Our school is a small urban middle and high school in which 84% of students are classified as high needs. 78% of the students speak another language as their first language, 65% are classified as economically disadvantaged and 12% have been identified with learning disabilities. That being said, our school supports a population that needs to overcome a variety of challenges. Fortunately, our school is a place where, every day, I witness students who perform small acts of kindness, overcome enormous obstacles, and bravely question the world around them.
In my African American Studies class, I am striving to provide a safe space for my students to grapple with difficult questions and make powerful connections between history and their own personal experiences.
So far this year, they have examined police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement through the lens of "The Hate U Give," a popular young adult novel by Angie Thomas. We also worked with a local university professor to examine children's literature to consider the effectiveness of how slavery is taught in American schools.
I am raising this money to purchase a class set of graphic novels - "March: Book One" as my African American Studies class embarks on a unit exploring the Civil Rights Movement. This past fall, I used a powerful young adult novel for a unit exploring cultural roots. I was astounded to observe the high-interest level that this novel brought to my class, a group of eleventh and twelfth-grade scholars. The students were able to make deep personal connections with the book; they were excited to read ahead and discuss the novel in class; and they were proudly aware of how relevant this novel was in the scope of our nation's current state.
Observing the high engagement levels that a good book can bring to classroom culture, I am planning to use “March,” a graphic novel series told through the perspective of U.S.
Congressman and Civil Rights Leader John Lewis, as a new platform to help my students unpack the Civil Rights Movement this spring. Our school is operating under several difficult social and economic conditions, as described above in my profile, which sometimes prevents easy access to a variety of texts and resources for our scholars. Nevertheless, my students are hungry for interesting material and eager to learn about the world around them.
I am excited to introduce "March" to my class this upcoming April. I plan on designing a six-week research project surrounding the Civil Rights Movement, in which students can self-select topics of interest to them to study further. My hope is that the book "March" will support us in scaffolding basic understanding and spark intrigue in the topic, allowing the students to take ownership of this project and dive deeper into matters of personal importance to each of them.
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