Free New York Times Webinar for Discussing Race and Racism in the Classroom

laptop with news on screen on wooden table

The New York Times is offering an on-demand webinar for teachers to learn about ways to use the NYT resources to discuss race and racism in the classroom. This is a free webinar, but you will need to register in order to access it. You will be able to download a certificate as evidence of professional development hours. In addition, there are comprehensive resources available here. Nationwide attempts to discourage and even outlaw discussions like these make it more important than ever for these conversations to happen. I will be adding this resource to my Anti-Racism Wakelet. You can find more links to free materials to help you actively stand up against racism there.

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Plotting Plots

If you have a fascination with literature and graphs, you may have seen LitCharts, which I wrote about back in 2016. LitCharts includes an interactive Theme Wheel for each of the works of prose covered on the site, such as this example for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I enjoy the meaningful conversations students have as they analyze such charts, often giving me many new understandings about the books from their perspectives. “Plotting Plots” is a website that also aims to give you alternative visualizations of books, though its “library” is not a comprehensive, yet, as the one you will find on LitCharts. Tom Liam Lynch is open to suggestions for new books to add as well as any other feedback from users. On this site, you choose a book, then select up to four words from the book that you would like to see plotted on a graph. The graph shows you the chapters where you will find those words and their frequency. For example, here is a graph I made for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:

I would ask students to do a “See, Think, Wonder” activity with this graph to find out what they already know about the book, what assumptions they might make based on the numbers, and what questions this prompts. I would say, having read the book a few times, that I think Chapter 5 is right around when Harry comes face to face with blatant displays of magic for the first time, and I would wonder why friendship does not appear very often in the book despite the relationships he develops with Hermione and Ron.

The blog posts on the site are equally intriguing, such as this one on The Hate U Give, where Lynch gives us some insight into his realization that the parents play a more important role in the book than he initially assumed.

Because I love seeing the way different people can find to creatively use graphs and infographics for deeper understanding, I have this new Wakelet to share with you. As you will see, graphing is not just for math!

Reimagine, Recreate, Restore

The beautiful poem, “Reimagine, Recreate, Restore” was written and performed by Jordan Sanchez for World Environment Day this month. You can’t help but feel inspired to get up each day and do something positive to preserve our beautiful world. I will be adding this to my poetry Wakelet, which also includes this blog post on Spoken Word poetry. To learn more about Jordan Sanchez, visit her website where you can also find other examples of her incredible work.

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Podcast Pedagogy

In my latest post for NEO, “Podcast Pedagogy: Leveraging Audio Programs for Learning,” I talk all about the power of podcasts in the classroom – listening and responding to them, as well as creating them. This industry has really become popular in the last few years, and there are so many free materials out there that you and your students can take advantage of for learning and creativity. One fun new app that I mention in the article is “That Part,” which I have enjoyed using to save snippets of podcasts that I want to remember. It’s currently in beta, so there is a glitch every now and then, but it has been great to just take a screenshot of a podcast while I’m walking my dog, and using the app later on to share out the moments of inspiration I think family and friends will appreciate. One resource I don’t share in the article (because I discovered it after the article was submitted) is this awesome free podcasting template from SlidesMania.

If you’d like to catch up on my previous articles for NEO, here’s the list: Six Ways to Support Spatial Reasoning Skills Online, Let’s Talk a Good Game: Mining Talk Shows for Classroom Engagement Ideas, How to Do More with Less Screen TimeHow to Facilitate Meaningful Discussions in Hybrid or Virtual ClassroomsTop Ed Tech Tools for DifferentiationFrom Normal to Better: Using What We’ve Learned to Improve EducationApplying Universal Design for Learning in Remote ClassroomsHow Distance Learning Fosters Global CollaborationHow to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom, and How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning.

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LatiNext Poetry Project

April is National Poetry Month in the United States, and it is not too late to celebrate! You may remember when I posted about the Teach Living Poets site way back in January right after being blown away by Amanda Gorman’s recitation of the poem she wrote for the Inauguration. Scott Bayer (@LyricalSwordz), who contributes to the Teach Living Poets site, tweeted out this amazing interactive Google Doc of poetry and accompanying lessons for Latinx poets featured in the publication, LatiNext, from Haymarket Books. Next to each of the eleven poets’ portraits, is a link to a detailed lesson plan, and a link to an interactive image made with Genially that provides even more resources. Kudos to Scott Bayer and Joel Garza (@JoelRGarza) for putting together this excellent compilation of meaningful activities submitted by participants in #TheBookChat. In addition, thanks to the @breakbeatpoets editors, @_joseolivarez @WilliePerdomo and @writeantiracist!

For more Poetry links, visit my Wakelet here. I also have Wakelets for learning about Amanda Gorman and Anti-Racism.

Spoken Word Poetry

With the excellent example of Amanda Gorman reciting her poem during this year’s Inauguration, I have a feeling there will be an uptick of interest in authoring and performing spoken word poetry. Of course, spoken word poetry has experienced waves of popularity over the years as you can read in this article from 2020, or see in this collection of videos from Edutopia in 2014. But, as Professor Kathleen M. Alley states, “When I heard Amanda Gorman recite her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Biden’s inauguration, I instantly decided to throw my plans for the week out the window. I hope teachers throughout the nation will similarly be willing to put their regular lesson plans aside in order to seize the opportunity to use the poetry of Gorman to engage with students who are not much younger in age.”

To begin a unit on spoken word poetry, a teacher might use one of Amanda Gorman’s videos, a selection from the Edutopia link above, or perhaps one from this list curated by Amanda Cardenas. You can find advice on writing spoken word poetry from Masterclass, writer Tonya Thompson, and educator Shannon Reed. Lesson plans include this one from Facing History and one from Remake Learning – both of which weave in social justice topics – or this one from Read Write Think that approaches it with a bilingual perspective.

In case you missed this one in Amy Erin Borovoy’s Edutopia article, the video below shows that spoken word poetry can be written and performed by students at any age level. While younger children may not have the polished presentation style of an Amanda Gorman, they make up for this with their enthusiastic gestures and unusual choices for topics!

I will be adding this post to my Wakelet of poetry resources – all available to you for National Poetry Month in April!

Kenyanshilling, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons