Inquiry into SDGs: Reduced Inequalities

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. For more, click here

This week’s global goal aims to reduce inequality in and among countries. It is rooted in the fact that 10% of the world’s population earns up to 40% of the total global income, and it challenges leaders to consider ways we can ensure access to the local and global economy regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity. Share these resources with students to consider what this issue might mean for them and their communities. 

Resource #1: Do Not Read This by Room to Read

Resource #2: Remote Area Medical by Focus Forward Films

Resource #3: My Magic Mum by Stefan Hunt

Resource #4: Corto Ian by Fundación Ian

Provocation Questions:

  • What does inclusion mean?
  • What does economic inclusion mean?
  • How does equality in literacy connect to equality in the economy?
  • How does access to medical attention connect to equality in the economy?
  • How does the video about the boy in a wheelchair connect to the concept of economic inclusion?
  • How/why are certain groups denied equal access to the local or global economy?
  • How is the amount of income people have changing today?

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What Really Matters? Connection. Really.

As I’ve already written, my one word goal for 2019 is flexibility. But it was very nearly connection. And maybe it’s just that it’s on my mind, but I have been seeing conversations about connection, and conversely, isolation, EVERYWHERE!

In Megan Morgan’s #OneWord2019 of trust:

I am living out trust when:
I will choose connection over isolation.
I will add value to others and myself.
I will treat myself as a trusted friend.

~Megan Morgan

In Richard Ten Eyck’s Rethinking Learning Blog:

In my visits to schools throughout the country over the past 15 years, I have seen school after school in which separation dominates… kids separate from teachers, teachers separation from leadership, kids separate from one another. In many of these schools, teachers in adjacent classroom have no idea what is happening next door. Teachers work in isolation with little or no understanding, commitment, acceptance (pick your noun) of a common direction, vision, purpose (with the possible common commitment to have their kids achieve arbitrarily determined cut-scores on state assessments).

~Richard TenEyck

In Strong Towns’ piece about child abductions and the human habitat:

By closing ourselves off from each other, we do serious damage to ourselves and to society—and sometimes, that damage is worse than the danger we feared in the first place….The story of Jayme Closs should give us cause to hug our children a little tighter, but then to love them enough to send them out boldly into the world—and while they’re out playing, we need to work to make that world just a little less isolating for them.”

~Charles Marohn

Not to mention the last couple of weekly Dose of Daring emails from Brene Brown:

Connection cannot be an afterthought. It cannot take the backseat to curriculum. It cannot be another program.

Connection in our classrooms might look like:

  • Choosing messy conversations over neat clip charts or similar systems
  • Helping students plan their own day to gain a broader picture and make their own connections for a meaningful learning path
  • Engaging in inquiry with our students, and sharing our genuine personal learning journeys
  • Building in blocks of time to listen and share, such as a weekly classroom meeting or daily high/lows.
  • Making reading and writing and math more about being readers and writers and mathematics than about doing all those things.

Once you start to pay attention to just how important connection is, and the heavy price of isolation, you won’t be able to stop noticing. And really, we need it every bit as much as our students do, anyway. How will you choose connection today?

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10 Books for our Earliest Readers That Are Actually Enjoyable #TeacherMom

Oh, the joys of earliest reading! Yes, they are reading, and yes, it is magical, but spending 8 and a half minutes painfully decoding “yellow” can also feel like a special kind of torture. When said book is also plot-less, or when there are so many words that it will take a discouragingly long time to complete it, it’s even less fun — for your reader and for you.

So where to turn? Here are some of my favorite books for our earliest emerging readers.

#1: Some Bugs by Angela Diterlizzi and Brendan Wenzel

The repetition and rhyming make the words more accessible, and the artwork by Brendan Wenzel are nothing short of delightful!

#2: Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear by Emily Gravett

With the exception of one use of “there,” only the 4 words in the title form this story. But they are played with in a variety of ways with the help of the illustrations (“orange bear.”).

#3: Freight Train by Donald Crews

A few of the words here get a little trickier (like “freight”), but there are still only a few words per page, making this doable a great shared read with your early reader.

#4: Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins

The illustrations take the lion’s share of the story-telling here, and they do a marvelous job in making kids predict what will happen next to that fox. Pat Hutchins was a master at conveying an engaging story with only a few words per page, which is why I’ve also chosen…

#5: Titch by Pat Hutchins

Our very youngest readers will relate to the way it seems like only the big kids or adults get to take care of the big and important things. Until Titch is in charge of a very small seed…

#6: Up, Tall, & High by Ethan Long

Hilarious read that gets kids thinking about comparative terms and perspective. They will love lifting the flaps, too!

#7: Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton

Poor turkey just can’t get it together when it comes to getting dressed. And Sandra Boynton never fails to make us laugh!

#8: Sheep in the Jeep by Nancy Shaw and Margot Apple

The classic adventure of these sheep is perfect for young readers as most of the words rhyme with sheep. Not to mention its hilarious plot!

#9: Cat the Cat, Who is That? by Mo Willems

Seems almost too repetitive, until you reach the twist at the end! Mo Willems has created a great series for our earliest readers here. I would recommend Elephant and Piggie next!

#10: The Mole Sisters and the Rainy Day

I’m a sucker for some good onomatopoeia, and the Mole Sisters really sell it in their adventures! Be sure to check out the complete collection!

These books prove that delightful stories can come in minimal packages. When books for our emerging readers are engaging for kids and adults, they build a powerful foundation for a lifetime of reading. I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments!

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Inquiry into SDGs: Good Health & Well-Being

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. For more, click here

The global goal of Good Health & Well-Being aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” Use these resources to help students inquire into what it means to provide health for all. 

Resource #1: What is a Food Desert? by Carb Loaded

Resource #2: Calm.com (see Calm for Schools free program)

Resource #3: The Story of Cholera by The Global Health Media Project

Resource #4: Thing Things We Carry by The Herd

Resource #5: The Curious Garden by Peter Brown (read here by johnvu)

Provocation Questions:

  • What is wellness?
  • What is health care?
  • How might good health and wellness solutions look different around the world? How might they look the same?
  • How does access to health care impact an individual? A community? The world?
  • How does wellness impact a person’s life?
  • How does what humans need for healthcare change over time?
  • What is our responsibility for good health and wellness? For ourselves? For others?
  • What is the connection between knowledge and good health?

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Instead of Putting Fuzzies in a Jar, What If…

…we considered why we feel the need to drop a fuzzy into a jar to manage behavior (or to remove a previously-rewarded fuzzy), & then work from there?

…we held class meetings to discuss what our classroom needs to run smoothly and have follow-up conversations with individual students on how they might help?

…we enlisted student assistance in caring for the classroom environment with student jobs such as “wiggle monitor” (helps us know when the class needs time to get up and stretch) or “Calm monitor” (helps initiate a Calm.com session, which are free for schools)?

…we worked from a place of gratitude, continually naming every good thing we see in our classrooms? Not so we can manipulate, but so students know we genuinely value their efforts, talents, and consideration? See Amy Fast’s challenge:

No student should leave kindergarten (much less k-12 schooling) without a positive label: I’m good at _____. People like me because ______. I contribute meaningfully by ______. If students can’t finish these sentences, why are we surprised when they find unhealthy ways to matter?— Amy Fast, Ed.D. (@fastcrayon) July 13, 2018

…we worked to help students gain a sense of true ownership over the classroom and their learning experiences (see 10 ways for every student to be on their own learning path)? As Dave Meslin says for city planning (but applies to our classrooms, too):

Episode 2 of #LifeSizedCity. @meslin: “We take care of things we know belong to us. The trick is to get people to have a sense of collective ownership. Once they’re reminded that it’s theirs, they’ll make it better.” ❤️— Mary Wade (@mary_teaching) January 9, 2019

…we work to move away from collective punishments altogether, which can discourage individual students from doing their best (see Life After Clip Charts series)?

…we held an occasional class party just to celebrate all our hard work together (no strings; just positive, genuine celebrations of all the good that has happened)?

Just some questions from a teacher who has used far too many extrinsic “motivators” when I might have looked more to the messier work of building relationships. And still wondering…

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“Boy/Girl Books:” Fighting Stereotypes While Honoring Book Access

Raise your hand if you have ever said, “There are no such things as boy/girl books.” 🙋

That’s why Leigh Anne Eck’s recent tweet resonated with me so much:

While it would be absolutely unfair to continue telling students that a book is only meant for girls or boys to read it, it would be equally unfair to ignore differences. After all, Scholastic’s Reading Reports repeatedly find that rates of reading enjoyment for boys lags behind girls. Other measurements of reading achievement also show boys consistently behind girls the world over.

In her book, Best Books for Boys, Pam Allyn shares this great anecdote:

“I once entered a classroom and saw a very unhappy eight-year-old boy reading Junie B. Jones. He looked miserable. Now, I love Junie B. Jones, but this reader did not look happy about this situation. I asked him what was going on, and he said: “Because this is my level, I always have to read this same book, and I don’t want to read books about girls! I don’t even want to read a book with chapters in it!” My heart broke for him. If his library had been stocked with books at every level in every genre, his choices would have been greater, and he would have been hooked. He knew exactly what wasn’t working. The problem was no one was asking him what choices he would have made for himself as a reader.

~Pam Allyn, Best Books for Boys

She also lays out a great rule of thumb for our libraries: “at least 30 percent nonfiction, 30 percent poetry, and 40 percent fiction” (with varied topics, levels, and author genders across the spectrum). When I first read this recommendation, I knew my classroom library was severely lacking. It was my second year of teaching, so my collection was limited anyway, but the limits were compounded by the sameness of my titles, like:

  • Tuck Everlasting
  • Once Upon a Curse
  • The Sisters Grimm
  • A Little Princess
  • Ramona the Brave
  • Ella Enchanted
  • Charlotte’s Web

All fiction. All chapter books. All female protagonists. All with some degree of fantasy. It was really as far away as you could get from diverse book access! Fortunately for my students, that’s when I received Pam Allyn’s aforementioned book, and we got to work.

I did not tell my students that most of our classroom library were “girl books,” but I did tell them that my collection was mostly based in my personal interests growing up. And I told them that we desperately needed more poetry and nonfiction in our library. Most importantly, I asked for their help. Between my book and my students, we ended up with a lot of new titles I never would have considered on my own, such as:

  • Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich 
  • Hi! Fly Guy
  • Skeleton Hiccups
  • How Much is a Million?
  • Horrid Henry
  • Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin
  • I Survived the Shark Attack of 1916
  • Flat Stanley
  • Bone
  • How to Write Your Life Story
  • Love that Dog

More importantly, I started to sort my classroom library by genre and to be more mindful in general about which gaps I needed to fill.

What I want to emphasize here is that a more diverse classroom library benefited all my students. What may have started as a hunt for “best books for boys” certainly ended in a richer, more accessible library for everyone. Ultimately, that’s what matters most for building our classroom libraries and addressing those gaps we’ve overlooked.

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Inquiry Into SDGs: Clean Water & Sanitation

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. For more, click here

The first challenge in helping students inquire into the need to provide clean water and sanitation is to recognize what a privilege it is to have! These resources are intended to help them consider this global goal and how they might help.

Resource #1: G R A N T E D by Michele Guieu

Resource #2: Why Water by CharityWater

Resource #3: Global Citizen – Water & Sanitation by BRIKK

Resource #4: The Water Princess by Susan Verde, Georgie Badiel & Peter Reynolds

Provocation Questions:

  • How is clean water important to humans?
  • How is sanitation important to humans?
  • Why is clean water scarce for so many people? How does this scarcity impact an individual? A family? A community?
  • What is our responsibility to manage water well?

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