Black History Institute

I had the BEST January!! I participated in a virtual Institute which ran across three Saturdays with two of my favorite educators – Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul and M. Colleen Cruz. Teaching Black History All Year Institute. They are running it again, same time, next year and registration is open now.
The cost is only $99 for 12 hours of top-notch PD.

This institute was the kind of PD I used the very next day in my classroom. The kind that fed my teaching soul. The kind that provided me with space to learn and relearn Amercian history as it relates specificaly to Black American History. And thanks to Sonja and Colleen, I am set now to teach Black History all during February, as well as, all year long.

I HIGHLY recommend signing up now for next January, click HERE!!
Or consider inviting them to your school district for training. They are THAT GOOD!!

Thanks to my participation, here is what the opening of my Reading class sounded like, using just one lesson from the institute:

Today our Quick Write is about a man named Dr. James West. We will view it twice. First, we’ll view to hear the story. On the 2nd view, I’d like you to take notes about what you view using this handout:

The handout are the 4 question framework shared during the institute.
Then I had my students view this video and take notes. We ended with a lively discussion.

Colleen and Sonja curated MANY black inventors and innovators’ videos and articles I can use as I teach. I’m looking forward to taking time (probably come summer) to decide all the many ways I can share all I learned from these two great ladies.

Last Thursday, I did use a few things they shared to help my school celebrate the 64th anniversary of integrating the first secondary school in the state of Virginia on the very site of my school. It happened on Feb. 2, 1959 after Dorothy Hamm, now my school’s namesake, advocated for the integration so her black son could attend this then all-white public school.

We hosted the community last Thursday evening in an event called: Come Walk With Us.

I made these slides and about 100 from the community came and walked the Five Stations seen in the slides. At the last stop in our makeshift “history walk” was the chance to shake hands with one of the first four – Mr. Michael Jones. Now in his 70s, Mr. Jones honored the school with his presense.

I also made these slides for my staff to use to celebrate how Dorothy Hamm, John Lewis and the Greeenboro Four all got into Good Trouble.

As you celebrate Black History Month, feel free to teach and reteach American history and be sure to proudly speak of Dr. West, Dorothy Hamm and John Lewis. Discuss ways to support Black-owned businesses in your neighborhood and ways to read more books by black authors.

And consider treating yourself to learning from Sonja and Colleen!

2022 National Book Festival

In-person on Saturday! I filled my red bag with snacks, wallet, iPhone, notebook, pens, my mask and a fleece jacket. My husband agreed to drop me off and in less than 30-minutes after leaving home, I departed our electric car ready to enjoy a day among my heros – authors!

I entered the mamouth DC convention center – 4 blocks long and 4 double height floors high. As I joinined a short entrance line today, my mind recalled the last time I was here for this annual event. It was November, 2019 and that day the author with the biggest draw was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the line to enter the fesitval was wrapped around the center. Eventually, I got in and spent the day on the lowest floor, enjoying moments with children’s authors. Due to crowds and high security, I arrived too late to listen to RBG or explore other floors that day. On this day, without such a crowd, I explored all four floors, meeting authors for children, young adults, and adults, attending a total of 7 presentations from 9:30am-6pm. And I did take a moment to fondly remember RBG who passed away 10 months after the last in-person 2019 National Book Festival. (Thanks to the Library of Congress, I took time to watch the session I missed that day in 2019 as it is recorded HERE.).

One presentation I was drawn to related to this book:

I am a big fan of John Lewis (another amazing great American who passed during the pandemic) and I wanted to know more about the friendship he shared with a young black boy named Tybra Faw and then written about in this book by Andrea Pinkney. Tabre Faw, now age 14, was on the stage with the author and a LOC moderator. In their 30 minute exchanged, I became so inspired by this child who wanted to meet his hero, John Lewis. I learned he was asked to recite a favorite poem by John Lewis at his funeral. The moderator found the first published book of the poem Invictus in the LOC and gave each a photo of that book’s page. I quickly found this link from the funeral and am planning a lesson with my student readers to include this book, the March triology by John Lewis and a discussion on how today, in 2022, we can be inspired to get ourselves into Good Trouble!

Ruby Bridges – Her book, I Am Ruby, comes out this week. After hearing her speak, I will buy it! She shared how she intentionality wrote it in first person as the 6-year old in Louisana on November 14, 196o, the day she atttended an all-white elementary school. She shared how knowing her story is still important as we are still dealing with issues of race.

Clint Smith – if you haven’t read his book, How the Word is Passed, order it now and read it! I so enjoyed being in his presence, listeing to him share why he visited actually sites as fieldtrips and then wrote about each place with regards to slavery. I also learned he hosts a course called Crash Course – Black American History. It is 50-episodes, all a combo of animation and primary source photo. I’ll be viewing these this fall to learn more.

Kwame Alexander – so amazing! His newest book comes out at the end of the month. His TV show based on The Crossover is coming out on Disney+ and he is launching a reality TV to find new authors! I was able to record a few things he said while being interviewed by Nic Stone. (See slideshow at end…I think the videos will open for you? If not, let me know and I’ll figure it out!)

2022 Award Winners and All Women of Diverse Background – three women writers, all 2022 award winners, were interviewed by Dhonielle Clayton, the COO of We Need Diverse Books. So inpiring!! All are using their voice and their writing to not allow their backgrounds to be erased. Donna Barba Higuera is Mexican American, Darci Little Badger is Apache American, and Malinda Lo is Chinese American. Darci Little Badger‘s comment is still with me. She stated that she had read in a history book that Apache’s were extinct. She explained that this was a olonial message trying to erase native voices and is wrong. “As a writer, I will keep at it.”

Authors of Blackout – WOW! I did not know that these 6 authors had all collaborating to write Blackout. It was the brainchild of Dhonielle Clayton who invited/told Nic Stone, Tiffany Jackson, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon, and Angie Thomas (Thomas not at the festival) to work together to write one novel. I bought it and read it on Sunday! I can’t wait for their next collaborative work to come out called Whiteout. They also happily shared how Obama is producing their book as a TV and movie. They were motivated during Covid to write a novel with Black teenage characters in love. These women know how to write for Young Adults!!

Jason Reynolds – he was the perfect ending session for the festival, saving the best for last!! HIs newest book, Ain’t Burned All the Bright is a collaboration with his white, redhead friend also named Jason, Jason Griffin, an artist. During Covid, they both had trouble being creating, writing, making art. They talked often and something Jaosn G. said about needing an oxygen mask helped Jason R. to write 3 rather long sentences. He copied them down without any punctuation and handed them off to Jason G and asked him to add art as an artist response. This is now the book!. He felt the world was suffocating due to Covid, George Floyd, the tightening economy. When one is hyperventalating, taking 3 breathes can bring you back to equilibrium. This books is structured into three breathes with the purpose to bring us back to having hope. Get it and read its brilliant words and artwork.

I also create this slideshow to share with my students.


Traveling back in Time to 3/2014 – Author Spotlight

“I’ve set the Time Machine settings to 2014 at 11pm. It’s a Monday night and the The Daily Show with Host Jon Stewart is set to begin. He is set to interview a very special autthor guest!” Just before sharing my screen to play the back-in-time video clip, I remind my students to watch carefully and to take notes. They had this slide to help them set up their notebook page and many choose to click the link in the chat, giving them an electronic template of a 3-2-1 structure.

Then I clicked on the video and we traveled back to a fabulous 10 minute interview.

Here’s a sampling of students’ notes from that day:

I ended the class reminding the students the March Trilogy can be found in our school library and in my classroom library.
I do think a few will be requesting to borrow from our school’s Curbside Pickup.

If you have 10 minutes, I recommend watching this moving interview. But like me, you might need a kleenex!
March 9, 2014 John Lewis on The Daily Show
And even if graphic novels aren’t your thing (yet), I highly recommend reading this book series
by the amazing author and American, John Lewis. #GoodTrouble

Traveling Back in Time to 3/2014 – The Warmup

I follow Larry Ferrlazzo and last month, this page caught my attention:
JOHN LEWIS WAS BORN ON THIS DAY IN 1940 – HERE ARE TEACHING & LEARNING RESOURCES ABOUT HIS LIFE. As I clikced on more of the links, I saw VIDEO: MUST-WATCH INTERVIEW WITH JOHN LEWIS ON DAILY SHOW and I knew what my next lesson would be in my Reading 6 class. I would spotlight this amazing American and author and ensure my students knew about his March Trilogy series.

I decided to use a warm-up strategy I learned from the authors Kristin Zeimke and Katie Muhtaris who wrote Read the World. To engage the class, they suggest showing a photo and simply asking: What do you see? LOOK – What makes you think that? Thanks to Larry’s page, I chose this as my warmup photo:

As the clock struck 7:50am, I clicked on the TEAM link for Period 1 on my laptop computer. I then did the same on my iPad to open the chat feature. I then pressed the Share Screen button on the laptop and started to verbally welcome students who had joined my reading class. And I started seeing text appear in the chat box.

2/25 7:56 AM The bald guy looks like he just not having it today ​
2/25 7:56 AM Lots of people ​
2/25 7:56 AM i know him but not his name ​
2/25 7:57 AM It’s during COVID
2/25 7:57 AM I think that this is modern because they are wearing face masks
​2/25 7:57 AM is grampa grumpy?
2/25 7:57 AM The cool COVID mask that the bald guy is wearing
​2/25 7:57 AM] everybody has a mask on ​
2/25 7:58 AM The guy that does not have a mask is holding his fist and it could be him saying Black Lives Matter.
2/25 7:59 AM I see two people maybe protesting
2/25 8:02 AM he’s making the fist? ​
2/25 8:04 AM the black lives matter sign is a fist
2/25 8:04 AM It’s in DC I see the yellow paint on the road

I then showed this slide and revealed that the mask man is the Hononable Representative from Georgia, John Lewis. That this photo was taken this summer in D.C. on Black Lives Matters Plaza. That at that time, John Lewis was sick with terminal pancreatic cancer and would pass away 10 days later. That he spent his entire life protesting when laws were not fair for Black people. That even sick, he still joined in this summer’s Black Lives Matter Protests in D.C. And how he wrote a 3-book series back in 2014 to tell his story. It’s called March.

Next, I explained that we’d be “traveling” today, traveling back in time to the year 2014. That is when his books were first published. The host of The Daily Show invited him on to tell about his books. Let’s Get Ready to Time Travel….

Come back tomorrow, to hear how our trip went.