“If we ever want to have an honest accounting of who we are as Americans, we can’t pick and choose what we wish to remember.” #1619project

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This past week I participated in a three-day workshop from The Race Institute. We were tasked with looking at our own racial identities because as educators, it is our job to help students build and develop their own positive racial identities. We cannot do this until we hold a mirror to ourselves and understand what we bring to the classroom. I had never participated in conversations like the ones we were having over these three days. I have had plenty of conversations around cultural responsiveness and teaching for equity, I have been reading and participating in webinars. I am comfortable talking about curriculum and creating learning environments with mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. But I had never before spoken about how my racial identity was formed nor how I learned about other people’s racial identities. The format and the conversations were both new, unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable. Clearly people are having these conversations; I am just late to the party. I’ve been making my way there but had not arrived yet. I realized that I have a lot to learn and that thankfully, I love to learn, and will keep learning and growing to be a better teacher, colleague, friend, ally, and advocate.

One of the things I learned about from the workshop is the New York Times #1619Project.

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

I admit I had not heard of the project before so during a lunch break I turned to Twitter and searched the hashtag.

Following the links, I came to several resources including readings, the 1619 curriculum guides, reading guides, lesson plans for all grades like this one, The Idea of America, and more for you to begin exploring this with your students.

I also saw a tweet about an opportunity to hear from the creator of the project. Tomorrow, November 13 from 1:00-2:15, there is the possibility to be part of a group call about the project between Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times correspondent (and author of the lesson linked above) who is the person “who sparked the idea for the project” and Jake Silverstein, the magazine editor-in-chief. The two will discuss the project and answer questions.

During today’s searching I also read this article, 1619-2019: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration. The article speaks about the effects of slavery, the myths we tell ourselves, and how as a country, we need to stop looking away because what we see is too uncomfortable. It is from this article that I found the quote that is also the title of this post.

“An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future.” Looking away isn’t an option. Not for any of us. Every citizen, every politician, and even every company must do its part to look at the truth without flinching. In that way, together, we’ll continue the fight for a more just and equitable country.

My learning journey is only getting started. I am happy to have some company.

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

birthday bow box card

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If you are singing the song and thinking about the holidays, then you are partially correct. While this is not a post about the winter holidays as it is only nearly September, it is a post that brings “gifts”. These gifts, however, are in the form of great tools you can use and connections you can make right off the bat for the new school year ahead!

First off is the All New Educator’s Guide to Flipgrid 3.0. In early August, Fligrid launched a slew of updates including making it FREE to educators everywhere! Now you and your students can share your voices, connect with other classrooms, become epals, and co-pilot topics safely, securely, and easily. Just imagine using Flipgrid on one of the first days of school for students to share something they want you to know about them, goals for the start of the year, or a favorite poem.

Speaking of sharing, flattening classroom walls, and connecting, the 2018 Global Read Aloud will kickoff in just over a month on October 1. Join with over a million other students and teachers in reading one of this year’s selections.  Then use Flipgrid to share reflections, favorite passages, and messages about the book with other classrooms from around the globe.

Richard Byrne has recently released his Practical Ed Tech Handbook for the 2018-2019 School Year that you are free to view, download, and use in your classroom and schools. In it you will find tips for staying in touch with parents and students, ways to use online quiz platforms, tools for making stop-motion and documentary-style videos, and more.

As my school continues our implementation of Positive Education under the Positive Psychology umbrella, and schools are realizing the importance of promoting and facilitating a growth mindset in their learners and faculty, Learn Storm and Khan Academy offer these growth mindset lessons and activities for elementary, middle, and high school students that you can utilize with your free Khan Academy account.

Day one is coming or for some is already here. Here are three options for one-minute of retrievals from Pooja Agarwal you can use with your students to get them primed and ready to learn. These are simple, quick warm-ups you can easily implement that are research-based ways to deepen your students’ learning. You can subscribe for weekly updates, read about the research and download free guides and follow Agarwal on Twitter.

Lastly, while you are setting up your classrooms, taking a walk in the beautiful weather, or just like to listen to learn, then take a few (usually hovering around 5 – 10) minutes to listen to Matt Miller’s DITCH podcast. This will take you to a podcast about more ways to use Quizizz and if you scroll down, you can hear about Fliphunts (a mash up of Flipgrid and a scavenger hunt), changes to Google Classroom, Educator Goals and more.