Category Archives: Curriculum Resources

Mindful Mondays: Mindfulness in Philly’s Classrooms

Below, you will find an introduction from TAG’s 2016 Mindfulness ItAG, Mindful Mondays. For more, check out their blog. You can also join them Mondays from 5-7pm at The Living Room Cafe (701 S 5th St.) through April 18. Find their full schedule below.


 

mindfulness itag 2

We are a group of current and former educators who have experienced the every day frustrations of teaching. We know how powerful and effective practicing mindfulness as a teacher is on decreasing disruptive behaviors, increasing student engagement, and tending to the socio-emotional health of our school communities .

Each Monday through the month of April we will be collaborating with experts in mindfulness who will share their resources, practices and inspiration with Philadelphia-based educators. We will learn how to be mindful and how to create a sustainable environments for our students in a way that uplifts the practice of teaching and learning.

Why not join the inquiry? We practice, chat, chew and unpack the complexities of engaging with this work in classroom spaces. Below find a listing of our driving questions for each session. Feel free to join us for any of them, no experience needed. Just an openness of heart and gratitude for the reflective practice.

Mindful Mondays, 5-7pm

Location: The Living Room Cafe, 701 S 5th St., Philadelphia, PA.

2/22: What is mindfulness and how is it practiced?

2/29: How do I teach and model mindfulness for my students?

3/7: How do students benefit from mindful practice? What structural changes happen in the brain after practicing mindfulness?

3/14: How do your students perceive things?  How does this affect their responses and behavior?

3/28: How can mindfulness positively impact student engagement with content? How do I incorporate the use of mindfulness in my approach while teaching content?

4/4: How can Mindfulness support teacher resilience in environments low on collaboration, modeling or support? How can mindfulness decrease stress reactivity in teachers?

4/11: Who is practicing mindfulness in their classrooms and what works for them?

4/18: Guest students and their experiences with mindfulness.

Developing Cultural Competency Among School Staff

The members of the Inquiry to Action Group Social Justice Educators on a Path of Cultural Relevancy would like to share their collaboratively created module, “Developing Cultural Competency Among School Staff.”

This module is meant to empower school personnel to lead a professional development series that centers on confronting issues of language, culture, and race in educational contexts. There are six sessions designed to be flexible enough for facilitators to adapt the module to suit participant needs and school schedule. The session topics correspond to the partner text: Rethinking Multicultural Education: Teaching for Racial and Cultural Justice.

It has been shared in part at multiple workshops, and implemented in its entirety at Stetson, where the candid, meaningful discussions about language, culture and race continue as participants strive to provide a more relevant and socially equitable learning environment.

Please share widely!

Developing Cultural Competency Among School Staff

Bring Malala’s Story into your Classroom

Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is an inspiration to students and teachers around the world.  As a fierce advocate of education for girls, she has reminded us that we can never take schooling for granted, and that this is a right worth fighting for.  Teacher Action Group encourages teachers to use the occasion of the award of the 2014 Liberty Medal to Malala as an opportunity to encourage students to be advocates for their own education.

“It is we who make history.  It is we who become history.”
—Malala Yousafzai, Liberty Medal acceptance speech, October 21, 2014

For ideas about teaching Malala’s story:

  • http://www.teachhumanrights.com/girls-education.html
  • http://www.aft.org/press-release/share-my-lesson-posts-common-core-aligned-lesson-plan-involving-malala
  • http://www.malala.org/
  • http://constitutioncenter.org/libertymedal/recipient_2014.html

ItAGs kick off on February 12th!

Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs) bring together educators from around the city to explore topics related to social justice in education, and then create an action connected to what they learned.  ItAGs take place over a six to eight week period in February and March.

Join us for our Kick-Off event!

Wednesday, Feb. 12th at Science Leadership Academy (55 N. 22nd Street) from 6-8 PM.

At the event, you will have a chance to:
  • Meet all of the facilitators for this year’s ItAGs
  • Give input on ItAG meeting times if you join their group
  • Network with other TAG members

You do not have to attend the kick-off to participate in an ItAG — the schedules and meeting times will also be posted after the event. However, we encourage you to attend, especially if you are thinking about participating in more than one group, or want to suggest a meeting time that works for you!

Check out the short descriptions of this year’s ItAGs below For longer descriptions, facilitator bios, and meeting times, download the full guide or go to our dedicated ItAGs page.

Black Music as Rebellion: The African American history curriculum woefully neglects the role of music in developing political and social consciousness. We will explore the intersections of Black music and social action with other teachers, and build a curriculum or lesson ideas to supplement our classrooms.

English Content Area Meet-Up: English teachers will meet up to discuss a common concept, idea, or challenge.  Topics may include project-based learning, non-canonical texts, skills instruction, real-world writing, and more.

Leveraging Student and Faculty Voice to Improve Your School: Participants will investigate a range of models that incorporate student/faculty voice into classroom and school decision-making structures.  We will all identify a specific school-based problem, design and implement a student/faculty voice project around it.

Locally Relevant Mathematics with the Community Based Mathematics Project: This ItAG will focus on how to make the learning of mathematics more relevant and engaging for students in our community.  We will use locally relevant contexts to increase students’ access to mathematical knowledge and skills for thinking critically about the world around them.

Partnering through Mentoring: In this ItAG, we will explore qualities and strategies for effective peer mentoring partnerships in teaching within schools and professional communities.  Topics will include sharing ideas for connecting mentors and mentees, areas of focus for mentoring, and building a mentoring community.

Philadelphia as Classroom: An Inquiry into Connected Learning Experiences: This ItAG will develop ways to partner local institutions and professional communities for student learning experiences beyond classroom walls.  We will use the Connected Learning framework, which pushes for more interdisciplinary problem solving, critical thinking, and communication in student learning to inform the dialogue.

Social Justice Educators on the Path to Cultural Relevancy: Participants will build on discussion of research as well as personal and classroom experiences to hone their abilities to make their classroom/context more relevant with respect to linguistic diversity, socioeconomic groups, ethnic heritage, and more.  We will work towards collaborative action that reaches beyond our ItAG.

Social Justice Unionism: Teachers will develop a greater understanding of what social justice unionism means and collectively figure out how it translates into our current reality, both as organized teachers in the PFT and largely unorganized charter school teachers.

Social Studies Content Meet-Up: This group is intended to serve as a space for a “meeting of the minds” among Social Studies educators.  Potential topics are thematic teaching, authentic assessment, teaching source analysis, student-centered inquiry, balancing content with skills, and more.

Using Teacher Research to Create Powerful Classrooms: Each participant will develop a personal research project aimed at strengthening classroom practice and generating knowledge for other educators.  Join us if you are an educator who asks questions aimed at improving your practice and are interested in seizing the opportunity to answer them.

In Response to The Verdict

999041_10151814579608755_1197451166_nOn Saturday July 13th, 2013, a jury of six women found George Zimmerman not guilty on all charges in the murder of Trayvon Martin, a young Black man who was racially profiled, considered “suspicious” simply because of the color of his skin, and then murdered on the street by a neighborhood watch vigilante.  We are outraged and disgusted by this verdict. It highlights the enormous injustices of our system, indeed forcing us to question the idea that “justice” even exists within the legal system of our country.

The deep racism and historic inequality of our legal system is mirrored in the systemic inequality of our education system. It is no coincidence that the majority of schools being closed in Philadelphia, and across the country, are schools with majority Black and Brown students in low income neighborhoods. As educators, we have a responsibility to discuss, address and develop an analysis around not only this case, but also other forms of oppression and institutional racism, so that we can be prepared to have real conversations with our students.

We must talk about race. When the majority of educators in Philadelphia are white and the majority of our students are students of color, we have to be willing to talk about that dynamic. When the default in our schools is to punish, suspend, expel and arrest our students when they violate our school norms, rather than help them learn from their mistakes and repair the harm they’ve caused, we have to see this as a direct extension of how black and brown people are criminalized in all parts of society. When our state is the leader in sentencing youth, mostly youth of color, to life without the possibility of parole, we have to be willing to talk about race and the connections to the school-to-prison pipeline.  When we hear our colleagues blaming “those parents” for the dysfunction in our schools, we have to be willing to confront the implicit racism in their attitudes.

The killing of Trayvon Martin reminds us that we do not exist in a post-racial society. We must be willing to challenge ourselves and move outside of our comfort zones. As educators, we know that growth often comes from being uncomfortable.  Therefore, we have a responsibility, as educators, to push ourselves, our colleagues, and our schools to confront racism, engage in difficult and honest discussions, and help validate and heal the pain that is still too real in our students’ lives.

Talk with your colleagues about the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Talk with your colleagues about ways to discuss the pain and betrayal of Trayvon Martin’s murder with your students. Talk with your colleagues about the role race plays in the classroom. And, of course, push yourself to think deeply about your own personal beliefs and stereotypes that you may hold as a result of living in an unequal, racist society.

Trayvon Martin’s death was an atrocity. We must learn from it and push ourselves to act so that the next Trayvon Martin — one of our beloved students or a member of our own family — can walk safely home without fear of being gunned down.

One thing you can do right now is sign the NAACP’s petition requesting that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.

Additionally, here are some links to places to begin the self-education we all need to be more effective educators.

The fight continues.

Social Movements and Philly School Closings Curriculum

Here’s another one of the final products of the 2013 Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs).

As their culminating action, the Educators Outside the Classroom ItAG produced a series of student activities designed to education about Social Movements and Philly School Closings.

The resources includes an icebreaker, talking points for the short documentary “The People United,” and a role-playing activity designed to help participants learn about the different stakeholders and forces at play in district school closures.

Download the resource now!

 

Tools for the Linguistically Diverse Classroom

We are thrilled to present one of the products of the 2013 Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs).

As their culminating action, the Linguistic Bias Against Students of Color ItAG created Tools for the Linguistically Diverse Classroom.

This awesomely thorough resource includes:

  • Extensive resource lists with active links, labeled by grade level
  • A criteria checklist for selecting “Quality Multicultural Literature”
  • Surveys to gauge your classroom’s linguistic diversity and sensitivity
  • Multiple lesson plans and projects designed to recognize and celebrate the diversity present in your classroom.

Download the resource now!

Many thanks to the members of this ItAG for writing and compiling this resource.