Workshop 1: Engagement and Dialogue: Julia Alvarez, James McBride, Lensey Namioka, and more
In New York City, Carol O'Donnell and her students explore themes of multiple worlds and dual identities. They read poetry by Diana Chang and Naomi Shihab Nye, the novel The Color of Water by James McBride, essays and short stories by Gish Jen, Khoi Luu, Lensey Namioka, and Julia Alvarez, and a monologue by Tina Lee. Through a series of innovative drama, role-playing, and writing activities, students examine the social and cultural experiences of the characters, and reflect on their own definitions and experiences of identity. Go to this unit.
Workshop 2: Engagement and Dialogue: Judith Ortiz Cofer and Nikki Grimes
The workshop begins with a profile of the writer Judith Ortiz Cofer and then moves to Vista, California, where Akiko Morimoto and her students read short stories from Cofer's collection, An Island Like You. They respond personally to the works, examine the author's use of figurative language, and then make intertextual connections with books they've read throughout the school year. In a culminating project, students create their own visual symbols to represent the characters and events in the text. Students then explore poems from Nikki Grimes's Bronx Masquerade and examine the writer's craft. Grimes visits the classroom, answers questions about her work, and attends an after-school reading of student poetry. Go to this unit.
Workshop 3: Research and Discovery: Shirley Sterling and Laura Tohe
At the Skokomish reservation in Washington state, Sally Brownfield and her students study and connect with the literature and issues related to the Native American boarding school program through community involvement and self-examination. Students use Shirley Sterling's novel My Name Is Seepeetza and the poetry of Laura Tohe as the lenses through which they explore topics of their choosing. The class visits the Skokomish Tribal Center to interview tribal elders about the impact of the residential boarding program on the community. Author Shirley Sterling visits the class and answers student questions related to her novel, her life, and their personal research topics. Students then decide how to make their learning public. Go to this unit.
Workshop 4: Research and Discovery: Edwidge Danticat, An Na, Laurence Yep, and more
In Clayton, Missouri, Kathryn Mitchell Pierce's students read works that explore issues of historical and contemporary immigration. Pierce uses multicultural picture books to introduce students to a wide range of perspectives and to set the stage for their novel study. In literature groups, students discuss novels by Edwidge Danticat, Laurence Yep, Walter Dean Myers, Pam Munoz-Ryan, and An Na. In culminating presentations, students synthesize themes and pose thought-provoking questions that invite others to examine these novels in new ways. This workshop features author profiles of Laurence Yep and Edwidge Danticat. Go to this unit.
Workshop 5: Historical and Cultural Context: Christopher Paul Curtis
Laina Jones and her students in Dorchester, Massachusetts, explore The Watsons Go to Birmingham
— 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. Jones uses non-fiction, documentary film, and historical photographs to contextualize the events in the novel and the Civil Rights movement. The students make deep connections to the literature through drama, poetry, and creative writing activities. Curtis visits the classroom, addresses questions, and leads students in a writing workshop. The unit culminates with a service learning project in which students create children's books about the Civil Rights movement and share them with elementary school children. Go to this unit.
Workshop 6: Historical and Cultural Context: Langston Hughes and Christopher Moore
Stanlee Brimberg and his students in New York City study the important contributions of African Americans to the United States and the recent discovery of the African Burial Ground in Manhattan through factual texts, video, art, photography, and poetry. The students interview writer, historian, and documentary filmmaker Christopher Moore to learn more about the everyday experiences of African slaves in early New York. They examine the works of Langston Hughes, and then — drawing on all of the texts — they write their own poetry and engage in peer review. As a culminating activity, the students take a field trip to the African Burial Ground Memorial, and then design their own postage stamps to commemorate the site. Go to this unit.
Workshop 7: Social Justice and Action: Alma Flor Ada, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Paul Yee
Laura Alvarez and her students in Oakland, California, examine different perspectives and experiences of immigrants, and then formulate and defend positions on issues with which they connect personally. They examine works including My Name Is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada, Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, and Tales From Gold Mountain by Paul Yee to compare characters' hopes, expectations, and actual experiences upon arriving in the United States. Students conduct research, including interviews with family members and nonfiction readings. Dr. Alma Flor Ada visits the classroom, answers questions about her novel, and facilitates discussion about social justice and taking action for change. As a culminating project, students write and revise persuasive letters to raise public awareness about the issues they've examined. Go to this unit.
Workshop 8: Social Justice and Action: Joseph Bruchac and Francisco Jiménez
This workshop begins with profiles of the featured authors, and then moves on to Chicago, Illinois where Lisa Espinosa's students explore themes of representation through literature, documentary film, photography, and music. Students look critically at past and current media depictions of African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, and examine ways in which artists and writers from within those cultural groups, including Joseph Bruchac and Francisco Jimenez, represent themselves. The students analyze the individual works, make comparisons across texts, and make connections to their own lives. In a culminating project, students represent their own experience, using black-and-white photography and essays as social commentary. Teachers, family, and community members join together at a local coffeehouse for an exhibit of the students' work. Go to this unit.