We were supposed to do an end of semester reflection tomorrow. To update our reader’s notebooks. To start our next exploration; the reading identity challenge. We were supposed to follow my planned out days moving us along the path I have laid out for the next four weeks. And then Friday happened and Trump signed another executive order, this one banning certain nationalities from entering the United States and stopping all Syrian Refugees from coming. And so as Smokey Daniels has said the world is handing us curriculum and I am taking it.
Tomorrow my students will not go through our Monday routine but will instead be will instead be asked to read, to watch news clips, crowdsourced here from both sides of the issue. They will be asked to pick what they want to read and what they want to watch. They will then be asked to formulate an opinion about what is happening and discuss it with each other. Their opinion is welcomed, no matter what it is. There is not an answer they are supposed to come to.
Some have asked whether I am afraid of what others may think teaching this topic, but I am not. This is not my attempt to sway them in any way. In fact, it is not my job to tell them what to think, they have already proven themselves quite capable of thinking for themselves. It is not my job to indoctrinate nor turn them into a copy of me. It is my job to make them aware of what is happening in the world. To help them find credible information so they have something to base an opinion on. To offer them an opportunity to critically reflect and discuss their thoughts with others. That is what we do as teachers.
So tomorrow we will not just go about business as usual. I will not follow my lesson-plan, I hope you won’t either. Instead I will acknowledge that right now history is unfolding around us and the least we can do is to help students make sense of it all through in-class discussion. Through investigation. Through community and questioning. I have said it before; our students are the unwritten history of this nation, what will their pages say?
PS: Someone asked whether I would provide my students more background knowledge; they already have it due to the three week long project they did in regard to the refugee crisis in the fall. However, I may show them the first few minutes of this PBS video or continue to keep an eye on News-O-Matic and Newsela to see what they post.
Please add your resources to the Google Doc as well.