WOW Currents

Teaching about the Refugee Experience

By Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District

In this month’s WOW Currents, Yoo Kyung Sung and Junko Sakoi talked about their project, “Read, Write, Review for Us (RWRU)” and how it is helping to educate local Tucson children about the refugee experiences of kids just like them. This week we will focus on the positive developments that came from the students’ pen pal experience. We will also discuss what teachers can do through classroom instruction to cultivate awareness of the diversity of people and cultures in the community.

Continue reading

WOW Currents
WOW Currents

Creating Student Connections Using Text Sets

By Sakoi Junko, Tucson Unified School District and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico

This week, we will continue the discussion about text sets, which were created by the “Read, Write, Review for Us (RWRU)” project to help educate local Tucson children about refugee students’ homelands and the diversity within those groups of people. Once the first text set was displayed for book browsing in the classroom, the 5th graders were able to “relocate” their old home into the various stories within the books. We observed the excitement in the students’ voices as they shared stories of their homeland with their peers. It became obvious at that point that even the 5th graders did not know each other’s backgrounds. Because they are often generalized as “refugee students”, the students’ individual identities are often forgotten. With the exception of customs, the refugee and immigrant students are no different from any of the American students beginning the new year in a new classroom every August. It was particularly advantageous to put aside the term, “refugee” and allow the children to learn about each other from a fresh perspective.

Creating Student Connections Using Text Sets Continue reading

WOW Currents

Creating Mixed Genre Text Sets

By Sakoi Junko, Tucson Unified School District and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico

Children’s literature may be one the best mediums for promoting new learning in the classroom. Text sets are especially helpful in that they offer a collective of literary landscapes full of unfamiliar places and various perspectives. This week, we introduce a text set that we put together to support the new Tucsonan (immigrant and refugee) children’s cultural affirmation while they develop the Tucsonan side of their identity. The text sets we create for “Read, Write, Review for Us (RWRU)” projects are to inform local Tucson children about refugee students’ homelands and the diversity within those groups of people. When the the topic of refugees is framed in this way, students will realize that the term “refugees” does not always mean war-zone survivors. Students learn that it can also include those surviving climate change. For example, the Marshall Islands are drowning due to climate changes and many of Marshallese had to relocated to places like Tucson.

Creating Mixed Genre Text Sets Continue reading

WOW Currents

Refugee Waves and New Voices

By Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District

In the last decade, Arizona consistently ranks among the top ten states with the number of refugee arrivals (Refugee Processing Center, 2018) with more than 15,400 refugees resettled in Arizona from 2012 through 2016. Accordingly, Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) received refugees since the late 1970s from the Southeast Asian countries, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Somalia and Sudan. Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi refugees have been the largest groups to arrive in Tucson in 2018 (Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program, 2018), in addition to fifty other countries with thirty-eight different languages. In the past five years, TUSD yearly enrollment has averaged around 900 refugee students across K-12 schools (Tucson Unified School District, 2018).

Refugee Waves and New Voices Continue reading

My Take Your Take Banner

MTYT: Forest World

This month we examined four books that portray the theme of Sense of Place. A sense of home or belonging is incredibly valuable to humans. The books selected for this month highlight characters who discover that special sense of place, or must leave their longtime place and find a new one. Our final book for the month of August is Forest World.

Forest World Continue reading

My Take Your Take Banner

MTYT: Insignificant Events In the Life of a Cactus

This month we’re examining four books that focus on the theme Sense of Place. Having a sense of home or belonging is something humans value almost as much as family. The books selected for this month center around characters who find that special sense of place, or have to leave their longtime place and find a new one. This week’s selection is Insignificant Events In the Life of a Cactus.

Insignificant Events In the Life of a Cactus Continue reading

My Take Your Take Banner

MTYT: Pablo Finds a Treasure

For My Take/Your Take this month, we examine four books that focus on the theme, Sense of Place. Last week, Michele and Yoo Kyung challenged the ways in which we think about place as home and instead consider how place is about where one discovers self. This week, they use the lens of sense of place to give their takes on Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andrée Poulin and Isabelle Malenfant.

Pablo Finds a Treasure Continue reading

My Take Your Take Banner

MTYT: Moonrise

Moonrise by Sarah CrossanThis month we examine four books that focus on the theme, Sense of Place. Living in Hawaii, Michele feels particularly drawn to the idea of having a strong and grounded sense of place. For her, this notion means being deeply connected to the land and natural environment and having a feeling of “at homeness” somewhere. Recently her family lost their beach home to the powerful forces of lava in Kapoho, Hawaii. This brought forth many emotions as she believes this special home helped her understand what it means to have a sense of place. It is with this lens that she responds to the selected books given the theme this month.

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan Continue reading

WOW Currents

Expanding Reading Boundaries: Mixing Manga with Culturally Diverse Children’s Books

By Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico

Graphic novels are entertaining for teachers and students. Lately we see more teachers adopt graphic novels in their classrooms. Manga may not be the same. Manga have a wide range of volume numbers and often have long series. Many teachers may not be able to monitor the entire volume sets in their busy schedule. We wonder what will happen if manga are mixed with other children’s books, specifically culturally diverse books. I, Yoo Kyung, often observe that students don’t always grab multicultural books when they have other choices (even in Albuquerque, “the Land of Enchantment”.) Book covers with different ethnic groups are not always their passion. Mixing manga within a text set may interest students in multicultural books through common themes and topics, not by category of “diverse” books. Intertextuality pursued by themes and topics attract students to read.

Continue reading