Do you remember your history classes? For many, the thought of history evokes dry lectures and textbook readings about chronology and irrelevant events. ("Bueller?") For my 6th graders, however, studying history means interviewing peers to create oral histories, conducting historical research to create museum exhibits, and crafting documentaries and TED Talks.
In my 6th grade history classroom, I try to bring ancient history to life through project-based learning, collaboration, and technology.
I teach 100 brilliant, resilient, and thoughtful students of color, many of whom are impacted by trauma. By teaching my students to develop their critical reading, writing, and thinking skills, I hope to help them better understand historical inequities in order to fight for social justice.
For the past six years, I have worked at building a library of books that appeal to a wide range of student interests, reading levels, and identities. I've spent summers browsing Craigslist, attending library sales, and searching for grant opportunities online to help pay for books for my classroom library. I love to watch students become engaged in reading about experiences both similar to and different from their own. From biographies to historical fiction, from graphic novels to picture books, I love working together with students to find books that spark their imagination and make them hunger for more.
This May, in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I would like to expand my classroom library with books that specifically center the Asian American and Pacific Islander experience.
My current classroom library includes many books about kids with diverse identities, but it has been more challenging to find secondhand or low-cost books with Asian American and Pacific Islander protagonists in my summertime searches.
The term "mirrors and windows" refers to the different types of stories that students may encounter in the book they read. While some stories act as mirrors, reflecting back experiences that students themselves may share, others act as windows into the experiences of others with different identities.
My hope is that by expanding my classroom library with these books, my Asian American and Pacific Islander students will build confidence in their own identities, and all students will build empathy by reading about cultures different from their own.
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