Watch the Webinar: Teaching Social Activism through Children’s Books

Thank you to everyone who joined us last week for our webinar, “Teaching Social Activism through Children’s Books”! If you missed it live (or just want to watch again), here is a recording of the webinar:

Click below for recommended resources to teach social activism, our Social Activism Reading List and our corresponding Social Activism collections. For the Professional Development Certificate, please contact Katie Potter at kpotter@leeandlow.com.

View or download our Social Activism Reading List.

Recommended Resources:
Responsive Classroom
The People’s Institute for Survival
Anti-Racist Educator Alliance

Collections:
Social Activism Collection
Social Activism Collection Grades PreK-2
Social Activism Collection Grades 3-5
Social Activism Collection Grades 6-8

Have additional questions or comments? Please leave them below in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Watch the Webinar: Teaching Social Activism through Children’s Books”

  1. Hi Katie,

    What a great webinar! Thank you so much for that. I actually have 2 questions – First, can I please get a certificate? I believe you mentioned that in the very first part.

    Second, what are your suggestions for integrating this time-wise for districts like mine who ‘do Lucy’? In other words, we are implementing the Lucy Calkins RUOS during our extremely limited RW time. As you know, from Teachers College, the units are written with a mentor text that is intertwined throughout the units in multiple ways, and the sessions have specific teaching points. We must adhere to those RUOS. Our district will be more fully rolling out a restorative justice initiative next year also, as well as more strictly requiring the LC WUOS. I am ae 3-5 Literacy Coach just to clarify my pov.

    However, we are also very much in need of changing the way we do things at our particular school to be more reflective of our student population, and hopefully, to engage them more fully. I think Social Activism through literature is absolutely needed at our school. But how do we set a successful foundation for that as well as ‘do Lucy’? Let me just say that I do love the RUOS and fully believe in the good, basic literacy instruction and process laid out in them. But THOSE teaching points and texts are different than what I am taking away from the webinar. How to marry the two?

    As a Native person, I have been asked to be involved in a number of discussions in classrooms around race stereotypes and literature selections, most notably, Stone Fox last year. Those tend not to go very well in the sense that the foundation is using a book rife with stereotypes to UNPACK with students why those stereotypes are untrue/harmful/etc instead of approaching it from laying the foundation for understanding first. Over the last decade or so of doing those types of discussions, my take away has been that students at the elementary level come away with a very shallow black and white understanding of racism (more shallow as you go down from 5th to K, all discussions obviously tailored to the age range). At 3rd grade, the nuances are definitely missed. They come away with knowledge they didn’t have before (Native people are still here, aren’t bad or savage), but that understanding doesn’t deepen beyond “It’s wrong to use stereotypes”, outrage about people being treated unfairly and that sort of thing. These are anything from a few days being in their classes to a month as the read aloud continues for that unit.

    I can see that part of the failure is not completely changing the text used, and also not having a whole school or whole class on-going Social Activism mind-set, foundations, lessons and discussions that lead students step by step over time to develop more nuanced thinking.

    But how can we set up that kind of process while still using the RUOS? I can definitely see the Social Activism tied to the CCSS, but it is not tied to LC RUOS in the texts or the teaching points. It’s a bear to extricate one LC RUOS anchor text for a unit and rewrite it using another text (I did it using The Hundred Dresses instead of Stone Fox last year bc I could not bear to have all the 3rd gr teachers using Stone Fox. We used 1 class still with SF and the result was still limited to the outrage and very basic understanding from the kids). So we DO need to set up the Social Activism teaching correctly.

    Thoughts on how to do that in a VERY limited RW time? We could create an entire unit, such as the Social Justice unit in the If…Then… units (kind of the same but kind of different than what this webinar was focused on). We do 7 units a year – 4 obviously being the spiral bound LC units, but then teachers have options with the other 3 units.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be most appreciated!

    Thank you!

    Kara

    1. Hi Kara,

      Below is a response from Katie Potter, Literacy Specialist:

      Thank you so much for such a thoughtful and incredibly relevant response. As former teachers, we can completely relate to working under certain constraints depending on the school, curriculum, and overall environment of your immediate setting. Here at Lee & Low, we love to help educators supplement and complement texts that they’re using in their classroom or library curriculum with any of our applicable, diverse titles. As Ina showed in her Bridge Map activity, there are so many ways that you can connect books using an underlying theme or concept and continue to add to it throughout the year and across units.

      Another idea is to encourage students to think about how they can examine a text with a social activist lens. What issue or problem is evident in the book? How could a character advocate for their self and/or their community? What marginalized groups are present (this would apply to Stone Fox), and how could they be supported? It would be an interesting exercise for both teachers and students to brainstorm and think about ways that social activism can be woven into a book even if it’s not explicitly shown or demonstrated through the storyline or characters/people.

      We hope this helps and are happy to continue the conversation, Kara!

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