UPDATE 7/23/20 – Here is a link to a guide for Stamped. Also, find out more about author Jason Reynolds in this blog post.
For this week’s post dedicated to sharing anti-racist resources, I am giving you the link to a digital Reader’s Notebook that was tweeted out by Pernille Ripp (@PernilleRipp) today. This is a Google Slides template created by Jennifer LeBrun to accompany the book, Stamped, co-authored by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Stamped is based on Kendi’s book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which Reynolds and Kendi “re-mixed” to create a book with the same information for younger audiences. If you haven’t had a chance to read Stamped, yet, you may want to try purchasing it from one of these independent, black-owned, bookstores. It is extremely readable, and offers pretty much all of the information about racism that history textbooks completely ignore or wrongly represent to intentionally mislead readers. The Google Slides template is extremely thorough, and the book along with this notebook and some well-orchestrated discussions would make a fine addition to any middle to high school curriculum.
This post is part of a weekly Black Lives Matter series that I have vowed to include on this blog. Here are the previous posts:
I remember when we moved into our first house together, and my husband casually mentioned something about checking the pilot light on our heater. For some reason, it had gone out, and I was scared to death he didn’t know what he was doing when he brought an open flame near the decrepit appliance sitting in our garage. Fortunately, we didn’t blow up. Sadly for him, that was not the end of my ignorance when it comes to home maintenance.
I’ve tried to make up for what I didn’t learn during my childhood – back when anything to do with tools was considered “the man’s job.” Now it seems like I’m taking apart appliances, drilling something, or sawing almost every week and I play the ignorance card only when it’s a task that seems a bit gross (like changing out a toilet) or potentially life threatening (like fixing the roof). In the last few years, I’ve attempted to get my daughter involved in these projects, but it hit me early this summer that she hasn’t learned nearly enough before she leaves for college. I started hyperventilating as I began a mental list of all of the things she needs to has to know before August.
Girls Garage is a nonprofit organization that runs a physical space in California where girls learn to build. Many of their projects are available here to download. The new hardcover book includes twelve projects that range from building your own toolbox to erecting a stud-framed doghouse.
Also included in the book are simple descriptions of tools, as well as how-to lessons on measurement and handy life skills – like relighting a pilot light. This would have been a super book for me to receive as a gift when I graduated, or even two years ago when I began to work in a maker space that was carpentry heaven.
To be honest, I’m kind of torn on whether or not I’m going to give this book to my daughter or just keep it for myself. A family friend gave her a tool set for Christmas, so it does seem like a good gift to add to her pile of Destination Dorm items. I’m sure I can muddle along like I always have. I mean, I already know most of the contents, like how to patch a hole in the wall (p. 226).
The link to Barb’s Instructables post gives great directions on how you can use Scratch, pressure switches, and a Makey Makey to create an interactive display of book choices for students.
There are many potential students-centered uses for this idea, such as using student-created book blurbs or designing containers for the pressure switches and wires. Scratch has made it extremely easy in the last couple of years to program for use with Makey Makey, and Barb has a link to a video to help you out in her Instructables post.
A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season. I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December. These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child. For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page.
This year, I have decided to do my annual “Gifts for the Gifted” posts all in one week. This should give anyone who likes to shop ahead of time a good start! For this year’s suggestions so far, click here.
I adore the work of Gavin Aung Than. His Zen Pencils site features illustrations of inspiring quotes, and he has published several books. This year, he added Creative Struggle: Illustrated Advice from Masters of Creativity to his long list of accomplishments. I enjoyed seeing lesser know quotes in the collection, and felt particularly moved by the “Creative Pep Talk #1” entry. It illustrates the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti, and supports my philosophy that we should focus more on the process than the product in education. “Our present education is rotten because it teaches us to love success and not what we are doing. The result has become more important than the action.” He criticizes our desire for fame and lauds anyone who “is a creative human being living anonymously.”
This book would be appropriate for teens and up, or for teachers to use in the classroom with any age. As I try to convince my students to venture outside of their comfort zones and get frustrated with my own creative attempts and failures, the words of Brene Brown, so well depicted in Than’s book, keep me going:
“The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity.”
First of all, this is the best book title I’ve ever seen. It is intriguing when you see the cover, and totally makes sense on a variety of levels once you read the book. Even the author’s name, Dusti Bowling, seems perfect for a story set in a theme park in Arizona.
I think I first learned that Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus existed from @TechNinjaTodd on Twitter months ago. Before I even had a chance to read the book, I followed @Dusti_Bowling on Twitter and she almost immediately followed me – which I took as a sign that I am a Very Important Person. After reading her tweets for a few month, I realized that Dusti Bowling is just a down-to-earth author who responds quickly to her readers. She also supports her fellow authors by recommending other great books, and Skypes with students on a regular basis. So, it turns out that, to Dusti Bowling, everyone is an important person – a theme she models in this book.
I finally got some time to read Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus a few days ago, and I was not disappointed. The main character, Aven, is a young girl who was born without arms. Her adopted parents have raised her to be a confident problem-solver instead of a helpless complainer. She can do pretty much anything with her feet, and the friends she has grown up with don’t even notice her unconventional methods anymore. However, Aven becomes much more self-conscious about her uniqueness when the family moves from Kansas to Arizona. Starting a new school with students who have never seen a person eat with her feet, Aven realizes the one problem she can’t solve is that some people fear those who are different. Just when she seems to have reached her lowest point, Aven meets a few friends who have also been mistreated due to their differences. Throw in some tarantulas, a tantalizing mystery, and the declining Wild West theme park her parents manage, and Aven must summon up all of her will-power to ensure the family’s move to Arizona doesn’t end up as a disaster.
This is a great book to use for teaching empathy, perseverance, and the power of a growth mindset. (For another great story that has those themes, I also recommend Fish in a Tree.) I could see using it as a class read-aloud in grades 3 and up. To learn more about the inside story of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, you can visit the StoryMamas website for an interview with the author. If your class wants to ask the author more questions, be sure to fill out the form on Dusti Bowling’s home page to request a Skype with her.
Fish in a Tree, the awesome book by Lynda Mullaly Hunt that I reviewed here, has just come out in paperback. The paperback includes the main character, Ally’s, complete Sketchbook of Impossible Things. In honor of this, Hunt has launched a nationwide contest for students in 3rd-8th grades to create their own incredibly unique writing or artwork, photos of which must be received by May 12, 2017. You can find all of the details, including the list of prizes, here.
Also, if you have time, Mrs. Hunt recently did a live webcast for School Library Journal, and I think that you can view the archive by registering here. My 3rd graders and I watched it today, and found it very inspirational. Mrs. Hunt talks about her own learning difficulties, the many real-life models for her characters, and how her long-term goals helped to keep her on track. If you have spoken to your students about growth mindset and grit, then you will find her speech will really resonate with them!