E is for Equity (part 2)

I am back again for part 2.

I hope you enjoyed (or planned to enjoy) some of the books from part 1 of E is for Equity.

After reading And Tango Makes Three (by: Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell) to my Kindergarten class very recently, I need everyone to stop what they’re doing and read about the immediate reactions my young learners had to the story.

The story is about 2 penguins in the Central Park Zoo that fall in love and hatch an egg together. This story is so fun and exciting for the listeners as they watch Silo and Roy become the proud penguin parents that they always wanted to be. The penguins Silo and Roy are both boy penguins.

My students burning questions at the end of the story:

  • “What do penguins eat?”
  • “Do penguins eat polar bears?”
  • “I went to the zoo once!”
  • “Can I go to the bathroom?”

N – The Name Jar 

Written & Illustrated by: Yangsook Choi

O – One Love

Adapted by: Cedella Marley

Illustrated by: Brantley Newton

P – The Proudest Blue 

Written by: Ibtihaj Muhammad, &S.K. Ali

Illustrated by: Hatem Aly

Q – Lubaya’s Quiet Roar

Written by: Marilyn Nelson

Paintings by: Philemona Williamson

R – R.J Palacio (Author & Illustrator)

We’re all Wonders

S – Sulwe

Written by: Lupita Nyong’o 

Illustrated by: Vashti Harrison 

T – And Tango Makes Three

Written by: Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell 

Illustrated by: Henry Cole

U – Under My Hijab 

Written by: Hena Khan

Illustrated by: Aaliya Jaleel

V – Susan Verde (Author)

I am Human

Illustrated by: Peter H. Reynolds

W – When We are Kind

Written by: Monique Gray Smith

Illustrated by: Nicole Neidhardt

X – Except When They Don’t

Written by: Laura Gehl

Illustrated by: Joshua Heinsz

Y – Be You!

Written & Illustrated by: Peter H Reynolds 

Z – Zahra’s Blessing: A Ramadan Story

Written by: Shirin Shamsi

Illustrated by: Manal Mirza

Is Beethoven in heaven?

Every day in our classrooms, we are asked a million questions. Where do I write my name? How long does this have to be? Where do I sit? Most are easily answered quickly. However, every once in a while a question is asked that can be incredibly difficult to answer. This kind of question came up in my class yesterday. We have been learning about Beethoven in my grade three classes and during O Canada one of my students was staring at my poster of Beethoven on the wall. Once O Canada was over, his hand shot up and immediately he asked “ Is Beethoven in heaven?” The whole class sat in silence waiting for a response.

I took a minute to decide how to respond. My classroom is very diverse with many different cultures and religions being represented. I didn’t want to say an immediate yes and exclude those in my class that didn’t believe in heaven. I also didn’t want to dismiss the idea of heaven to those who hold it as a belief. There seemed to be no right answer to this question. So I decided the only way to handle this question was to acknowledge and respect the different beliefs that are represented in my student population.

I explained to the class that different cultures and religions have different beliefs about what happens to us after we pass away. Some religions believe there is a heaven while others believe in reincarnation. I also explained that some cultures or religions do not believe in an afterlife at all. We further discussed how our familial, religious and cultural beliefs make us all special.

We then had an amazing discussion about the music that represents our culture and religion. The students taught me all about the songs and instruments played in their Gurdwara and others told me about singing in the choir at church. I am really glad I took the time to answer the difficult question as the sharing that followed was so important to creating our community as a class.

As the class went on, I began to wonder why the initial question popped into my student’s head. I wondered if someone in his life has passed away recently. I quietly asked him the question after the students were busy working on their assignment. He told me that he just wanted to know.

I am very glad that he asked.

Mike Beetham

Inclusive Celebrations

Should I celebrate this holiday or that holiday in my classroom? Should I have a holiday free classroom? These are questions that have no simple answers. An inclusive classroom pertains not only to the different learning needs of your classroom but also to the cultural diversity of your group of learners, your school community and the neighborhood in which your school exists.

Over my career I have been very fortunate to have worked with many inspiring, talented colleagues that have always created ways that developed a sense of community within our school by embracing the uniqueness of each and every culture. These were often shared in music, art, drama and other types of public sharing. The end result was that we always left knowing and appreciating more about the global school community. More importantly our students were provided opportunities to build cultural bridges that can be carried with them throughout their life.

I have included a website that provides tips on celebrating cultural diversity. As well, there are many resources available to facilitate awareness such as a multi-cultural calendar.

10 Tips on Celebrating Cultural Diversity in the Classroom this Winter Season