Category Archives: Educator Resources

Lesson plans, activity guides, and helpful tips from our literacy specialist and guest educators.

Watch the Webinar: Using Diverse Books to Support Social and Emotional Learning

Thank you to everyone who joined us this week for our webinar, “Using Diverse Books to Support Social and Emotional Learning”! If you missed it live (or just want to watch again), here is a recording of the webinar:

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Book List: 12 Books On Social Activism

Social activism has always been a part of US history: from the abolitionist movement to the women’s suffrage movement, people have been fighting and protesting for the inalienable rights of all. With all that’s been happening in the world, we wanted to share some of our titles that are about social activism, and feature real and fictional social activists from the past as well as the present. Some of these activists are well-known and have a public platform on which to share their thoughts and opinions, while others act on a smaller scale, such as within their own neighborhood. So whether you consider yourself a social activist or are unfamiliar with how to bring about social change, the following 12 books are a great step in the right direction:

Books About Social Activism

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Free Upcoming Webinar: Using Diverse Books to Support Social and Emotional Learning

SEL Webinar

Hey educators! Start the new year off right by joining our free 45-minute upcoming webinar on using diverse books to support social and emotional learning. This free PD offering is perfect for teachers, literacy coaches, administrators, and librarians who are looking to expand their knowledge on social and emotional learning. Continue reading

Culturally Responsive Approaches to Goal Setting With Students

Goal Setting With StudentsIn this ongoing series, we explore what culturally responsive teaching looks like at different grade levels and offer concrete examples and resources. In November, we explored discussing Thanksgiving in the classroomToday, educator Lindsay Barrett offers a culturally responsive approach to goal setting with students to start off the new year. Continue reading

Using Picture Books to Support Social Emotional Learning

using picture books to support social emotional learning

Today we are pleased to share this guest post from Librarian and Diversity Coordinator Laura Reiko Simeon on using picture books to support social and emotional learning (SEL)Welcome, Laura!

One day a new sixth grader walked into my school library, wandered over and gazed longingly at the picture book shelves, and then told me sadly that at her old school her teacher told her she wasn’t allowed to read them because they were below her reading level. I bit back my initial uncensored opinion of said teacher and mildly replied that the wonderful thing about picture books was that you could enjoy them at any age–and that no one here would stop her from borrowing whatever she liked!

This story connects to a project I developed that is currently in its seventh year. It’s taken various forms and spanned various grade levels from K-4 to K-8, but the goals have remained the same: Continue reading

Book List: 10 Children’s Books That Teach Empathy

Books That Teach EmpathyThe holiday season is upon us and we feel lucky to be surrounded by people that want to share in the togetherness and love that accompanies the colder months of the year, which is why we’re excited to share this roundup of books that teach about empathy.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, empathy is “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.” Books allow us to put ourselves in another person’s (literary) shoes, and show readers how characters relate and navigate the relationships they have with others.

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Classroom Guide for I Am Alfonso Jones

I Am Alfonso JonesLast month was the release of I Am Alfonso Jones written by Tony Medina and illustrated by Stacey Robinson and John Jennings. In this book, Alfonso Jones can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he is buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun, and he shoots Alfonso.

When Alfonso wakes up in the afterlife, he’s on a ghost train guided by well-known victims of police shootings, who teach him what he needs to know about this subterranean spiritual world. Meanwhile, Alfonso’s family and friends struggle with their grief and seek justice for Alfonso in the streets. As they confront their new realities, both Alfonso and those he loves realize the work that lies ahead in the fight for justice.

Accompanying our title is the I Am Alfonso Jones teacher’s guide, which offers resources and tips on how to guide discussions of race, racism, and social justice in the classroom. Our teacher’s guide also features summary and background information, prereading and discussion questions, ideas for reader’s response and writing activities, strategies for ESL/ELL, and interdisciplinary activities and connections. Below we’ve gathered a few prereading questions, discussion questions, activities, and resources from the I Am Alfonso Jones teacher’s guide.

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Using the Rafi and Rosi Series in the Classroom

Last year, we brought back the beloved chapter book Rafi and Rosi series, which follows two Puerto Rican tree frog siblings as they explore their surroundings and learn about the traditions, animals, and environment of Puerto Rico. The series is available in both English and Spanish, and is a great way to introduce early readers to chapter books!  Continue reading

A Culturally Responsive Approach to Discussing Thanksgiving in the Classroom

In this ongoing series, we explore what culturally responsive teaching looks like at different grade levels and offer concrete examples and resources. Last week we explored going beyond “The Single Story”Today, educator Lindsay Barrett offers a culturally responsive approach to discussing Thanksgiving in the Classroom. 

Culturally Responsive Teaching Thanksgiving

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Celebrate Native American Heritage Month + Poster Giveaway

November is Native American Heritage Month! Native American Heritage Month evolved from the efforts of various individuals at the turn of the 20th century who tried to get a day of recognition for Native Americans. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush approved a resolution that appointed November as Native American Heritage Month. Continue reading