By Mr. Brill
Independent learning, the topic of the school’s last “flex day” or professional development, requires further inquiry. As a quick recap, Mr. McMahon used Fisher and Frey to support his training. The video he choose reinforced the concept of independent learning. I’m sure every teacher from the early childhood teachers to those of us on the third floor want students to be able to choose their own books based on their own interests. That’s all great but let’s think about ways to do so that can fulfill some of Morrill’s goals as stated no the Mission Statement…you know the one that says “we educate the whole child.”
Let’s breakdown the process of selecting a culturally relevant book endorsed by Harper and Brands by analyzing “All the colors we are” by Katie Kissenger. This book is appropriate for lower grades or older English Language Learners as it supports content with exciting illustrations. Kissenger discusses issues of race and explains how human beings get their skin color. Suggesting a book like this has the effect of building empathy amongst students that may lack an understanding about how and why people are different. “All the colors we are” also has clear storyline with a purpose that is unlikely to confuse the reader. In short, multicultural literature fulfills a child’s curiosity about the differences and similarities of humans.
Here’s a quick list to use when selecting books that are culturally relevant:
- Is the author qualified to write about the issue discussed in the book? This could be a creative way to have the student to do research for a report.
- Is the story authentic, factual, and interesting to children? If it’s not the book may be quickly abandoned by the student.
- Are the characters realistic and represent a variety of cultural groups and viewpoints? Life is rarely cut and dry.
- Is it set in an urban environment? This setting makes it more realistic for the reader.
- Does the plot discuss realistic situations? Let’s find books the kids can relate to.
- Does the book encourage a meaningful conversation? Could the book be used for a collaborative conversation.