Current research suggests that race has no genetic basis. It is little more than a construct. Yet racism is real, and physical characteristics that have little genetic difference affect the way people are treated. This fun, engaging book that I am requesting allows students to examine how it feels to look different.
Overall, we have a traditional middle school with a progressive staff that is working to transform into a place of community, personal growth, and academic rigor.
There are approximately 1,000 students at our middle school, and we are employing peacebuilding and community building strategies to help students thrive during the tough times of pre-adolescence. We are striving to create a large middle school that feels like an extended family and is a safe, healthful place for students to learn about content, their peers, and themselves.
Our school is a melting pot! About 40% of our students label their "race"/ethnicity as White, 40% Latino, 4% Black, 3% Asian and 2% Filipino, and 1% Native American. They are socio-economically diverse as well. Not quite half of our students are living near the poverty line and are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
The students at our school are full of life and love of learning. They are eager to grow physically, intellectually and personally.
I am requesting 35 copies of the graphic novel "American Born Chinese." By reading this fun, high interest novel, students will have opportunities to explore how it feels to be seen as different. Students learn to empathize with others and they will have opportunities to explore how they see themselves, as well.
The idea of race ties in with the study of history, literature, and character ed. seamlessly. In 7th grade, students study World Geography and in 8th grade, they explore U.S. History which is the study of the movement of people and ideas among 3 continents. Throughout both World and U.S. history, how people have been treated and the level of autonomy they have enjoyed have been closely tied to their perceived race. We will also explore how and why students are bullied in middle school. This novel is a starting point to discuss ideas of racism, sexism, gender identity issues, poverty and other examples of intolerance. The unit centered around this novel will be powerful.
In middle school, students are trying to figure out who they are.
They often see themselves through their peers' eyes. It can be a difficult time to be "different." Bullying is a serious issue in middle school, and students need opportunities to empathetically explore how people feel when they are seen as "different." Ultimately students learn that regardless of looks, perceived intelligence or socio-economic status, no one is better than anyone else. We all want to feel love and acceptance.
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