Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
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Workshop 7: Social Justice and Action - Alma Flor Ada, Pam Munoz, and Paul Yee
Overview
Authors and Literary Works
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Commentary
Student Work
Resources
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.


Overview

Laura Alvarez and her bilingual fourth- and fifth-grade 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 My Name Is María Isabel by Alma Flor Ada, Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Tales from Gold Mountain by Paul Yee, and compare characters' hopes, expectations, and actual experiences upon arriving in the United States. The students conduct research, which includes interviews with family members and nonfiction readings. 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, the students write and revise persuasive letters to raise public awareness about the issues they've examined.


Alvarez helps students see that they can be agents of change. Teacher educator Sonia Nieto comments, "Multicultural education is not about holidays and heroes and diversity dinners; it's much more about people's lives and what's fair and unfair. Critical pedagogy is about kids learning to question. These children are writing letters and learning how to make their voices heard while developing and refining basic and critical literacy skills. This is a core value of a democratic society... And if we encourage children to speak up, to ask critical questions, then they're going to develop a much greater sense of agency and of knowing that they can make a difference in the world."

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