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Social Justice Resources for the Classroom


Concern America publishes a newsletter,  With Eyes to See,” each highlighting a particular concept of peace and justice.

Included within are valuable resources and classroom activities that connect social justice and activism to themes that are a part of the high school curriculum.   Discussing these themes provides an excellent opportunity for thoughtful discussion about and reflection on what I like to refer to as, “ critical content in context.”

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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Resources

 

School Climate Activities

For some reason, I don’t care too much for the terms bully, anti-bully, or bully awareness.    While the behaviors associated with these terms are serious and demand our attention, the word bully and its associated terms have become cliché, commodified, and often minimized in social contexts, especially among youth.

Even so, focusing on school climate and positive interactions is a priority for our school community.   We recently held a Bullying Awareness Week within the district, during which, I shared with our teachers the following list of activities that they could utilize to promote positive peer interactions.

NEWSPAPER REPORTS OF KINDNESS: Scan local newspapers and find reports of kindness.  Cut out articles and create a collage on poster board. [The media center can provide newspapers and magazines for this activity].

DEFINING KINDNESS: Project the word kindness on the board. Ask students to write for 10 minutes about kindness. After 10 minutes of nonstop writing, ask for volunteers to read their ideas of kindness. As different students share their ideas of kindness, write descriptions of kindness on the overhead projector or on the board.  Students should participate by creating kindness diagrams of their own.

Consider this extension activity.  Cut and paste all the descriptive text collected during the activity into Wordle [www.wordle.net] to create a word cloud.  Based on the word cloud, ask students to reflect on the words that best describe kindness at WHS?  Is this an accurate description of our community?   Do all students see our community this way?  If not, why?

SHOWING EXCEPTIONAL KINDNESS: Students draw numbers as they enter the classroom to determine order of presentations. Students should be given 2-3 minutes to present reports on people in their lives who have shown exceptional kindness. After all presentations have been given, ask students to write what kindness means to them. Take student definitions and type on large index cards and display cards around the room or on a kindness bulletin board. Source: http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/.

CONSIDER THE IMPACT ON YOUR HEALTH: It has been shown that doing “for others” can benefit the volunteer as much as the recipient. Read the following quotes to understand how this could happen. Then, answer the question at the end. Source: http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/.

From High School Student #1
I got involved after I was required by the court to do community service. Funny thing is, I was good at it. In fact, my supervisor asked me to stay on and start a program to get other youth involved. They gave me a desk, a phone, and a small budget. I started a phone bank where neighbors could call in to get some help with chores they were unable to do themselves. Most of the requests came from elderly people and single parents. I believe that youth can make a difference if we work together. In the end, I realized that I am not a bad person, and I am capable of incredible things if I take advantage of the freedom within myself. By giving away my time and myself, I got back a whole lot.

From High School Student #2
Whenever my buddy (a child at the family shelter) knows that I am coming to see her, she waits at a certain corner. As soon as she sees me, she runs to me and gives me a huge hug. I can relate to the relationship I have with my buddy because I had no brothers or sisters, and when I was young my father traveled 70% of the year. I would have really valued a relationship similar to the one my buddy and I have. My buddy is not the only one benefiting from this program. I also feel needed and appreciated.

In 1 or 2 paragraphs, tell why you agree or disagree about the following statement: Performing Random Acts of Kindness or volunteerism may make me feel better or help me to live longer and happier.

5th Period THINKING BIG: Pick a quote which best describes your feeling about doing a Random Act of Kindness. Then tell why you picked it. Explain what it means to you. Source: http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/.

  • We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. -Winston Churchill
  • I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics but for our contributions to the human spirit. -John Kennedy
  • Our culture is at a critical cusp-a time that requires that we define what it means to be a citizen in a democracy. Within our nation we need to foster a greater sense of collective responsibility. -Robert Bellah (author)
  • For whatever befalls the Earth, befalls the sons and daughters of the Earth…Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. -Chief Seattle
  • Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve -Martin Luther King

6th Period – JUST WANTED TO SAY…:Read the following passage.  “We’ve all been in situations where we have been the giver or receiver of unkind words.  We may have even been in a situation where we have done something unkind or had something unkind done to us.   Many times we don’t realize how something we say or do makes others feel.  Other times we may do things intentionally out of anger or frustration. Often we don’t get the opportunity to take these words or actions back.”

Ask students to write a reflection on a time when they may have said or done something, either intentional or unintentional, that may have negatively affected another student or adult in their community.   They could have been directly involved or it could have been a situation where they were a bystander and saw another person get hurt, but didn’t do anything.   Ask them to write about how they felt then and how they feel now about the situation.  What has changed?  How they might act differently, if given the opportunity?    What would they say to that person now, if they had the opportunity?  Ask students not to name the person or themselves.  Source: Jacey C., SADD Member.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAD $50,000: Ask students to write an essay on the following.  “You have just received a grant for $50,000 to create a program to improve the climate at Westmont High School.  What program would you develop? How would your program impact the school community?  How would you evaluate the success of this program?”

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Resources

 

What if Limited Budgets Didn’t Limit Learning?

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PBS Learning Media is an excellent free resource for digital content that is aligned to the curriculum across all content areas.

You will have to sign up for an account, but access is immediate.   The user interface is super easy to search and use, and the main search page allows for filter by grade level, subject, media, and source type.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Resources

 

Books That Support Common Core Standards

Recently I asked the faculty and staff at my school for suggestions of books to add to our collection.  Here are some resources I provided them with.

CCBC Booklists
CCS Resources by Booklist
Common Core Suggested Books on Pinterest

Engaging Non-Fiction: The (NY) Times, The Common Core, and a Question for you
Great Science Books for HS Students by Carl Zimmer
Junior Library Guild High Interest Sports
Non-Fiction for Reluctant Readers
Uncovering Complex Text in the Common Core by Edutopia

Zinn Education Project

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Resources

 

Resource Directory

It is my goal to keep an eye out for information, resources, and strategies that teachers students might find informative or useful; and, I’m continually working to compile this information in varied ways to tailor and improve the delivery of resources to meet your needs.   I’m currently working on some new exciting initiatives for sharing information, including “Tech Tip Sheets” and “Tech Tip Clips.”  More information to come on both of these.

As always, please contact me if you need more specialized resources.   Also, If you’d like more information on how to use wikis, social bookmarking, Twitter or Blogs in your practice, or if you already use them, but would like some additional tips on using advanced features, please let me know. I would be thrilled to work with you in whatever way is helpful to you! 

Just so you have all this information in one place, I’ve listed some of the resources I’ve compiled below and on my blog.

GALE DATABASES

I think you will be very pleased with the breadth and depth of information provided by Gale, a company that holds the status of an award winning publisher of reference resources.  Links to our new Gale databases are now available on the media center webpage.    Please see me for the passwords.

See > https://www.cusd201.org/srhigh/media_center/research_databases/

OTHER RESOURCES COMPILED BY MICHELLE TORRISE

I also wanted to give a shout out to some other resources I publish that you might of value.

My Wiki > http://whslibraryresources.wikispaces.com/ [my attempt to compile valuable resources by content or subject]

My Diigo > http://www.diigo.com/cloud/torrise [a social bookmarking site I’ve utilized over the past six years]

My Twitter > http://twitter.com/michelletorrise [which, which I utilize to publish research in the field of education]

My Blog > https://allthingsrelativewhs.wordpress.com/ [New!]

My Curated Topics on Scoop > [Interesting things I’ve found Serendipitously]

http://www.scoop.it/t/21st-century-teaching-learning

http://www.scoop.it/t/teacher-blogs

http://www.scoop.it/t/professional-development-reading

GUIDED RESEARCH RESOURCES [PATHFINDERS]

I’m also available to work with you to develop specialty “guided research tools.”   These require a bit more planning, but if you have a project that requires students have access to very high level resources to collect data or to use as reference, I would be happy to work with you to develop these tools.  I’ve included a few examples below,

See  > Renewable Energy Pathfinder https://www.cusd201.org/srhigh/media_center/pathfinders/Science/RenewableEnergy/energy.html

See also > Cancer Pathfinder https://www.cusd201.org/srhigh/media_center/pathfinders/Science/cancer.html

 

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Resources

 

A Few Great PBL Resources for The Novice and The Expert

Lately, there’s been a lot of exciting talk about problem based learning (PBL).  Yet, as exciting as it’s been to talk about, I agree with those who believe that PBL is (albeit, by design) highly subjective and hard to grasp.   I’ve been doing a lot of research on my own, and I’ve found the following resources to be some of the best:


The West Virginia Department of Education has published a set of PBL resources that can be used when planning PBL lessons/units.  I’ve found the rubrics especially helpful in providing a concise look at the skill sets required of PBL lessons/units.


I was very excited to find the University of Delaware Problem-Based Learning Clearinghouse.  This project, funded by the Pew Charitable Trust has compiled a large database of articles, lesson plans, and resources that can be searched by discipline.  I realize these are college level projects, but the beauty of all PBL projects is that they are easily modified and fit perfectly in mixed ability and grade level classrooms.

You will have to sign up for a password to access these resources.  It took about one week for my application to be approved, but it was well worth it.  Here are several sample lesson plans:

A Bad Day for Sandy Dayton
Barbara Duch, Physics

Responding to Economic Crisis in Africa
Gretchen Bauer,  Interdisciplinary Science

If you want to browse the database before signing up, let me know and I’ll work with you to set up a demo.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Resources

 

Gale Databases – Direct Access

You can access our databases directly here.  Please contact me for passwords.

   

  

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Resources