A blog following teacher Aaron Jura as he plans engaging, yet relevant English Language Arts content for High School students in New Orleans, LA.
After an amazing three-weeks participating in the National Endowment for the Humanities teacher seminar titled From Harlem to Hip-Hop: African American History, Literature, and Song I presented my culminating project titled The REAL Illuminati.
If you haven't noticed, many of my teaching strategy posts center around the concepts of engaging students in higher levels of academic achievement. Inspired by Dr. Tricia Rose's talk on Redlining and discriminatory policies and politics in the United States I concluded my project would take the redlining information from the federal government and juxtapose it against modern day racial gerrymandering.
This project would not have come together without the input of several amazing people:
Access all the readings, recordings, PowerPoint, and all other materials on Google Drive -- by clicking here.
This presentation uses the power of student friendly and culturally relevant ideas -- the narrative of "The Illuminati" to illustrate how power can be wielded behind the scenes to disenfranchise particular groups -- an impact very relevant today in America.
The presentation's main claim is that modern day racial gerrymandering in congressional districts is eerily similar to the now "illegal" discriminatory lending practice commonly called redlining.
When you look at the presentation, using Charlotte, NC as a guide you will see the similarities between 1940 redlining maps, the gerrymandered congressional district (blue line), when you layer in 2010 census data on racial concentration in Charlotte, NC.
The point of this exercise is to illustrate a claim, evidence, the tools of argumentation; while still using culturally relevant hooks to engage students in what could be viewed as "boring" without the strong sales pitch.
There are many exciting possibilities when using current events in the classroom, and the recent Supreme Court decisions on this issue also provide an opportunity for a larger, horizontally aligned connection to social studies, law, and even science (topography, etc.) Students could extend this even further into the math sphere by looking at election probabilities based on demographic data.
Again, the possibilities are endless -- I hope this inspires you or you use it in your class to create a more socially conscious student body -- the next leaders of our great nation!
I hope this is something you can use or modify to use in your classroom.
I am about to blow your mind with a way to use MUSIC to give students context and deep analysis of a period of time/movement/really anything you want. This method is called KEYNOTING. Enjoy! I hope I just blew your mind. If you want more on these cool teaching strategies, check out Dr. Yohuru Williams' book Teaching U.S. History Beyond the Textbook: Six Investigative Strategies, Grades 5-12.
1) Select the theme or concept you will be having students work through. In the example, we used the concept of internalized racism and the black is beautiful movement.
2) Come up with a series of questions. These should be tied to your subject area. We worked through this using a more humanities driven approach to teaching English. Example: Who was the president? What was the unemployment rate? Who was the biggest celebrity that year? What's going on in foreign and domestic policy at the time? REMEMBER: These questions will remain consistent for the lesson -- doesn't matter which song the students are working on.
3) Have students work in small groups -- give them the year and have them use their technology tools to answer the questions based on the year.
4) Bring class back together for a report out -- chart the answers somewhere (board or a Google doc), etc.
5) Expose the students to the songs -- for our example we used Nina Simone (1966) Four Women, India Arie (2001) Video, and Kendrick Lamar (2015) Complexion -- focused on the feature by Rhapsody.
6) Whole class discussion and close reading of the lyrics -- keeping in mind the overarching theme.
Remember: Your going to want to provide copies of the lyrics and close read the selections to speak to the historical periods or issues you are working on throughout the lesson.
Sample of the questions and "student answer":
Closing thoughts: Differentiation opportunity: Since the questions remain consistent you could easily differentiate for a particular roster, you could select one song in the middle that speaks to the theme based on the average year of birth for the class (ENGAGE!).
Continuing on yesterday’s post on technology in the classroom and how I (a high school English teacher) use it. In the part I post I detailed several key sites and apps to make life easier. If you picked up one or two (MAX – it’s the rule) of those tools, be sure to master them before moving on a new tool.
CURRICULAR TOOLS FOR THE ELA CLASSROOM
I teach English and reading at a high school level, so the majority of tools I will share are those that will work best in an upper grade application. I am sure my lower grade teachers could also use some of them too with minimal to no modification.
Hope you can take away some ideas from this post of curricular technology tools and their potential applications in the secondary English classroom. Next time, I will post on some tools you can use to help keep engagement during lecture presentations. Until we meet again.
Mr. Aaron Jura, a local English teacher from Warren Easton Charter High School, has been selected as an NEH Summer Scholar from a national applicant pool to attend one of 26 seminars and institutes supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Endowment is a federal agency that, each summer, supports these enrichment opportunities at colleges, universities, and cultural institutions so that teachers can study with experts in humanities disciplines.
Mr. Jura will participate in a seminar entitled "Voices from the Misty Mountains." The 3-week program will be held at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV and directed by Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt. The 16 teachers selected to participate in the program each receive a stipend of $2,700 to cover their travel, study, and living expenses for this program.
Mr. Jura will also create a teaching unit and digital project titled Folklore of Appalachia to bring this experience back to his classroom in New Orleans, LA. The project will include a website where students can engage in the history of the region, read or listen to Appalachian folklore, and a section where the general public can submit their family stories for publication in this digital archive. “The NEH Voices of the Misty Mountains seminar allowed me an opportunity to gain experience in the unique regional voice of the Appalachians and to bring this narrative back to the English classroom in New Orleans,” Jura said, “I hope that the digital project at folkloreofappalachia.com will allow people to continue sharing their stories and that classrooms across the nation will find a use for this free resource.”
Topics for the 26 seminars and institutes offered for teachers this summer include
A Reverence for Words: Muslim Cultures and the Arts; Abolition and Women’s Suffrage, 1830s–1920s; Abolitionism and the Underground Railroad; The African-American Freedom Struggle from Plessy to Brown; America’s Gilded Age and Progressive Era; Appalachia: Land, Literature, and Culture; Central Asia in World History; Charles Dickens; The Chinese Exclusion Act; Communism and American Life; The Dutch Republic, Britain, and the World Economy; Existentialism; Hannah Arendt; Immigration in California: Literature and Theater; Immigration, Industrialization, and Illness in 19th-Century America; John Steinbeck: Social Critic and Ecologist; Philosophers of Education; Punishment, Politics, and Culture; Race and Mental Health in History and Literature; Religious Worlds of New York; Roman Daily Life: Petronius and Pompeii; Shakespeare; Slavery, Equality, and the Constitution; U.S.-Russian/Soviet Relations, 1776-Present
The approximately 544 NEH Summer Scholars who participate in these programs of study will teach almost 68,000 American students the following year.
National Endowment for the Humanities: 400 7th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024 P 202.606.8500 F 202.606.8394 E firstname.lastname@example.org www.neh.gov
Mr. J is a high school teacher in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mr. J believes in the power of educators to help children and families achieve. Follow his blog for tips and techniques to keep engagement high and student achievement at the forefront.