This week in Social Justice and Cultural Understanding, we continued our our unit around Identity and how our families and communities help shape who we are. We did an activity called “Step In, Step Out” and shared various personal statements of who we are. The students stand in a circle and each student says a personal identity. For example, “I am an only child.” Then, students step forward if the statement is true for them and stay on the outside of the circle if the statement is either not true or they prefer not to answer. It was amazing to see the personal statements students were willing to share, and one student reflected during the debrief that she learned a lot about her classmates, even her closest friends who she’s gone to school with for four years!

They also shared in small groups what they learned, what surprised them and the similarities and differences they observed from their family history interview. Thanks to all family members who were interviewed. Some student takeaways:

“I noticed I have a lot more freedom and less responsibilities than the person I interviewed. For example, I just have to go to school and don’t have to have a job AND go to school.”

“I learned that I have more choices than my grandmother had growing up.”

 “I learned so much about my father and why he sometimes acts the way he does.”

“I realized how much harder my grandparents had to work than I do.”

“My grandma is so awesome.”

Their next assignment is called the SJCU.Identity Brainstorm, helping them identify values of importance as we move to our final project, The Shoe Project, after break.

This week in Language Arts

In Language Arts this week, students received a rubric with specific feedback in regard to the multi-draft essay they recently completed. They were asked to review the rubric with their parents/guardians and to obtain a signature that they had this conversation. Students were then expected to make corrections to mechanical (punctuation, spelling, grammar) errors noted using the knowledge they’ve obtained from recent mini-lessons that have focused on punctuation, fragment and run-on sentences, etc.

Students were also introduced to Goodreads which is a website that will be used throughout the year. Goodreads is an extensive database of books, reading recommendations, and reviews. Users can see what their friends are reading and can get suggestions for future reading choices based on their reviews of previously read books. We’ll use the website to share books we’ve read, reviews we’ve written and will additionally use Goodreads as a way to discuss literature.

We’ll soon begin Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi. This book is considered one of the most popular and well-received graphic memoirs. The novel tells the story of the author’s childhood in Tehran, Iran during the Iranian Revolution. It includes themes such as religion, culture, class disparities, racism, gender issues, political turmoil and war, and the tumultuous history behind Middle Eastern politics. Similar to Night, our first novel, the students will consider the importance of using history as a learning tool while simultaneously learning about the religious, historical, and political context within their Global Studies class.

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