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
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).

people woman street sign
Anti-Racism, history, Social Studies

iCivics Civil Rights Resources

I’ll admit that part of the reason I write these blog posts is that I am very forgetful and having a digital record of great educational resources has been a lifesaver for me many times. So when I saw the iCivics Civil Rights Resources I had to do a quick search of my blog to make sure I hadn’t written about this specific portion of iCivics before now. I was surprised to see that I have written posts about iCivics since 2011, practically when I started this blog. If you’ve never used it before, definitely take some time to look at it. It’s free, includes games and lesson plans for all grade levels, and has a teacher dashboard you can use for assignments.

The iCivics Civil Rights Resources are primarily for middle and high school levels. They include animated videos from the “Changemakers of the Civil Rights Era” as well as some practice using primary sources and some curriculum units. With President Biden poised to nominate the first Black female Supreme Court judge, you may be particularly interested in the video and lessons for Constance Baker Motley. She was the first African American woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court, be elected to the New York state senate, and be appointed a federal judge.

I’ll be adding this to my Anti-Racism collection, which you can find here. To access all of my Wakelets and/or to follow me as I update them daily, visit this page.

Constance Baker Motley, image from Flickr
man holding bottled water
6-12, Anti-Racism, history, Language Arts, Music

PBS NewsHour + Pear Deck Resources for Black History Month

February is Black History Month in the United States, but I have been trying to be inclusive all year by regularly posting Anti-Racism resources in this Wakelet. This week, I want to highlight a collaboration between PBS NewsHour and Pear Deck that was published for Black History Month — but could certainly be used any time of year. The two organizations are offering free interactive Pear Deck slides that integrate media such as Amanda Gorman discussing her famous inauguration poem and Misty Copeland talking about her book, Bunheads, and the stereotypes often found in ballet. The slide decks include discussion questions along with embedded videos, and are designed for middle and high school students. Scroll to the bottom of the page and those of you who are Newsela users will be happy to find a collection of Pear Decks featuring inspirational stories of Black students, sports figures, and others who are changing the world.

These lessons are uplifting and ready-to-go. The perfect package for busy teachers who want to invigorate and engage their students!