The Chalk Blog

This is US.

Celebrating Black History Month, Year-Round

Scrubbing the oatmeal from the blue enamel pot in my kitchen sink, I looked up when I heard, 

“It’s a story we need to tell.  
Not just in February--the coldest and shortest month,
but every day of the year, because this is our story.  
It’s not “us and them, it’s February so we’ll take some time out and do this.” 
It is every single day.  
This is the story of us.  
And, guess what? There’s no “them,” which is what we all try to make up.  
In the U.S., it’s us. Not them.” 

These words are from Ken Burns, the well-known documentarian. He’s discussing his film project, “Baseball,” which tells the story of the Negro Baseball League and baseball great Hank Aaron. Burns uses the film to demonstrate how far we have come, yet how far we still have to go. 

Films, books, movies and experiences teach. Since I have a lot to learn, I decided to watch, read, ask, and attend so I could more fully understand our nation’s history.  

Our history. 

The story of us.  

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Topics: diversity, Black History Month

4 Steps Towards a More Inclusive Classroom

 

Creating a Diverse Curriculum

When I think back on all of my years of K-12 schooling, the only diversity included in the curriculum (if you can even call it that) were the ubiquitous studies of westward expansion, slavery, civil rights and a few prominent figures that emerged from those time periods. What I took away, as a young person of color, was that the influence and contributions of people like me were relegated to the margins of history. An additive to the mainstream narrative.   

As classrooms in the U.S. continue growing in diversity, teachers are tasked with creating a more inclusive curriculum to reflect the voices and perspectives of a broader spectrum of people. By teaching the established curriculum, minority students often feel disengaged and unempowered resulting in lower levels of achievement.  But when educators work to create a set of curricula that is relevant, meaningful, and affirming to diverse identities, their efforts result in positive outcomes both socially and academically. Research also shows that not only students of color, but white students greatly benefit from a diverse curriculum as the exposure enables them to grapple with multiple perspectives and build a better understanding of both self and others. 

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Topics: Positive Behavior Supports, diversity

Introducing... NEW Courses!

Brand New Courses for YOU!

After the cold has (almost) left and the days get longer, the world begins to wake up and stretch a bit. Spring is about to come alive in education with these fantastic new offerings from Learners Edge! 

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Topics: Learners Edge News, diversity, Courses

Achieving Success with English Language Learners

This blog was originally published on November 6th, 2015, but it was so well received we wanted to share it again! We also added our Top Three Tips when working with students who are ELL.

As teachers we are constantly trying to improve ourselves, our teaching strategies, and our ways of interacting with each unique student. Learning is difficult in itself, but a language barrier makes things more complex. Below are 3 tips from Learners Edge about how to work with ELL students, along with some additional suggestions from Jennifer Marks, a teacher from Northborough, MA , who took Course 842: Achieving Success with English Language Learners.

Tip 1: Learn the culture. 

On a recent trip overseas, I was delighted to sit down with a group of people who had emigrated from Africa to Norway. In talking about what leaving their country was like (they all spoke Arabic, Norwegian, and English)—they shared how helpful it was when teachers learned about their native culture. Understanding just some of the cultural norms helped the teacher, the students, and those who had emigrated transition to a new culture in a way that felt respectful and supportive. When teachers try their best to pronounce names or to honor cultural norms (i.e. food restrictions, social mores) it helps to alleviate micro-aggressions which can feel hurtful to those who are new. 

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Topics: Special Populations, Teaching Excellence, diversity

Curating a Diverse Classroom Library

The Windows and Mirrors Model 

As a black girl growing up in a predominantly white community, I didn’t see much of myself in the books I was reading or the stories being told.  I wanted to learn more about the people that looked like me and was hungry to explore the places my people came from.  None of which was part of the standard district curriculum. Beginning in second grade I began making choices about who or what I studied, based on what was relevant to me.  For a biography project, I chose a little known black historical figure, Marian Anderson.  For my 5th grade geography project, I chose to study Kenya.   

With an increasingly diverse school-age population, making school relevant to students is critical. 

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Topics: Teaching Excellence, diversity

Learners Edge is passionately committed to providing you with continuing education coursework, materials, and tools that will help you succeed in your classroom and in your career.

Offering more than 100 print-based or online courses for teachers, you can earn the graduate credit you need for salary advancement and meet your professional development needs. Contact us today to get started!

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