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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
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Channel Talk


[Channel-talkmsmultilit] Some comments about workshop 2

From: Aram Kabodian <kabodian@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Thu Apr 05 2007 - 21:16:28 EDT

Workshop 2
   
  Once again, I'm impressed by the students and their responses, the teachers and their teaching ability, and the texts that are used along the way.
   
  I can completely relate to Akiko Morimoto in her struggle to get students (especially boys) to write more than a sentence to explain what they are thinking. I like her Visual Representations and Symbols activity. The boys in the video did a nice job explaining their drawings of two grandfather clocks and how the drawings relate to the characters in Cofir's story. I could see using drawings more to give students a chance to practice those explaining skills about something they have created before they are asked to explain or support other, more complicated, subjects, many of which they will not have as much choice/say in selecting. I constantly have to push students to explain what they mean --- many of my students know much more about whatever it is we are studying than they are willing to share and this activity may help me help them overcome this issue.
   
  Cofir's texts (as well as Grimes' poems) were excellent choices for engaging students. I could see my students getting into Arturo's desire to get away and his odd, but interesting relationship with Johann. We talk about faith issues in my class from time to time and I know it's on the minds of my students. Some of them are quick to rebel against any and all forced faith, but I like the way Arturo deals with his spirituality in a marvelous mix of ethereal peacefulness, uncertainty, and rebelliousness. Cofir mixes in Shakespeare, troubles with parents, questions and complaints about grandparents in her stories, which all my students will be able to connect with in some way. I’ve used text connections before (to self, to other texts, and to the world) and I plan to use one or more of Cofir’s stories with my students. The stories all get at the meaty teen issues and, in addition, they address the themes of my 8th grade class: Cultural Heritage and Traditions, Justice
 and Fairness, and Survival of the Human Spirit. There are so many tie-ins that it just amazes me. Why haven’t I incorporated texts like these before?
   
  Finally, I was struck by the power of having the poet, Nikki Grimes, in the classroom. We recently had Ben Mikaelsen (who wrote Touching Spirit Bear, which all my students read) come to speak to our students. His talk was wonderful, too, but he was in a large auditorium. Grimes was able to really connect and share her poems and insights due, in part, to being in an intimate space with the students. I wondered if she spoke with each of Morimoto’s classes in this personal way. It’s very powerful to hear the poet read her own work with all her pauses and stresses…and yet she still reassures the students that there is no right way to read poems --- good for her…I agree. I could connect with her stronger feelings for some of her poems that were more challenging or reminded her of a certain time in her life; I’ve written many poems and certain ones remind me of special people in my life or tough times (my own text to self connection with the workshop). It also made sense
 to me when Grimes said her job as poet is to make an “emotional connection with the reader." Having the students prepare questions was smart also. They seemed confident in their questioning. Grimes’ answer to the bilingual question was so good I think I may borrow those couple minutes from the lesson and have her share in my class. My students deal with speaking different “languages” in different contexts everyday. Overall, a wonderful moment with Grimes and an insightful workshop.
   
  Aram K.
    
   

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Received on Fri Apr 6 08:19:12 2007



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