Upstander and Taxes

As I make my Day 3 post, my mind is still on my reading students’ End of Unit Project. They will spend all next week picking an issue and choosing a way to TAKE ACTION as a way to stand up for this issue, a chance to be an Upstander. Then on March 12th, families will come to school in the evening to view and learn from our Social Issue Fair.

Yesterday was Saturday, my day to do chores. However, I unexpectedly had a snow day on Friday providing time to get the laundry washed, folded and put away. Now with extra time on hand, I grabbed the stack of envelops containing the words “Important Tax information Included” and logged into Turbo Tax.

After being guided through the Your Income and Wages section, I was prompted to add My Deductions. So I grabbed my checkbook and a pad of paper. As I reviewed checks written in 2018, I jotted down any that were donations. For example, one check was a donation to support a local theater. Another to a health organization to support Alzheimer research. Another to a local literacy organization to support the teaching of reading to adults. As I opened the calculator app on my iPhone, I realized this is all evidence of me being an Upstander.

Do your taxes show you being an Upstander, too?
Remember – taxes are due April 15th (still plenty of time).


Upstander and Junk Mail

As I prepared to help my students end their Social Issue Book Club Unit with a TAKE ACTION project, I looked around my world, noticing issues that need action. I spent the week looking for ways to be an upstander.

Getting my mail is one of my daily routines. I lift the lid of my red mailbox, grab all the envelops, magaxzines and catologs and bring it into the house.  I sort through it on my office table, placing bills in a pile to hold onto. I open any letters or cards, yet these only seem to be in the pile during the month of Decemeber and close to family birthdays. Much of the mail is junk and I toss it in the recycling bin underneath the office table.

Today, I noticed something. I had mail this week from:

  • The Heart Association
  • WAMU – local NPR station
  • Alhzeimer Association
  • United Way
  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • Doctor’s Without Borders

Today I viewed this mail in a new way. I realized that these organizations were not sending me “junk” mail. Instead, I noticed they each have an issue they care about. They each hope I care about it too. They all need financial support to continue to do good work. They all hope I will be an UPSTANDER and support their social issue.

I gathered all this mail to show my students. If they are stuck on a social issue to pick for their Take Action Project, maybe my mail will inspire them to act. This isn’t juke mail. It is an opportunity to stand up!


“As you view this video, look for characters that are one of these four words: VICTIM .  PERPETRATOR . BYSTANDER . UPSTANDER,” I instructed my 6th grade readers.

All easily identified the deer/antelop/kangaroo/brown animal as the victim.
All called the wolf (due to the tail, all agreed he was a wolf) the perpetrator.
All agreed the boy was the bystander.
A few thought, they had to identify an upstander too but came to realize, without any evidence to support it, there wasn’t an upstander in this video. (A sign that they are growing in their thinking!) Some noticed the detail that the boy grew a tail as he walked away making his inaction evidence of becooming perpetrator, too (Another sign of gowing their thinking!)

Then I posed a few more questions:
Why didn’t the boy act as an upstander? What would you have done?

A discussion around fear and being only one person erupted at each table group of four.
“I’m just a kid. I’d run away.”
“I’d call the police.”
“I’d make a distracting noise and maybe throw something to distract the wolf and maybe the deer could run away.”

“Let’s use these same four words to discuss the stories we read during this unit.
Stray by Cynthia Rylant.
Doris was the upstander when she brought the puppy in out of the snow.

The dad was the perpetrator.
But not at the end. He was an upstander then.
ME: Who was the perpetrator?
The animal shelter.

Burrito Man by Lulu Delacre
Alex was the victim because she didn’t want to go to work with her dad.
The dad was the victim at the end.
ME: Who was the perpetrator?
The heart attack.

Inside-Out by Francisco Jimenez
Francisco is the victim.
Curtis was the perpetrator.
The teacher is a perpetrator too.
Maybe the school system is the perpetrator. It isn’t welcoming ELL learners.

I could see we were broadening our thinking. Upstanders stand up when the people in front of us are having a disagreement or fight. Upstanders also stand up by supporting issue that effect groups, like abusive animal shelters, heart attacks and outdated educational practices. I was ready to explain the end of unit project – a chance for each student to choose an issue and make an action plan to be an upstander.

I can’t wait to see these projects!