I have been working my way through this collection of articles for the past few weeks and finally finished last night while on the stationary bike at the gym. My personal copy contains almost an entire package of turquoise blue Post-it flags marking various pages and sections that really spoke to me. I have read and written a lot about multicultural education in the past year and I am inspired to teach in a way that reflects appreciation for differences rather than a way that views differences as deficits. I have so many ideas, hopes, and dreams floating around in my head, yet I still feel a huge struggle to transform all these flagged quotes and ideas into actual teaching practice.
I am particularly interested in the use of multicultural principles and literature when it comes to reading instruction, yet the programs that my district has chosen imply a particular way of teaching that I either have to subscribe to or override it (which I am really not supposed to do, yet feel compelled to). I know that my district is also very invested in meeting the needs of all kinds of learners, yet I still feel conflicted over how to make it work with all that I have taken in from what I have read while at the same time utilizing the purchased reading program according to the district's intentions.
This particular book breaks the overall topic into 6 categories:
- Awareness & Attitudes Towards Literacy
- Principles of Instruction
- Enhancing Reading Comprehension
- Using Writing to Develop Reading
- Selecting & Using Multicultural Literature
- An Annotated Bibliography of Multicultural Children's Literature
What I liked most about section 6 in particular was the inclusion of a table listing the book titles vertically and also major themes horizontally. For each book, important themes included in the story were checked off. I think this is a very helpful tool given that as teachers we simply can't be aware of all the great books that are out there. I have become familiar with quite a few titles and have purchased books that I really liked or that I think discuss a good message, yet this allows me to find a book given a particular theme I want to discuss. Themes include--Accomplishment, Community, Courage, Cultural Event, Death, Family, Food, History, Humor, Intergenerational, Play, Pioneers, Relationships, Survival, and Unity. This section also includes an annotated bibliography which provides a brief description of the stories, genre, and what group is represented.
Often I read through a book and put it back on the shelf, yet this book contains sections that I feel like I will refer to for my instruction. I know that the themes and stories for the Kindergarten reading program are already organized in the core program, yet I now feel more comfortable inserting some different stories that may prove to be more meaningful.
I am still left with the burning question--How can I possibly fit in everything that I want to do in 2 hours and 20 minutes. I guess I have to remember I can't do it all every single day, yet I will make a strong effort to incorporate some of what I have learned in order to make the process of learning to read more suitable for children whose backgrounds are different than what our core program anticipates.
As I finished up this book, I was reminded of another text that I read this year called Black Ants and Buddhists by Mary Cowhey. I loved this book because the author demonstrates how she truly incorporated the elements of critical thinking and teaching about differences in her primary classroom. Her stories were very inspirational to me and I would love to be able to watch a teacher like Mary in action!
Also, I have been meaning to mention this for the past week....Jen at Following the Footsteps is doing a Back to School Teacher Idea Swap again this year each Friday in August. The first link up will be this Friday August 6th. It's a great way to share your ideas about fun back to school activities and see what other teachers are doing as well. Last year we posted some pics of our freshly cleaned/designed/decorated classrooms and lots of great ideas were shared. I have my first idea ready and I will be joining her swap on Friday!