Monday, December 2, 2019

Take Advantage of TpT's 2-Day Sale!

"You can always find something you want."
-- Sophie Kinsella, Confessions of a Shopaholic

Regardless of whether you want something or actually need something, it’s Cyber Monday so TpT is having a sale!  Everything in my store is 20% off and when you use promo code CYBER19 at checkout, you’ll get an additional 5% off for a savings of 25%. (Other stores may set different discounts so the savings is up to 25% sitewide, depending on the store.)  This sale is in effect today and tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday, December 2nd and December 3rd.

Take advantage of the TeachersPayTeachers sale on 12/2/19 & 12/3/19 to save up to 25% with promo code CYBER19! | The ESL Nexus
Shop all resources at The ESL Nexus HERE
I just finished a resource that was about 2 years in the making.  Well, it was in my mind for 2 years; it actually took me just several weeks to create it.  It consists of 100 biographies of notable women in American history and is called Famous & Important American Women.  Each bio is on a task card, accompanied by a photograph of the woman being profiled.  Included in the resource is a list of 15 ideas for using the task cards.  Please click HERE for more details.

Take advantage of the TeachersPayTeachers sale on 12/2/19 & 12/3/19 to save up to 25% with promo code CYBER19! | The ESL Nexus
To purchase this resource, click HERE
This is a companion to my similar resources about Women Around the World Biography Task Cards and African-American Biography Task Cards.  So I also created 2 bundles.  The first bundle includes the 2 resources about women; please click HERE for info about it.  The second bundle includes all 3 resources – the 2 about women and the 1 about African-Americans and you can find out more about it HERE.  Both bundles are discounted 20%.  So if you buy a bundle today, you’ll get the sale discount on top of the already-reduced price, which is, in my opinion, a really nice deal. 

Take advantage of the TeachersPayTeachers sale on 12/2/19 & 12/3/19 to save up to 25% with promo code CYBER19! | The ESL Nexus
Click HERE to get this bundle
Take advantage of the TeachersPayTeachers sale on 12/2/19 & 12/3/19 to save up to 25% with promo code CYBER19! | The ESL Nexus
Click HERE to get this bundle
As a matter of fact, all my bundles are already discounted so combined with the sale prices, you can really save a lot by buying them today or tomorrow.  I have a special category to make it easy to find all my bundles.  Just click HERE to see them all.

Of course, I also have resources for the December holidays, January holidays, and Chinese New Year, if you're looking for something to use in your classroom before February.  There are multilingual posters, word search and crossword puzzles, and posters about U.S. holidays that are good for bulleting board displays or as supplements to your teaching.

Happy shopping!


Monday, November 18, 2019

How to Teach about Thanksgiving in a Culturally Appropriate Way

"Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun."
-- Tecumseh, Shawnee leader and warrior

As Thanksgiving in the U.S. approaches, I’d like to resurface a couple of my previous blog posts about the holiday, share some articles and websites about celebrating the holiday, and bring your attention to 3 of my TpT resources about Thanksgiving and Native words that are now commonly used in English.  All the articles, websites, and resources mentioned in this blog post can be used to teach about Thanksgiving in ways that respect Native American opinions about the holiday.

This roundup of resources helps educators teach about Thanksgiving in culturally appropriate ways | The ESL Nexus
Clockwise from top left: Euro-American Thanksgiving dinner, Native American stew, landscape around Wampanoag Homesite near Plimoth Plantation; source: The ESL Nexus
First, my Blog Posts:
Shortly before I moved to Arizona, I visited Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts and took lots of photos that I subsequently shared with my students. 

* This blog post includes a few of those photos that you can use to compare and contrast the cultures of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people.  You can read it HERE.

* This blog post is an annotated list of books about Thanksgiving that are appropriate for English Language Learners at different language proficiency levels.  It categorizes them by proficiency level and gives a brief summary of each book.  You can find this post HERE(The links to the books are affiliate links.  As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  That means that I receive a small commission if you buy any of those books but it is at no extra cost to you.  I appreciate your support!)

Second, the Articles and Websites:
Americans’ ideas about the origin of Thanksgiving have changed as more scholarship has been done and Native opinions have become more visible.  The articles and websites listed below offer a perspective about Thanksgiving that is different from the one many people of a certain age grew up with.  Even now, teaching students about Thanksgiving from the Native American viewpoint or in a culturally respectful manner is not the norm in all schools.  But all students should be exposed to Native voices about how the arrival of the Pilgrims affected the indigenous people in what is now the United States.  The first 2 links are articles and the last 2 links are websites and all will help provide that perspective:

* The Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving Story.  The Wampanoags were the people who met the English settlers in the 17th century and this article offers their perspective about Thanksgiving. 

* Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving? This article discusses what happened in 1621 from a Native perspective and how many Native people do or do not celebrate Thanksgiving nowadays.

* Decolonizing Thanksgiving: A Toolkit for Combatting Racism in Schools.  This website includes letters you can send home to parents, links to resources, and books about Native American cultures that you and your students can read.

* November is National American Indian Heritage Month. This website offers resources from The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Third, my TpT Products: 
I have created a couple TpT resources about Thanksgiving.  One is for math practice and the other is about Thanksgiving-related vocabulary words.  I’ve also created a resource about English words that come from Nahuatl and Algonquian languages.

* Thanksgiving Word Search and Crossword Puzzles.  There are 3 word searches and 1 crossword puzzle in this resource; all the puzzles use the same 20 words.  The word searches are differentiated according to the level of difficulty needed to solve them and a word bank accompanies the crossword puzzle for students who need extra support.  For more info, please click HERE.

* Thanksgiving Math Task Cards.  This is a set of task cards, differentiated at two levels, that teach students about a Thanksgiving meal while giving them practice solving fraction word problems.  They are particularly helpful for ELLs who are new to the holiday because the word problems are all about the kinds of food eaten at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  You can find this resource HERE.

* English Words with Nahuatl and Algonquian Origins.  These posters and flashcards present 30 English words whose roots are in indigenous American languages.  The Wampanoags, the Native people who met the English now known as the Pilgrims, spoke an Algonquian language.  You can use this resource when teaching about Thanksgiving to show one way that Native cultures impacted the settlers. For more info, please click HERE.

I hope these ideas help you teach about this holiday in a more accurate and objective way.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 4, 2019

23 Books that Honor Diversity and Have Anti-Racist Themes

I should not have to prove my ethnicity to anyone.  I know who I am.
-- Christina Aguilera

This is a follow-up and conclusion to my 2 previous posts about the #itstimetotalkracism campaign, which you can read HERE and HERE.  The organizer, Chrissy from Buzzing with Ms. B, has put together a list of books with anti-racist themes and books that honor diversity that teachers can use to stock their classroom libraries.  Some of these books were reviewed in the blog posts written for this campaign.

Stock your classroom library with these 23 books that have an anti-racist theme | The ESL Nexus
List of books compiled by Chrissy of Buzzing with Ms. B
Edutopia recently published an article about how to use books that provide mirrors and windows for students.  Although the author says most people know what it means, mirrors and windows was another term I was not familiar with.  It’s explained in the article but basically it refers to books that enable students to make connections to their lives in some way.  It's a great article with teaching ideas that you can use with these books.

If you’d like to help your students think more about what it means to be kind and show respect to others, you might like this resource I created.  It’s 10 photographs in 8.5" x 11" poster size and each one is overlaid with a quotation; there are 5 quotes about kindness and 5 about respect.  There are also 10 questions you can use as writing or discussion prompts.  For more info, please click HERE.

Create a positive classroom & school community with these Respect & Kindness posters with writing & speaking prompts | The ESL Nexus
Use these posters to create a positive classroom & school community; source: The ESL Nexus
I hope my blog post and all the others in this series have not only given you lots to think about but also have offered you some practical, actionable ideas that you can implement in your classrooms in the near future.  Given the current state of world affairs, I think it’s very important that educators teach their students respect and kindness for all people, regardless of who they are, what they look like, where they come from, what their religion is, or what language they speak.


Monday, October 21, 2019

Learning How to Decenter Whiteness in a TV Show

"It's hard as a young person of a different ethnicity or background to look at the TV and not see anyone who looks like you. Representation is very important."
-- Zendaya

When I was asked if I’d like to participate in the #itstimetotalkracism campaign, at first I wasn’t sure what I could write about because I’d never really taught an explicit anti-racism lesson.  But after thinking about it, I realized I could present a lesson I’d implemented when I was a teacher trainer.

Learn what "decentering whiteness" means, download a free checklist that helps you identify TV shows & videos that center whiteness, and discover a book you can use with your students that deals with bias | The ESL Nexus
Source: Buzzing with Ms. B.
The lesson used Star Trek: The Original Series to explore first impressions, “the other,” and stereotypes.  I’m a proponent of using videos with students and as a long-time fan of Star Trek, I thought the series was a great way to teach about intercultural communication.  I mean, Vulcans, Humans, Klingons, Romulans, the Ferengi – you can’t get much more cross-cultural than that!

I emailed Chrissy from Buzzing with Ms. B., the coordinator of this 22-day campaign, to ask if my idea would be okay.  She viewed the episode, Devil in the Dark, and said it didn’t really decenter whiteness.

Since I didn’t quite understand what “decentering whiteness” meant, Chrissy and I emailed back and forth as we delved into why that Star Trek episode didn’t do that.  Because I think our conversation would be helpful to other educators, with her permission I am going to share some excerpts below.  Following that, I’ll offer a link to a resource I created to help you select TV shows and videos that decenter whiteness.  I’ll also discuss a book I recently read that would be a great read-aloud and discussion starter with your students.

Below are the sections of the email exchange I had with Chrissy that really made clear for me this idea of decentering whiteness.  But -- spoiler alert!  If you've never seen this episode of Star Trek, these excerpts give away part of the plot. 

Chrissy: I've been thinking about the Star Trek episode, and I totally see where you're coming from with addressing biases and cultural misunderstandings.

I'm realizing that this episode does center whiteness. In other words, because it's from the perspective of the colonizers...and how they're being killed by this other thing, it's about the white experience in response to this new culture.

Susan: I see where you're coming from with that and I agree up to a point.  But I also feel that it's Spock, who is bi-racial, who is the hero of the episode.

: [T]he issue as I understand it isn't that the actors or writers are white or anything in that sort of vein. With this episode, the issue as I see it is that there was a group of people moving into a territory and the creatures there are represented as some kind of animal, even once Spock understands their perspective. My concern is that some people might see themselves as the Horta, an animal who, even when being described as being "highly intelligent" is the butt of jokes about her appearance.

The agreement that the crew and the Horta reach is actually only beneficial to the humans…. The humans are acting as colonizers, taking what they want, and agreeing to leave the natives alone, taking on the role of white savior to bestow that kindness on the Horta, even though she was fine before they arrived.

Susan:  That makes a lot of sense, especially the part where you say it isn't about the writers or actors being white…  And I see your point about how the Horta is described and how some people could internalize those negative comments. 

That really makes things clear, in terms of where you're coming from with your analysis of this episode.  I hadn't ever thought of Kirk and crew as being in white savior mode but it makes perfect sense from the way you've characterized it.

Chrissy:  It's interesting that we can love shows and acknowledge that they were problematic, too.  When people see that it's ok for our thinking to change (and it always does!), they can feel like it's ok for their thinking to change, too.

*   *   *

So I discarded the idea of sharing my Star Trek lesson with you.  Instead, I decided to create a checklist you can use when you are looking for a TV show or video to show your students.  It’s a list of questions that ask about the show, with space for you to write answers next to each question.  You can find it HERE, where you'll be prompted to download a copy of the free checklist.  Please note that I use the phrases "minority characters" and "people of color" interchangeably in the checklist.

Learn what "decentering whiteness" means & download a free checklist that helps you identify TV shows and videos that center whiteness | The ESL Nexus
Download your free copy HERE; source: The ESL Nexus
Using these questions as a guide when evaluating videos and TV programs helps you view shows in a different way.  I know that I, now, am looking at what I watch through a different lens.

Now I'd like to reccomend a book that would be a great addition to your collection of books that deal with racism, bias, stereotypes, prejudice, and how kids interact with people who are different from them.

With its traditional “once upon a time” fairy tale beginning and watercolor-ish full-page illustrations, from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea is a beautiful picture book that will appeal to kids of all ages.  It’s about fitting in, choosing who you want to be, and how to treat non-conforming people.  It’s also about a mother’s love for her child.  The song she sings every evening when her child recounts their negative experience in school will warm your heart.

Find out why this book belongs in every teacher's classroom library in this blog post about anti-racism | The ESL Nexus
Find out more about this book HERE

This story has an important message that will resonate with all students who feel awkward and out of place in their school: English Language Learners, special needs students, gender non-conforming students, and every other kid who doesn’t fit into whatever is considered typical for where they live.  I love this book and it should be in every teacher’s classroom library.

This post is in memory of Maribel Hernandos Campos, one of the 22 persons murdered in El Paso in August 2019 by a gunman who targeted people of Mexican heritage.

Honor one of the 2019 El Paso shooting victims by reading this blog post that discusses how to identify videos & TV shows that center whiteness | The ESL Nexus

I am posting a link to each day's blog post in the #itstimetotalkracism campaign on my Facebook page and Twitter account.  Please check them out for great teaching ideas and resources!