences, he explains in this TEDx talk, “Why the World Needs Superheroes Who Look Different,” how other young people were his true motivation. In the CNN video that first led me to seek out more information about him, Weaver expresses such honest emotion about his passion for his work that you know his dedication will never waver.

Weaver is the young entrepreneur who started a company called Weird Enough Productions. “We tell stories that inspire people to embrace their quirks, and get hype about being themselves,” it states on the “About” page. Weird Enough Productions is responsible for a project called, “Get Media L.I.T.” which provides a platform for teachers and students (age 12 an up) where they can use comics and lesson plans to learn about social-emotional topics, media literacy, and digital citizenships. The comics feature a group of young people called “The Uncommons,” who are a diverse cast of characters designed to be representative of the many faces in our population. When you sign up for Media L.I.T. as a teacher, you will have a dashboard to which you can add classes, make playlists of the comics, and push out assignments. Each lesson is either categorized as, “Learn, Inquire, or Transform.” This tutorial for getting started is very helpful.

Get Media L.I.T. is exactly the type of material that will appeal to young people – relevant and visually intriguing. It is a great way to teach students about topics that are not generally covered in the curriculum, and to expose them to fictional heroes who look like them. In addition, the “Transform” lessons offer ideas for how the students can apply what they have learned to make the world a better place.

I will be adding this post to my list of Anti-Racism posts on Wakelet. Please consider sharing it with others, especially those who have the power to make a difference in the classroom. You can learn more about Tony Weaver, Jr. here.

screenshot of Tony Weaver Jr. from “Why the World Needs Superheroes Who Look Different”