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Filling the Gaps as Teachers to Teach More Completely

By Teri Davis, Jessica Baipho, Lori Deese, Kristel Gooding and Hope Robinson, Kershaw County School District, and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

A teacher must work to fill the gaps in their own knowledge in order to more effectively teach their students. These gaps extend to language similarities and differences between the student’s first language and English; cultural nuances that may be missing for a lesson; and religious considerations that may come up as part of teaching the whole child. Continue reading

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Culturally Relevant Materials: Building Community In the Classroom

By Lauren Hunt, Lori Deese, & Lisa Stockdale, Kershaw County School District, Camden, SC, Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

In The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, Manzano captures the struggles that are often part of mother-daughter relationships. Yet, in the end, the three females (Evelyn, her mother, and her grandmother), all gain better perspectives of themselves and each other. This story would most likely resonate with many teenagers because of the struggles teens face as they move from adolescence to adulthood. This book could be potentially more powerful for English Learners (ELs) who struggle not only with this rite of passage, but also having to face it in a country that is not their first home. I especially think of the Dreamers whose parents came to America searching for better lives for their families. I wonder if these students have difficulty understanding their parents desires to hold tightly to the ways of their country while they are fervently seeking to become a part of American culture. As a teacher, I wonder how I can best meet these students’ unique needs. Continue reading

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Girl Young Lords: Literature as Mirrors

By Teri Davis, Robin Sowell and Lisa Stockdale, Kershaw County School District, and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

Girl Young Lords!! Yes, for the first time, there were girl Young Lords.

This quote is the most relative to my classroom today. In The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano, Evelyn is almost set on fire for the revolution’s cause after seeing girls like her who were Young Lords. It gives her something greater to connect to other than the needs of her people. It gives her a “hero”, someone she relates to and admires. One general strategy for ELLs is to ensure our classrooms are welcoming places that represent all cultures. Having texts in my classroom to support ELLs is a positive and necessary part of my instruction. Continue reading

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[Re]visiting Evelyn Serrano

By Elizabeth Burr, Kershaw County School District, Camden, SC, Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, and Lisa Stockdale, Kershaw County School District

For the next month we, a university professor, a district ESL teacher and a classroom teacher taking a course on English Learner Assessment, invite you to join us as we think about and make connections to The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano. The story is about a young Puerto Rican girl, Evelyn, coming of age in Spanish Harlem, NYC, in the summer of 1969. A part of our class is reading young adult novels and making connections to the theories we read about and to our life experiences. Some of the cultures represented in these books are familiar to us but the majority are new. The new ones provide the opportunity for us to learn about a new culture and adapt it to the children in our classrooms. This first week, we present Elizabeth [Betsy] Burr’s, thoughts and connections to Evelyn Serrano. Then, we provide a mini-text set for your consideration. We welcome your responses and connections to our post!

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano Continue reading

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Insignificant Events In the Life of a Cactus: Young Women Demanding to be Seen and Heard

By Dorea Kleker, The University of Arizona

As an educator and parent, the recent shooting in Parkdale, Florida rattled me. Again. Preventable, senseless deaths. Again. Mourning families and communities. Again. I scroll through the photos of 17 beautiful faces who walked into school on the morning of February 14, 2018 and didn’t come home. I read the details of the survivors’ accounts of a nightmare they will never shake. I hug my son a little tighter and think of all the mothers who are afraid. Again. Again. Again.

Insignificant Events In the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling Continue reading

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In the Shadow of the Sun: Understanding Complex Identities

By Dorea Kleker, University of Arizona

Google “North Korea” right now and a flurry of presidential tweets and news stories of missiles is surprisingly absent. This week, the Olympics overwhelmingly trump (pun intended) impending war and dangerous egos. The top three hits include an Australian Kim Jong-Un impersonator, the North Korean Olympic delegation and 229 members of the North Korean cheerleading squad. On the surface, they’re light stories. Read beyond the headlines and the deeper issues persist: dictators, brutal regimes, extreme human rights abuses and nuclear threats.

In the Shadow of the Sun by Anne Sibley O'Brien Continue reading

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When Dimple Met Rishi Features a Strong, Female, Tech-y Character

By Dorea Kleker, The University of Arizona

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m currently living in rural Panama. Our small town of Gamboa is surrounded by rainforest on three sides with the Panama Canal bordering the fourth. Gamboa is also home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Perhaps I should provide a little context. I am an early childhood educator who lives with two scientists. My husband is a botanist and my 8-year-old son has been obsessed with insects pretty much upon leaving my womb. Gamboa–its many jungles and scientists–is my family’s version of Disneyland.

When Dimple Met Rishi features a young woman making strides in the tech industry. This text set features similar characters, both real and fiction. Continue reading

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Truth Behind Stories in I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

By Dorea Kleker, The University of Arizona

This month’s WOW Currents focuses on four books whose authors will present at the 2018 Tucson Festival of Books: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, When Dimple Met Rishi, The Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus and In the Shadow of the Sun.

Daniel Geffre reads I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez Continue reading

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An Interview with Mary Margaret Mercado: Authentic Picturebook Illustrations

Interview conducted by Judi Moreillon

Part 4: Authentic Picturebook Illustrations

This month, I interview Pima County Public Library children’s librarian and children’s book reviewer, Mary Margaret Mercado. Last week, Mary Margaret responded to questions related to authenticity in picturebook stories. This week, our conversation centers on authentic picturebook illustrations.

Authenticity in Picturebooks Continue reading

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An Interview with Mary Margaret Mercado: Authentic Picturebook Stories

Interview conducted by Judi Moreillon

Part 3: Authentic Picturebook Stories

This month, I interview Pima County public librarian children’s librarian and children’s book reviewer Mary Margaret Mercado. Last week, Mary Margaret responded to questions related to publication practices with a closer look at the author, illustrator and translator’s cultural knowledge. This week, our conversation centers on the authenticity of the story itself.

Esquivel and Grandma's Chocolate Continue reading